The Australian mufti Sheik Taj el-din al Hilaly caused a mostly media-only shitfit in Australia when he went on Egyptian television and said Muslims had more right to be in Australia as they brought tickets to the colonies, whereas most English/Scots/Irish Australians were transported here, for free, in chains as slave labour.
"The Anglo-Saxons who arrived in Australia arrived in shackles. We paid for passports from our own pockets. We have a right in Australia more than they have,"Funny stuff.
Oh, wait, some people didn't think it was funny at all. Well, the prime minister John Howard thought it was funny, at first, before he quickly realised that the "Society of Perpetual Outrage" - that is, Australian right wing politicians and commentariat - were going to run this non event into the ground.
And thus, a four day long media roasting followed.
In the Daily Telegraph today, Hilaly's unofficial spokesman, Keyser Trad, attempts to claim that Hilaly's outrage-inducing "exaggerations" are in the tradition of great Australian tall-tale tellers like Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson, and is a melding between Australian storytelling traditions and something uniquely Arabic.
"...the use of exotic, colourful or exaggerated generalisations – familiar to readers of Lawson and Patterson – remains a feature of contemporary Arab culture," says Trad.
Err, yeah. Good luck with that.
The Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said no-one takes the mufti seriously anymore. We should listen to Downer. If anyone knows all about what it's like not to be taken seriously, to be regarded as a joke and an idiot of true supremacy on the world stage, it's Alexander Downer.
But Hilaly says he doesn't hate Australia. No. In fact : "I love Australia. I respect the Australian nationality, Australian society, the land of peace. Australia is the best country in the world."
You got that right, buddy.
While he has been off target and stunningly offensive in the past, Hilaly can also be right on the money as well when it comes to John Howard's endless bowing and scrapping at the blood-stained heels of BushCo.
Hilaly calls the Australian prime minister, "Mr Me, Too".
As in Howard waits until he hears what BushCo has to say about a world or war related issue before he agrees with the White House, wholeheartedly.
There's a bit of bitter truth that most Australians would find hard to deny.
It's always interesting to note that when these debates flare up in Australia about who is more Australian, what it means to be Australian, who should or should not be allowed to be Australians, you never hear the opinions of any Aboriginals.
So much for balance.