Poisoning the well

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

Martin Amis claims we live in “the age of horrorism”, an epic struggle between the forces of “evil” and Western values.

Meanwhile, the fifth anniversary of September 11 has caused Prime Minister John Howard to claim that Iraq is now better off without Saddam Hussein. As usual, no journalist dares ask Howard about Iraq’s civil war, Iranian influence in the country, US-backed Shiite death squads or rising violence against Iraqi civilians and US troops.

It is therefore fitting that Peter Manning, the former head of ABC news and current affairs, has released his book, Us and Them, a Journalist’s Investigations of Media, Muslims and the Middle East. His main focus is the media’s obsession with “people of Middle Eastern appearance” and their automatic association with terrorism and rape.

Perennial stirrer Mike Carlton launched Manning’s book on 31 August at Sydney’s Gleebooks. His speech took aim at the conservative commentators in Australia “who fear they are an oppressed minority”¦For what unifies them – beyond the backslapping and self-congratulation, the pleasures of mutual masturbation – is paranoia. They are gripped by a cold fear that they might not prevail. That they have not yet achieved world domination.”

Carlton slammed News Ltd, “Israeli Defence Force” spokesmen Colin Rubenstein and Ted Lapkin, Alan Jones, Quadrant magazine and the Howard government. He ridiculed the cultural warriors’ obsession with the “monsters” of the ABC, Fairfax, the ALP and Greens, environmentalists, trade unions, refugee advocate groups and civil libertarians.

“Leftist ideas” are swamping Australia and leading us to cultural oblivion, or so they want us to believe.

Although Carlton’s speech was peppered with witticisms directed at the “conservative cavalcade” and its empty rhetoric, he praised Manning’s book for “turning a searching eye on racism, bigotry, prejudice, ignorance and hatred in Australia” (though one high priest of the cavalcade, Piers Akerman, has already ignored the message.)

Manning’s call-to-arms reminds us that “poisoning the well of public life” can be strongly blamed on a mainstream media that prefers to keep its readers scared witless every day and to instil distrust towards Australia’s Muslim population. After all, as Carlton offers, “inner city elitists” are just “chardonnay-swilling, latte sipping, Howard hating, Muslim loving, aborting promoting, sexually permissive, refugee-sympathising, soft on the war-on-terror [and] un-Australian.”