An email from Pamela Bone, formerly one of the few sane journalists at Melbourne’s Age, to Arena magazine:
In the June-July edition of Arena, Guy Rundle writes, in an editorial regarding the Euston Manifesto, that one of the international signatories to the manifesto is ‘our own imperial feminist Pamela Bone’. I must first advise Mr Rundle that I am not ‘his’ anything. Secondly, although I suppose I should be flattered that he has not forgotten me, I must wonder why Mr Rundle feels it necessary to refer to me quite so frequently: given that in 22 years of writing in a much larger publication – The Age – I have not once referred to him; that the copies of Arena regularly sent to me have been unsolicited; and that I in fact I have written very little for six months, having retired from The Age last year after having been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The Euston Manifesto is a document prepared by a group of British academics and writers who met regularly at a pub near London’s Euston Station. The architects are members of the Left who wish to distance themselves from what they see as the knee-jerk anti-Americanism and cultural and moral relativism that has plagued much of the Left in recent times – indeed, from the kind of views which may be said to be typified by the writings of Guy Rundle. I do notice Mr Rundle makes no mention of the fact that another international supporter of the manifesto is one of Australia’s most eminent philosophers, Professor Raimond Gaita; perhaps he felt this would lend the document too much credibility.
As for the term ‘imperial feminist’; I am certainly a feminist, and I am happy to be deemed “imperial’ if that is taken to mean that I wish to impose on other cultures the basic human rights that are taken for granted in this culture (for I doubt he means the word in its other sense, ‘majestic’). Indeed, if I could, I would forcefully replace those cultural traditions that allow the stoning and beheading of women, or the throwing of acid in their faces, with one that grants women individual rights under the law. Happily, I don’t need to, for brave Muslim women are themselves beginning to force those changes.
In another place Mr Rundle has ‘humorously’ criticised me for frequently writing about poverty and human rights abuses in Africa. Yet in his accompanying editorial in the same edition Mr Rundle writes eloquently about the suffering of people in Darfur. Unlike Mr Rundle, I have been to the refugee camps on the Chad-Sudan border, and have talked to the victims of the fighting in Darfur, just as earlier I had been to Rwanda and seen the aftermath of that genocide. A genocide is taking place in Darfur. Every decent instinct calls for international intervention; but one can be sure that if there were such intervention, especially one that had any US involvement, good-hearted people of the ‘Left’ would be marching in protest at American imperialism.
Guy Rundle cannot forgive me for pointing out three years ago what many others are now pointing out: that the idea of international humanitarian intervention rightly belongs to the Left. Yes, that stance took some courage. However, I may be old, weak and sick, but I have one thing Mr Rundle will never have: guts.
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