Enforced gender division has always been deplorable. But it is ironic that conservatives, whom it never bothered before, are now howling over the Muslim version of the practice almost as loudly as they howled when the Left fought them to eliminate it from Western culture. While it is gratifying to know that conservatives are now suddenly feminists, it is clearly time for another lesson: religious tolerance.
The Australian’s editorial (“The Anzac sentiment defies central planning”, 26/4) cheapens Anzac Day by using it to sell a populist anti-intellectualism at odds with the Anzac spirit. Was the First World War “a war that had to be fought”? Was it “patriotism” or British imperialism that decimated a generation? Should the ideals of “[h]onour, duty and mateship” be used to justify war? These are not the “tortured arguments of the intellectuals”, but questions that must be asked, especially on Anzac Day, out of respect for those who suffer in any war.
For sheer rhetorical chutzpah, it is hard to beat The Australian’s contention that Palestinian statehood is an obstacle to a two-state solution (‘UN bid has dire consequences’, Editorial, 16/4). Logic strongly suggests it is actually a prerequisite.
Michael Fullilove’s retrospective on the second Iraq war (“We stood by the US as it erred grievously in Iraq”, The Australian, 19/4) is insightful, but no more so than the prescience of the millions who took to the streets to protest the war at its outset. They were described at the time in The Australian by Greg Sheridan as “anti-American”, “hysterical”, “emotional and irrational”. But they were also correct, and not just in hindsight, because they could see the inevitability of the pointless bloodbath to come, just as others had with Vietnam and other past military misadventures.
That the “Coalition of the Willing” could so easily forget this, and thus be blind to what was so obvious to their own people, demonstrates the corrosive effect of national ambition acted out on the world stage. The ugly mess the war became was another unnecessary demonstration of the hard-learned reasons why international laws exist.
The international community now faces new challenges similar to those posed by pre-war Iraq. Let us hope that nations tempted to take the law into their own hands have now been cured of both their amnesia and their blindness to the wisdom of their own citizens.
Janet Albrechtsen (“No short cuts to gay marriage”, The Australian, 3/4) seems so uncomfortable admitting that the Left has been right on gay marriage all along, that she devotes most of her column to impugning their motives: they hold their views to “establish their hip credentials” or “moral superiority”, or as “absolution for sins”, and they work to achieve it the “wrong way”, which apparently includes anything aimed at actually legalising it.
In contrast, pro-gay marriage conservatives hold their views for the “right” reasons, like the Republican senator who had a sudden attack of empathy when his son came out. And they work towards it the “right” way, which apparently involves waiting until everyone who objects to it dies of old age.
This feat of mind-reading is impressive but irrelevant and over-complicated. The issue is simple: gay couples cannot be legally married; thus they are denied a legal right because they are gay. That is discrimination by definition. Albrechtsen’s confusion about that key point is demonstrated by this hedge: “Gay couples enjoy the same substantive rights as heterosexual couples. If they don’t they should.” She got it right with the second sentence.
Sharryn Wightley (The Australian, 30/3) is among several letter-writers who object to formal apologies to groups harmed by national policies because they were, as she puts it, “part of the times and had nothing to do with me”. Fair enough, but to be consistent she must also abandon any pride in national achievements she was not personally involved in.