If the ABC were audited for diversity, the report might read something like as follows: “Evidence suggests that the ABC’s organisational culture reflects structural discrimination. The staff profile is unrepresentative and produces marginalisation of outsiders or ‘others’. This marginalisation persists due to apparent discrimination in recruitment and promotion practices. As a consequence, the ABC’s program content reflects bias that reinforces the privilege of insiders while stereotyping and demonising those excluded from the existing power structure. Cultural change is required to transform the ABC from an unrepresentative public institution to an organisation that puts the public good ahead of in-group power and privilege.”
From my early years in the university sector, I worked for various equal opportunity and anti-discrimination units. As a part of that work, I conducted organisational audits of equity and diversity. After several years, I saw that the movement for equity was destroying diversity of the kind that matters in education: intellectual diversity. Universities replaced the West’s civilisational wellspring of freedom of thought and speech, mastered by learning the art of public reason, with the comparatively superficial culture of skin diversity.
In the 21st century culture of public education and media, diversity is often measured by skin colour or gender. Diversity of thought is devalued, especially in the arts and humanities.
Despite the spread of discrimination and affirmative action policies across the public sector, little attention is paid to intellectual and political diversity. Rather, the equity and diversity agenda has come to resemble what former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau considered the Maoist approach. In the book Two Innocents in Red China, he praised Mao Zedong’s approach to racial minority groups because it did “not try to assimilate them but … make them understand the blessings of Marxism”. Trudeau pioneered a nationwide policy of multiculturalism. The multicultural ideal was a diversity of races united in ideological conformity to Marxism.
The diversity agenda sometimes reflects the founding ideal of multicultural policy: a culture where race or gender diversity is encouraged as long as members conform to PC ideology. Islamic activist Linda Sarsour is celebrated as a leader of the US women’s march despite appearing to wish for violence against women who disagree with her. On Twitter, Sarsour wrote of two dissidents: “I wish I could take their vaginas away — they don’t deserve to be women.” One of her would-be victims was author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who suffered female genital mutilation as a child. Apparently that wasn’t enough.
The ABC has not admitted to a lack of political diversity in its staff profile or systemic political bias in its programming. Yet the largest survey in 20 years of political attitudes among journalists found that 73.6 per cent of ABC journalists support Labor or the Greens. The Sunshine Coast University research also found that 41.2 per cent of ABC staff surveyed voted for the Greens. As Chris Kenny wrote in The Weekend Australian, the “federal vote ceiling” for the Greens is just over 10 per cent. On those figures, the ABC’s staff profile is highly unrepresentative of the Australian general public.
The ABC’s political bias seems most apparent in stories related to border security, immigration, identity politics and Islam. Many believe that the ABC pushes the PC party line backing porous borders, minority politics and the censorship of dissenters under discrimination law while demonising border integrity, conservatism, Judeo-Christianity and Western civilisation. In 2014, the broadcaster admitted that its reports that the navy had burned refugees were wrong. A previous audit found bias in ABC reporting on Tamil asylum-seekers.
Last week’s 7.30 was criticised for bias against Christians after presenters inferred that evangelical or conservative Christianity could lead to domestic violence. ABC presenter Leigh Sales said: “We talk about women in Islam but statistically it is evangelical Christian men who attend church sporadically who are the most likely to assault their wives.” To my knowledge, there is no cross-country research comparing male violence against women in Islamic and Christian communities. The relevant study cited was by American researcher Steven Tracy.
A series of lies by omission resulted in the perception that conservative or evangelical Christianity can lead to domestic violence. For instance, the ABC omitted Tracy’s related finding that: “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are … the least likely group to engage in domestic violence. The ABC also omitted interviews that conflicted with the presenters’ line of commentary.
Ean Higgins reported that Sydney’s Anglican Archdeacon for Women Kara Hartley was interviewed for over an hour by Julia Baird. Hartley spoke at length about the church’s positive work in combating domestic violence. Her comments were excluded from the program.
Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge responded to an ABC request for comments about a related essay by Baird and Hayley Gleeson. The ABC reported falsely that he had not responded.
It should go without saying that domestic violence is an abhorrent form of abuse to be condemned without reservation. Research on causation should be funded where preliminary research finds specific attributes correlated with higher rates of abuse. The public often funds such research and should be informed also when certain attributes are correlated with lower rates of abuse. The ABC neglected its public duty when it omitted the positive work of Christian churches in preventing domestic violence and the research finding that: “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are … the least likely group to engage in domestic violence.”
In the coming 7.30 on violence against women in Islam, we might expect the ABC to consider the status of women under sharia. It might look at the prevalence of female genital mutilation and child marriage in Islamic countries and communities. It might consider why Islamic states enter the most reservations to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and justify it by appeal to sharia. Alas, we’re more likely to hear yet another version of: “We talk about women in Islam but … ” and find the blame shifted to the standard victims of politically correct thought.