Dec 6, 2016

Rundle: the greatest injustice of the Vietnam War, as suffered by Amanda Vanstone

Won't someone please think of poor Amanda Vanstone?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Vanstone attacks Abdel-Magied
Free and friendly nation, Born of our own hand, Peace our greatest virtue, Mighty southern land.
-- Under Southern Stars (lyrics: A. Vanstone, mus. Elgar*) My God, sometimes there are columns that are so perfectly pitched, you can’t tell whether they’re straight or knowing self-parody (i.e. every third Greg Sheridan piece), or unknowing self-parody (every second Bernard Salt piece). There is a third option, where you believe that someone may have hacked the newspaper’s content management system and supplied a fake column to embarrass the person it’s purported to be by. That last and highest benchmark was achieved by Amanda Vanstone in her recent effort, in which she damns the recent protests at Parliament House. Vanstone thinks the protesters want to be able to act with impunity, i.e. she doesn’t understand how civil disobedience works -- the whole point is to get arrested, Amanda -- but that’s simply an example of her huge ignorance. What’s funny is this:
“When I left school I went to work for the then Myer group to train to be a buyer … [I had to]  to walk a few blocks each day to pick up the uniforms that had been made to measure in a nearby factory and carry them back to the store … the nylon string binding the bundles of uniforms together would dig uncomfortably into my hands ... with a big load in hand the road to return was blocked by a sizeable anti-Vietnam War demonstration. I couldn't put my load down, they weren't packed to sit on the pavement ... I saw a bunch of students, all well fed, looking as though they were having a good day out ..."
At the time, around 1970, Vietnam was being doused with Agent Orange to destroy its agricultural system, the US was contemplating nuclear bombing, and deaths were heading to a million, including 60,000 US troops and 500 Australians, most of whose surviving compatriots regretted their involvement. On the other hand, Working Girl got string burn. Huge ethical conundrum. It’s fun contemplating how else this would be applied -- “Miss Parks, just sit at the back. I want to get home for Gunsmoke”. “Gandhi, come on, we have to order something to get a drink in this place.” “Oh, Primo Levi, Auschwitz Schmauschwitz, I’ve got a hangnail.” Do they really think like this? Liberals, I mean. They think exactly like this. Too cowardly to imagine challenging power, they think it must all be for show. Incapable of connecting to anything larger than themselves, not in their own interest, they cannot imagine the motives of those who do.
"They want to be on TV, they want to tell everyone that they care. It's just one big 'I'm a nice person' story. The subjects of their protestations, in fact, are an indispensable asset without whom they would lack a vehicle or springboard to promote themselves as caring people."
Man, that’s such a student Liberal sort of comment, it takes you back: the chinos, pearls and hot chocolate crowd, wanting to be part of something with that energy, unable to bust out of their exoskeletons. Occasionally one would crack and come to the dark side -- like the tightly wound Christian Youth rep on the Melb Uni SRC, cable-knit sweaters and tartan skirts and endless motions supporting Reagan, until she eventually broke, leaked a bunch of dodgy right-wing financials, and last I heard was running an olive farm near Ballarat with her bikie girlfriend, the one in the couple with fewer tatts. The rest watched the parade go by, muttering "they’re just showing off" (oh, and don’t buy the Little Orphan Mandy act -- she’s a St Peters’ gal, Law/Arts Adelaide U, married a commercial lawyer, bumped into the Senate). It’s a fantastically informative article, just not for the reason Vanstone imagines. Gives Grace Collier a run for her money (six days now, and no one has felt Grace’s pain, so I have started a petition to help get the Borderline Collie to a Lodge drinx. Please sign.) As to the well-fed students, well I guess that’s moot now.
Nation made of many, Bound in hope as one, Building for the future, Under southern sun. Valiant into battle, Courage to the end, Standing firm for freedom, Loyal southern friend -- Under Southern Stars
*Land of Hope and Glory, to be precise. Verses are from a  song Under Southern Stars written by Vanstone over a course of six years, allegedly to provide music with "gravitas" for official occasions, which -- play it in your head as if sung by a grade 4 class -- it so would.

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29 thoughts on “Rundle: the greatest injustice of the Vietnam War, as suffered by Amanda Vanstone

  1. Decorum

    Spot on, Guy. It’s not just the embittered right-wing harridans of this world who misunderstand civil disobedience, though – recall that Bill Shorten felt this was, “the opposite of democracy”!

    1. AR

      Don’t forget Tanya Plibersek – the deputy ALP leader who appears to be on a drip feed from Langley VA.

  2. zut alors

    Foolishly, after the first quote I imagined Amanda V would then go on to say she regretted not railing against an idiotic war in her haste to avoid string burn & return to Myers (as we were wont to call it in Adelaide).

    I admit to being a self-satisfied prat who never protested about anything until Howard’s invasion of Iraq. Clearly, minimal time had been spent thinking or questioning in my youth. So many lost opportunities.

    Amanda V describing others as ‘well fed’ must be the most hilarious line written during this financial quarter.

    1. klewso

      A “feed-lot politician”? “Snouts to the trough!”?

  3. thelorikeet

    Amandais a victom. Poor thing. Victim of her need to be recognised and wanted. On Counterpoint (an obscure ABC program designed as a sop to the far-right) she is a sad characture burliting out right wing pap she clearly neither believes nor understands. Thing is she is actually an interesting and progressive person, but the zeitgeist wants something esle. She’s making a living off false and dangerous ideas, a bit like an affable Adelaide female version of Andrew Bolt.

    (I signed the Grace Collier petition too. Share the love Grace.)

  4. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Guy, have some respect. Here is a woman facing her 64th birthday tomorrow (7th Dec), sounding like she was already 64 back when she was starting her first job after high school. Say she had just turned 18, that would be 1970. That would be after several years of Australian anti-war demonstrations, even in Adelaide, and surely after some of her friends, possibly relatives, even siblings (?) had been forced to register for National Service on pain of two years jail. Would our golden girl Amanda have dobbed in her big brother or the boy next door who was dodging the draft? Because he was breaking the law? Not surprisingly, Ms Vanstone rehashed her written whine about the parliament protesters in a spoken whine on ABC RN yesterday arvo. Not once did she mention what the protest was about – although she did say how tough it was being the immigration minister (compared to the walk-in-the-park of foreign minister). Also not surprising that it took her six years to write 12 lines of verse. Amanda is so full of herself she would worry about overflow and the possibility that someone else would pick up one of her fallen words for free.

  5. Peter Hannigan

    Greg Sheridan and Amanda Vanstone bring practical definition to the meaning of ‘out of touch elite’. At least we know that once upon a time Amanda had an almost real job.

  6. MAC TEZ

    C’mon Guy do the right thing and set up a fund-raising campaign to compensate the big V. for suffering brought on by the string-burn incident…clearly she’s been scarred for life and now the trauma of having to re-live the horror of it all thanks to those nasty (and presumably well-fed)parliament protesters. Poor dear Mandy.

  7. Nudiefish

    It is a good thing that nitwit Liberals like Vanstone get access to a word processor, otherwise we would get no inkling at as to where their true values lie.

    If Vanstone was still a government minister some over-educated young catch-fart would stop the release of her pearls of wisdom by diplomatically pointing out just how vacuous it sounded.

    Now we know that Amanda was once mildly inconvenienced by young people trying to stop a colonial war.

  8. Fergus Moffat

    By the way… the strategic intent behind the use of Agent Orange was to deprive the North Vietnamese–making maximum logistical use of the Ho Chi Minh Trail–of the cover provided by the jungle. It was not to ‘destroy its agricultural system.’

    1. mikeb

      Oh well that’s alright then. Bombs away!

      1. klewso

        Their agriculture was just collateral damage.

        1. Guy Rundle

          actually it was both. The use of agent orange and other chemicals was originally for defoliation. After extended use it was realised that this was disrupting agriculture, and from 1969 onwards, the US factored in engineered famine in the North as a war tool.

          1. klewso

            “Agrarian Denialism”?
            Denying them the chance to feed themselves.

    2. old greybearded one

      I am with Guy on this. It has also left a calamitous legacy of birth defects and medical horrors. And all this to protect a South Vietnames government for whom scumbags would be far too nice a term.

  9. mikeb

    Ah Amanda Vanstone. If ever an analogy about a pig and a trough come together you can think of Amanda..

    Actually that story reminds me of Trump’s Vietnam service (nailing super models). It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

  10. klewso

    Look what Abbott and his The Credlin handler did to the place (she as “unelected Whip”?) – including the lawn when the crew guest starred in the Ditch the Bitch Tea Party?
    Was Mandy as publicly pissed then?

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