Sunday, 8 April 2012

Pell disses the Left, misses the danger from the Right

Cardinal George Pell, Australia.
It's part of the paradigm that church leaders get facetime at Easter, which is why the Australian today ran a video interview with Cardinal George Pell, the Catholic Primate of Australia, in which he attacks the "minority" views of the chattering classes and their political avatar, the Greens. They only get "less than 10 percent" of the primary vote, says Pell. (Actually, the Greens polled at over 12 percent in the last federal election, and other polls show them with up to 20 percent of the vote.) This should disenfranchise them, he goes on to say, but the problem is that the "intelligentsia" (the Oz journo tries "the communicating class" and Pell turns that back to the more common "chattering class") are heavily involved in the production of content that is deployed in Australia's media.

While in this way attacking the messenger, Pell also tries to diminish the importance of the Greens by counter-intuitively praising the "communication skills" of Bob Brown, the Greens leader. This is as much to say that honest people have been fooled by a clever charlatan. No, George, it's not at all because the Greens provide an alternative to the two major parties that better responds to the real beliefs of many people! Pell is careful not to attack the foolish Greens voters; it's more diplomatic to get stuck into Bob Brown. Other people do the same thing as Pell, so he's not being original.

The Greens pose a real problem to political conservatives mainly because of the power they hold in the federal Senate. The numbers in the Upper House mean that the Greens hold the balance of power. They have six senators. Even if a Liberal-Nationals government took office in 2013, as is expected to happen, it's highly likely that their legislative agenda would be thwarted by the Greens in the Senate, as all legislation must pass through there after being cleared by the Lower House. So the Greens are a constant thorn in the side of the political majors. But rather than attacking the people who vote for them politicians and their conservatie flunkies, like Pell, lash out at the Greens leader and his team on a regular basis. Don't attack a potential voter, attack your adversary. Ignore the groundswell of support the Greens enjoy. Pretend that that demographic doesn't exist.

The church has a big problem in Australia, where only about eight percent of residents go to church on a regular basis. This is not America, where that number sits at over 50 percent. In this deeply secular, hedonistically complacent, and issues-averse country people like Pell have to mute their anger because they just don't have the support on the ground that would justify the ravings we hear coming from public platforms that exist in the USA. And thank God, too. The Republican assault on women we've seen during the now-almost-complete primaries, which are held to select the Republican candidate for president, is deeply repulsive to regular Australians. Pell says nothing about this disgusting phenomenon which, fuelled from the Right of the Republican base, has turned conservative politicking in the USA into a glitzy echo of the Taliban's moral agenda.

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