Right-wing Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt loves to dish it out but author Iain Lygo has been tracking his work and reveals plenty of flaws in this exclusive expose for Crikey. Read to the bottom for Bolt’s initial reply and then a further response from Iain Lygo.
When the Sydney Institute gets Andrew Bolt to speak about truth in journalism, their last tiny shred of credibility has surely evaporated into thin air.
Bolt’s column in the Herald Sun on Feb 13 (an extract from his Sydney Institute speech) represents everything that is wrong with the tabloid media in this country. His columns are not so much journalism, but merely an extension of the government’s PR department, that aims to secure the “redneck” vote; aka Howard’s battlers.
Bolt’s Febuary 13 column, titled “The Truth about Lies” claims there wasn’t a stolen generation or indigenous genocide in Tasmania. Bolt also denies global warming, species loss, and even claims that John Howard did not lie about asylum seekers throwing their children overboard.
Even the most one-eyed Liberal support would have to acknowledge that Howard and other ministers repeatedly lied to the Australian people on talk-back radio about the incident. The lie was compounded by the Australian Prime Minister two days before the 2001 election when he passed off a classified document from the Office of National Assessment that merely regurgitated his previous inaccurate press releases and subsequent press reports about the incident.
During the children overboard affair Bolt claimed “Only a fool could think Ruddock would make this up, given the incident was witnessed by dozens of sailors and officers.” His conclusion, ” Elsewhere in this paper you can see the photographs of the incident which I got from the Defence Department simply by asking for them. Proof positive” is a testament to his blinkered view.
While Bolt’s demonising of asylum seekers and defence of conservative politicians lacks any intellectual credibility, his willingness to label Australian Muslims “terrorists” without any evidence is truly disturbing.
While there may be terrorist cells in Australia, journalists need to be absolutely positive their sources are reliable. Reporting potential terrorist cells in Australia is a difficult task, and the decision to broadcast or publish any findings must be carefully considered. Journalists must consider whether their work will interfere with an ASIO or police investigation, prejudice a trial, or defame someone. Media law is difficult at the best of times, but there is also the ethical consideration that accusing someone of having terrorist links may result in some form of vigilantism or may result in an increase in hate crime. Journalists must know that those committing hate crimes are not that bright (remember all the Sikh who were vilified after September 11) and their words may encourage racial violence.
On September 8 2003, under the heading, “Our Islamic leaders must show spine” Bolt argued, “OUR Islamic leaders last week failed again to show the leadership we must demand from them in our fight against terrorism.” The opening paragraph establishes the two sides in the fight against terrorism. The Islamic leaders are not part of the ‘we’ in ‘our’ fight against terrorism. They are instantly portrayed in the ‘them’ camp.
Bolt went on to write that, one of the clerics in question, Sheik Mohammed Omran, was a worry before the latest allegations because, “His Brunswick centre was found two years ago to be selling videos made by an extremist Islamic group that urged support for a jihad in Bosnia, and his web site still urges Muslims to “crush . . . the Jews and the crusaders”.“
This was simply a rehash of The Herald Sun’s thoroughly discredited article published in November 2001. The Islamic Information and Support Centre Australia web site does not urge Muslims to “crush the Jews and crusaders” but it did have multiple links to other sites that may contain these words. The web site Bolt refers to provides Muslims a detailed database of Islamic institutions, from schools to mosques, to halal butchers across Australia. It provides prayer calendars, book reviews and other harmless services. At the time of writing the web site had closed all its links.
Bolt then speculates that moderate Sheik Fehmi Naji El Imam of Preston mosque would not discuss the Omran matter and had, “...lost his tongue. In fear?”
Fehmi’s other statements during his radio and television appearances clearly indicated he believed it was a police matter and he had not seen any evidence that the two accused were guilty. Bolt’s suggestion that Fehmi’s actions were taken because of fear was totally unfounded, and further suggested Fehmi was at risk if he spoke to the police. The more logical argument for Fehmi’s “silence” was that he (unlike Bolt) did not want to participate in a trial by media situation.
Bolt then goes on to argue that the friendship between Omran and an al-Qaeda suspect in Spain, “…is already enough for other Muslim leaders to distance themselves from Omran. Yet the Islamic Council of Victoria said merely that although Omran had extreme views, ‘we really shouldn’t be in a democratic society shunning people because of suspicions’.” This again was another inaccuracy from Bolt. The Head of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Yasser Soliman clearly stated, “These suspicions need to be followed up and verified one way or another.”
The next Islamic organisation Bolt lined up was the NSW Supreme Islamic Council whose reaction Bolt described as, “even more worrying”. Bolt argued that the spokesperson for the NSW Islamic Council, Gabr Elgafi, “would not condemn another Australian Muslim linked to Dahdah, Islamic Youth Movement boss Bilal Khazal, even if he was a supporter of Osama bin Laden – which his web site confirms.” Again Bolt cherry picks Gabr Elgafi’s words to suit his own agenda. Elgafi also states, on the interview that Bolt sites, “Well we don’t know what activity he has; we leave that to the authorities to act if there is any illegal activity” and, “…definitely we will condemn him if he supports terrorism” and, “it’s unfortunate they (the Islamic youth movement) are secretive; they should open up.”
Bolt then concludes “It’s time more Muslim leaders realised that they owe it to the moderate Muslims they say they represent – and to the country they call home – to drive out the extremists who hide in their mosques. If they seem too scared or unwilling to do this, what must the rest of us conclude?”
Bolt’s conclusion simply ignores that moderate Islamic leaders who he had accused of silence, all welcomed an inquiry into the two men in question. These leaders also repeatedly argued the matter should be dealt with by the proper authorities, and called for more openness from some sections of Australia’s Islamic community.
In my opinion, Bolt’s columns represent ‘junk’ journalism. He cherry picks statements made by Islamic leaders, and then takes them out of context to support his conclusion. His final rhetorical question, “what must the rest of us conclude?” again divides the population into an ‘Australian us’ and a ‘Muslim them’. Bolt starts and concludes his editorial with a divisive play on words. There is a clear inference that the ‘them’ is letting Australia down.
Andrew Bolt again demonised Australia’s Islamic leaders and argued that there were terrorism supporters in Australia in an article published in The Herald Sun titled Terror’s Easy Ride. His October 23, 2003 article again relied on a series of half truths, insinuations, lies and omissions to portray Australia’s Muslim leaders as soft on terrorism.
In this column Bolt declares, “…we’ve seen a series of attacks by Muslims on churches and synagogues, particularly in Sydney” even though no Muslims have been charged with any of these attacks. The Herald Sun columnist also failed to mention the sustained campaign by Islamic leaders, especially Keysar Trad, condemning attacks on all religious institutions. Bolt portrays everything in black and white, and the Lebanese spokesperson is connected with terrorism because he, “…also worked for the pro-bin Laden Islamic Youth Movement”. Again there was no mention of Trad’s extensive statements condemning terrorism in all its forms.
“Terror’s Easy Ride” declares, “Already we’ve seen Muslim schoolchildren here celebrate the September 11 terrorism against America, with even a Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth (FAMSY) spokesman admitting ‘extremism within our own ranks’ meant ‘some even gloated at the fact that America had been attacked’.” While it is impossible to say no Australian Muslim schoolchildren celebrated the terror attacks, there was clearly no widespread demonstration of support for the September 11 atrocities by Australians. Bolt again is quick to omit extensive revenge attacks against Australian Muslims and the total condemnation of the attacks by Islamic leaders in this country.
Omitting important details to suit an agenda is standard practice from the far right media commentators. However, extremely selective or dubiously sourced quotes to support an agenda should not be tolerated by any media organisation. Internet search engines only find one document containing the quotes, “extremism within our own ranks” and, “some even gloated at the fact that America had been attacked”. The document is Bolt’s “Terror’s Easy Ride.”
When asked to identify the unnamed FAMSY spokesperson referred to in Terror’s Easy Ride, Bolt replied with an offensive e-mail.
The phrase, “extremism within our own ranks” was used during a lecture by Dr Zachariah Matthews at the UWS Milperra Campus on November 9 2001. When asked if Dr Zachariah Matthews was the source of these quotes, Bolt refused to answer the question.
Bolt again plays the race card declaring, “Already we’ve seen more than 118 recent kneecappings, murders, shootings, robberies and other assaults – two involving grenades – in a raging turf war between ethnic gangs in that Lakemba area, with one Muslim dying near the mosque and two more last week in a battle of 100 bullets.”
Without denying there is a serious criminal gang problem in Sydney’s South West, by focussing on the religion of these criminals Bolt demonises all the Islamic communities in Australia.
The phrase, “with one Muslim dying (from gun violence) near the mosque” is a none-to-subtle hint that mosques and Muslims are inherently related to violent activity. Australia’s tabloid media now displays such ridiculous double standards for gang violence. Any journalist reporting the Chullora bikie gang shootout by writing, “eight Christian members of the Comenchero and Bandito bikie gangs members were killed in a shootout near a church…” would be instantly dismissed for stupidity. For Muslims (practicing or non-practicing) media standards are entirely different.
Bolt’s then argues, “Every month brings new cause to worry. To mark last month’s anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the popular IslamicSydney website declared there was ‘ample justification to bomb Washington and New York’.” Once again Bolt is guilty of a distortion that demonises Australian Muslims. This quote is cherry picked from an article by Waseem Shehzad. The full quote is, “If the US government feels justified in attacking another country because the alleged (not proved) mastermind of the September 2001 attacks lived there, others have ample justification to bomb Washington and New York because the apparently sane rulers of America have killed hundreds of thousands (or millions) around the world.”
IslamicSydney clearly states, “Articles on this website represent the views of the authors, they do not necessarily represent the views of IslamicSydney.com.” Bolt simply takes a tiny snippet of an article on a website and attributes it to publishers of that site. Imagine the media response if an Islamic leader took a quote from an Anti-Muslim letter to the editor and said, “The Herald Sun declared Muslims should remove their hijabs before entering banks.”
When asked whether Bolt still stood by his statements regarding IslamicSydney.com the Herald Sun columnist replied with another insulting e-mail which did not answer the question.
In Terror’s Easy Ride, Bolt portrays Shiek Omran as a terrorist using guilt by association. He then goes on to say, “… the Islamic Council of Victoria defends Omran rather than denounce him as an embarrassment to its faith.” Once again Bolt plays fast and loose with the truth. The ICV have made clear and unequivocal statements welcoming investigations into Omran’s activities. They have encouraged Omran’s group to be more open and inclusive, while declaring they would not denounce him without conclusive proof he was involved in or supported terrorism.
Bolt concludes his article by stating, “Again and again, we’re offered proof that too many of our Muslim leaders work in ways that threaten us. This must be exposed, not covered up. The longer this contagion is left to fester, the sicker we may all become.” Proof that local Muslim leaders support terrorism in Australia is the one thing Bolt lacks. He resorts to his standard use of misinformation and omissions followed by a series of rhetorical questions. It is shoddy and dangerous journalism. To use his words, this type of journalism,“must be exposed, not covered up. The longer this contagion is left to fester, the sicker we may all become.”
* Iain Lygo is the Author of News Overboard; the Tabloid Media, Race Politics, and Islam. This article contains extracts from his book that is due out in March.
Andrew Bolt slams Crikey and Iain Lygo
From the February 16 subscriber-only sealed section:
We emailed Andrew Bolt this morning, asking if he would like to respond to the piece we published yesterday by Iain Lygo attacking his columns.
Bolt replied as follows:
It is typical dishonest, inaccurate, self-contradictory and conspiratorial cr*p by a Greens candidate and you should be ashamed to run such drivel. Leave it to Indymedia and grow up.
I note only that most of his allegations seem to go like this: ‘Well, yes, all right, the Muslim leader he quotes did say that, but, um, well, you see…. ‘
But going through the rest of his crud would be a waste of time, given that the only people who could possibly be convinced by what he says are those who are impervious to reason and evidence.
If you want a reply from me, why don’t you ask Lygo to run the emails he says I sent to him – but which he strangely refuses to reproduce. And ask him, too, whether in writing to me if he identified himself by his real name and political affiliation, and disclosed to me that he was in fact researching his “book”. Ask him why not.
The Iain Lygo response
The art of debating involves raising an opinion, backing it up with examples, and finding holes in the opposition’s argument.
Bolt’s right of reply to my opinion piece, raises an argument through petty abuse ( eg “his crud”, “grow up”, “such drivel”, and “conspiratorial crap”), but when it comes to using examples for back up, and finding holes in my argument, the Herald Sun columnist comes up with nothing. He is like “Cool Hand Luke” but I’m calling his bluff.
Anyone who wants to look where Bolt cherry picked quotes from Australian Muslim leaders for “Terror’s easy ride” can examine the NineMSN site Sunday: Muslim vs Muslim
Those wanting to look at Bolt’s FAMSY spokesperson “quotes” can go to: http://www.famsy.com/s11attack1201.htm
This is a speech from Dr Zachary Matthews and contains the phrase “extremism within our own ranks” but does not contain the words “that some even gloated the fact that America had been attacked”.
For those who are really keen, try putting both phrases into any search engine and the only documents you will find is Terror’s easy ride and my article in Crikey.
Anyone who wants to go to www.islamicsydney.com can also see how they plainly declare the “articles on this site represent the views of the authors, they do not necessarily represent the opinions of IslamicSydney.” You can find this in the disclaimer section.
Bolt also raises a series of allegations about my conduct. He says I didn’t identify myself by name. Now Andrew, when someone ends an email with, “Yours Sincerely Iain Lygo” it’s hardly a sensible way to hide someone’s identity.
He also says I didn’t identify my political affiliations. Sorry, but political affiliations have got nothing to do with exposing shoddy journalism. I did identify myself as “a post-graduate student specialising in the tabloid media’s treatment of Islam”.
At the time of my emails, I was writing a series of essays to use in my postgraduate studies. These are now becoming a book, but Bolt probably won’t like it.
Bolt also asks “why don’t you (Stephen Mayne) ask Lygo to run the emails he says I sent him-but which he strangely refuses to reproduce.”
At the bottom of Bolt’s emails there is a great deal of ‘legalese’ about, “…legally privileged confidential information” and, “…you may not copy or send this message or its attachments to anyone.”
Andrew, How about giving me permission (via Crikey) to publish our correspondence in full? Your responses to my questions are a hoot and I’m sure the Crikey readers would love to look.
Andrew’s Bolt’s reply to Lygo
As you know, I rarely write to challenge the grotesque misrepresentations and untruths you persist in publishing about me.
But Iain Lygo’s response is too bizarre and revealing – both of him and you – that I can’t help myself. It’s too delicious to ignore, and I ask you to print this as the “right of reply” you rightly offered me.
Lygo in his response condemns me for not deigning his original attack on me with a point by point rebuttal, apparently not realising that to do so in a work so riddled with inaccuracies, falsehoods and deceits would require many more hours than I have, and accord him more respect than I feel.
Then he declares he is calling my “bluff”, and says this:
“Anyone who wants to look where Bolt cherry picked quotes from Australian Muslim leaders for “Terror’s easy ride” can examine the following site Sunday: Muslim vs Muslim
“Those wanting to look at Bolt’s FAMSY spokesperson “quotes” can go to http://www.famsy.com/s11attack1201.htm
“This is a speech from Dr Zachary Matthews and contains the phrase “extremism within our own ranks” but does not contain the words “that some even gloated the fact that America had been attacked”.
So, these are the two most damning “proofs”, once must presume, that Lygo can offer of my evil.
Well, let’s look at them. Trust me – it will be worth it.
The first link is to a Channel Nine Sunday story on Sheik Mohammed Omran, who has himself said publicly that it is the duty of Muslims in Australia to go on jihad, and who had acknowledged meeting and advising known terrorists here, and of being a friend of a known al Qaeda chief in Britain. Some of his followers have, besides, gone to terrorist training camps overseas, as he himself says.
Lygo not only criticises me for demanding that other Muslim leaders clearly disown this man and his extremist teachings, but objects to me pointing out that not even the moderate Islamic leader Sheik Fehmi Naji El Imam did not dare discuss Omran with journalists.
“Bolt’s suggestion that Fehmi’s actions were taken because of fear was totally unfounded,” Lygo rages.
So, what does the tape of that Sunday show that Lygo himself points to as refutation of my “unfounded” reporting actually show? Here is reporter John Lyons interviewing a clearly nervous Sheik Fehmi:
JOHN LYONS: The Islamic Youth Movement is a key supporter of Ahl as-Sunnah wal Jama’ah. The man who bestrides Ahl as-Sunnah in Australia is Sheik Mohammed Omran. Sometimes he goes by the name Sheik Abu Ayman. Based in Melbourne, he is the all-powerful figure in Ahl as-Sunnah, its national spiritual leader, as well as its secretary general. Sheik Mohammed intrigues some of his fellow Muslim leaders. Even though Sheik Fehmi works at Preston mosque, only minutes from Sheik Mohammed’s headquarters, Sheik Fehmi did not want to talk about Sheik Mohammed. Can you describe for us Sheik Mohammed Omran? What sort of man …
SHEIK FEHMI NAJI EL IMAM: (very softly) I do not want to talk about that.
JOHN LYONS: Sorry?
SHEIK FEHMI NAJI EL IMAM: I better not want to do that because we are talking person to person … I do not want to talk about that.
JOHN LYONS: But you would know him from here in Melbourne?
SHEIK FEHMI NAJI EL IMAM: Well, I know him and he has his own way of thinking which I don’t want to talk about, if you don’t mind.
JOHN LYONS: Could you at least describe the sort of man he is?
SHEIK FEHMI NAJI EL IMAM: No. No condemnation of Omran, a man with self-admitted links to know terrorists. And self-evident fear – although of what and whom, we cannot know for sure.
That’s the first “proof” that Lygo gives in his response – of his own foolishness and deceit.
So, what about the second “proof”?
The other link Lygo provides is meant to prove, he says, the following:
“This is a speech from Dr Zachary Matthews and contains the phrase “extremism within our own ranks” but does not contain the words “that some even gloated the fact that America had been attacked”.
It is Lygo’s contention here that I imputed to Matthews words that he did not say. Lygo’s original article also suggests that my quoting Matthews at all was wrong, but never explains why.
Now, what does the link actually reveal of my alleged deceit?
It reveals …. nothing. When I clicked it, I found the page had been deleted. Why? By whom? What would it have shown?
Fortunately, I long ago kept a copy of the document that Lygo “tried” to link to, which is a speech by a spokesman of the Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth. And, to what will be the surprise of any readers foolish enough to trust Iain Lygo’s reporting, it contains the following passages:
The September 11 Attack on America: Observations of its impact Dr Zachariah Matthews
A lecture presented at the University of Western Sydney (Milperra) on Friday 9 November 2001, organised by the Muslim Society of UWS (Milperra).
…Another issue that I think we should focus on is that of extremism within our own ranks, especially amongst our youth. Some of them love Islam and have great confidence in it, but with the extraordinary pressures and challenges of the modern age, they tend to take desperate and extreme measures. Action that sometimes causes more harm and suffering. There are many causes of extremism and one scholar wrote: “Undoubtedly, one of the main causes of extremism is lack of knowledge of – and insight into – the purposes, spirit, and essence of the deen.” The lack of knowledge that he referred to is the “pseudo-knowledge” of a person presuming to know all that there is to know when in fact it neither enhances his insight nor clarifies his vision. This type of person tends to concentrate on the marginal and trivial issues only, failing to see the relationship between the parts and the whole – between the road map and the final destination…
Worse still, some even gloated at the fact that America had been attacked.
One of the young brothers on the soccer field also asked: “Hitting the Pentagon should be okay, shouldn’t it?” Then of course came all the conspiracy theories ranging from the CIA to Israel being responsible…
Good golly, Iain. It seems that despite what you say, I quoted Matthews perfectly accurately. Indeed, if I am to be criticised, it is for not including more of his disturbing reports on how the September 11 attacks were received among some Muslim youths here.
So it seems that, again, the only proof Iain Lygo has offered here is of his own apparent misrepresentations and perhaps even deceit. Or is this just plain stupidity? A wilful blindess to a dangerous – perhaps even lethal – extremism among some parts of Muslim society in Australia?
I could analyse all the “proofs'” of his original posting in the same way – proofs of what he fondly assumes is my nasty, evil heart – but you can imagine now why the effort would not be worth it, when Lygo’s work is so patently shoddy. Although nothing is so shoddy that you wouldn’t stoop to
print it, would you, Stephen?
I’ll just add this, however. Lygo praises Keysar Trad and defends him from my criticisms of Islamic leaders.
Trad, he neglects to mention, was a translator for the Islamic Youth Movement, which we now know to be not just sympathetic to Osama bin Laden, but to have had contacts with terrorists. I am not suggesting for a moment that Trad is a terrorist sympathiser. He has, in the English-language press, opposed terrorism, and even rescued an SBS crew which was being savagely beaten by a mob of men which emerged from the Lakemba Mosque. (Oops, another geographical reference of the kind Lygo denounces as irrelevant and provocative.)
But let’s not forget that Keysar Trad has also in the past written hate-filled, racist passages such as the following:
So the little man [John Howard? The average Australian?] feels braver now, and is able to justify taunting our sisters when they walk in the streets as he passes them in his car. Or to taunt me because I look non Western. He is justified, because Pauline has inadvertently convinced him that such actions are the solution to the problems of this country and he is the white knight in his shining armour, with the blue Australian Blood (or should I say: the beer Australian blood) who must come to the rescue.
In a way, they feel safe because of the quantity of water which surrounds this country, so they feel fortified behind this great body, it gives them a feeling of security. But the reality is, the land belongs to God, not to them, and if those foreigners, whom they fear as migrants are not permitted to enter as migrants, they will come as settlers, in numbers so large that they will not be able to process them, hold them, or stop them.
What will they do then? If these foreigners who are restraining themselves, because they see a legal hope, that they can come to this vast mainly uninhabited land for whatever reason, are told that there is no longer a legal way to come here, what will they do? What will a starving person do when he wants food? They will no longer respect these laws which were drafted in a cocoon away from the reality that the land of Australia does not belong to white European man.
In fact, if the original inhabitants had their way, or if we want to employ Pauline Hanson justice, then white man should pack his bags and leave this country, for your people Pauline, have been the worst of guests! The criminal dregs of white society colonised this country, and now, they only take the select choice of other societies, and the descendants of these criminal dregs tell us that they are better than us. And because we are not elitists, we tolerate them. Yet they want us to assimilate, perhaps they will only become satisfied when we each die our hair red, wear blue/green contact lenses, and operate a fish and chips shop, otherwise, we would not be truly assimilating, would we?
Of course, Australia has to feature prominently in this treatise, for no reason other than the fact that I live here. A study of other western countries will show the situation to be worse. In America for example, the situation with elitism sees the neighbouring Mexicans whose Texas was usurped from them by the Yanks being treated like unwanted feral animals, they are refused any basic human rights, and reports have been filed of their numbers being bashed and humiliated by border patrols. The US policies are more far reaching, it seems that as their power of communication, and weapon potential grows, they expand their influence and interference in the domestic affairs of foreign nations. So we see subversive activities in practically all South American countries to keep them unstable so that they can never pose a threat to the myth of the great free America.
If we look further, we see their interference in the affairs of Islamic countries which are on the other side of the globe, we see them shape the politics of Egypt, Saudi, Kuwait and many other countries, and we see them suppressing the revival of Islam there. Canada is an example of irony, a country divided into two official languages seeing the French side banning shop signs in languages other than French. Yet the French appear to be the most intolerant going to the extent of banning the importation of basic Islamic books into their country, including simple books such as Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawy’s “The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam”, and banning Muslim women from attending high schools and universities if their head is covered with a scarf. To the point of having police there to stop these sisters from entering university grounds.
The British are no better, their incestuous relationship and influence over Arab countries saw them debating the introduction of a new law to deport Muslims on suspicion of so called “fundamentalist” links without a trial. Not to mention their support of the Serbs in the Balkan conflict through opposing arms sale to the Bosnian Muslims.
India, the Asian country which is dominated by the lowest of the low amongst racists, the class society which divides its own people into four classes and places people of other faiths, and Muslims in particular as the lowest of the low. The policies of these cow worshippers, and their extermination of Muslims in their countries and inside Kashmir (to the silence of Western countries) is one more example of how this feeling of elitism is not restricted to the colour of the elitist, it is a lifestyle of those idiots who have intoxicated themselves with a false feeling of power, and who actively exercise this power against others.
What it boils down to is that elitism is practised to the detriment of others in many Western countries, as well as would be Western countries, on various scales. It seems that a common victim of this elitism with all these countries is the Muslim; this is evident through both government policies and the way their media reports negatively on Islam. The joke is on the elitists and the Muslims who stand idly by letting all this take place without exercising the power given to us by Islam. “And if you turn away, He will exchange a people other than you, then they will not be like you.”
[S47: V38] By Br. Keysar Trad
Iain Lygo says his “book” is based on “a series of essays (written for) my postgraduate studies”. That such ill-researched stuff should have got so far says a lot – and none of it good – not just about Lygo and you, Stephen, but about our universities.
Web site: Read Andrew Bolt’s columns online
Firstly thanks for the great work you do. I find it inspiring and uplifting.
Once I read Bolt’s article (‘The truth about lies’) I had to respond to it. Most of the ‘truth’ he proclaims in the article is simply wrong, and if it is not wrong, then to make the claims he makes about them are manipulations of the truth and dangerous.
My letter to the Herald Sun responding to his article has not been printed as yet – hopefully it will be. I consider Bolt to be quite a light-weight journalist, and therefore a dangerous one. His articles manipulate the truth and promote the kind of phobia and fear that we are seeing more of in Australia at present.
I also wonder sometimes if Bolt is not being paid as a Government spokesperson. Some of his articles are simply statements about the Federal overnment’s views on a particular issue at the time. One example is an article Bolt wrote late last year about David Kay and his WMD report (this is before Kay told the world that ‘we were pretty much all wrong’). A few days after I read Bolt’s article, I was looking at an article written by Alexander Downer on the DFAT website and found that much of what Bolt had written was exactly the same as what Downer had written, and with the same smug attitude.
Keep up your good work on exposing Bolt’s lies and manipulations. Hopefully as a result, more people will see his writing for what it is.
Lack of objectivity from right-wing journos
In respect of Iain Lygo’s article on Andrew Bolt’s journalism, it’s about time that non-right wing (not necessarily left) journalists exposed the shoddy standards of the Bolts, Ackermans, Sheridans and Albrechtsens of Australian journalism.
As Lygo stated, these people are not much more than blind cheerleaders for the conservative governments of Australia and the US. The complete lack of objectivity is so obvious as to render the articles nothing more than propaganda to anyone that is intelligent and informed.
Add to that Albrechtsen’s repeated errors of fact, allegations of purposeful distortions and misquotes, and it’s an indictment on the national newspaper that they continue to publish her work. It’s a huge problem that the majority of the Australian public get their news, and often their opinions, from the likes of Bolt and Ackerman, and the utter trash that masquerades as current affairs on commercial television.
Bolt – on the money with most people
I read with interest your discussions re: Andrew Bolt’s ravings in the Herald Sun.
Whilst Andrew’s columns are the epitome of Mark Latham’s ‘spade whacked over the head’, he does seem to attract an unreasonable balance of criticism.
Firstly – I am a Liberal voter – but I would classify myself as a soft Liberal and have in fact voted Labor in recent history.
Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with everything that Bolt writes about – or more specifically – I think he sometimes gets too caught up in the detail and quotes rather dubious sources to back up every fine detail; I do believe that he is generally ‘right on the money’ with the general electorate.
The average voter is well aware of perceptions of media and inparticular ABC bias – and they view Bolt as the token right-wing commentator to even things out.
What gives Bolt his credibility is NOT his right-wing views, and is NOT whether he is in fact right or wrong in his ravings.
Bolt is made credible by the fact that his critics are so vociferous – the average person is made to feel that Bolt MUST be right – and has rightly upset his critics (Greens and the Left).
The Left will preach about free speech until the cows come home – just so long as it’s not Andrew Bolt.
The Silent Majority
Anything but Bolt
Surely it is time for everybody to simply treat Andrew Bolt’s raving gibberish with the contempt it so richly deserves. Just ignore it. There is nothing of value in any of his columns, commenting on anything the moronic halfwit writes only wastes precious column space that could be used addressing other more important issues (i.e – anything).
The joke’s on the Lefties
Bolt apparently perceives himself as a warrior in the defence of truth and freedom, a kind of latter-day Orwell, mercilessly demolishing cant and falsehood with the bulldozer of fact. In reality he is little more than a moralising whinger, employing truncated quotations, absurd generalisations, and a thundering, didactic style to present a bitter, paranoid world-view that even the greatest left-wing sook would have a hard time matching.
Is Bolt serious? Sometimes I suspect his column is nothing more than an extended joke designed to rub lefties up the wrong way and stock the letters-to-the-editor page with its daily quota of outrage. His main thrust is that all dissenting academics, journalists, artists, etc, are so ideologically corrupt as to be not worth listening to. Apparently crusading News Ltd. journalists are immune to this affliction, and never allow politics to get in the way of truth.
Bolt’s column is an extraordinarily reckless abuse of power. His oft-used method of attacking the weakest point of an opposing view demonstrates acute intellectual frailty. He prefers to snarl derision at his critics rather than engage them in debate. In all, he comes across as a petty, embittered little man. One wonders what a genuinely talented, knowledgable and fair-minded journalist would achieve if given the exposure and support Bolt receives.
Howard’s childlike attack poodle
Andrew Bolt is an angry young man (but how old is he, really?) currying favour with the older men he brownnoses. The older men would include his employer Rupert who expects, and receives, nothing less than sycophancy from his employees.
Bolt is also Honest John Howard’s attack poodle. Or perhaps he’s Imre on steroids, without the wit.
Not that he’s mostly wrong. The trouble is that even when he’s half right the lack of education and manners,
The egregious imbalance in his bitter opinions and his childlike world view, spoil whatever argument he may be manfully striving to make.He has some hard lessons in life coming his way.
The Harsh Critic
Bolt’s the best
For goodness sake, leave Andrew Bolt alone. He is absolutely fantastic. In the wilderness of left wing lunacy in which most Australian journalists dwell, Andresw actually writes some commonsense. The pinko journalists who are unfortunately greatly in the majority, cater to the chattering classes and the leather sandal wearing basket weavers, whereas Andrew is a breath of fresh air and writes for the mainstream.
Lygo’s attack on Bolt fails
I found Iain Lygo’s attack on Bolt largely unjustified. Very few of the accusations are based on solid evidence rather, most rest on Iain Lygo’s futile attempts to try and explain how Andrew Bolt thinks, rather than the deal with most of the arguments presented in his articles.
Many of Iain Lygo’s arguments were an embarrassment to himself. He asserts that journalists have a responsibility not to offend people or cause racial tensions, and then spins Andrew’s writing furiously to portray him as deliberately playing the race card and inciting hatred. The only source of genuine racial hatred and incitement is in the quotes of Keysar Trad.
The most ludicrous part was for Iain to claim that mentioning a murder took place near a mosque is “a none-to-subtle hint that mosques and Muslims are inherently related to violent activity” and that “by focussing on the religion of these criminals Bolt demonises all the Islamic communities in Australia”. Also, Iain obsesses over the words “we” and “our” and “them” and manipulates the article to present it as an attempt to create an “us versus them” mentality.
This is sheer PC nonsense. It’s fine and dandy to disagree with Andrew’s stance on issues, but discussing it deserves a more responsible approach.
How Islam is portrayed in Western media
If Bolt and his colleagues really want to isolate militant Islamists from moderate Australian Muslims, then he should look at social judgment psychologist Muzafer Sherif’s work on cultural norms and inter-group conflict. Sherif is most famous for the Robber’s Cave experiment (1954). Bolt and anyone else who wants to write journalism relevant in the 21st century should also heed Alfred Korzybski’s message, in “Science and Sanity” (1936), about the ‘error of is-ness’ (‘X is Y’), summed up as ‘the [linguistic] map is not the territory’.
Details of Sherif and Korzybski’s works, which analyse common errors in communication (biases, inferences, ‘languaging’ and stereotypes), can be found online. L. Michael Hall’s online essays on Korzybski are an excellent introduction to filters, frames, pattern recognition and systems thinking.
Precise use of language would enable Bolt to clarify his moral worldview for others rather than continue to get caught in ideological flame-wars.
Finally, in reply to Bolt’s final line about Iago’s postgraduate work and universities: let’s wait to see Iago’s book in full. Things have been much worse. In 1989 Musu Abu Marzuk became founding president of the United Association of Studies and Research (UASR), described by Steven Emerson as ‘a self-described Islamic “think tank” that in reality served as a covert branch for planning Hamas operations and for disseminating Hamas propaganda.’
UASR affiliated with the University of South Florida (Tampa) made in the early 1990s. The University ignored warnings from professors in 1991, the American PBS documentary ‘Jihad in America’ (1994), and investigative reportage by journalist Michael Fechtor in 1996 (Harvey Kushner’s anthology ‘The Future of Terrorism: Violence in the New Millennium’, Sage Publications, London, 1998, p. 54). No-one in Australia has made the mistake that University administrators did. As Emerson noted, it was vigilant professors who raised the alarm about UASR’s overseas funding sources, in the first place.