April 06, 2011
Your correspondent spent most of the last week in the wilds of Iceland, blissfully out of Wi-Fi range; as soon as you come back into town, and catch up with the news, you wonder what sort of madhouse your country has become. Kristallnacht in Marrickville? People’s cultural identity being assessed by holding up a bunch of swatches to their skin, to see if they match the décor? And the Prime Minister gives an address named after the most unlikely, un-Australian Labor leader in history to damn a whole political party for not sharing in the “delight of family and nation”?
These three events — Andrew Bolt’s appearance on accusations of racial vilification, the revival of attacks on the Greens as some sort of Nazi party, and Julia Gillard’s strange, strange Whitlam Oration — have all been discussed at length in the past week, but not as the expression of a single process, which they are.
Each in their own way represent a desperate desire not to acknowledge a profoundly changed world, retreating into past fantasy as a substitute for a vision of the future. Throw in Greg Sheridan’s bandwagon-jumping mea culpa on multiculturalism, and you have a picture of a carping and negative political culture, structured that way for obvious reasons.