BOOK SHELF - "BOLT - Worth Fighting For, Insights and Reflections"
by Andrew Bolt - Review by John MorrisseyPaperback, 228 pp, published by Wilkinson Publishing, June 2016. Price $21.25. Available most book stores, ISBN 978-1-925265-77-4
Readers of Andrew Bolt's previous collection of published articles, Still Not Sorry (2005), will not be disappointed with "Bolt: Worth Fighting For, Insights and Reflections". While the same devastating use of language is employed against the same forces threatening Australians and our way of life, there is a more reflective tone to much of its contents. Not only are these essays from articles published in Melbourne's Herald Sun, but many are also from his daily blog.
The man affectionately known as "Bolta" begins with a reflection on character, his own - "flawed and sometimes wrong" - and includes a mea culpa for his brief joining of "the pack" against Cardinal Pell this year in Rome. He states that you have to be sure of your beliefs and reasons for holding them, as a conservative when wrong will be flayed for an "excess of evil", unlike a Leftist, sure to be excused for an "excess of virtue". He claims to be as honest about the evidence as he is about himself, as is apparent in his reflective pieces.
In an eclectic collection of articles, he first tells us what he has learned in 50 years, what is important in life, how he conquered shyness and how he copes with the vitriol which he experiences. His inspiring examples range from the lives of Vincent van Gogh and Jim Stynes to that of a certain young man who packed a lifetime into a short period until claimed by cancer.
Proceeding to politics, he insists, "I find more clues to the future in a politician's character than I do in their words or even policies." His analysis of the coup against Tony Abbott in September 2015 features a dismissive and admittedly partial focus on Malcolm Turnbull's character. Nevertheless, it is based on Turnbull's track record and his empty claims, while he echoed all the Labor lines about his rival, in contrast to Abbott's substantive achievements, rather than his style. In a follow-up article he describes Abbott as "one of the finest human beings to be prime minister", and rejects all of the thug-bully-racist-misogynist labels heaped on him, saying that if he were those things "he would not be my friend". Of course he concedes Abbott's mistakes, but maintains that "character always counts in the end." Later, in 2016, his defence of Peta Credlin and Abbott against the innuendo in Niki Savva's insidious publication is scathing.
Bolt's love of our land is expressed in recollections of his late father-in-law, childhood memories of Darwin, family holidays, and his nostalgia for what was once distinctively Australian popular culture. He mentions the Leyland Brothers, Blue Hills on ABC radio, the bush poets, our former landscape artists and Slim Dusty, finding only Macca in ABC radio's Australia All Over surviving today. Instead he finds a growing culture of hate, encapsulated for him in some choice language from the likes of Marieka Hardy and Catherine Deveny, darlings of the ABC.
As for multiculturalism, he does not resile from his belief that it is creating a "nation of tribes".Perhaps his greatest scorn is reserved for those he accuses of seeming, not doing, "raising awareness", without any action or accountability. These include Cate Blanchett, who wants us to be less American, while basing her life and career in the US; those attending Stop Poverty concerts; Al Gore, whose lifestyle is the antithesis of what he preaches; and Bolt's own detractors who occupy the high moral ground to denounce his stating of the facts on asylum-seekers, immigrant youth crime and terrorist threats. Returning to an article from 2009 on AIDS red ribbons, he calls such posturing the birth of the "Age of Seeming".
On the politics of race Bolt identifies a new form of racism, called anti-racism. Its proponents demand separate treatment for some, not as individuals but as members of a certain group or race. The booing of Adam Goodes was for his own behaviour, not because he is an aborigine, and thus it was not inherently racist behaviour. As an "indigenous" Australian himself, Bolt opposes the proposed constitutional change favoured by the politicians, including his friend Tony Abbott, to include special provision for aboriginal Australians. However, he points to the institutional blindness that accepts Stolen Generation myths, and continues to put children's lives at risk for cultural reasons. He describes the harm done by victimhood, and is critical of the blaming of dysfunction in indigenous communities on government.
It is interesting that Bolt prefaces a section on euthanasia, gay marriage and the political correctness which strangles fair debate with the heading, "Forgetting Our Manners". He finds it incredible that we think we can reinvent traditions, as in "we can upturn the age-old ban on abortion - even turn it into a virtue - with barely a care that we're now destroying healthy babies just days from birth." Thus he is able to welcome the "fury" turned against the "euthanasia guru" Philip Nitschke, for helping even healthy people to die. Labor's insistence on same sex marriage is also condemned, for ignoring all that it might lead to, and there is a lengthy rebuttal of Malcolm Turnbull's enthusiastic support for it in 2012. He deplores the silencing of debate on the issue, and in another article shows how, in the cases of Adam Goodes and Sheik Hilali, it was public opinion that was more effective than the law.
In a section on "The Culture Wars" Bolt passes over the usual debate and focuses on how often "Fashionable untruths too rarely get challenged in the media." In 2011 he questioned the freedom of the Islamic Youth Movement to meet at the Lakemba mosque to hear a defence of September 11 and Hezbollah terrorist groups. In this article he slams grants to such groups under Labor and even John Howard's inclusion of such as Hilali in an advisory group on multicultural affairs. There is an irony today where he quotes German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying in 2011 that multiculturalism had "failed, utterly failed". He contends that the real failure is the tendency of the political class, and others, to "see no evil" where Islam is concerned, although he readily agrees that the majority of Muslims in Australia are peace-loving. The issue is that we must face the truth in every situation, be it immigration or the politics of climate change, on which Bolt's views and arguments have received ample and regular print space.
It is well known that Andrew Bolt is an agnostic, but his sympathy for Christianity under attack has been consistent. His musings on life itself, history and the birth of Judeo- Christian religion, while on a visit to Israel make interesting reading. The Age is described as "the Bible of the Left" for its war on Christianity. He concludes: "Criticise Islam and you're an 'Islamophobe... But criticise Christianity and you're a 'progressive'."
He then devotes a lengthy section to "The Smearing of George Pell", published in 2016 and including his "diary", as he attended the interviews in Rome, along with Australian journalists, and a crowd-funded pack of apparent victims of clerical abuse.
The final sections betray a sensitivity which Bolt's detractors would never suspect. These pieces include one on the dying wishes of a little girl, one on the loss of a family dog and another on women mourning a life-long friend from schooldays. He goes on to films, books and his taste in art, finishing with a scathing critique of Baz Luhrmann's movie, "Australia", which he found as cliched and cringe-worthy as I did, completely misrepresenting Australians as racist.
Bolt was equally disappointed as early as 2008 in the new James Bond, portrayed by Daniel Craig, stripped of his sexism, racism and homophobia, and many other qualities which Ian Fleming bestowed upon him, creating such an edgy and fascinating character.
For Bolta's admirers and critics, this is a wonderful compendium of his skirmishes with those who want to tear down the things in Australia which he, like readers of Endeavour Forum, believes are worth fighting for. For obvious reasons, he does not go into his and News Limited's painful and expensive treatment at the hands of the court, as a result of a prosecution under 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act for articles published which were judged to offend and insult. There is so much more in Worth Fighting For than there is space to include in this review, and it is well worth adding to your library.