The latest incarnation of the identity politics so despised by the elites of the right (but vigorously embraced when it suits them) is the non sequitur that what people have done previously (even generations ago) can be used as an excuse for their current transgressions.
The most egregious example last week was Malcolm Turnbull’s unqualified defence of Jim Molan, the recently arrived accidental Liberal senator who was never intended to become a member of parliament but fell into the job when first Fiona Nash and then Holly Hughes fell foul of the constitution’s section 44.
Molan is a warrior of the far right – one of the strategists to make Peter Dutton the grand panjandrum of sovereign borders and a zealous supporter of Tony Abbott’s push to disempower moderates in New South Wales (or enhance democracy in the party, as Abbott and Molan call it – well, they would, wouldn’t they?)
Not exactly a mainstream Liberal; but a Liberal nonetheless, so when Molan was found to have shared, without bothering to check either its source or its veracity, a racist and bigoted video from a white supremacist mob called British First, Turnbull did not hesitate to say that was fine because Molan had been a dinkum Aussie digger – a decorated general, no less.
He could therefore not possibly be a racist because he had fought alongside Muslims in Iraq. And indeed he had, and he led the attack on Fallujah in 2004. which says absolutely nothing about racism one way or the other.
But the video Molan posted did and it was so appalling that even Donald Trump apologized for it. Molan didn’t; he insisted it was aimed at showing the effects of social disruption – by which he meant, presumably, Moslem immigration.
It got messy when the Greens, as they often do, went over the top, but by then Turnbull had already spoken: Molan was a great Australian, and that was the end of it He was, is, and always will be above criticism..
A less dramatic but still disturbing example was the current iteration of the dual citizen saga, of which, ironically, Molan was the beneficiary. There have been legitimate and unanswered questions about a number of members on both sides, but two are considered untouchable: Josh Frydenberg and Jason Falinski because their families were holocaust victims. And of course this deserves any amount of sympathy, but it has nothing to do with the black letter law of section 44.
Susan Lamb, whose tearful explanation of the circumstances in which she has been caught up in same morass was revealed last week But was told by a series of ministers that was tough, but the law was the law. Lamb should not be excused because of her past. Fair enough, but it would be nice if the warriors of the right applied the same standards for their own troops.
Which brings us to the fertile field of New England and the father of the year, Barnaby Joyce. Last week’s so-called scoop by the Daily Telegaph was in fact very old news: Joyce’s new partner and her pregnancy had been around on the internet for months and had been the subject of discussion even in the distant coffee shops of Mullumbimby.
Obviously just about everyone in both the federal parliament and Joyce’s own electorate knew about it, and presumably didn’t regard it as important;; there are arguments both ways, but on the whole I would have left the issue alone, and in fact did.
It is true that Joyce, with his constant rabbiting on about family values could be accused of hypocrisy and the point is a valid one. But he has adhered strictly to at least one aspect of the teachings of his Catholic church. Obviously our deputy prime minister does not use condoms.
Mungo Maccallum is Mungo Maccallum