Hendo’s jumped on the communist t-shirt bandwagon that had the blogosphere rolling last week with posts at Troppo, Catallaxy and Quiggin. Gerry excuses Prince Harry’s wardrobe malfunction because the third in line heir to the Australian throne is “ignorant” and asks rhetorically – “If it’s OK to wear a hammer and sickle on the King’s Road, why draw the line at a swastika?”
Hendo’s all over the shop this week. He condemns the use of “fascism” as a routine term of abuse, and then in an apparent attempt to rope every recently prominent news story into his column, has a go at Germaine Greer for calling BB producers fascist, implying that she is demeaning Mussolini’s victims. It’s pretty clear that she was using the term in its everyday usage, but hey, why not fire off a cheap shot in the culture wars at someone the media’s been slagging off for a week and display a bit of conspicuous indignation?
Gerry then attacks a variety of people for comparing the West to communist and fascist regimes. He has a point – fascism is not an epithet that should be tossed around lightly – but it’s lost in his own hyperbole. Yes, people shouldn’t equate illiberal or authoritarian trends in government with fascism. No, Gerry, you’re also trivialising the horrors of the Short Twentieth Century with your scattergun, silly and sloppily reasoned attempt to harness Che t-shirts, Germaine and Prince Harry into the latest front in the never-ending culture wars. Henderson’s previous writing, like Robert Manne’s, betrays a deep and legitimate concern with the conditions for a return of the horrors of the Holocaust and fascist rule. He’s letting himself down with his own trivialisation of this concern.
Incidentally, Gerry doesn’t seem to be worried that a possible future King of Australia is so ignorant of history. But, if you want to read some sensible and measured analysis of Prince Harry’s faux-pas, give Gerry a miss and go read Rob Corr instead.