The “protests” were about the introduction of carbon taxes. The news reports were about a handful of signs that were apparently impolite in their references to the Prime Minister. And that is where the debate has gone and more or less where it has stopped.
This is not hypocrisy. It is changing the subject. We know that demonstrations against John Howard were infinitely worse in what was said and how it was said but these never became an issue in itself. No media report ever found itself sidetracked onto the irrelevancies of some nitwit slagging a Liberal PM. What we are observing is a reasonably successful attempt to divert attention from why the protests were held in the first place.
Protests, at least so far as the right side of the political spectrum is concerned, are about as decentralised an activity as one can possibly have. There is an issue and there is a venue. Everyone who wants to come along is invited to come along. Some just show up and some bring their signs. No vetting, no checking, no exclusions, no nothing. We just take all comers as in fact does anyone else who organises a protest.
And while I had my doubts about the value of these protests and demos or whatever they might be called, having gone and having seen the press the next day, I think they were worth the effort. No one is in any doubt that we are the tip of an iceberg. There are plenty of others who share our sentiments but have few means to appreciate that there are many millions of Australians who are reluctant to see their economy trashed, their living standards eroded and their own cost of living rise for reasons that completely escape them. The problem is that hardly anyone is made aware of the damage that will be done to the economy if these carbon taxes are introduced. Maybe there are now a few more who understand what the issues on the table are and many others who know they are not alone in having the concerns they have.
I myself like only respectful protests where no one says anything nasty about anyone else, least of all about our political leaders. But I willingly take the risk that I will be standing next to someone less temperate than myself with whom on many issues I profoundly disagree. But politics makes strange bedfellows.
When I think of the assemblage of Stalinists and totalitarians of various sorts who march under the banners of the left, that sensible people associate with these types ought to be seen as a scandal but isn’t.
Before the protest set off, the marshals advised us that there should be no violence, that we should not block the traffic, that we should not disturb other pedestrians, that we should stay on the pavement and only cross on green lights. The idea that it might be otherwise never entered my head.
But beneath this exterior of middle class propriety there is a burning resentment against the incompetence of governments and the ways they are plundering our resources and wasting our potential. From these issues we are not being distracted as much as those who are responsible for this damage hope. But they are doing their level best to direct everyone’s attention somewhere else. It is up to us to make sure it doesn’t happen.