Back in the day, it was considered desirable to offer arguments about people you had political disagreements with. You know, factually grounded premises, logically sound conclusions, that type of thing.
However, if you produce content for Murdoch, there’s a much easier way to win arguments. Fabrication.
Take the case of Joe Hildebrand. He’s a hilarious columnist for the Daily Telegraph. I swear, when you read his articles, you’ll find it hard to stop laughing. You’ll laugh until it hurts. Really.
For example, take this particularly pain-inducing article. Here Joe tells of his move to Marrickville, which is a bit of a concern because ‘I happen to look a bit like a “kike”.’ And apparently his kind aren’t welcome in Marrickville. There is a picture – Marrickville, Jew-free since 2003. I mean, it’s not, but who cares, right?
He then writes – in his cleverly satirical way – that the Greens anti-Semites have banned anything with Jews in them. There was a conundrum: ‘Lethal Weapon was more difficult to categorise as contraband, as even though it was directed by a descendant of Abraham it also starred Mel Gibson, whose beliefs are broadly in line with those of the Marrickville Greens.’ Get it? The Greens are as anti-Semitic as Mel Gibson! For those as ignorant as gossip as I am, Mel Gibson apparently said, ‘Fucking Jews … the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.’
If you think that’s pretty funny, check out another Hildebrand article. What do we learn? Fiona Byrne would boycott a meeting because there was kosher food! Oh, the delicious satire (that pun was definitely unintended – please don’t laugh at anything I write here). ‘Fiona’ then calls Jesus a ‘dirty Jew’ – because obviously she just hates Jews, right? Oh! Hilarious! How funny.
Hildebrand is a charming character (‘breasts and arses are my favourite parts of a woman, followed closely by her personality’). And he has quite the gift for satire, right? I mean, it’s obvious all the stories above were made up, to make serious political points (that people he disagreed with are racist).
So let’s recall a few more satirical pieces from a few years ago. Around APEC, he wrote: ‘But while the powerbrokers are fed and feted the Daily Telegraph has also learned of protester plans to provoke police into violent confrontation during the seven-day summit.’ He was speaking of Mutiny, an anarchist collective based around Black Rose bookstore in Sydney. That’s 30 August 2007.
MILITANT APEC protesters are secretly plotting an outbreak of violence for US President George W. Bush’s arrival in Sydney tomorrow, distributing a rioter’s training manual on how to wear gas masks, confront police and even evade fares. The FLARE (For Liberation Autonomy Resistance Exodus) manual, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, openly declares an intent to commit violence.
Perhaps he had friends in ASIO leak him a copy.
The idea that anarchists have a ‘training manual’ is a little hard to credit (getting anarchists to agree on anything isn’t easy, let alone what they’d be ‘trained’ for, let alone who’d write the training, let alone anarchists agreeing on anything about any method, except that complete autonomous individualism be facilitated). I happen to have a FLARE reader. It’s pretty dull, mostly pretentious waffle. I wrote three essays for it, which reflects its lax editorial standards. I’m happy to supply them to anyone interested. No one read them – or at least I don’t think they did. It was sold after the convergence started, and people were usually busy all day for a few days, in big group environments. A close friend told me years later she’d read my essays, and was angry my footnotes had been removed.
Anyway, APEC came and went and there was no violence, except I think for one crazy guy who attacked cops with something metal. It turned out that Hildebrand’s stories had been fabricated. Except when someone writes for Murdoch papers that’s probably considered an asset.
I hadn’t heard of him since then – but now that he blogs for the Daily Telegraph, I guess he’s been promoted for peddling fabrications about anarchists, so that he can peddle the no less sleazy fabrication that the Greens are anti-Semites. This would probably rate of some interest if people had any expectations of any kind from Australian media.
In Hildebrand’s defence, I pointed this out to him. I give him the right of reply. Here’s his response in full: