Murdoch's Cultural Revolution


Last Friday marked the first anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings. It’s been a difficult year for Muslim minorities living in Western countries, especially for ‘home-grown’ Muslim youth.


Last year’s London attacks were not the first time the city has been hit by terrorists. For decades, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorised this great city. They almost claimed the life of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and among their more influential scalps was India’s last Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten.

The IRA were known to be terrorists. They were also known to be Irish and Catholic. Yet in England and across the English-speaking world, being Irish and/or Catholic did not make you a terror suspect. The IRA were rightly seen as representing a fringe minority of Irish Catholics.

The same cannot be said for the religion of those believed to be responsible for the 7/7 bombings. Increasingly, across the West, the children and grandchildren of Muslim migrants are seen as a threat to national security. And the demonising of Muslim youth has largely been the work of neo-Conservative commentators who have sought to link all forms of Islam to violence and terror.

In the hate-filled paradigm of these propagandists, Muslim youth just cannot win: t hey either having no culture, being caught in what Australian Prime Ministerial aspirant, Peter Costello, describes as ‘a twilight zone where the values of their parents’ old country have been lost but the values of the new country are not fully embraced’; or they have ‘too much’ (Islamic) culture and cannot assimilate into Western norms.

Neo-Conservatives are using the security threats apparently posed by Muslim youth as a rallying cry to usher in their own ‘cultural revolution.’ And like its Chinese equivalent, the neo-Con cultural revolution is built upon hatred, innuendo and prejudice. In Australia, this cultural revolution is being led by some regular contributors to Quadrant and the op-ed pages of The Australian.

Traditional conservatives believe that governments aren’t the appropriate entity for enforcing culture. Rather, in line with neo-classical liberals such as Freidrich Hayek, such conservatives believe that culture should be allowed to emerge spontaneously from the grassroots of civil society. It follows, as Tony Abbott has rigorously argued, that conservatives have compelling reasons to support multiculturalism.

But neo-Cons want to see a mono-cultural revolution in which Western governments wage a jihad against any and all cultures which might pose some threat.

Since 9/11, and especially since 7/7, Muslims have become the whipping boys and girls of this neo-Con cultural revolution, with the usual strategies being employed demonise the ‘other.’ Muslims are made uniform, monolithic and thus easier to characterised as ‘they’ and ‘them’ the fact that Muslims in Australia, for example, come from over 60 different ethnic groups and speak over 200 languages and dialects (apart from English) is glossed over.

Muslims are also painted as unfamiliar, foreign, alien. ‘We’ Judeo-Christian people are completely different to ‘them’ Muslims, and ‘they’ refuse to fit in. Neo-Con propaganda isn’t interested in Muslim theology, which honours Old Testament Prophets and reveres Mary ‘above the women of all ages and nations.’

Thanks to Emo.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 in China was orchestrated by Madame Mao, a second-rate Shanghai actress who seduced and married a young revolutionary leader. If the current neo-Con cultural revolution has an equivalent orchestrator, it is the ageing ex-Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch. A number of media outlets owned by Murdoch, particularly Fox News, have been busy disseminating hatred against virtually all forms of Islamic culture.

The editorial line of Murdoch-owned newspapers across North America and Australia has been characterised by relative unsophistication on Muslim minorities and their cultures. And in both Sydney and Melbourne, leading News Ltd columnists display often hysterically embarrassing views about Muslims and extreme hostility toward them.

Sometimes, when I read one of these nonsensical columns, I wonder whether there are things you can say in Murdoch-owned newspapers that you simply couldn’t say in The Canberra Times or the Sydney Morning Herald.

But who am I to carp about editorial bias? After all, I’ve frequently contributed to Murdoch-owned papers (and continue to do so). It may be impossible to generalise about newspapers owned by News Ltd, all of which employ some outstanding journalists, writers and editors. But what do we say when a media baron known to exercise strong editorial control expresses his own views on a contentious issue?

On 26 June, Rupert Murdoch visited Sydney to receive an award for being ‘the most influential Australian of all time.’ On that occasion, he is reported by AAP as saying:

You have to be careful about Muslims who have a very strong, in many ways a fine, but very strong religion which supersedes any sense of nationalism wherever they go.

I wondered whether Murdoch was being quoted out of context. What did he really mean to say? Was he talking about all Muslim migrants to Western countries? Was he specifically talking about Australian Muslims? Was he suggesting Islam always supersedes nationalism in the lives of Muslims? Was he accusing Muslims of holding dual and mutually exclusive loyalties?

In short, was Murdoch saying the religious culture of Muslims was a cultural (if not a security) threat to Australia?

I took the initiative of writing to senior editors of News Limited newspapers across the country. I sent each of them the following e-mail:

I am preparing an op-ed piece on the recent comments by Rupert Murdoch. I would be interested to hear your feedback on the following news item …,10117,19597136-2,00.html

Specifically, I would like to know:

1. Do you think Mr Murdoch is questioning the loyalties of all Muslim Aussies?

2. If not, how do you read his comments?

3. Do you support his sentiments?

4. Do you believe people should never put their religion before their national identity?

5. Do you think this expression is indicative of an official News Limited editorial policy when it comes to Muslim issues?

I look forward to your written response.

And what was their response? Watch this space

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.