They say age brings wisdom. I can’t vouch for that but if there was an award for frustration, I would be receiving my Master’s degree!
Wherever I look I see a suspension of common sense and seem to be continually saying ‘the world has gone mad’.
Traditional values are declared ‘extremist’ by feckless politicians and the truth is ridiculed by an agenda-driven media.
Any dissent from the ‘progressive’ view, no matter how factually correct, is characterised as some sort of ‘ism’ or ‘phobia’ - suffixes designed to shut down any contrary opinion and denigrate those who hold them.
The truth has now become the most controversial of realities vocalised today. Facts no longer matter as long as the cacophony of public voices are singing from the same song sheet.
Dare to publicly confront the PC progressive agenda and their champions in the media and in public life will seek to assassinate your character without addressing your argument – but only if you are a conservative.
Let me give you an example that illustrates one of my personal experiences.
In 2003, then aspiring politician Malcolm Turnbull expressed the following sentiments in a speech to the National Population Summit. He said:
“There is a very high correlation (higher than there is for race or poverty) in most of the research between the absence of the biological father and child poverty, juvenile crime and sexual abuse… We know children are in every respect better off if they are living with their biological parents, formally married (as opposed to cohabiting). We know there is a social cost (and not just in dollars) from marriage breakdown and single parenting.”
Now consider the following statement by US President Barack Obama in a speech in 2008:
“We know the statistics – that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioural problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”
And this is what I wrote in my book The Conservative Revolution, which referenced the Obama speech above:
“Children in families without a married mother and father… are more likely to suffer poorer health outcomes, such as higher rates of mental health disorders, mortality rates and long-standing illnesses, and are more likely to be exposed to abuse and neglect… Why then the levels of criminality among boys and promiscuity among girls who are brought up in single parent families..?”
Now you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to see the similarity of those three statements. However, the truth and substance of those words mattered little.
What mattered was the person who said them.
Turnbull’s speech was received positively, his comments reprinted in The Age and cited in the Adelaide Advertiser. The SMH reported on his speech but didn't mention his comments about family structure and children’s outcomes.
The Australian Financial Review wrote: “Mr Turnbull also advocated promotion of ‘the traditional married family’, to arrest the decline in marriages and the increase in divorces, which was a contributing factor in the decline in fertility.”
Obama’s speech was supported by academics and heralded by the New York Times and CBS, who described it as a “passionate speech on fatherhood”. He was given public praise for raising a ‘sensitive topic’.
The reaction to my remarks was somewhat different. Here are a few examples:
Carrie Bickmore said I can “get stuffed.”
Dr Karen Brooks - “Bernardi's disgraceful comments indicate how close to the surface this toxic prejudice against single mothers lies.”
Bill Shorten MP - “Cory Bernardi's comments on what he regards as 'non-traditional families' are offensive… On what basis is Senator Bernardi suggesting these children are more likely to be criminal - or is it just his own out-of-date prejudices?"
Lenore Taylor -“Bernardi’s rants are as predictable as the anger and outrage from the many people he offends.”
Labor’s Anthony Albanese said my comments were "an offensive contribution to the policy debate".
News Ltd reporter Lanai Scarr - “Cory Bernardi is completely wrong when it comes to his views on the traditional structure of families… I haven't yet read his book completely, but maybe I will.”
Liberal MP Warren Entsch, clearly not knowing he was contradicting the very person he used as an example, presented the ultimate straw man argument. Stating that Turnbull himself had been raised by a single-parent, he asked: "Is he a lesser person? Is he a second-grade citizen because of that? I don't know how many charges Malcolm's been on."
It didn’t end there. The condemnation continued on multiple media platforms and seemed to dominate the media cycle for days.
Three very similar comments and yet only one vituperative response.
As conservatives, when faced with this hypocrisy and bias is it any wonder we are struggling to win the battle of ideas?
It’s time for that to change. The Leftists long-march through the institutions has captured much of the media, politics and academia whilst bludgeoning business into submission. The message is clear; conform or suffer the consequences.
Well, it’s time for truth to prevail. It’s time for the cause célèbre of the Left ‘diversity’ to re-establish itself in the battle of ideas.
For that to happen, we need more principled conservative voices to speak up in the public square.