When I switched on my TV last Sunday I was not at all surprised to see a three-star Australian general giving a Canberra press conference, having heard a few days earlier about the federal government’s decision to withdraw all ADF personnel from Afghanistan. And I knew what I wanted to hear Lt. General Frewen saying; that now that our troops could finally disengage an enemy who’d never posed the slightest threat to Australia they could be redeployed much closer to home to deter a much bigger and more menacing adversary posing a more existential threat to these shores. I was also sure that, given the trouble caused by Michael Pezzullo’s drums of war a few weeks ago, Lt. General Frewen would stop short of identifying this new enemy. I was wrong about that, though; he did name it. But it wasn’t the C word I was expecting.
In handing an army officer the microphone, Mr Morrison may have taken a cue from the lazy journalists who’ve relied on militaristic cliches to exaggerate the toll of the pandemic. And I assumed that someone who’s presumably been close to real warfare would choose his words more carefully. But I was wrong about that, too, with Lt. General Frewen talking about ‘the wargaming I’ve done with states and territories’ and referring to the operational headquarters of Operation Shield as ‘The Covid War Room’. The slogan for the roll out campaign, ‘Arm yourself’, does not dilute the impression that the government wants us to believe that not since 1942, when a Japanese invasion seemed imminent, has this country been in greater mortal danger. Ordinary Australians may well respond to such fear-mongering and the advertising copywriter in me quite likes the economy of ‘Arm yourself’. But I can’t help wondering what John Howard thinks of it.
The epoch of intellectual stagnation which followed the destruction of the Roman Empire by barbarian hordes is often referred to as the Dark Ages. Dark because, deprived of the illuminating influences of antiquity, it was a time when the populations of Europe regressed to a Stygian coexistence, blinkered by fear and ignorance.
The epoch of intellectual stagnation which will follow the destruction of Western civilisation by identitarian hordes may one day be referred to as the Dork Ages. Dork because, unlike our flat-earther ancestors, who knew no better, modern Western populations could see the regression to blinkered fear and ignorance coming and could have prevented it.
One thing future historians will say we failed to do is encourage the kind of thinking which challenges prevailing orthodoxies in order to correct a common misapprehension. The kind of breakthrough thinking, they might add, which informed the work of giants like Galileo and Darwin. But while such ideas have undoubtedly helped to make human life less nasty, brutish and short, it’s worth remembering they were strongly resisted at their inception – especially by the institutions that were most heavily invested in the misapprehensions they sought to correct. Fortunately, the influence of the Catholic Church in Western democracies has dwindled greatly since Darwin’s time and we enjoy the benefits of abortion, divorce and online porn as a result. But just because most Australians are no longer lectured by men in frocks it doesn’t follow that we’re not being told what to believe and how to behave by an unelected elite with vested interests to protect. And it is ironical that, having been for so long in the vanguard of opposition to Judeo-Christian values, the ABC so perfectly fits the hole which their erasure has left in many lives. Just like the core beliefs of Christianity (existence of God, virgin birth, resurrection, etc.), the ABC’s narratives (the world is coming to an end, racism is ubiquitous, gender is a whim, etc.) are sustained by faith more than evidence, and are all predicated on the concept of original sin – the only difference being that the new original sinner is a man, not a woman, and unlike the New Testament, the New Orthodoxy leaves no doubt about the colour of his skin. Most reassuringly of all for old-school fundamentalists, the proponents of the new faith, as the likes of Peter Ridd, Craig Kelly and Cardinal Pell will attest, are no more tolerant of dissent than the Spanish Inquisition.
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