White Men Go Jump
Could 2012 go down as the year in which white, mature-aged, conservative Christian men became an endangered species?
You’d be hard-pressed to think of another year in which several such men – and the mighty power bases to which they belong or run – came under such intense pressure. In the UK, Rupert Murdoch squirmed as he claimed he knew nothing about his newspaper hacking the phone records of a murdered schoolgirl.
In the US, Mitt Romney was comprehensively defeated by an African-American man whom many in the US reckon wasn’t even born there and/or is Muslim. One theory explaining the Republicans’ loss is that they focused too much on winning the straight white male vote at the expense of every other voting bloc.
In Australia, Alan Jones was forced to apologise for an outrageous slant against the PM’s deceased father. Sponsors abandoned his show in droves, though many seem to be slowly trickling back.
Later, the same PM all but served Tony Abbott his own proverberials to him on a plate in her blistering anti-misogyny speech that went viral. She then went on to make Abbott’s spiritual puppeteer, Cardinal Pell, sweat under his robes announcing a royal commission into child abuse that won’t specifically target the Catholic Church, but no doubt the church – and Pell – will be key players in the show.
Endangered might be too ambitious a description, but there’s certainly some realignments going on that are marginalising conservative institutions. Murdoch’s autocratic media empire is being challenged by pluralistic online alternatives. The US has proved they didn’t vote in Obama the first time as a one-off tokenistic gesture.
Here, voters are slowly but steadily inching away from Abbott towards Gillard. Make no mistake, Abbott is still the favourite to be our next PM and Gillard is not at all and probably never will be widely respected or liked. But having seen both in action for a few years now, more and more voters seem to be indicating a preference to be saddled with the unpopular, unmarried, atheist female leader than the unpopular, dogmatic Catholic male one.
And Pell’s response to the royal commission announcement – to complain about the media’s alleged bias against the Catholic Church rather than acknowledge the pain and suffering his church has inflicted upon so many young, vulnerable people and their families – only confirms how resentful he feels that an institution which for so many years has never been truly held accountable for its sins dare be scrutinised. Murdoch’s and Jones’ responses were in similar veins.
But to be fair, you can’t really blame any of these men. It can’t be easy having the blowtorch of scandal, condemnation, abuse and righteousness turned back on you even slightly after years of firing it wherever you damn well please.