With the Howard government ready to introduce legislation imposing its new “Australian values” test for citizenship, The Australian chose today to give a ringing editorial endorsement not just of patriotism but of “nationalism”.

This is heady stuff. The Oz thinks we have gone overboard in promoting tolerance and multiculturalism, and that rising nationalism is “a natural response”. It praises “a resurgence of pride in the Australian flag among young people”, and connects this with the federal government’s moves to promote citizenship and retreat from multiculturalism.

Now it takes a particularly wilful blindness not to see that displays of the Australian flag have become a badge of racism in certain circles, and that when Peter Debnam, for example, promises to ban people from banning such displays (yes, that’s right) he is quite deliberately pandering to the sentiments behind the Cronulla riots.

But The Australian thinks that nativist rioting is merely “unfashionable” (one would hope so!), and puts all the blame on the left, for its “loathing” of Anglo culture and (of course) its postmodernism. Apparently, once upon a time (borrowing with approval Nick Cohen’s argument) socialism kept the left anchored in reality, but now a “dark liberation” has taken hold, freeing us to indulge our hatred of the US and western civilisation in general.

It’s hard to avoid seeing an element of projection in this. If anyone has become unhinged and gone over to the dark side since the end of the Cold War, surely it’s the right rather than the left.

But it’s a good day for the far right on the Oz‘s editorial page. We also get Alan Gold reinterpreting Christianity as a religion of hate, not love, and an extract on radical Islam from the marvellously deranged Daniel Pipes, who thinks that Muslims wanting to be under Sharia law means “they want to replace the Constitution with the Koran.”

Peter Fray

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