Mrs Neville Cruising the Patpong Night Markets
Journal of a Futurist - 22 May 2002
Back Among the Gum Trees in Fortress Oz
Apologies for the long silence. To make up for it, youll get several uploads in quick succession. Okay? Thanks to all who responded to the April 13 Good Weekend cover story, Beyond Good and Evil, both fans & critics. You smashed all previous records of personal feedback - over a 1000 emails to date (through which Im still slogging). Heres a sample, more later:
Sir, I guess your entitled to your opinion - be glad you still have that right in Australia! You probably soon will not, the way your government is stripping the rights of your Citizens!! Hey we have folks like you bashing the USA all the time - have a nut. I'll be sitting here with my nice cold beer in my big ass house and watch the whole rest of the world take a crap. But when you've all been taken over by the Muslim's - don't come asking us to bail your sorry butts out. Because for you sir, I wouldn't lift a finger to help. And I don't want the blood of one American wasted on you! Good Day Mate! American First and Always! Gregory Ackerman.
Mr Ackerman is correct about the demolition of rights. Were stuck with the wettest Attorney General since the sixties. Some critics wondered why I let Oz off the hook. Simple. There wasnt enough space. Another email:
Hi, Here goes you snivelling hypocrite. You are the worst kind of rich national socialist, anti anything USA add UK. When the revolution comes you will be one of the first up against the wall. Your email address should read "The Past", Kind regards Michael Casey
Richard , You have been writing for a long time. But nobody cares what you have to say anymore. Frankly, it's flowery crap. You have always been long winded and loved the sound of your own voice. But now Richard, you have become completely irrelevant. We will not indulge you anymore. Stop writing. Start gardening. Sincerely, Aussies in New York.
The night before publication of Good & Evil I flew to Delhi to speak at a conference on the future of tourism and found myself onstage with the agents of two organs trashed in the piece Satinder Bindra of CNN and Michael Elliot from Time. While it wouldnt be fair to disclose private conversation, I was heartened to find both correspondents seemed to agree that since September 11, the US media has been pissweak. The Indian media, on the hand, is a breath of fresh air. The spurious salespitch for the war against terror cuts little mustard. In last thousand years, India has not invaded a single nation.
On the way home I stopped off in Bangkok, where I was reminded that some cultures are more adaptive than others. The proprietors of Patpong, the notorious sex-show district, had adapted to the evolving desires of farang baby boomers by adding the inducement of night markets. Now my teenage daughters could graze among the stalls of counterfeit Rolexes, pirated CDs and T-shirts featuring Osama bin Laden, both pro and con, while I lugged their shopping bags, averting my eyes from ajar-door glimpses of go-go girls cavorting on the bar tops of my youth.
Back then the Thai touts would sum me up and make an offer: You want to buy
Buddha sticks? This time, eyeing my greying hair, their instinct was no less acute. You want to buy
viagra? Er, no. Okay, how about seafood? I guess this is called relationship marketing.
After three weeks in Asia, looking down on the gleaming Sydney skyline from the window of the Thai Airways Boeing, I wish I could say my heart soared. It didnt. I dont know why. Was it because I was returning to fortress Oz, the nasty edifice now being erected by the hard men in suits trying to re-build the fifties? Our treasurer once sued a harmless, eccentric author for impugning his wifes pre-marital sexual status. Now his Government has banned a French movie, Baise Moi.
Its a government of liars. $240 odd million in the new budget claimed to be earmarked for the environment turns out to be directed at Customs for enhanced surveillance of our coast. Another lump claimed as aid for developing nations, is actually paying for the offshore incarceration of asylum seekers.
Back home I found the tragic, gelded ABC news, on which the third item is always sport, again being attacked for left-wing bias, as I unpacked the luggage. Later, the foreign affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, was on screen foaming at the mouth at bourgeois left wing anti American pseudo intellectuals who had urged him to stand up for two Australians kidnapped in Afghanistan and transported to Camp X-ray, where they now languish in unlawful custody. The only initiative this dunderhead has ever shown in foreign affairs, was in Santiago, when he sacked the Australian Ambassador to Chile for failing to organise a flag fluttering fleet of limousines greet him at the airport. Ironically, in the annual ballot held by Commonwealth car drivers in Canberra, to nominate their most noxious passenger, Downer invariably tops the list.
Attempted break-in at my city home/office. The neighbours reckon its CIA
Meanwhile, the war against terror is achieving the result predicted by its handful of it castigated critics. It is begetting more terror. Lets not even start on the Israel War Machine the point is, both Arial Sharon and the suicide bombers are not the only people behaving like homicidal maniacs. The once mild mannered Hindus of Gujarat in Western India are so swept up in the Bush propagated Old Testament culture of revenge that they are actually chopping up Muslim shop-keepers like dogmeat and hurling their infants onto bonfires. The official death toll is 900. Others put it at 2000. US State terrorism is now so out of control that nasty mistakes are tucked away on page 10 without comment, as in last weeks Sydney Morning Herald: FACTION LEADER SURVIVES CIA ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. The target was one Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, described as a militant factional leader recently returned to Afghanistan from Iran. He may well be a brutal warlord, but hes neither a member of Al Qaida or the Taliban. His crime? A sworn desire to topple the regime of Hamid Karzai and to expel foreigners from Afghanistan. The chosen method of assassination? Robotic - a strike by a Predator drone carrying Hellfire anti-tank missiles. The perpetrator? The CIA. Source of report? Pentagon officials. Result of attack? The target survived. Interpretation? Another attempted murder by the CIA, for which no-one will be held to account.
Did Our Special Forces Kill Innocent People?
On Saturday night we saw our Defence Minister, Robert Hill, arm in arm with homecoming Australian special forces, gloating that our troops had killed 300 Al Qaida. While I deeply respect the courage of our soldiers, I wondered how the grinning Minister could be so sure of the identity of the dead. A few hours later I came across an intriguing item in the London Times (Online , May 10).
Seldom in a modern conflict have the facts been so manipulated as in Afghanistan, writes Anthony Loyd, foreign correspondent of the year. He quotes a British army account of how three Al Qaida terrorists fired on coalition special forces and were then shot. Later, US troops had apparently found ammunition, weapons and cave complexes. Loyd prods further: The first holes in the coalition account appeared later that day. An impeccable source described a small number of armed men, probably Afghans, stumbling across a six-man team of Australian SAS. Surprised, the men raised their weapons and were shot in the chest
. by the Australians. Two Chinooks full of American paratroopers arrived to search a nearby village. One of the two weapons they found was an ancient Lee Enfield which they took from a villagers home as a trophy. (It is not unusual for Afghan villagers to carry weapons.) The caves contained livestock. There was no evidence that the dead men were Al Qaida.
Coinciding with the return of our forces from Afghanistan and the Ministers boastful certainty, I presumed our own media would follow up this account. But no, it was page after page of Fashion Week. And then, On Monday, May 20, another discreet par: It has been widely reported that American planes sent to back up the ground troops last Friday bombed a traditional village wedding party - not al-Qaeda fighters. Weddings in Afghanistan often involve firing rifle shots into the air or detonating fireworks. An appropriate point to insert another response to the April 13 Good Weeekend:
Dicky boy, How does it feel to be irrelevent. Like Phil Adams, Margot Kingston, John Pilger, Gough Whitlam (not that he'd even consider such). And you ain't making matters any better with your gawdawful page. Can't you at least get the line length right? Like all soft-cough lefties your hypocrisy is astonishing. There you go bagging everything you can imagine about the US when your whole MO of the 60s -- which got your name in lights and contributed to your middle-aged comfort -- was borrowed from the hippies. Anyway, you're no longer the smart as a whip young pseudo revolutionary, get used to it. Today's culture shakers out there don't take shit from old farts either. Trouble for you is they're better informed, funnier and smarter than you and they're armed with high-tech bullshit detectors that can sniff out a lazy old socialist's cant from the next galaxy. The new contrarians are people like Virginia Postrel, Imre and even Chris Hitchins. And especially Tim Blair whose blog has just turned you to meaningless custard. Fancy quoting all those astral travellers. Jeez Dick, the drugs must be catching up with you. It's never too late to be rational. Slatts http://slattsnews.blogspot.com/
If Im so irrelevant, why is he so angry? Actually I crave irrelevance, then I could get on with the gardening. A persistent theme of the e-flood is amazement that such views as mine could be published in the mainstream press, which shows how far our expectations have sunk. More tomorrow. Or the next day.