By Darryl Mason
The post down below, 'Howard Hating : New National Sport', was up for an hour, or less, at Road To Surfdom, to which I occasionally contribute. The blog's owner Tim Dunlop pulled the piece because he didn't like its tone or its association of violence with prime minister John Howard, even though the post was clearly satirical. Fair enough.
And there the story would have have ended. Except Herald Sun blogger Andrew Bolt jumped onto the, by then, deleted story so he could raise his regular, pointless and utterly inane question :
What is it with the Left and violence?My only regret with writing the 'Howard Hating' post is that today, on the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, I've given Bolt a way of distracting his readers from the fact that it was the Australian conservative Right, of which he is a proud member, who cheered most loudly and most savagely for the illegal War On Iraq to become a reality. Bolt damns words, but praises a war that has killed tens of thousands of people.
A war that has destroyed the standing of the United States in the international community, robbed its people of more than half a trillion dollars, taken the lives of more than 3500 coalition troops, cost the Australian people more than $4 billion, killed more than 60,000 Iraqi civilians and driven millions more from their homes. Iraqis continue to still flee the country of their birth at a rate of more than 30,000 a week. More than one-third of all Iraqi children are now categorised by the United Nations as malnourished.
Talk about promoting violence. Bolt's hypocrisy is pathetic, and illuminating.
Bolt, like most of the so-called conservative commentariat in Australian, were fully aware of the terrible civilian death toll the initial Iraq War would deliver, just as they were fully aware of the horrific insurgency that would inevitably follow the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
And this is say nothing of the shocking treatment dished out by the likes of Bolt, fellow blogger Tim Blair, the Sydney Morning Herald columnists Miranda Devine and Gerard Henderson and the Daily Telegraph's Piers Ackerman onto the hundreds of thousands of Australians who marched in February, 2003, against the, then coming, illegal war.
Included amongst these protesters so viciously defiled by Bolt, Blair, Henderson, Ackerman and Devine, were thousands of Australian veterans of World War 2, the Malayan Emergency, the Indonesian Insurgency, and the Korean, Vietnam and first Gulf wars.
Through their desperate hatred of peaceful protestors, these writers insulted and verbally assaulted Australian veterans, both men and women, who well knew the full horror of what going to war on Iraq would actually mean. for all the young Australian soldiers and Iraqi civilians involved.
Bolt, along with his media brethren, happily mocked such protesters and questioned their sanity, and loyalty, and parroted John Howard's spurious claim that the veterans who chose to march against the coming violence of a full-blown war, waged against a mostly defenceless people, were giving comfort to Saddam Hussein.
But to raise a question about the scope of anger and hatred directed towards John Howard today by many, many Australians who clearly feel duped and betrayed by this nation's leadership?
Well, Andrew Bolt reckons you must be a Lefty and therefore you must embrace violence.
And so it goes. On and on.
Here's the original post that was pulled from Road To Surfdom, in full :
How many Australians silently whispered the words "C'mon snipers..." when they first saw footage of prime minister John Howard fleeing, at speed, out the back of a smoking Hercules on a wide-open airstrip in Iraqi insurgent territory on Sunday night?
Hundreds of Australians? Thousands? Millions?
'Howard Hating' is now officially Australia's new national sport of choice. But do the vast majority of Australians merely dislike John Howard? Or do they hate him? Do they despise him? Do they wish for his political or physical death? Or both?
I know I've cited the unofficial caravan park campfire poll before, but I think the vibe from such gatherings of lower and middle class Australians aged 20 to 80 from all states of the nation can be extremely revealing.
On a trip through ten caravan parks and campgrounds in West Australia in late February and early March, the raw fury and teeth-grinding hatred that virtually everyone I met held for John Howard was disturbing in the extreme.
They could smell the blood of Howard's coming electoral savaging, and they didn't want to wait another month for it to become a flesh-splashing reality. They wanted it, needed it, right there and then. If the prime minister were a newborn baby, they would have tossed him to the dingos.
As Newspoll results today show, not only has Kevin Rudd and his policy-focused front bench ministers opened up a completely unbeatable lead of 61-39% over the "conga-line of suckholes" that leer out from the prime minister's quivering shadow, John Howard himself is now the primary target of choice for the loathing of a nation.
Naturally, the opposition leader's numbers will rise in the polls if the prime minister's popularity and approval ratings fall. But Howard's numbers aren't falling, they're plunging into the basement like a lift crammed full of concrete blocks that's snapped free of its cables. He's almost in George W. Bush territory. And Rudd has led Labor to their best numbers in two decades.
The decline of John Howard's political kingship has already become an amusingly harrowing spectacle. But the laughs won't last. The cacophony of lies, deceit and fear mongering that have punctuated his reign have deafened the masses and deadened their souls. Now they want their revenge. They want to scrape the filth off their shoes and put the past decade of derision and division, of Tampa, of Truth Overboard, of legitimate refugee toddlers razor-wired into desert prison camps, of Australia-funded missiles slamming into Iraqi civilians, of propping up Saddam's hideous regime by plausibly-denying the bribes of the AWB, all of it, all that muck and filth, Australians in the overwhelming majority now want to push it all deep into the back corner of their memories.
Perhaps appropriately enough, the kiss of death for John Howard was delivered in the main editorial in The Australian today. Two kisses, actually. One for each cheek.
"The record shows that far from being too close to the Howard Government, as our detractors would argue, this newspaper has in fact been a fierce critic."
"....for a government that argues its strongest virtue is economic management, the real economic achievements of the past 11 years are slim pickings."
The Australia's editor is trying to force the lid shut on Howard's political coffin before the fetid stink of death seeps into his pleasant suit.
There is no going back now. The opinion makers and fakers of The Australian can go for the throat, and the arms and the legs and the bloated liver, of Howard for all they are worth.
Australia has been transformed under the War On Human Decency waged by John Howard for 11 solid years, and many of us have become more like Americans than perhaps even John Howard and Tony Abbott and Piers Ackerman and Andrew Bolt might like to realise.
The Fair Go For All has faded. Give The Little Bloke A Chance is not so popular anymore. But most of all, we don't seem to like Losers as much as we once did, even the ones who try really hard. That's the chief reason why the Iraq War is so vastly unpopular in the United States today. America is losing, and Americans don't like to lose. And now, neither do we.
Howard is a Loser. And everyone knows it. When you're a Loser in Australian politics, you don't get a second chance anymore, as Mark Latham so comprehensively learned.
The stumbling, bumbling, simpering, whimpering decline and fall of John Howard is really going to be almost too cruel to watch. Alan Ramsey called the coming spectacle of Howard's downfall "delicious" in the Sydney Morning Herald last week. Maybe. But there's nothing pretty about a six month long autopsy.
John Howard is like a once glorious multiple Melbourne Cup winning racehorse that's gone lame and now needs a well-lubricated fist to clear its bowels in the misty morning. Peter Costello and Malcolm Turnbull must do the decent thing, the humane thing. The only thing that can and should be done. They must feed Howard a handful of sugar cubes and coax him down into the back paddock and do what the insurgent snipers failed to do in Iraq on the weekend: put him out of his misery.Politically speaking, of course.
Road To Surfdom Regular Readers On Decision To Pull 'Howard Hating : New National Sport' Post From Blog