Hunting knives seized, scores of Christians murdered, citizenship doled out like candy: the stakes couldn’t be higher

RachelRachel Bailes dissects the Greens’ response to Abbott’s pledge to end the ‘benefit of the doubt’ in the light of recent escalations of Islamist extremism at home and abroad.

As the Australian Coptic Movement prepares to rally in Sydney this weekend after the Mediterranean ocean ran with the blood of 21 Coptic Christians, the stakes for action on terrorism couldn’t be higher.

Meanwhile, a week after the arrests of Fairfield residents Omar al-Katobi and Mohammad Kiad on the verge of another lone-wolf style terrorist attack, Leader of the Greens Christine Milne has branded Prime Minister Tony Abbott ‘desperate’ and ‘divisive’ for his claim that Australians have been ‘taken for mugs’ by terrorists.

Ms Milne has called for Prime Minister Abbott to turn from his clamping-down rhetoric of ending the ‘benefit of the doubt’ within the immigration and welfare system and urged him instead to support her recently introduced ‘Social Cohesion Bill’ to quell the threat of terrorism.

If passed, the Social Cohesion Bill to which Milne refers would establish a taxpayer-funded Centre for Social Cohesion, complete with Director, Deputy-Director and research staff, whose role it would be to “foster dialogue”, “distribute emerging knowledge” and “coordinate programs”. The Bill pledges to bring together “government, law enforcement agencies, academics, researchers, and former extremists” in a national, centralised body to build “resilient communities”.

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Publishing drivel on taxpayer dime

Major Karnage exposes a public media body you may not have heard of

Jeff Sparrow is the editor of Overland, which describes itself as “the most radical of Australia’s long-standing literary and cultural magazines”.

Sparrow has some very particular views and a slightly perturbing pseudo-intellectual way of putting them across. Take this blog post today, for instance, where he seems to spend some time flirting with comparisons between the Obama Administration and the Nazis/Stalinists:

living in The Avengers’ universe | Overland literary journal.

Yet you cannot ignore the origins of [Superman] in an era awash with supermen, from the Nietzschean blond beasts so popular with national socialists to the Stakhanovites inspired by Joe Stalin, the original man of steel. That doesn’t mean that the genre’s innately and inevitably fascistic, as is sometimes argued. Nonetheless, the concept of the superhero necessarily rests upon a distinction central to both the far Right and the Stalinist Left – the gulf between the (ordinary) masses and the (extra-ordinary) hero. …

The cult of the superman developed by the fascists, like its equivalent in Stalinism, was implicitly directed against mobilisations of ordinary people. The Aryan ubermensch was necessary precisely because the untermenschen against whom the fascists raged were so numerous and so well organized …

That seems to me the context for the new hegemony of superheroes. … We are, in other words, already living in a comic book.

The most obvious example is the War on Terror, which, from its beginning, played out as the most clichéd super hero script. In what other context would the phrase ‘Axis of Evil’ be accepted as a serious proposition? How did it ever make sense to devote $1.3 trillion to defeating the tiny organization that was al Qaeda, unless you understood bin Laden as exerting the kind of mighty power wielded by the mad geniuses in comic books?

You get the picture.

Of course, Sparrow is as entitled to these views as anyone else. Similarly, the wankers who read his work are entitled to do so if they so choose. The problem is that said wankers are not necessarily paying for Sparrow to spend his days spouting this kind of nonsense. A quick scroll to the bottom of the page reveals this:

Overland sponsors

Those logos are the sponsors of Overland. From left, this is: the UN, Melbourne City Council, Federal Government, Federal Government, Victoria Government, Victoria Government and Victoria University.

Essentially, Overland is paid for from public funds (Vic Uni being the arguable exception). It is as much a public media body as the ABC or SBS, yet it is not afforded the same level of scrutiny because it is not a statutory body, but is funded by various Government agencies.

Regardless, this means that taxpayers are paying for Sparrow to be employed full-time so he can draw parallels between Captain America and the SS. Personally, I find this offensive and am not happy that some of my income is being diverted to this crap (albeit a small amount, since I live in NSW).

With all the attention on the budget this week, people seem to only look at actual Government initiatives. There is not nearly enough attention on what Government agencies go on to do with the money that they are allocated.

It is a complete joke that taxpayers are being forced to pay Sparrow a steady income for his polemic when struggling Menzies House writers have to polemicise for free. It’s about time to let useless and unprofitable publications like Overland collapse and make way for something that appeals to a wider audience than a handful of arts students who don’t like paying for their reading material themsevles.

Major Karnage is a Sydney-based blogger and can be followed on Facebook or Twitter.