Author Archive

Saving the tea ladies of the West

February 19, 2006

Of course we’ve always known that the more-transgressive-than-thou, libertarian free-spirits of the Aussie media are for the most part just conventional folks putting on a show.

But the word is now out: in support of decisions not to republish the famous Danish cartoons in their own papers, these people now whisper that they have, ah, families. Who would have thought?

More on the Aussies below. But it’s worth noting first that the fabled bohemians of the UK intellectual Right, though in much the same boat, have at least shown themselves to be slightly more inventive.

In explaining its decision not to publish the cartoons, the conservative UK magazine TheSpectator doesn’t mention families (registration required). (OK, this may be wise given the level of bonking that notoriously goes on there). Instead, the magazine editorial on the cartoons mentions its concerns about – would you believe – the tea ladies.

Thus the magazine takes to task those European publications who have published the cartoons, by charging that they have “not just put themselves at risk, but also their canteen staff…” (Emphasis added.) (The editorial also mentions concern for the welfare of classified advertising executives in the western media, but that is beyond funny.)

Of course, for moderate and secular Muslims facing Islamicist crazies in their own countries, this kind of thing from an influential Anglo publication like the Spectator is not all funny but very bad news indeed.

They now find out that many of those in the West who have been cheering them along as the great white hope of democratisation either

  • don’t actually believe in the principles that they espouse, or
  • do believe in them but are, well, sensible about the thing, old boy.

This was the point the Islamicists wanted to make above all in their well-orchestrated campaign, and of course they’ve made it exceedingly well throughout the Anglosphere.

For sheer good ol’ British hypocrisy though, the Spectator is hard to beat. In the same editorial in which it stoutly defends its own decision to be sensible and not publish the cartoons, it attacks bishops who it alleges have failed to assert Christian values in the face of a Muslim cultural onslaught; and police who it alleges have ‘bottled out’ of enforcing the law when it comes to Muslim protestors. Hey Spectator. Don’t bishops and policemen have tea ladies too?

Turning to the Aussie media, Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald asserts that ‘the position taken by most media outlets in Australia, Britain and the United States makes sense’. According to Henderson, ‘at present, there is little point in publishing material that may be used by radical Islamists to stir animosity against moderate Muslims and the West.’

Little point? No point at all, really, provided of course that you can live with the betrayal of the moderate Muslims you claim falsely to be protecting. Some of these are quoted by Henderson himself in this very article, including the Egyptian Muslim journalist Mona Eltahawy, who wrote in the International Herald Tribune that she supported Jyllands-Posten’s right to publish the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. This moderate Muslim said she found “the daily human rights violations of our [Muslim] dictators to be more offensive to the memory of the prophet’s life than a few cartoons could ever be”.

Muslim journalists like Eltahawy take real risks to express such opinions. But Henderson brushes aside such examplers, asserting simply that ‘it makes sense’ (that phrase again) for Western editors and producers ‘to come to a pragmatic judgement in this instance.’

Just writing this should make Henderson feel queasy. He would know that if you only stand up for your principles when they ‘make sense’, they’re no longer principles. And why is ‘this instance’ different? What happens next time? Cowardice (sorry: ‘pragmatic judgements’) tends to be habit-forming.

Henderson in fact proceeds to spell out the simple truth that ‘those who are employed by newspapers and television stations, or who operate websites, do not want to be attacked by angry mobs and suffer the possibility of beheading or another form of death.’

As he says, ‘Some have been honest enough to admit that intimidation was an important factor in their refusal to show their readers/viewers the alleged offensive drawings of the prophet.’

If they have been honest enough, it’s a pity Henderson spills so much fatuous ink trying to rationalise spineless timidity with the ludicrous proposition that it has something to do with protecting moderate Muslims. The opposite is the case, and for this we’re all going to pay enventually, one way or another, tea ladies and all.

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Gekko: the analyst who tells it like it is

February 6, 2006

Gekko would like to point out in his lizardly way that, provided the Australia media keeps the national economic interest properly in mind, the Danish cartoons affair could turn into a windfall.

You know it’s true: what we have here is the biggest Danish-substitute Aussie export opportunity since Mary Donaldson!

Aussie dairy farmers have been doing fairly well out of growing markets in China and India. Now they stand to clean up not only in the Middle East but right across the Islamic world.  

The blunder of the Fairfax papers in NZ in publishing the Danish cartoons has been an extra stroke of good luck – though it’s true that it may also do some collateral damage here.

NZ dairy giant Fonterra’s acquisition last year of the century-old Bonlac coop in Victoria means that Bonlac brands run the risk of being tarred by the black Kiwi brush, and frozen out of the coming action in the Mid East.

No matter: Fonterra’s great vision of creating an ANZAC dairy giant to take on the world may be looking a bit sick, but that won’t hold us Aussies back!

Iran alone buys more than $90 million worth of Kiwi dairy products every year. This could all now go to Australia! Think about it: Kiwi-substitute action on top of the Danish bonanza! This will be more fun than under-arm bowling!

Fonterra should now forget about buying the big Dairy Farmers Coop in NSW that they’ve been eyeing for yonks. When Dairy Farmers floats on the ASX within the next couple of years, it will be an all-Aussie affair.

For investors who can’t wait that long, the best play right now is to get out of New Zealand and reinvest in Philippines conglomerate San Miguel Corporation. The Filipino group acquired Australia’s National Foods, along with its Pura milk and King Island creams and cheeses brands, among others.

Mind you, the Aussie media will have to stay strong in their lovely sell-out mode. Sure, Ibn Warraq, a well-known Islamic dissident writer, wrote in Germany’s Der Spiegel that ‘unless we [i.e. the media] show some solidarity, unashamed, noisy, public solidarity with the Danish cartoonists, then the forces that are trying to impose on the Free West a totalitarian ideology will have won; the Islamization of Europe will have begun in earnest.’  But so what?

Provided the Aussie media can resist the advice of the Ibn Warraqs of this world, in Cairo tomorrow they’ll be clearing the shelves of French Yoplait and replacing it with Aussie Ski yoghurt! Go Aussie go!

The AWB gave up a few hundred million bucks for some wheat deals; are our media’s free speech principles too high a price to pay for the biggest dairy market in the world?

You gotta be kidding! At the time of writing, not a single cartoon of ol’ Mo has appeared in any Aussie newspaper! Keep it up guys!

Of course some Muslims in the Middle East actually take seriously all that stuff about free speech that you hear from Ibn Warraq and his ilk; and that we carry on about in our editorials and at civic receptions and parliamentary openings and the like.

In the midst of the cartoons furore, one Muslim publisher – name of Jihad El Momeni –actually reproduced three of the Danish cartoons in the weekly Jordanian paper that he edits, called Shayhan. He was fired and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who happened to be touring the US, remarked from Washington that he would be ‘punished’.

There’s no need for Aussie media people to feel bad about not supporting the likes of losers like Momeni. All they have to do is follow the example of CNN, who, after reporting how Momeni risked his life in support of free speech, added the wonderfully prim line: ‘CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons out of respect for Islam.’ It’s that easy!

There are also a number of secular Islamic bloggers in the Middle East who have not only criticized their co-religionists for their cartoons hysteria, but have actually mounted an internet ‘Buy Danish!’ campaign in the Middle East. Can you imagine? In Egypt, ‘Big Pharaoh’ is one such blog; ‘Freedom for Egyptians’ is another. There are plenty more.

Hey, talk about guys in pygamas! These are the same people who carry on about the persecuted Christian Coptic minority every time a few local Islamic boyos torch the local church on a Saturday night and kill some Copts, as they did again on 18 January this year, in the village of Edyssat near Luxor in upper Egypt. 700 years or so ago, the Copts were the majority in Egypt. Now they’re down to about 10 per cent. More losers!

Talking about Islamic-Christian relations, King Abdullah touched on that subject as well in Washington last week. Showing the hilarious sense of humour traditionally associated with colorful desert despots like himself, he remarked that relations between Muslims and Christians in the Middle East were ‘a 1,400 year long tradition of friendship’.  Funneee! Gekko has never laughed so much!

But Abdullah’s conservative American audience reportedly accepted it without the slightest demurral – and so should we. To those who object, Gekko, pausing on his way to the bank, will have only this to say: MOOO!

UPDATED: with AWB reference…