||Issue No. 167||21 February 2003|
Scales of Injustice
Interview: Agenda 2003
Peace: The Colour Purple
Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
Solidarity: Workers Against War
Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
International: Industrial Warfare
History: Unions and the Vietnam War
Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Poetry: Return To Sender
Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
The Locker Room
Who Let The Troops Out?
Wagga Wagga Calling
Ode to Johnny
Here was a turnout of unprecedented proportions; a wonderful, spirited `display of principle by Australians of all ages, backgrounds and religions. Seeing their leaders letting them down so abjectly, the people took on a leadership, joining a global wave of defiance that has recast the Iraqi issue. There is a clear message, that goes beyond a debate over the mechanism for US aggression. People are calling on the United Nations to prevent war; and if it fails to do this, the UN will itself face a serious crisis.
Howard's response to the million Australians who took to the streets was to churlishly accuse them of playing into Saddam Hussein's hands. With the willing support of the Murdoch press, the propaganda lever was switched to overdrive and anything short of unwavering support for the immediate destruction of Bagdad was akin to treason. If the general public needed any vindication for making their stand against the US war machine, this was it.
For a man who spent the first year of his Prime Minister-ship staunchly supporting the right of Hanson-ites to espouse their anti-Asian prejudice on the grounds of freed speech, Howard's response represented a significant shift in attitude. Back then, of course, there was political mileage to be made by acquiescing to the masses, even if it meant trashing Paul Keating's vision of an engaged Australia at immense cost to the national interest. Now the boots on the other foot, 'mainstream' Australia has become the 'mob' and it is Howard who is swimming against a tide of goodwill, not surfing the wave of prejudice.
His comments reflect he is beginning to feel the heat. So to was the extraordinary visit Australian Federal Police paid to The Chaser's offices after it published Howard's home phone number on its front page under the banner "Howard Ignores The People - So call Him At Home on 9922 6189". It's like the guy is looking to become a security target personally, and wants to take the whole nation with him. Or could it just be polling gone mad? Australians turn the Tories in times of national crisis. Create a national crisis and you create the demand for the Tory. And then you never need to retire, whether you're 64, 74 or 84.
Howard has never been loved by the Australian populous and for good reason. Many of us still believe he has won and maintained power on false pretences. He won his first election by withholding any policies, his second by breaking his GST promise; the third by evilly exploiting the plight of desperate asylum seekers. But the images from Sunday's Sydney rally will perhaps be the most enduring: John Howard as puppy with his nose up George Dubya's bum; John Howard as puppet led by the same Bush; the single banner that summed up the national mood: 'John Hunt is a Coward.'
John Howard has sold out Australia's national interest and enlisted us in George W Bush 'Coalition of Evil' without asking us along for the ride. What he's been promised in return is anyone's guess. But if there is a patriotism contest between the mass of protestors and Howard and his buddies in the conservative press, the balance must fall for those who took to the streets last weekend.
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