COLUMN

The real threat to America

Allan Fotheringham May 27 1985
COLUMN

The real threat to America

Allan Fotheringham May 27 1985

The real threat to America

COLUMN

Allan Fotheringham

The real threat to the United States, if you must know, is not mighty Nicaragua—which is about the size of Massachusetts. The real threat is not creeping illiteracy nor Phyllis George nor AIDS. Soviet missile superiority, Japan’s Sony Walkman superiority and France’s cheese superiority are not the real problems. George Steinbrenner is not even the worst peril. Americans have no idea of what is really in store for them. An Australian, Rupert Murdoch, has decided to take out U.S. citizenship.

Mr. Murdoch is one of the more objectionable millionaires you are liable to encounter on God’s green earth. Being Australian only adds to the damage. If Roy Thomson was our own Ugly Canadian, debasing the coinage of most every newspaper he gobbled up, Murdoch is the Ugly Australian, greedily grabbing every media outlet he can find. Like that other arriviste colonial,

Thomson, who bought The Times of London in hopes of being considered respectable, Murdoch did the same but you really wouldn’t want to go elephant shooting with him.

When he bought The Chicago Sun-Times, its star columnist, Mike Royko, quit on the spot, declaring that Murdoch put out newspapers “that no self-respecting fish would want to be wrapped in.” Murdoch’s greed has now got him into a minor spot of bother. Already halfowner of Twentieth Century-Fox, he is buying six television stations in the key market areas of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and Washington. American law forbids foreigners from controlling more than 25 per cent of such formidable propaganda weapons, dispensing Leave It to Beaver and deodorant commercials so as to twist the minds of the natives. So Murdoch, who is as flexible as his chequebook, is about to take out American citizenship to accommodate his lust for creating a fourth U.S. TV network, one that presumably would be as sleazy as his newspapers.

Americans are accustomed to many

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things and are innovative (i.e. Philadelphia, which has just perfected a new form of eviction notice: the bomb). However, I rather doubt they are ready for a dose of the Aussies. As an expert on the species I expect to make a lot of money as consultant on the threat. The average Australian male (there are no females in Australia) consumes six quarts of Foster’s Lager on a slow day, talks in a dialect that can be deciphered only by anthropologists and likes sports a lot. I once lived with five Australians in London in a basement flat in Knightsbridge. The highlight of the week was Sunday

brunch, knee-deep in the sex-sin-andsoccer tabloids now perfected by Murdoch, when my Aussie mates would produce a dish delicately known as a “meadow muffin”—a term dear to the hearts of any Prairie product.

It consisted of clearing the fridge of the week’s refuse, all dumped into a frying pan, lashed liberally with hot barbecue sauce so as to kill any moving objects, topped with a lot of tabasco sauce, onions and green pepper, served with great quantities of beer to quench the fire below. In the preparation, steam would rise, neighbors would phone in alarm and the environmental authorities would be alerted.

Australia itself is much like the dish described. If you fly over it, it looks like a large overdone pizza, with a fringe of green around the edges. The myth of the Aussies is about the jolly swagman camped by a billabong. That is all hooey. The country in fact is far more urban than Canada, with something like 80 per cent of the population on that coastal

fringe, mainly in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and out in Perth on the Indian Ocean, where I once almost drowned, thank you very much, and where the America’s Cup will be defended against the embarrassed Yanks.

The Australian male, as mentioned, is a special animal. The Melbourne Cup is the classiest horse race of the year, a combination of the Kentucky Derby and the Epsom Derby. Ladies spend the year arranging their magnificent picture hats for the event. The men? There is a tent where you go to drink. When you belly up to the bar a full bottle of whisky is placed before you. When you leave, stagger or crawl away, the bartender takes a casual look at the level left and charges accordingly.

I was once driving to a party in Australia with a group of friends when they stopped, as is the custom, at a pub to pick up supplies for the affair—where all the men would immediately gather in the kitchen to drink and talk sports, and all the women would discuss babies and tennis. While the wives stayed in the cars, the menfolk went gin for the liquid goods. A small round, of course, was required. Another. And another. After much time had elapsed, we returned to the cars —and the contented ladies, still chatting.

Australian men, shy blokes, to show their affection for their intended often butt their cigarettes on their sweetie’s forearm. You will have noticed, of course, the alarming decline lately in the brand of Australian athletes. The land that produced Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe and John Landy hasn’t got anything remarkable on the tennis court or track lately. This is because of the incursion of quiche, fern bars and Perrier. They are no good unless they are hairychested and on the beach. Once you introduce advertising agencies and underarm protection they go the way of all flesh. I await the news of the first lesbian kangaroo.

Now that Rupert Murdoch, who has the face of a longshoreman, is becoming an effete Yankee, the fair dinkum quotient is greatly diluted. Another bastion crumbles.