Jacqueline Maley’s report of Thursday night’s Sydney Q Society dinner published on the Sydney Morning Herald’s website on Friday has caused an explosion of outrage throughout the political class, the media commentariat and on social media in the subsequent 48 hours.
As someone who attended the dinner and knows several people who were in attendance,* I came away from the event with a vastly different interpretation of the event proceedings than portrayed in the Maley report.
In fairness to Maley, her reporting was indeed accurate and in context (although I was actually outside the room speaking to Ross Cameron during the Larry Pickering remarks).
In what has become standard operating procedure among mainstream media journalists, the Maley report presented a sensationalised ideological type-cast narrative of the event by placing significant emphasis on a collection of the most outrageous, offensive and exotic comments made during the event, while providing a broad chronological overview.
There is no question that a range of deeply offensive comments were made which I do not agree with or endorse nor take responsibility for.
However, with over two hours of remarks made during the event, much more was said beyond what is catalogued in the Maley report.
As a political and policy analyst, I found the event fascinating and informative.
The dinner was profoundly rich in vivid subtext which could only be heard through attentive listening beyond the mere words and actions espoused by the various speakers and the reactions of the audience or the exhibits which were sold through the event’s auction.
To an astute political observer, the subtext displayed at the event goes a long way to explaining the current state of Australian politics and provides a new predictive political framework allowing forecasts to be made as to likely Australian political trends over the coming medium term.
Across all of the speakers (except for the Pickering address which I did not hear), was a strong admiration and defence of the core canons of western civilisation including freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, the pursuit of knowledge, an openness and commitment to the free exchange of ideas, the application of logic and reason as well as the scientific method.
This admiration and defence was juxtaposed with an inherent hostility to any theological or philosophical ideas and practices which conflicted with these core values, including outrage when examples were given of how the exercise of these canons have been eroded in contemporary Australia.
Among the attendees, Islam is viewed as a dangerous theological, political and social construct as it consists of elements including murder, rape, paedophilia, anti-Semitism, the mass slaughter of Jews, intellectual submission, theological supremacism and a thirst for territorial expansion through theologically-sanctioned deceptive tactics (otherwise known as “al-taqiyya”).
There is nothing new in these views or their validity, given the extensive documentary catalogue of evidence that has amassed over the past 1400 years both in terms of Islamic literature (the Koran [God’s revelation] and the Hadiths [a record of Muhammad’s sayings]) or its application.
These views of Islam were more commonly held in the western world prior to the advent and aggressive application of cultural Marxism and political correctness, which goes some way to explaining the older demographic of patrons that attended the event.
Another interesting sub-textual element on full display during the dinner was the obsession with identity politics, especially national identity. The dinner was just a microcosm of a broader debate which is raging across Australia as to what constitutes an Australian.
For those at the dinner, obtaining an official government document (e.g. a citizenship certificate) is a necessary, but insufficient, condition of being an Australian.
Rather, being an Australian requires the acceptance and the manifest application of the western canons which have shown over centuries to produce superior economic, social and cultural outcomes.
The inherent problem with twenty-first century Australian multiculturalism (as opposed to twentieth-century Australian multiculturalism which largely consisted of European migrants who were innately amiable to core western canons) is that it requires Australians to equate and tolerate a set of cultural axioms and canons which are violently in conflict with each other and are otherwise irreconcilable.
While the speakers which I heard were careful not to paint every Australian Muslim with the same brush, they were able to provide real world Australian examples of how theologically or culturally inspired practices were manifesting themselves within our borders that clearly fall outside the norms of western cultural axioms. Such practices include forced marriages, female genital mutilation, the use of intimidation tactics that inhibit or prevent open rational debate, as well as the incidence of violence designed to prevent the free exercise of religious conscience.
For those in attendance, these examples are viewed as early warning signs regarding the loss of the distinctive characteristics which forms the Australian identity as well as illustrating the risks and consequences of social disintegration, given more prominent examples which are internationally observable, such as in France.
Beyond these elements, further sub-textual elements were present through the speakers’ style of delivery and presentation.
While many of the speakers were indeed overtly outrageous, offensive and politically incorrect, this was done in many cases intentionally as a rebellion against contemporary social and political norms of conversation which has been narrowly constrained by political correctness inspired and enforced by domestic and international institutional forces.
The subtext was a clear desire among attendees to have an authentic, direct and blunt conversation about a whole host of societal, cultural and political issues which the contemporary political and media class are either unwilling to have or are incapable of having.
The accumulation of these sub-textual themes is emblematic of the new political coalition which is crystallising across the western world.
This coalition is a unification of conservatives, classical liberals and traditional working-class voters who are hostile to dramatic changes of the fundamental concepts which underpin western societal culture. This new coalition is not only responsible for the political victories of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, but also underpins the electoral base of Marine Le Pen, Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson.
According to the latest polling, this new political coalition consists of 10-20 per cent of the national Australian electorate ** and will inevitably grow if these inherent cultural tensions lead to a fracturing of domestic social cohesion.
It should be no shock that Sky News’ now top rating Sunday program, ‘Outsiders’, consists of a former leader of the Australian Labor Party, a former Howard Government parliamentary secretary and an intellectual conservative writer.
Perhaps it may not be the job of a hard news reporter, but the Maley report, while accurate, did a major disservice by not conveying the revolutionary clash of fundamental identity and cultural concepts which are sweeping Australia and the broader western world which will ultimately result in the collapse of the Turnbull Prime Ministership***, given Turnbull’s hostility and inability to discuss and address these current tensions.
The misreading of these tensions by the Australian mainstream media (whether intentional or not) forms part of the explanation as to why they misjudged in 2016 the Brexit referendum, the return of Pauline Hanson and the election of Donald Trump. As a result, the traditional media’s influence on Australian public opinion has eroded substantially.
On the morning after the Q Society Dinner, I spoke to a Turnbull government minister and provided them with a summary of my observations from the event.
I indicated that the Coalition needs to take note of the thematic sentiments conveyed at such events given that the overwhelming majority of the attendees would have voted for John Howard 10 years prior.
I noted that irrespective of whether Turnbull is replaced as leader, the Coalition cannot escape addressing (no matter how uncomfortable) these core identity and cultural tensions if it wishes to be an ongoing viable political force in Australia.
Interestingly and implicit in his decision to defect, Senator Cory Bernardi has made the political calculation that the Coalition lacks the gumption and capacity to meet this challenge.
If we take Europe, in particular, as a live case study, one can only conclude that Bernardi, Hanson, Lambie and other similar political associates are onto a winning horse.
John Adams is a former Coalition Advisor
*I attended the Sydney Dinner in a personal capacity to assist fundraising for Kirralie Smith’s legal defence as Kirralie Smith is a personal friend. I am not a member of the Q Society or any political party. During the event, I sat with Sydney Morning Herald journalists Jacqueline Maley and Nick O’Malley. I have been a long-term acquaintance of both Jacqueline Maley and Ross Cameron.
** The Essential Poll now indicates that Pauline Hanson and One Nation is more popular in Queensland in 2017 relative to One Nation’s historic 1998 election result.
*** On 10 June 2016, I was the first analyst to publicly predict through the Daily Telegraph and on the ABC TV Drum program, that Turnbull, if re-elected as Prime Minister, would not serve the full parliamentary term as Prime Minister and would be replaced in either late 2017 or in the first half of 2018.