Guy Rundle and the facile left have long since decided that militant Islam’s hatred of America more than compensated for its hatred of democracy, diversity and tolerance.

They apply the same reasoning at home, so it’s no surprise to learn that they aren’t prepared to slaughter their sacred cows for the sake of a few boong kids.

If the government’s plan is apartheid, then so are Abstudy, the permit system, Community Development Employment Projects…the list just trails on. At least Rundle must be pleased that the biggest apartheid institution of them all, ATSIC, has been dismantled.

Still, that’s no excuse for substituting anger for analysis.

By declaring a “national emergency” in indigenous affairs, the Prime Minister has shown once again how very clever he is — and how utterly cynical he and his government are.

Their agenda is dominating the media again. No doubt Crosby-Textor are already doing the focus groups so they can tell the PM just when he can stage a photo-op in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner at Mutitjulu. Or perhaps they can paint it on the Rock, if they control the land again.

In all the fulminating, we haven’t heard much about why the government’s tactics could yet backfire. Wedges don’t work unless there are splits to drive them into.

The Prime Minister’s response to indigenous Australia is scarcely methodical. After 11 years in government and a few months short from an election, he has decided to toss buckets full of motherhood statements at problems which have been endemic and widely known for decades.

We haven’t heard much about Labor’s weakness, either.

Labor should simply state this. While the opposition has failed to create or articulate any cohesive policy on indigenous affairs – and while the vacuum has now been filled – Labor could take the high ground and commit real money, rather than simply play follow the leader. Instead of playing follow the leader with more troops – Labor’s staff increase for the ALP – there is no need for them to accept the frame of reference dictated by Howard.

Where, for example, is the solution Labor could deliver based on a nationally coordinated approach between a Labor federal government and the Labor states and territories – the approach that only a Rudd government could develop?

Where is the actual policy response from Labor, rather than the cautious and reactive political response?

The government’s proposals smack of too much, too late. Still, their short term aim has worked. They have distracted and detracted from the opposition and exposed the powerlessness and irrelevance of the opposition leader. They have got the headlines focussed on the Prime Minister and what only a government can do.

Still, the left continue to froth. Even their Iraq comparison is wrong. This isn’t like Iraq. It’s just like Afghanistan.

Britain’s new ambassador to Kabul, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, said last week “We are going to win this, but it’s going to take time. It’s not a three year sprint, it’s a 30 year marathon – we should be thinking in terms of decades.”

He said the government was not talking about “a long-term military presence” but about “a long-term development presence, because this country does matter to us and to the region in so many ways”.

That’s exactly what is needed for Aboriginal Australia. It’s questionable if the Howard Government has the will to see this battle through.

And the facile left aren’t helping.

In Afghanistan, they don’t seem to care that the Taliban kill people who attempt – gasp! – to teach girls, so long as they hate George W Bush.

And in Australia, rather than locking the government into a long term commitment to indigenous people, they are determined to defend their own discredited doctrines.

 


 

Guy Rundle writes: When did the right lose it? I’ve been pondering that question for some time, but a series of contributions by dumb right representative Christian Kerr in his unique genre – the rambling spray – brought it back to mind. Three or four years ago, the right pretty much had hegemony over all sorts of debates, gave the appearance of being the natural party of government. Now here, in the US and sections of the UK press they tend to sound like the sort of people you meet in the park, muttering to themselves about UFOs. What happened? You could talk about all sorts of surface effects, but deep down the right lost its connection with a whole middle section of people because it lost its connection with the capacity to reason, and the idea that you step back dispassionately from the world and analyse what the consequences of your actions might be. In effect you reverse the relationship between reality and thought, and come to believe that the latter can change the former if you simply believe in it enough. Iraq and Afghanistan was probably the first of these. Mark Steyn probably set the benchmark for human stupidity on this one when he suggested that the place would be like Delaware or Akron or some such place 12 months after the invasion. To believe that, you really had to think that the West, and America in particular, was not only the final form of civilization, but somehow an expression of innate human nature – that every other cultural system was somehow just a thin crust beneath which there was a fully-formed shopping mall waiting to jump out. The more that failed to come to pass, a rethink might have been in order. Instead, the right started to blame the critics for thinking negative thoughts – the supreme example of magical thinking, whether it’s witches in Salem, Trotsky-fascists in Moscow, or ‘people who want the surge to fail’. It’s the sort of thing four year olds do. The second case was global warming, which even four year olds could understand. Here the right had a full-scale brain conniption – since global warming suggested that there might have to be limits to growth and markets, it had to be rejected out of hand. Though the greens were accused of being a religion, it was the right who clung to every useful statistical shred – real or fabricated – like it was a fragment of the true cross. This more than anything convinced a lot of people that they were less born leaders and more slightly nutty ideologues. Now we’re seeing it again in the debate around the military occupation of the Northern Territory. Rather than coolly debate the move, anyone who suggests that it might make a bad situation worse is charged with, a la Noel Pearson, ‘wanting it to fall’. The insult – that in Kerr’s vicious insinuation, we don’t care about ‘a few boong kids’ – is nasty but immaterial. The important thing is that people want you to leave your brains at the door, because they don’t have the guts to argue it on the issues – their command of the situation is so tenuous that it threatens to come apart at any minute. Yet as Iraq and Afghanistan – which, despite what well known Gilbert and Sullivan character Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles thinks, are pretty much the same – demonstrate, if you don’t think clearly, you can make a situation so open-endedly worse that no one party can even put a stop to chaos. Magical thinking is ultimately self-defeating, because you can’t actually take soundings of realty, and work out what’s changed. Hence the increasingly sub-hysterical tone of the Steyns, Kerrs, Pearsons’, Melanie Phillips’ et al as they desperately fend off the rising waters of the real. Far more importantly, it’s disastrous for the victims – here and across the world – who are prey to their powerful fantasies.

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