Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ideas and realities

Not usually in business of critiquing newspaper articles and the obsessive pursuit of right-wing MSM commentators by lefty bloggers but even I was struck by the Gerard Henderson column this week and Paul Kelly's contribution. Paul Kelly's The End of Certainty highlights Henderson's influential role in Liberal policy formation in the 1980s as Howard's Chief of Staff and his coining of the term 'industrial relations club'. Henderson left Howard's staff in 1986 because he felt Howard was too indecisive on industrial relations. Both Henderson and Kelly have suffered the experience that Communists were once familiar with, being left down by their favoured foreign government. The Hicks plea bargain reveals that the US has made up policy as it went along. Both Henderson and Kelly retreat to the ground of criticising Hicks' defenders, Kelly at least tries to balance this by some vague criticism of the Australian government but also bewails 'purist line of the human rights lobby'. Henderson at the end of his column admits: 'The Howard Government could have better handled the Hicks matter', if so how? Both Henderson and Kelly somehow think that wrong statements by individuals they dislike are somehow equivalent to real physical actions by the agents of governments. It encapsulates the view of politics as a verbal debate disconnected from the real worlds of human experience. Most supporters of the Iraq war have retreated to scouring the comments of the war's opponents for those they can criticise, they are sometimes successful in this, but making a foolish, or even a morally repugnant statement, is not the same as taking an action those real consequences for flesh and blood humans. What we see is a tendency to blur the distinction between perceptions and reality, so Greg Sheridan can note Al-Qaeda’s success in constructing a global narrative of Islamic victimisation but then attribute this success to the malign influence of ‘pro-terrorist’ Western commentors.



At 5:40 PM, Blogger Joel said...

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