WordPress, despite its frenetic autosave, managed to lose most of this post, except for the last paragraph. I have rewritten it in Wordpad just in case, and will now try to publish. Here’s hoping! BTW, WordPress usually behaves itself but has been odd this morning.
I may be wrong, but today’s column by Gerard, Outgunned in the culture wars, seems to have been written with his brain not quite in gear. Deadline pressure, perhaps? On the one hand we are told:
JOHN Howard is spending big on what have been termed the culture wars. Last week Howard said that his Government would support the establishment of a US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney “with $25 million of taxpayers’ money”. That’s real money, especially since the centre, created with the involvement of the American Australian Association, will also be supported financially by the NSW Government as well as businesses and individuals in Australia and the US.
On the other hand we are told all this spending hasn’t worked. (I beg to differ, as in the past decade certain voices have been shamelessly endorsed and encouraged, and others relegated.)
So far the Howard Government has not been very successful in the culture wars, despite much mythology to the contrary. At the moment there is talk about some much-needed reforms to the ABC, but this is a decade after Howard became Prime Minister. Like the ABC, SBS is much the same as it was in March 1996, when Labor was defeated. No sign of a culture war victory here, at this stage at least…
It’s much the same with the grants handed out by the Australian Research Council in the humanities area. In recent articles in The Australian, the academics Merv Bendle, David Martin Jones and Carl Ungerer have documented how council funding for terrorism-related research has gone to university-based leftists who believe, in Bendle’s terminology, that the West is responsible for anti-Western terrorism. Ungerer is certainly no right-winger, having worked as a Labor staffer.
To some extent, the situation is not completely of the Coalition’s making. For historical reasons, there are fewer conservative intellectuals – on a per capita basis – in Australia than in the US or Britain. What’s more, many leading conservatives have left-wing or mainstream pro-Labor social democrat backgrounds. There are very few cradle-to-grave conservatives here and it is not clear to what extent this is changing among the younger generation…
So far as the lament has some substance, could it simply be that the right has simply failed to be convincing? Then of course there is the whole thrust of the argument here, which is a worry: the research here is denigrated not on the basis of any argument or evidence, but on the presumed antecedents of the people involved. For example, it is assumed that any thought that the West may itself be responsible for the reaction against it, seen at its most extreme in terrorism, must be invalid because only leftists would think this, and it really shouldn’t be thought at all, even if there is, objectively speaking, some merit in the argument.