The Australian newspaper switches sides? “Race, gender: the risk of identity politics”

The Australian newspaper switches sides? “Race, gender: the risk of identity politics”, by Paul Kelly. This opinion piece by editor-at-large of The Australian, Paul Kelly, is significant because it appears that at last he has worked up the nerve to stand up for the principles of the Enlightenment and reality in their struggle against political correctness. Until now Kelly, despite the conservative reputation of his newspaper, has always taken the PC line — ultimately in favor of the PC issues of the day, just less stridently than more leftist media like the ABC and the Fairfax newspapers. But now this:

The rise of identity politics in Australia — with its poisonous assault on rational, honest debate and the quality of public policy — is now tangible in both indigenous and gender issues and was on display this week over the Northern Territory detention crisis. …

The politics of identity speaks to deep human need. Yet its application veers towards narcissism, censoring of public debate, vicious campaigns of intimidation and a diminished public square. It is extraordinary to see how many institutions and prominent figures buckle before the campaigns of identity politics, too weak to stand on principle.

Yes, that buckling included you until recently Paul. Glad you finally shows signs of wanting to oppose the PC mob. Perhaps on the NT indigenous juvenile incarceration issue you couldn’t go along with the PC crew because they were just too naked in flouting too many principles?

Australia, once famous for its straight talking, seems a frightened country. Too many people now know that honest talk is risky but, more important, breaking the rules of identity politics risks being branded a racist or sexist. Most people just avoid the risk.

Or was it just because Paul’s newspaper copped PC ire for printing Bill Leak’s rather apt cartoon:

Australian newspaper

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion … [declared] he was “appalled” and [accused my] paper of “racial stereotypes”. Rarely have a minister’s motives been more guileless or pathetic.

Social media fired up. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane invited complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act. This is the way the country now works — the Human Rights Commission encourages action against the offending media to stamp out provocation using the racial offence provision and stirs up potential complainants. …

Paul had a conversion:

But the fascinating thing about Leak’s piece was the feedback he got that people couldn’t understand his cartoon.

That’s right, they didn’t get it — surely a victory for a politically correct, dumbed-down education system and the spread of identity politics culture where such images turn the brain into a non-functioning, non-computing defence mechanism.

Is this Australia’s future? It is certainty the future the progressives want. A cartoonist who offends no one is a cartoonist who doesn’t deserve a job. The reason section 18c is important is that it points to the type of Australia the law envisages, that on racial issues the test is subjective — whether an individual is offended. Across time this leads to a political culture of silence and victimhood.

Paul articulates some of the problems well:

The essence of identity politics runs as follows: because you haven’t shared my identity you haven’t shared my oppression and you cannot understand my pain and if you cannot understand my pain you have no right to tell my group how to behave. Identity politics, therefore, is hostile to ideas and debate. Indeed, it mobilises the argument of “offence” as a disincentive to debate and to challenge the right of others to engage in vigorous or provocative public discussion. …

The truth is the debate about the steady rise of identity politics in this country is feeble, drowning in a sea of politically correct approval. We should not be surprised. The idea is to censor Leak in the guise of branding his work racist. And the mechanism to achieve this exists in the current law, as prized and cultivated by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The parallel mechanism is social media — used to brand institutions and people as racist and sexist as a means of destroying them by mass hysteria. In this climate the spirit of Orwell and Voltaire face a slow but sure death. Let’s hope there is still sufficient left of the old Australian character and courage to turn back the tide.

I look forward to The Australian joining the very few voices, just a few blogs, arguing against identity politics and political correctness in Australia today.