Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Jeremy Thompson, the ABC and the art of guilt by footnote association

A number of Australian media outlets have published articles today claiming the Norway killer Anders Behring Breivik praised Australian conservatives in his 1500 page manifesto-come-diary which he published on the internet.

International journalists, bloggers and tweeters had been onto this manifesto (which Norwegian authorities have confirmed is authentic) since Sunday, and they had already noted that a considerable amount had been lifted from various sources: a large part of it was lifted from internet documents, some of it outright plagiarized, while the rest was written by the killer himself. Americans particularly noted the large excerpts from Ted "Unabomber" Kaczynksi.

Aussies were a bit slower on the uptake. Last night, references to Australians being cited in this manifesto started to appear on Australian twitter accounts, and today our journalists got into the act.

But did our journalists give us the facts and enough background for us to make a reasonable judgement?

Try Jeremy Thompson of the ABC. I've reproduced his article below and added notes in red.
Norway killer's manifesto praises Australian conservatives

Updated July 26, 2011 15:39:39

Accused Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik praised four Australian conservative leaders - including former prime minister John Howard - in his 1,500-page manifesto.

Breivik faced a closed court in Norway overnight accused of carrying out the attacks which police now say killed 76 people - mostly teenagers attending a summer camp - on Friday.

The judge in the case said Breivik - who was arrested after massacring 68 people on the island of Utoya - had admitted the facts of the case but had not pleaded guilty.

In a manifesto posted online under the Anglicised pseudonym Andrew Berwick, the killer quoted Mr Howard, former treasurer Peter Costello, Catholic Cardinal George Pell and conservative writer and historian Keith Windschuttle.

The manifesto includes discussions of European history and Islam as well as instructions on how to buy arms and equipment over the internet and how to plan high-impact terrorist attacks.

Saying Mr Howard had urged Islamic migrants to adopt Australian values, Breivik noted the former prime minister "caused outrage in Australia's Islamic community when he said Muslims needed to speak English and show respect to women".

He praised the Howard government's border protection policies: "They have taken serious steps towards actually enforcing their own borders [and] despite the predictable outcries from various NGOs and anti-racists, prime minister John Howard has repeatedly proven to be one of the most sensible leaders in the Western world."

Breivik also mentioned Mr Costello in the document, saying the former treasurer wanted Islamic immigrants to adopt Australian ways.

"Federal treasurer Peter Costello said Australian Muslim leaders need to stand up and publicly denounce terrorism in all its forms. Mr Costello has also backed calls by prime minister John Howard for Islamic migrants to adopt Australian values," the manifesto says.

At the time of publication Mr Howard had not returned calls from the ABC requesting comment.

In a statement, Mr Costello told ABC News Online that Breivik had "committed a monstrous crime".

"Nothing justifies it and certainly not his deluded rantings about Islam or political correctness. My sympathy goes out to the victims of this despicable act."

Breivik also praised the then Archbishop Pell, who he quoted as saying: "Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited. I'd also say that Islam is a much more warlike culture than Christianity."

Cardinal Pell is currently travelling and ABC News Online was not able to contact him.

Breivik wrote that Mr Windschuttle "is tired of that anti-Western slant that permeates academia".

"For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed," he quoted Mr Windschuttle as saying.

Mr Windschuttle told ABC News Online that it was "the first I've heard of it" but at the time of publication he had not commented further.

Key excerpts

Following are some of the key excerpts from Breivik's manifesto that reference Australian figures.

Quoting Keith Windschuttle: (from this Windschuttle article, still available on the internet)

Australian writer Keith Windschuttle, a former Marxist, is tired of that anti-Western slant that permeates academia:

"For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many ways of knowing. Cultural relativism claims there are no absolute standards for assessing human culture. Hence all cultures should be regarded as equal, though different. The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own."

He urges us to remember how unique some elements of our culture are:

"The concepts of free enquiry and free expression and the right to criticise entrenched beliefs are things we take so much for granted they are almost part of the air we breathe. We need to recognise them as distinctly Western phenomena. They were never produced by Confucian or Hindu culture."

But without this concept, the world would not be as it is today. There would have been no Copernicus, Galileo, Newton or Darwin.

Quoting John Howard and Peter Costello: (Not quite. This was lifted off a news.com.au article - the original has been archived - but an excerpt is here)

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello said Australian Muslim leaders need to stand up and publicly denounce terrorism in all its forms. Mr Costello has also backed calls by Prime Minister John Howard for Islamic migrants to adopt Australian values. Mr Howard caused outrage in Australia‘s Islamic community when he said Muslims needed to speak English and show respect to women.

Quoting Cardinal George Pell: (Not quite. He was quoting a 2007 blog post at Americans for Serbia which references The American Council for Kosovo)

Luckily, not all Christian leaders are appeasers of Islam. One of the intelligent ones comes from Australia, a country that has been fairly resistant to Political Correctness.

They have taken serious steps towards actually enforcing their own borders, despite the predictable outcries from various NGOs and anti-racists, and Prime Minister John Howard has repeatedly proven to be one of the most sensible leaders in the Western world.

George Cardinal Pell [sic], Archbishop of Sydney, tells of how September 11 was a wake-up call for him personally:

"I recognised that I had to know more about Islam." "In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence. There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages."

"The predominant grammatical form in which jihad is used in the Koran carries the sense of fighting or waging war." "Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for fear-reaching renovation [sic] is severely limited." "I'd also say that Islam is a much more war-like culture than Christianity."

"I've had it asserted to me is that in the relationship between the Islamic and non-Islamic world, the normal thing is a situation of tension if not war, or outright hostility."

Quoting Cardinal Pell again: (This is actually a quote from Norwegian blogger Fjordman, who currently blogs at Gates of Vienna. It appears in a 2007 article he wrote for Global Politician. Fjordman writes he agrees with Lee Harris and Theodore Dalrymple and continues...)

As long as there is separation between religion and state, those of us who don't have any religious belief should prefer religions which tend to create reasonable and prosperous communities.

Our traditional Judeo-Christian religions have proven this capability. Islam never has, and probably never will.

As Australia's Cardinal George Pell says, "some seculars are so deeply anti-Christian, that anyone opposed to Christianity is seen as their ally. That could be one of the most spectacularly disastrous miscalculations in history."

Indeed it could.

Quoting former Liberal Party MP Ross Cameron: (this is from a 2006 article by Fjordman posted at The Brussels Journal)
A study from the United States identified the main barriers to men tying the knot. Heading the list was their ability to get sex without marriage more easily than in the past. The second was that they can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying.

The report lends weight to remarks by Ross Cameron, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Family and Community Services, who chided Australian men, blaming Australia‘s looming fertility crisis on men‘s commitment phobia.

"The principal reason young women say they don‘t get around to having children is they can‘t find a bloke they like who is willing to commit," he said. "This commitment aversion in the Australian male is a real problem."

Regarding an Australian publishing dispute: (this is lifted from another 2007 Fjordman article, originally published at Jihad Watch, also at the Global Politician, and at Gates of Vienna)

This kind of intimidation has taken its toll. In November 2006, publisher Scholastic Australia pulled the plug on the book the Army of the Pure after booksellers said they would not stock the adventure thriller for youngsters because the "baddie" was a Muslim terrorist. Because two characters were Arabic-speaking and the plot involves a mujaheddin extremist group, Scholastic‘s decision was based "100 per cent (on) the Muslim issue".

This decision was at odds with the publication of Richard Flanagan's bestselling The Unknown Terrorist and Andrew McGahan's Underground in which terrorists are portrayed as victims driven to extreme acts by the failings of the West.

The Unknown Terrorist describes Jesus Christ as "history‘s first ... suicide bomber".

In McGahan‘s Underground, Muslims are executed or herded into ghettos in an Australia rendered unrecognisable by the war on terror

So who was the Oslo killer quoting?

Did Thompson explain this manifesto and its nature and contents?

Did Thompson cite the excerpts accurately?

Did Thompson note the wider context of these excerpts?

Was Jeremy Thompson correct to say, that the killer 'quoted' Cardinal Pell? What did the killer really say about John Howard, if anything at all?

Did Thompson in any way point out that these quotes were not the killer's own words, but copied from other authors?

Did Thompson point out that they may not reflect the killer's own point of view or that they may reflect his opinion but may have not been formed from personal knowledge of Australian identities, or from closely following Australian current events?

We know the killer constructed an elaborate double life. Did Thompson or any other Australian media report mention the possibility that this may have been part of that elaborate cover?

Or was Thompson subtly suggesting some sort of association which just wasn't there?

An association which all the usual suspects from the left have already pounced on - certainly on Twitter - and used as ammunition to smear conservatives (and no doubt in time, they will demand conservatives not be allowed to speak lest they "incite" someone to something. "Remember Oslo!", they will cry.).

Just what is Jeremy Thompson and the ABC up to?

A final note: International journalists did a little better but are not innocent. Some were quick to note how often Fjordman was cited throughout the manifesto and said by the killer to come closest to representing his own views. Naturally, careless journalists and all the usual suspects amongst bloggers and the twitterati descended like a pack on Fjordman, prompting him to put up this post on his blog.

Can we do a little better than this people?


  1. Mr. Correllio, Thank you for the posting which explains a lot! I read the item by Thompson and was confused somewhat by this Norwegian man who quoted from our politicians, and went out to massacre all those people...it didn't make sense, Thompsons article! I should have realised the ABC stoops very low...it always has to my knowledge and I have had contact with some who worked there.

  2. You're welcome. Happy to have helped. I thought this article very disingenuous. The slightly twisted reporting, the suggestive innuendo.

    The manifesto mentioned many, many other people too - again mostly lifted from items on websites - but these were the only Australians. And somehow, according to this Thompson, nudge nudge, whisper, whisper, these four are responsible for everything that happened! Sly slurs.

  3. Most journo's and academics in Australia today either lean to the left or are full on socialists. The ABC's open support and bias towards Labor is unprecedented, I don't believe I have ever seen it this bad. However their attempts to demonize Howard, Costello etc will be futile come the next election because they will lose in a landslide and it won't make any difference if it is in two years time.

  4. I agree. The ABC is a Labor and especially Greens ratsnest, particularly in TV broadcasting and online (although there are some independent lights like Chris Uhlmann). ABC radio is a little more balanced and less estranged from its audience, I think, but can still be bad. And it is vicious at the moment isn't it? That QandA episode this week was outrageous.

    Still, like you, I look forward to seeing Labor and Greens routed at the next federal election. Bring it on, I say. By the time we are done voting this lot out, the NSW election will look like a school picnic.

  5. Agree with above except the bit about ABC Radio. Have you heard Deborah Cameron lately. I've had to stop listening. Also Spencer's so called interview of Monkton was more than a little biased as well

  6. Hi Wokky, I had my first introduction to Deborah Cameron recently. Positively feral in my view and from what I was told, that was standard fare! Yikes!

    Spencer shows his biased colours on twitter often enough for me to think his radio program wouldn't be much better.

    But generally I would say ABC Radio does better than ABC TV and ABC online.