Skip to comments.Bleeding hearts left exposed as fools
Posted on 10/15/2002 2:22:13 AM PDT by Colosis
October 15 2002
Perhaps those who blamed the US for September 11 will now realise they have been deluded.
Who will be on Michael Leunig's Christmas card list this time? Last year, in the aftermath of the terrorist murders in the United States, the Melbourne-based cartoonist declared that it was time to extend "mercy, forgiveness, compassion" to, wait for it, the leader of al-Qaeda.
Writing in The Age on Christmas Eve, the intellectual guru of Down Under's leftist luvvies declared: "Might we, can we, find a place in our heart for the humanity of Osama bin Laden and those others? On Christmas Day, can we consider their suffering, their children and the possibility that they too have their goodness? It is a family day, and Osama is our relative." It remains to be seen whether Leunig will exhibit similar sentiments this Christmas with respect to the weekend's massacre of the innocents.
It is unclear which person or group was responsible for the terrorist attacks in Bali. The murderers could come from one of the Islamist groups in Indonesia known to have contacts with al-Qaeda, namely Jemaah Islamiah or Laskar Jundullah. It could be terrorists with a different, essentially domestic, agenda; or criminality could be the prime motive. It is too early to say.
Yet it is clear that Australia - and Australians - have been confronted for the first time by a large-scale terrorist act close to home. Now some Australians will better understand the trauma which has affected the American psyche after September 11.
On the anniversary of September 11, the Melbourne social historian Janet McCalman reflected on "good folks" in the US "who don't read quality newspapers or watch public broadcasting or travel overseas unprotected by tourist buses". Consequently they have become "enveloped in the bubble of American insularity". She described such folk as knowing "almost nothing about the outside world" but maintained "the shocking events of September 11" may have awakened them to their "lowly place in the affections of the poor and the struggling". (The Age, September 7).
Those who organised the attacks of September 11 (e.g., bin Laden) and those who carried them out (e.g., Mohammed Atta), were neither poor nor struggling. It is unlikely McCalman would make a similar analysis about Australians following the Bali murders. Insular or not, the victims (tourists and Indonesians) had no reason to expect they would be targeted. In times of national trauma, the term "insular" is more readily directed at the condition of others.
McCalman is but one of a number of commentators who have failed to appreciate the impact of September 11 on the US. It is true that some Americans have little knowledge of the rest of the world, but it is also a matter of fact that some commentators in Europe and Australasia have a minimal understanding of the US.
Last Wednesday Phillip Knightley (the Australian-born journalist who lives in Britain), interviewed on the ABC Radio National Breakfast program, told Vivian Schenker that President George Bush's threatened pre-emptive strike against Iraq "is about oil; it's always been about oil". But if oil is the prime consideration of the Administration, how come the US did not invade Baghdad during the Gulf War? Regime change could have been imposed on Iraq then - leaving the US in effective control of Iraqi supplies.
Knightley is an able journalist. Yet he fails to comprehend the impact of September 11 on Americans. No elected political leader - Republican or Democrat - is going to leave open the possibility that he or she might be accused of not doing enough to prevent an attack on the US, whether from al-Qaeda terrorism or Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction or whatever.
Bush's stance on the coalition against terrorism and/or Iraq may, or may not, be correct. It is driven by an assessment of the threat to US lives rather than by the availability and price of imported fuel. Those who do not recognise this fail to understand contemporary America. It is this lack of comprehension which has dated the views of such well-known leftists as John Pilger in Britain, Noam Chomsky in the US, Scott Burchill and Michael McKinley in Australia, among others.
In The New Rulers of the World (Verso, 2002) Pilger refers to the terrorists of bin Laden and Bush and declares that "there is an echo of the 'Thousand Year Reich' about" US foreign policy. A combination of moral equivalence and hyperbole. In his contribution to Ken Coates's edited collection War is Peace (Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, 2001), Chomsky maintains that Americans are seeking to "evade the consequences of our actions". The implication is that the US is somehow responsible for September 11. In the same article, Chomsky depicts Bush as a mass murderer.
In Australia, Burchill has declared that "no amount of technological fetishism will insulate the West from the unintended consequences of its actions around the world" (Herald, October 10) - another version of the "through-my-fault" analysis. McKinley has failed to see any significant difference between inspections of Iraq's presidential palaces for weapons and
demands by Iraq that the White House and the Pentagon should also be inspected (ABC Radio, October 2). He seems to forget who won the Gulf War and who surrendered.
Then there are the asinine utterances of the infantile left. Remember the claim by Bob Ellis that there are many kinds of terrorism - including "a creditor's threatening letter" (The Canberra Times, January 14, 2002)? And Richard Neville's assertion in Amerika Psycho (Ocean Press, 2002) that US policy after September 11 can be explained in terms of Bush's aim to "extend America's grip on the wealth of the world".
The response to September 11 has divided the Left. In the Northern Hemisphere, Christopher Hitchens has dumped on Chomsky - in The Spectator, The Nation and elsewhere. In the antipodes, David McKnight has accused Pilger of "left-wing fundamentalism" (Herald, December 29, 2001) and online newsletter, The Gleebooks Gleaner, September 2002). Neither conspiracist has taken well to the critiques from the Left.
Whatever personal positions are held about Bush, Blair and John Howard, contemporary terrorism amounts to an attack on Western civilisation. The sooner this is understood, the sooner the likes of Leunig will recognise that bin Laden is one of those brothers who, if given the chance, commits fratricide; before, during or after Christmas.
Gerard Henderson is executive director of the Sydney Institute
thanks for your kind words. The Bali bombings shattered the illusion of many people here who wishfully thought that we are isolated from the problems of the world and safe from terrorist attacks.
My family are all ok but it could so easily have been different... Cassandra is in Thailand now, on holiday with her boyfriend... Tim and Kate planned to go to Bali this weekend... after the bombings, they cancelled their trip.
It's curious that the prime suspect denied involvement and not only said we deserved it (sound familiar?) but made the absurd suggestion: "I think maybe the US are behind the bombings because they always say Indonesia is part of a terrorist network". *shaking my head vigorously to try to make sense of that logic*
I'm not aware of any relief funds but I will see what I can find and let you know soon. XXXX
At least this time they missed my friends/family by a week unlike the WTC.
Sorry to hear that. Bali was such a soft target and now that island is going to suffer terribly. I've been stayed there for two months and always planned to go back - never again.
Good read here.
I'd like Clinton talk compulsively. On and on and on. His own words do a lot to bury him.
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