Well, here’s a novel attempt at negative politics: Public-Commentator-For-Ever Mr Paul Collins, writing in Eureka Street (“Abbott and Santamaria’s undemocratic Catholicism”), attempts to conjure up the ancient spectre of B.A. Santamaria to discredit our Opposition Leader (and aspiring PM) Tony Abbott.
As Gerard Henderson’s reply to this article (“Defending Abott and Santamaria”) shows, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors involved in Collins’ argument.
Basically, it goes like this:
1) Mr Abbott is a self-declared disciple of B.A. Santamaria
2) B.A. Santamaria was an “integralist”
3) “Integralism” was an authoritarian political ideology that sought to impose a narrow interpretation of Catholicism upon citizens’ freedom of conscience
4) It was therefore just like Italian Fascism
5) SO: VOTING FOR TONY ABBOTT WOULD BE LIKE VOTING FOR CATHOLIC FASCISM!
Umm… As the Bard wrote: “Hence, horrible shadow! Unreal mockery, hence!” (The Scottish Play: Act 3, Scene 4)
[Post Script: Actually, the funniest bit in Collins’ piece is the very last paragraph, where he writes:
I am not claiming that Abbott consciously follows Santamaria’s integralism. But there is always the danger of osmosis, of absorbing attitudes without realising it. If I were a politician — or an archbishop — I’d want to put considerable distance between myself and the most divisive man in the history of Australian Catholicism.
Perhaps Mr Collins thinks that Mr Abbott has been sleeping with a copy of the works of B.A. Santamaria under his pillow!]