A Leftist view of cartoonist Bill Leak. To the The Leftist "Saturday paper" realism is racism
The Leftist "Saturday paper" is owned by an Israeli draft dodger and edited by a Peace Prize winner so its stories are fairly predictable. Under the heading "The freedom of a coward", the paper refers to examples of Bill Leak's cartoons that give realistic impressions of life on Aboriginal settlements. Such cartoons are "racist" said the paper.
To those who have never set foot outside the more affluent suburbs of our capital cities, the portrayals offered by Leak probably do seem grotesque. For those of us who have had a lot to do with Aborigines, they are simply realistic. We have seen in real life the sort of thing Leak portrayed.
So there is a issue here: Is it permissible to say anything negative about minorities? It's a strange retreat from reality when all minorities must be portrayed as without stain but that seems to be the Leftist position. If not, why is Leak abused as a racist?
Clearly the Left are not confronting the absurdity of their assumptions. But expecting any balance from them about anything is a big ask, of course
And if Bill was a racist is it not a little strange that he was married to a non-Caucasian person with the charming name of "Goong"? In the Bogardus scale of social distance, marrying a minority peron is the ultimate example of tolerance and lack of prejudice. The Saturday Paper should be renamed the Saturday Propaganda. There is no honour, depth or truth in them
Bill Leak was a racist. To pretend otherwise is a nonsense.
His death doesn’t change that. The culture warring obituaries don’t change that. The misguided plea of a former prime minister still squaring up against the national broadcaster doesn’t change that.
It was racism that drew a cartoon of two Aboriginal men drinking – they were always drinking – as they read about John Howard’s Northern Territory intervention. “Rape’s out, bashing’s out,” the speech bubble read. “This could set our culture back by 2000 years!..”
It was racism that drew a cartoon of two Aboriginal men drinking – they were always drinking – as a woman slumped battered behind them. Her exaggerated fat lips were made fatter by violence. Blood ran from her head and nose. A comedy of stars circled above her. The speech bubble: “Sheilas! You give ’em an enriching cultural experience and what thanks do you get??!!..”
They were the same men in both cartoons. For Leak, they were always the same men – grotesqueries of a culture his pictures deemed subhuman.
Bill Leak was not brave. There is nothing brave about the persecution of minorities. There is nothing brave about tracing clichés. Leak became a martyr for free speech but in reality he was a martyr for the right to be wrong. His was the freedom of a coward.
Leak’s late-career targets were rarely the powerful. At some point he gave up on genuine insight. About the same time, he gave up on being funny.
There is history to these cartoons. It is the history of a kind of racism that would not be published in another developed democracy anywhere in the world. Leak’s late cartoons drew on the tropes of colonial propaganda to demean and dehumanise an entire race of people. And that was before you got to the homophobia or the Islamophobia or any of the paranoias that drove his pen.
Bill Leak drew for a country that no longer exists. The majority of the words written since his death have been a kind of specious voodoo – a hope that Leak’s Australia could somehow be reanimated, that racist intimidation would once again dominate, that freedom of speech may be co-opted as a tool to keep down the future and the diversity of people who will make it.
The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, wrote this week that Leak represented “a nation at war over its core values”. He called him “an iconic figure in this struggle … the most important local symbol in the cultural disruption afflicting Western societies.” Leak’s bigotry, in Kelly’s mind, was a corrective to the progressives “dismantling the cultural norms and traditions that have made Western societies such as Australia so successful”.
These are bizarre assertions. They depend on the repression of minorities to maintain an ailing status quo. But this is what Leak spent his time doing.
There is nothing to celebrate in Bill Leak’s death. But there was little to celebrate in the last years of his cartoons, either.