Tuesday, 26 October 2004

Barry Cohen's Crie de Coeur

It's in The Age.
Soon after I told a Labor legend: "Anti-Semitism is now rampant in the Labor Party." I expected a vigorous denial. His response confirmed my worst fear: "I know," he said.

For better or worse my character and life were shaped by the anti-Semitism I experienced as a boy and a young man. I was proud to belong to a party that fought all forms of prejudice. Not any longer.
As they say, Read The Whole Thing. But note the last line of the article:
Barry Cohen was arts minister in the Hawke government. A longer version of this article (which Barry Cohen asked not be published until after the federal election) appears in the Australian Jewish News.
How many votes did the ALP get that they otherwise would have lost had this article been published before the election, rather than afterwards?

By one standard, Barry Cohen did a terrible thing, concealing this canker eating away at the heart of the ALP, a concealment that may have caused some pretty odious people with even more foetid policies to be elected. For someone who has devoted his life to a political ideal, and who still hasn't (quite) given up on saving the ALP from descending into the Abyss, it would have been very hard. Still he should have done it.

Or should he? Because, as I said, he hasn't (quite) given up. He still thinks the ALP may, against all odds, manage to reform itself, to turn away from the Pit. Had he published before the election, his credibility amongst the rusted-on-Labour supporters would have been irretrievably damaged. It would have been viewed as Treachery of the basest kind - and been counter-productive. On reflection, and after much thought, I think he did the right thing in the end. Especially if he was aware of the internal and Most Secret Labor party polling that said that the ALP was heading for a train-wreck. Oh, but I feel for the man! He must have suffered many a sleepless night pondering this.

As a RWDB who should be rejoicing at the downfall of my political enemies, by some rights I should be glad of this. But I'm not. That's because they may be my political opponents, but they're not my enemies. At least, not yet. Should the Liberals make a huge to-do about this? Not at the moment. Wait until the ALP has been given a chance to reform. But by all means threaten to make this a major issue at every single by-election that comes round. It may give those sick-at-heart at the rot within the ALP the courage to cauterise it.

And my respect for Barry Cohen has increased markedly.

Talking about respect, this from Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, also reported in the AJN :
Downer drew applause when he said Israel has a right to build its security barrier and slammed what he termed the “politicising” of the International Court of Justice in its July ruling that the barrier is illegal. When the UN then voted on the barrier, Downer instructed the Australian delegate to vote against the resolution to dismantle the barrier despite being advised by diplomats in New York that Australia should align itself with the European Union and Canada by abstaining.

“In a nanosecond, I said we will not change our vote, we will vote against this, even if we’re the only country in the world that votes with Israel on this resolution, we’ll still do it because this resolution is wrong.”
Onya, Alex.

1 comment:

David Blue said...

"And my respect for Barry Cohen has increased markedly."

Less so with me, only because of the very high respect I always had for Barry Cohen. He's just acting in the sort of way I would expect of him.

I think people consistently under-estimate the character that many politicians have. The cliche of the lying politician does harm, denying earned credit to politicians who make hard calls for the right reasons - not on every issue and not even nearly always, but pervasively enough and often enough to matter.

And this is not a right/left thing - or not automatically. It becomes right/left only if one side commits to a position beyond the pale or accepts allies or sidles towards attitudes beyond the pale.

Of course this is what Barry Cohen is trying to prevent.