“Hoo boy,” tweeted Dominic “Illywhacker” Kelly on Friday as the Oz released a preview of its weekend Inquirer section, and a grateful nation could but agree. This was going to be gooooooooood. For political tragics, the Inquirer is like MasterChef — what abomination can these people produce out of what seems like a simple enough spec?
They did not disappoint, with a three-course treat that began with Chip Le Grand’s investigation into Antifa in Australia — tricky, since few anti-fascist groups sail explicitly under the Antifa banner here, and also since Le Grand missed much of its particular history, rooted in European solidarity movements, and the anarchist “black bloc”, which preceded the Antifa branding. No matter.
The problem Le Grand saw was that Antifa-type groups had few Nazis to fight. All these far-right activists were anti-Nazi. Neil Erikson of Patriot Blue had, oh, had been a neo-Nazi sympathiser, was now a supporter of Israel. Blair Cottrell, his former political colleague was fascinated by Hitler as a historical figure, but not a Nazi. Yes, certainly a target-poor environment.
After that fiery entree, a sorbet, in the form of Paul Kelly’s endless, tedious, ridiculous reflection on same-sex marriage. Kelly was on leave during the survey result, wisely for all concerned. Back now, he warned of the grave crisis and social division that would result from a failure to guarantee religious freedoms. Yes, it’ll be like the last great social crisis Kelly imagined — over the Eatock v Bolt 18C decision, which Kelly guaranteed would be a major struggle for our liberties, people out on the streets, etc. When Tony Abbott squibbed it, and no one cared, Kelly blamed the IPA for turning it into a major struggle for our liberties, etc. Now, the Bloviator wants a plebiscite or referendum on religious freedom for the next election to coincide with the hordes of evangelical Christian wedding planners petitioning for their rights to be heard. Sure, why not? Let’s throw in the tax-free status of religious organisations as a question while we’re about it. How would that go?
But after that palate-cleanser, the main course was Bettina Arndt who served up what, had it been a meal, would surely have been a turducken paella. A piece as multi-branching, distracted and confused as the conservative movement it represents, Arndt’s piece started from stats that showed that young women were mildly more left-wing that men — by bout 6-10% — across social classes. Possibly this might indicate wage, opportunity and power differences, single-motherhood, greater presence in unionised workplaces? No, the fault is gender-studies courses in universities, which has led young sisters astray — including, apparently, the 85% who never go near a humanities department, where they’re taught. This turns into another advert for the proposed Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, and a recycling of the IPA’s Western civilisation campaign, which shows that students aren’t being taught to uncritically worship the glories of Western civilisation, such as the capacity to think critically. Instead, they’re criticising it.
Before that, however, is the best bit. “My interest in this subject was piqued by my online dating clients,” Arndt notes — yes, really — “mainly professional women, most of whom are left-wing and scathing about conservative men.” Why some of them won’t date men who like reading Andrew Bolt! Don’t mean to tell you your job Bettina, but that’s the whole point of a dating agency — to avoid wasted time. Offhand, I couldn’t have thought of a better primary sorting mechanism than Blot. “Some of these girls needs to grow up,” one customer grumbles. “They sound like second-year arts students.” Ladies, he is probably still single. Why it’s almost like women don’t understand the point of Concubines4AlphasRUs.
For the cognoscenti, this chino-Taliban take — educated women are trouble — has a delicious aftertaste. Arndt is the daughter of late scholar and hard-going Cold War warrior Heinz Arndt, whom she delighted in the ’70s and ’80s by becoming the nation’s perkiest TV sex therapist, instructing the audience of the Mike Walsh show in the mysteries of oral sex. The libertarian take on life has, er, shrivelled somewhat, as we are all reminded of Our Duty to Western Civilisation. Delicious!
Do I go on, about one section of one newspaper? I do, I do, but not out of any sense of imminent political danger. It is sheer joy at the deranged disorganisation of the intellectual right, the layered textures of their delusion about the state of Australian society. I delight in every mouthful that these masterchefs serving up a dog’s breakfast provide. What will they serve up for Christmas? Hoo boy!