December 24, 2004
Speaking of Snark
It is again that time of year which a more honest society would label Annual Get-Us-Out-of-the-Red Month, and consequently time again to dust off the relevant ornaments and rituals. As chatter in the blogosphere confirms, lately a new observance has been added to the tired old collection: a yearly season of bellicose gripe from the Right, gleefully facilitated by the Yellow Press, that "political correctness is killing Christmas". This has pretty much supplanted the regular Church-sourced plaints that the holiday is becoming too commercialised, too indulgent and definitely too much about all the stuff they stole from the pagans in the first place. Swamped by a well-orchestrated campaign designed to help an ascendant Right cling grimly to the security blanket of imagined underdog status while working to further traduce dissenters and nonconformists, the yearly whinges from the pulpit about the true meaning of Christmas didn't really stand a chance.
Like many of the wrong-headed fixations of our media, the "Christmas Must Be Saved!" pageant is another product of the United States' tiresome and apparently unending Culture Wars, and you'd think would be pretty irrelevant to anybody in a country not founded by disagreeable religious fanatics. That said, while Fox commentators, the London Sun and others in the Murdoch empire all sang pretty much the same unimaginative tune, it was nice to see Rupert's loyal minions at the Sydney Daily Telegraph manage to find a local angle to the beat-up, turning the Christmas backlash fiction into another chapter in their campaign to knobble Clover Moore, our new mayor and, not being the preferred candidate of the corporate sector and lacking endorsement of any major party (which these days amounts to the same thing), a favourite quarry of the tabloid; whether on basic Tory principles or because of an actual memo from head office, I couldn't say.
After complaining that the Sydney City Council had failed to bedeck the streets with sufficient holly, trees and tinsel to rival London, Paris or New York, all world metropolises with ten times our population, the campaign drummed up some opportunistic soundbites from Moore's political enemies, mendacious columns from the commentariat and the usual barnyard noises from talkback radio, before fizzling out when it was discovered the quotes attributed to Moore, endorsing a Yuletide approach less offensive to the sensibilities of non-Christians, were never said by her and the Council had in fact spent more on decorations this year than last.
The necessary change of tack involved an absurd jeremiad against the Council's plan to use a techno remix of the Australian national anthem as background music for upcoming New Year's Eve celebrations. Though any claim that such a rendition of Advance Australia Fair would somehow cheapen it misses the obvious point that the song is a trite dirge that would be significantly improved by being entirely replaced with twenty minutes of ear-piercing white noise, nevertheless this tuneless doggerel drew stout protectors to the letters pages of the Tele from the wide-ranging species of cretin who identify their patriotism most strongly with empty symbols like anthems and flags, presumably on the grounds that attempting some real demonstration of love of country involving, perhaps, public service or defence of important institutions of freedom and democracy, might require thought, effort or some other chore. Ah well, at the least, these invented scandals allow the Tele to avoid cluttering their front pages with reports from the debacle that has become of that war they so courageously cheered for, such as today's story of the attack in Mosul, buried on page twenty-two.
Unsurprisingly, the paper uses the same technique in their project of maligning the new mayor that forms the cornerstone of the current political methodology of the Right: in pursuit of an agenda chiefly concerned with servicing a rich business elite, strive mightily to portray yourself a champion of the ordinary yeoman in desperate struggle against an army of gay-marrying Muslim-hugging latte-sippers. As Rove above, so Ailes, and thence Campbell Reid, below.
So ran our little part of the War On Kwanzaa.
A Merry Saturnalia to all my reader(s).