The government’s blind-eye acceptance of Bill Heffernan’s attack
on Fiona Nash again exposes an “unnerving disconnection between the
words
of the Prime Minister and the reality of his performance,” says Richard Ackland in The Sydney Morning Herald. And even though no bit of paper has emerged, so far, that puts a
minister’s DNA on the AWB scandal, “the level of mistrust in the squirming
denials of Howard and his ministers is high.” The source of this lack of faith in our leaders is the “ever
widening disconnection between what they blow out the back of their
a*ses and their deeds.”

“If terrorism
is to be overcome we need to make it much harder for the
fundamentalists to use arguments, however superficial, that attract
potential suicide bombers,” says Malcolm Fraser in The Age – but so far the
coalition of the willing has undermined every effort to achieve any
possible harmony in the war on terror. In fighting terrorism we said that “we believe in the
rule of law, in due process, in the
principles of liberty,” but what about Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib?
“Islamic fundamentalists can point to example after
example where Western governments have failed to apply those
standards to their own action,” says Fraser. Our leaders’ “faith in
democracy is shallow and inadequate.”

“Australia finds itself in the greatest culture war of a generation,” say
Rachel Nolan, Andrew McNamara and Craig Wallace in The Australian – and
“it’s a war in which the nation’s political leaders have shown no
leadership whatsoever.” Characterising Cronulla as a law and order
issue misses the “larger cultural issue
that is the nub of the problem.” We need a set of Australian values
that can be shared amongst all cultures. “So let’s develop a statement of national values.
Let’s have this debate. It is essential if we are to develop a
long-term strategy to defeat the disconnection, violence and
segregation that is flourishing in multiculturalism’s shade.”

“Far from commanding any special respect or protection from the State,
religions must be exposed to relentless criticism, like all
non-rational traditions and beliefs,” says Anatole Kaletsky in The Times
(UK). “Some
religions will survive this contest between tradition and modernity,
between reason and revelation,” and others – like Marxism and
Scientology – will fall by the wayside. Like America’s piety clearly
shows, “it is not just society but also religion that emerges stronger
from the
refiner’s fire of competition, criticism and even insult.”

“The spread of “social media” across the internet—such as online
discussion groups, e-mailing lists and blogs—has brought forth a new
breed of brand assassin, says The Economist
– “who can materialise from nowhere and savage a firm’s reputation.”
All a blogger really needs to devastate a company is a little
information and some plausibility: “a complaint that catches the
imagination and a knack for making others care about his gripe.” And
increasingly, “companies are learning that the best defence against
these attacks is to take blogs seriously and fix rapidly whatever
problems they turn up.”

Betty
Friedan was “disconcerted by lesbianism, leery of abortion and
ultimately concerned for the men whose ancient privileges she feared
were being eroded,” says Germaine Greer in The Guardian.
“Betty was actually very feminine, very keen on pretty clothes and very
responsive to male attention, of which she got rather more than you
might think. The world will be a tamer place without her.”

Worth reading Highly recommended

Peter Fray

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