Turns out that inside every storm in every teacup lies a cloud with a silver lining.
I am, of course, referring to yesterday’s news that Kevin Andrews, the Minister for Obedient Hair and Defence, announced that he would be boycotting the ABC’s favourite faux left-wing program, Q&A.
“I was asked to go on next Monday evening and I said that I wouldn’t. I thought I should take a stand in this instance,” Andrews told media.
I think I speak on behalf of all right-minded Australians when I say, ‘Thank fuck for that’.
Take all the stands you want, Kevin. I’ll buy you a grandstand if you never, ever go on Q&A again. And if you agree not to appear in any other media, or participate in public life, I’ll buy you a whole fucking stadium.
All we need now is for Andrews to convince all of his parliamentary colleagues, from both major parties, to follow suit. Then we can finally spend a Monday night not watching people posture and fawn on a stage-managed current affairs program that only once, in its long-suffering existence, actually experienced reality… and then had to briefly go off air to recover (the student protest last year, if you can’t be bothered clicking on the link).
Now, if you need all this explained, then bully for you – avoiding ‘news’ at the moment is a very good idea. So here’s the wrap: Team Australia is currently in meltdown after a young Muslim named Zaky Mallah said something on Q&A that wasn’t scripted.
And here it is: “Allahu Akbar, I am going to behead all the kafirs in the audience tonight, then drink their blood and eat all the little babies. Fuck the Anzacs.”
Oh no, wait, sorry. He didn’t say that at all. That was just me trying to upset conservatives. Here’s what he actually said: “The Liberals now have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join ISIL because of Ministers like him.”
Translation: Politicians like Steve Ciobo (who had just remarked that he’d like to strip Mallah of citizenship) contribute to the radicalization of young Muslims, and cause them to want to go to other countries and cut peoples' heads off.
Which may be true. Except it’s not. Steve Ciobo is so uninteresting that I doubt he could radicalize a pitbull with a rubber band and a cattle prod. And anyway, Australian Muslims, by and large, can’t and won’t be radicalized. Not by Ciobo. Not even by intolerant Abbott.
None of which really matters, because the point is, all Mallah did was express an opinion. At its core, not an especially stupid one (on the Bolt report scale of daft statements) but then not a particularly well articulated one either… and yet not all that surprising considering Mallah appears to be wearing a cap with a gold marijuana leaf emblem during his appearance on national television.
And so here’s what happened after that. This is the actual apology from the ABC, which has been tacked onto the front of the website version of Monday’s Q&A program: “The ABC has acknowledged it made an error of judgement in allowing Mr Zaky Mallah to join the audience and ask a question in this edition of Q&A.”
Well, at least they called him ‘Mr’.
Honestly, you couldn’t make this shit up. Not that I’m complaining. I feel like I owe society an entrance fee for the circus that has been unfolding before my very eyes. I’ve eaten more popcorn in the last four days than Troy Buswell did at last year’s International Chair And Couch Symposium (and yes Troy, if I do buy Kevin Andrews that stadium, you’re welcome to come along and deviate your septum).
Except, of course, none of them have actually lost the plot. The Liberals in particular are no more upset about Zaky Mallah on Q&A than they are about men, women and children drowning at sea. This is political manna from heaven (or paradise) and they’re milking it for all they think it’s worth.
And it must be worth something, right? Otherwise why milk it?
The fact is, ‘terror’ rates for Tony, because while the vast majority of Australians sit and scratch their heads in wonder, there is, unfortunately, a ‘small’ but motivated (by fear) group of swinging voters who think that Zaky Mallah’s views are representative of the broader Muslim population, and that Syria borders New Zealand and ISIL is already on our doorstep.
Which is ironic. Because ‘small’ sums up Australian politics perfectly. In a two party system, you only need a few extra percent to win office. So why not race to the bottom… ready, set, go fuck yourself.
And so, while yes, this is all ridiculous, and yes, this is all embarrassing and unbecoming, it also happens to be good politics. Besides, when did ridiculous, embarrassing and unbecoming ever stop Tony Abbott’s government from doing anything? Or Kevin Rudd’s. Or Julia Gillard’s. Or John Howard’s. Or… you get the point.
And speaking of governments, rumours began swirling in Canberra earlier this week that Abbott is planning to call a snap election. And why not? If the polls are to be believed, a growing number of Australians appear to have finally realized that the only thing that rivals Bill Shorten’s dishonesty is the level of his naked ambition.
In other words, he’d make an excellent modern Australian prime minister. Tony Abbott knows that, which is why he’s so frightened. Because until recently, Tony thought he had a monopoly on naked ambition and dishonesty.Tony also knows – as do his minders – that he’s only ever one syllable away from another fuck-up, from a statement so stupid that he actually causes our collective national IQ to drop. Fuck Gonski, the greatest thing government can do to lift the intellectual capital of this nation is to restrict Tony Abbott to pithy three-word slogans.
And that’s what they’re doing. And that’s why we should be grateful. For that, and for the fact that if the Libs rush off to the polls quickly enough, we'll be seeing less of Kevin Andrews during the election campaign.
Granted, it will only be a little bit less – Q&A is just one program in a giant, fetid teacup-storm of media.
But in small politics, small mercies are the best we can hope for. See you on the other side.
* New Matilda is an independent Australian media outlet. If you like this style of writing, you should probably seek professional help (after subscribing here).
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