As I Please: The Henderson Wars (5)

Gerard has not responded to my charge of unfair manipulation of the English language in his description of Antony Loewenstein as a ‘leftist activist’, a phrase that, amazingly, leaves out his Jewishness and his fame as a published author, and the smh has not yet responded to my offer to take over Gerard’s column for half his wage for a two-month trial period in which I can prove myself more popular, or not, as I was when we both had smh columns from 1994 to 1996. More popular, that is.

A man called Terrancepropp, however, though calling Gerard ‘a fool and a clown’ has vigorously defended their common view (or what he believes is their common view) of Israel’s right to kill a lot of people, while denying they kill many children; only twenty-six, he says, in the twenty-two years from 1988 to 2010. He denies the figure of three hundred dead children, some of them phosphorous-bombed (‘prosperous bombed’, he calls it) in the brief Gaza war of 2009, and will not say how many Palestinian children died then, in even a ballpark figure. The correspondence, under As I Please: The Henderson Wars (4), is worth looking up as it may continue.

This, then, is the only defender Gerard has been able to muster in a month of looking — or averting his eyes, perhaps — and this I think may show how unpopular he is, and how wrong it is of the smh to continue to believe he is influential, respected, or even widely read. A two-month break for him seems in order, or it seems so to me, and a trial gig for the resurrected Ellis, who did so well as their moral-issues essayist last time round.

The correspondence under Classic Ellis: The Kennedy Assassination Forty-Six Years On, is also worth reading, and very well argued on both sides of the question of Oswald’s guilt.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Dear Mr Ellis
    You have totally and completely misrepresented what I wrote and have altered the context of my argument in a manner that is quite concerning.

    I never defending the killing of “a lot of people” – that is slanderous and I ask you to show your readers where I write this or prove me wrong. I said that the figure you quoted of 300 needed a reference as I’m sure a man of your learning would be aware, Gaza bans all journalists and independent reporting and the death toll they cite has frequently been shown to be inaccurate. The BBC has reported the use of doctored footage and exaggerated deaths to elicit greater world response.

    Citing Hamas figures of ‘dead’ is akin to using the Syrian administrations figures in that conflict and saying only a few protesters have died. I deliberately – yes deliberately – responded with a made-up figure to highlight how problematic ‘truth’ is when someone quotes a so-called fact and then refuses to confirm it.

    My point was to highlight that when you say 300 and I say 30 neither of us is right unless we have independent evidence to confirm this. As you may have read in my response, this is a tactic adopted by Turkish governments to deny the Armenian genocide.

    Please sir, I ask that you do not put false words in my name, that you don’t misrepresent what I say. You may read a lot Mr Ellis, but I am old enough to have been in Vietnam, to have served and to have been involved as an observer in several conflict zones and know the difference between propaganda and the need to establish independent evidence.

    Otherwise, you remain a brilliant writer about politics, plays, the arts and sport … foreign affairs isn’t your forte.

  2. I’m just thinking aloud here, TP, but is there a window of responsibility in regards to deducing a likely overall picture from the full suite of impressions, conjecture, associations, etc? Evidence is always going to have to be sifted according to relative weight. Known knowns vs unknown knowns, in other words, rather than innocent until proven guilty or vice versa.

  3. I agree Reader1. There are no absolutes here.

    Mr Ellis asks me how many dead children is fair, when he knows that I specifically said no child should be killed. But then again, in another blog, Mr Ellis defended Richard Nixon’s slaughter of thousands of Cambodians as being not as ‘evil’ as the actions of other presidents.

    Am I justified in asking Mr Ellis how many Cambodian children should have been killed by that child murdering liar Nixon? How many Vietnamese children should have been blown to pieces by John Kennedy’s ‘advisers’?

    These issues are not black & white, right or wrong. Conflict is never that simple and I despair at those who think the Middle East conflict is so easily explained away. This is a clash of cultures and religion, not land. If it was about land, then why did the Arab league in the 1930s proclaim that there would never be a Palestinian state?

    Mr Ellis, how many Japanese and German children should Australian soldiers/pilots et cetera have killed. None? Should we have stayed neutral in WW2? If the Japanese invaded, should we have let them and not retaliated so as to spare the lives of their families?


    • Well, it depends on the cause a bit, I’d say. Ridding Europe of Hitlerism might be worth a few tiny collateral corpses. But assuring the sleep of housewives in Askelon? Do we kill children to do that? I don’t think so. Nor do we kill aid workers bringing in medical supplies by boat. Or phosphorous-bomb kindergartens for any cause.

      But tastes vary. You, a soldier, might like that sort of thing.

      Do you?

      How many humans have you killed?

      What was that like?

  4. One of the many valid criticisms of leafy middle Australia is that they want others to get their hands dirty. Thus the call for Australia to protect the East Timorese at the same time the ‘left’ decried spending on the military.

    The left wants a reduced defence budget but a stronger Navy to pick up refugees. Where is Beazley’s brilliant Coast Guard policy? Dumped by your ALP.

    You may have wanted Hitler and Tojo stopped (it’s not clear from your post) but certainly do you want to know about the horrific crimes against humanity Diggers bestowed on the Japanese in the Pacific campaign.

    On another post you besmirth Clinton for not acting in Rwanda - with the very same US forces you claim kill innocent Iraqis and Afghans.

    Which is it Mr Ellis? Is America wrong to ever use force in another country and have civilains die as always happens - or are they justified in conflicts you support, like stopping Hutu genocidaires or Somali warlords who starve their own people?
    Would you sit by while Hamas backed by Iran wipe out another 6 million Jews, perhaps a good article would come from it, or do you believe that there is evil in this world that must be stopped?

    I would genuinely be interested in where and when you think armed intervention is necessary?

    • Armed intervention would be good in Burma; Zimbabwe; Sri Lanka; Fiji; Israel; Syria; Pinochet’s Chile; Amin’s Uganda; Marcos’s Philippines: places where most of the people believe themselves tyrannised by a monster and in danger of torture and murder. This would not include Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua or Venezuela where the rulers were/are relatively popular. You would have to be careful to put in enough troops to win quickly and get out soon. What happened in East Timor is not a bad example: ensuring with troops’ presence an election is fair and not cheated.

  5. Have you killed a child?

    We have a right to know.

    It goes to your credibility.

  6. Why should I discuss something so breathtaking when you flippantly dismiss the carpet bombing of Cambodia as a blemish on the great Nixon; the slaughter in Vietnam as a footnote to the beloved JFK, the suicide bombing of cafes and weddings as being about worried European mothers.

    While I respect your intellect and wordsmithery (if there is such a word), we will never agree on this. You see the world from Pittwater, from parliament, from play-side and from what you read; I have seen the world from lived experience, from being in the thick of it, from seeing the aftermath of decisions made by politicians. Our worlds are very different.

    I suggest we go back to pleasant discussions, such as my anticipation at how Baz will bring to life Fitzgerald’s sparkling Gatsby, which I am re-reading yet again for the delight it brings or why Ides of March didn’t get nominated for Best Picture.

  7. I reported one war and was nearly shot as an assassin and was arrested in East Berlin and was in Prague the morning the tanks rolled in but you have a point.

    Baz will wreck Gatsby in the main because his three male leads all look exactly like each other; and sound exactly like each other. A baritone Gatsby would have been nice.

    But Baz is a serial dumb-ass and there you go.

  8. Ellis - more in sorrow than in anger I must say that I give up. You told me a while ago to fuck off and now I shall.
    You have become like one of those shock jocks - what outrageous thing will he say today? Your attacks on Henderson and the Williamsons have become more than boring. You know that they are unlikely to respond but you will not give up.
    You are better than that. You can and often do write very well and insightfully about matters worth thinking about.
    But wading through the rest to get to those is, for me, no longer worth it.
    Perhaps, like the shock jocks, you are getting hits to the blog from those wondering how far you will go. If that is what you think you need to do at this stage in your career, I am disappointed. And saddened.
    Your next book will probably be the first I have not bought in many years.

  9. As always, you have a way with words. The Clayton version was like his namesake, although Coppola seemed to try to make the script lively. I reserve a soft(ish) spot for the young Mia Farrow and Redford, to me, always fills a screen with his charm.

    Thank you and kind wishes … will now read your bin Laden article.

  10. I will think on this, and make a list of presently available actors of the right age who could play Gatsby better than Leo.

    Leo is a dreadful actor, unconvincing in everything since What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. He is the Elizabeth Taylor of his gender. He belongs in a pro-am production of Peter Pan in Gary, Indiana.

    Or perhaps you disagree.

    • Ryan Gosling, Rhys Ifans, Kevin McKidd, Sam Worthington, Joel Edgerton, Harry Connick Jnr, Tom Hiddleston, Ioan Gruffud, Jude Law, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Russell Crowe ….

      The best, of course, is currently unavailable: Heath Ledger.

  11. Disagree? Hardly, you have nailed it. I saw Gilbert Grape and thought him a fine young actor, but yet to see another film in which he has come close to that performance.

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