Monday, September 22, 2008

Tony Burke and the Quadrant/Oz smear

I was surprised on Saturday to find my old friend and pool game opponent from UTS days Tony Burke on the front page of The Australian. In two articles (Sat and Mon) referring to the Culture Wars and 'Terror Academics' , it discussed claims made in the most recent edition of Quadrant by James Cook University academic Mervyn Bendle that Tony Burke was 'pro-terrorist', and should not hold a position at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

I'll leave it to others to judge on Tony's work (sample here) and the Bendle critique noted above. Some of the things that are notable about this are:

  1. The extent to which The Australian has established itself as an amplification point for any criticism of academics that is made in Quadrant. We have had a recent instance of this in relation to the historian Stuart Macintyre, and now another with Tony Burke;
  2. The resulting influence this gives to a small number of writers associated with Quadrant, such as Bendle, editor Keith Windschuttle, and educationalist Kevin Donnelly;
  3. How this dovetails into the campaign of the Young Liberals, which is supported by Donnelly and Windschuttle, to 'out' alleged leftists in Australian universities.
Whether a new McCarthyism is too strong a word for this is a moot point. What is apparent is that The Australian has taken on a extraordinarily partisan position in relation to scholarly disagreements, and is looking like a sounding-board for Quadrant and the Young Liberals. Bendle, Donnelly and Windschuttle have received a lot of space in its opinion pages, in what looks like an orchestrated campaign to use the paper to politically shape university teaching n directions that would be at odds with assumption about academic freedom.


jason said...

Remember Terry - postmodernism means that the terrorists have won.

Luke said...

Young Liberals website - apparently the words 'gender' and 'feminism' have a leftist bias. They should start working on their newspeak dictionaries now so I can work on eliminating my duckspeak.