Carlo's Corner: Poor oppressed Tony Abbott would never hurt a wall
Controversy is swirling around David Marr's Quarterly Essay article, which details Tony Abbott's time as a right-wing student activist on Sydney University. It describes Abbott as having been a violent, misogynist, homophobic thug who once punched a wall to intimidate a female opponent.
Abbott's response has been to categorically deny he ever hit a wall. Sure, he may promote vicious anti-gay and anti-women policies, but Abbott wants to make it clear he has never engaged in wall bashing.
Allegations of anti-wall violence are nothing but Labor-orchestrated smears.
In the face of this attack on Abbott's good name, right-wing Australian foreign affairs editor Greg Sheridan ― Abbott's best friend at university ― has bravely spoken out against this unjust persecution.
Interviewed by ABC Radio on September 14, Sheridan blew the lid on an organised campaign of bigotry, insisting “it comes down to anti-Catholic sectarianism on the part of the ABC and on the part of Marr”.
“This,” said Sheridan, “is the most disgraceful, sectarian, anti-Catholic campaign I’ve ever seen.”
That is a bold call. Stories about Abbott's actions as a student activist, Sheridan feels, are a worse example of anti-Catholic sectarianism than, presumably, the violent anti-Catholic pogroms in Ireland’s north in the late 1960s that drove tens of thousands of people from their homes and caused the greatest forced movement of people in Europe since World War II, sending Northern Ireland into a nightmare spiral of violence and repression that lasted decades.
Sure that was a bit rough, but it is nothing compared to depicting Abbott as a violent misogynist.
It also comes as a surprise to see Sheridan so sensitive to oppression. He is, after all, infamous for his apologetics for former Indonesian dictator and Western ally General Suharto.
Sheridan, among other things, dismissed the 1991 Dili massacre ― in which Indonesian soldiers shot dead at least 250 unarmed protesters in occupied East Timor ― by saying “even genuine victims frequently concoct stories.”
Many of those killed, it might be noted in passing, were Catholics.
But Sheridan has his eye on the big picture: the oppression of Tony Abbott.
It was a true act of courage for Sheridan to publicly expose the anti-Catholic conspiracy that runs through the whole liberal establishment. No doubt he ran a grave risk in doing so, but sometimes you have to be willing to speak out — and damn the consequences.
“You might want to censor me,” Sheridan nobly told the ABC, “but I want to say something here.”
Now it might seem strange to raise the spectre of censorship at the very same time as being asked to freely express his views in a nationally broadcasted radio interview on a major station, but tyranny and oppression can strike in even the most unlikely situations.
And it seems to the most unlikely people, foreign editors of major newspapers — even Catholic ones — being generally seen as having a greater ability to express their views than most citizens.
Now, I am yet to hear of any threat to Sheridan's life or liberty for speaking out, but he may want to alert Amnesty International to prepare the “Free Greg” mugs and T-shirts, just in case. Unless, of course, Amnesty are also part of the great anti-Catholic conspiracy. Nothing would surprise me any more.
[Read more Carlo's Corner columns.]