THE perceived moral superiority of the inner-city Left is evident in David Marr’s article in last weekend’s ‘The Saturday Paper’, published by Melbourne-based property developer Morry Schwartz.
Marr believes that a large proportion of Australians are bigots and that Tony Abbott is catering for them with a strategy that is “looking disgusting”.
In the final paragraph of his piece, Marr lets it be known that this alleged nest of bigots does not reside, like him, in the high-priced inner-city.
As Marr puts it: “Out there in every town and suburb of this country are voters pleased to think that in Canberra there’s a man and a government happy to let them say what they really think about darkies and slopes and Muzzies.” According to Marr: “They will call this what Abbott calls it: freedom.”
So this is Marr’s dichotomy. There are inner-city types such as him who read The Saturday Paper, which carries full-page advertisements for Mercedes-Benz cars, Harrolds luxury department store for men and multi-million-dollar houses in fashionable parts of Melbourne. And there are Australians who live in the outer suburbs and towns where “they” exhibit the “race fears” of “the Australia of old”.
Marr’s article exhibits a considerable confusion.
On the one hand, he acknowledges that “this is a tolerant country that absorbs migrants with astonishing success”.
Yet he maintains that “strong minority resentments remain in play”. But do they? There are two empirical tests that measure the presence or absence of applied bigotry, and Australia comes out very well in both.
This nation has a relatively very low level of ethnically motivated crime along with a relatively high level of intermarriage between the numerous ethnic groups.
Moreover, the suburbs of Australia are much more diverse than the inner-city areas where Marr and his mates in the intelligentsia tend to live. And many parts of regional Australia have welcomed refugees into their communities when given the opportunity.
So how is it that an intelligent man such as Marr can have such a distorted view of his fellow Australians who live in the outer suburbs and regional areas?
The answer may well lie in the fact he attends too many literary festivals and listens to too many ABC debates where everyone agrees with everyone else and a fine, leftist, ideological time is had by all.
Last year, Marr addressed an adoring audience at the taxpayer-subsidised Adelaide Writers Festival on Cardinal George Pell.
The event was broadcast on Radio National’s Late Night Live and presenter Phillip Adams awarded Marr his prestigious “elephant stamp” award for a brilliant performance. Marr was not asked to debate anyone on the issue and every question or comment from the audience was either in praise of Marr or in criticism of Pell. Or both. No other view was heard.
Last Saturday, The Sydney Morning Herald published the program for this year’s Sydney Writers Festival, which will begin on May 19. Marr happens to be a member of the SWF board. But it is likely that decisions on speakers would be made by the SWF staff, including the artistic director, Jemma Birrell.
This year’s festival will host some important international writers, in addition to homegrown talent such as David Malouf and Thomas Keneally, along with New Zealand’s Eleanor Catton. However, when it comes to the Australian nonfiction area, this is yet another left-wing stack, with talent drawn from the ABC, Fairfax Media, Schwartz’s Black Inc and the like.
Participants include Robyn Archer, Monica Attard, Gregg Borschmann, Meredith Burgmann, Mike Carlton, Michael Cathcart, John Cleary, Robert Dessaix, Irina Dunn, Peter FitzSimons, Richard Flanagan, Malcolm Fraser, Clive Hamilton, Marieke Hardy, Dan Ilic, Benjamin Law, Michael Leunig, Antony Loewenstein, Marr, Julian Morrow, Linda Mottram, Henry Reynolds, Jeff Sparrow, Adam Spencer, Chris Taylor, Rodney Tiffen, Tom Tilley, Christos Tsiolkas and Andrew Upton. There is barely a conservative on the list.
It’s a case of Green Left Weekly meets The Monthly. Yet, as with other like functions, this year’s SWF will be heavily subsidised by taxpayers and ratepayers. This year, the NSW government has contributed $430,000, the City of Sydney $330,000 and the Australia Council $35,000.
It was much the same with the Melbourne Writers Festival held last September. There was a token conservative speaker, of sorts, namely Boris Johnson, who was described as the “colourful Mayor of London”.
But, for the rest, it was essentially another left-wing stack featuring the likes of Wendy Bacon, Bob Brown, Julian Burnside, Catherine Deveny, Jonathan Green, Margaret Simons, Peter Singer and Anne Summers. The 2013 MWF was heavily subsidised by the Victorian and commonwealth governments, along with the City of Melbourne.
In a recent article for Fairfax Media, Wendy Harmer (The Hoopla’s editor-in-chief) wrote lovingly of her experience at the recent Brisbane Writers Festival. This was attended by “sensible middle-class women and the few men who had gathered”.
Harmer compared the occasion to the “spiritual experience” once found in church.
She dismissed Australians who were concerned with such economic issues as “a monetary surplus or deficit”.
According to Birrell, this year’s SWF will push “all kinds of boundaries”.
It won’t, because it will more closely resemble a series of common sermons than an exchange of diverse views.
Conferences where almost everyone agrees with almost everyone else are invariably boring. They also have the effect of distorting reality as the inner-city Left dismiss as bigoted the “they” who happen to live in suburban and regional Australia.