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Gerard Henderson

Jul 21, 2009

Howard history and the culture wars

As already noted in today's open thread,

As already noted in today’s open thread, Gerard Henderson has launched a pre-emptive strike against the latest retrospective on the Howard Government. The first episode of the three-part Liberal Rule airs on SBS tonight; Gerard says it:

is a shocker and a disgrace.

Of the academics and journalists who were interviewed for the program, a couple of journalists took an empirical stance. However, the overwhelming majority of commentators heard on Liberal Rule bagged Howard, Costello and the like – all from the leftist or left-of-centre perspective. The directors could not find even one conservative or right-of-centre commentator suitable for interview who was not presented as associated with Howard or the Liberal Party in some way. It was as if the only so-called “balanced” commentators are all on the left.

The irony is that Henderson’s own column is fundamentally tainted by his partisan view, as one of the conservative commentators who marched in lockstep with Howard during their so-called culture wars. It comes across clearly that his intent is to dismiss the “bagging” of Howard’s achievements as the product of leftist “Howard-haters”, but without having seen the show yet, I’m left wondering whether the commentary is truly “left-of-centre” or rather “left-of-Gerard”. In the end, Henderson suggests that the Liberal Party itself should be taking the lead in preserving and revering its history. The argument he makes doesn’t appear to be for an objective history, but for one that suits his preferences and that “wins” against the Howard-haters. As Peter Brent of Mumble notes:

Henderson is keen to see the history books treat Howard nicely, which is a noble cause. But it is difficult to imagine what would pass muster with him this side of a propaganda unit. As he says, he wasn’t keen on ‘The Howard Years‘ either, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more obsequious portrait of the former PM than that one.

I’ve seen the first episode of ‘Liberal Rule’ (will be reviewing it and others for Inside Story), and it ain’t perfect, but so far it is superior to the ABC1 product. This one is more politically literate, taking a longer term view, noting the part luck plays in the ebbs and flows of political success, reprising the Fraser and Hawke/Keating years. It has more dimensions.

ELSEWHERE: There’s more commentary and discussion of Liberal Rule at Larvatus Prodeo and Blogocrats.

UPDATE: Darryl Mason:

Gerard Henderson could have made a John Howard : He Made This Country What It Is Today You Ungrateful Bastards documentary himself, for very little money, screened it at his Sydney Institute, whined until the ABC paid him for the rights to screen it, complained about them not promoting it enough, or giving him an interview on the 7.30 Report, turned a reasonable profit, and then Gerard could have spent months bitching bitterly about its reviews.

But he didn’t do that, did he?

No. He didn’t.

Too much like hard work?

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9 comments

9 thoughts on “Howard history and the culture wars

  1. Why are people so unkind? - Pure Poison

    […] Gerard Henderson. Last week it was pernicious Leftist film-makers, journalists, academics and authors. This week, even Kevin […]

  2. Gratton Wilson

    It is still too soon to have these “Howard history” programs. We need to wait until all the evidence is in and collated – investigations into the reasons for going to war and the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq for instance and the unfortunate people who were locked up in the refugee camps need to tell their stories. Howard’s legacy needs to be set out and examined as a whole not little bits being selected, polished and presented as the whole story. The dark cloud of the Howard government will still hang over us for at least ten years.

  3. AR

    Confess & FredP pinged it already – “The directors could not find even one conservative or right-of-centre commentator suitable for interview who was not presented as associated with Howard or the Liberal Party in some way.”- but, how could it be otherwise? It’s not as if such critters would have some other, independent, existence.

  4. fred p

    “The directors could not find even one conservative or right-of-centre commentator suitable for interview who was not presented as associated with Howard or the Liberal Party in some way.”

    Seems as though he had himself in mind here. I think Gerard genuinely regards himself as capable of objective comment on the subject.

  5. markporter34

    What a Dummy Spit! Poor Gerard wasn’t asked. What a tosser.

  6. confessions

    The directors could not find even one conservative or right-of-centre commentator suitable for interview who was not presented as associated with Howard or the Liberal Party in some way.

    obviously Henderson couldn’t either, otherwise surely he’d be naming these leading Liberal lights? That’s the problem with the pro Howard crowd: they are all either newscorp hacks, former (often failed) political staffers, or are associated with howard or the Liberal party in some way – probably because most centre-right academics were co-opted by Howard government in propagating the culture wars!

  7. Tobias Ziegler

    UPDATE: Darryl Mason:

    Gerard Henderson could have made a John Howard : He Made This Country What It Is Today You Ungrateful Bastards documentary himself, for very little money, screened it at his Sydney Institute, whined until the ABC paid him for the rights to screen it, complained about them not promoting it enough, or giving him an interview on the 7.30 Report, turned a reasonable profit, and then Gerard could have spent months bitching bitterly about its reviews.

    But he didn’t do that, did he?

    No. He didn’t.

    Too much like hard work?

  8. zombie mao

    How dare SBS broadcast criticism of our former ‘dear leader’. It is obviously a ploy from those of great evil who are trying to destabilise our Howardian revolution. Our history books and films must convey the greatness of the beloved one.

    Hang on where have I heard that before….

  9. confessions

    Haha. I wasn’t going to watch it figuring it would be another liberal party sop like that show on ABC last year, but if henderson’s in a tizz about this show then maybe it might be worth a peek.