I no longer watch ABC’s Q&A program as I find it rather boring and altogether too predictable. The host Tony Jones never fails to not-surprise with the consistent insertion of his views into the conversation.
Or so I thought.
You see, even I was surprised by the murky depths that Tony Jones sank to during Monday night’s episode. It was referred to me by a regular reader of this weekly comment.
The Q&A panel were discussing the rumours of me establishing and leading a new conservative party to which Tony Jones quipped that it could be called “Cory Bernardi’s Golden Dawn”.
His comments drew a few titters from the audience. I am guessing they came from those who hadn't a clue just how offensive such a reference is.
For those of you who don’t know, Golden Dawn is a Greek fascist party whose leaders are Holocaust deniers who openly describe the party as racist. They deny any links to the neo-Nazi movement but use the same ‘Roman salute’ and have published materials in praise of Hitler’s Third Reich.
There are many more elements of philosophy and action attached to Golden Dawn, including their use of violence that normal people would find reprehensible.
And yet Tony Jones thinks it is okay to link a conservative Federal Senator to such a disgusting movement.
I contacted the producer of Q&A to register my disgust at such a reference and received a response that included the following passage:
“Tony’s remark was flippant - giving a fictitious party name to a proposal circulated by Senator Bernardi’s supporters, including Andrew Bolt.”
What the producer was telling me was that the ABC’s pre-eminent current affairs host had no idea that Golden Dawn was actually a real political party even though he had reported on them in recent years.
The excuse was almost as offensive in its ignorance as the original deliberate slur.
Now, frankly, I don’t care that Tony Jones has a different world view to mine. He’s perfectly entitled to his opinion. However, to equate mainstream conservatism to a nationalistic neo-Nazi cause is deeply offensive, unprofessional and inexcusable.
If the boot were on the other foot, the likes of Tony Jones would be the first to lead the indignant outrage.
What he did on Monday night was to have a go at me in a most disgraceful manner but more importantly, he deliberately levelled the accusation that mainstream conservatives are at the extreme and dangerous fringe of political thought.
For that, Tony Jones owes all of us an apology.
PS. Subsequent to my complaint, the ABC has issued a clarification on their website transcript, but it remains to be seen if Tony Jones will issue an apology on next week's Q&A.
UPDATE: Tony Jones issued a clarification on Q&A the following week:
I said [last week] that Senator Cory Bernardi might set up a new conservative party and suggested in jest that he might call it Cory Bernardi’s Golden Dawn. Senator Bernardi was concerned that this linked him to the Right-wing Greek political party Golden Dawn which has been accused of neo-Nazi tendencies. That was not my intention. And I do want to make it clear that I don’t suggest that Cory Bernardi supports fascism.