He would have to be right up there in the top five.
I have known the name of Eric Butler since childhood and for American readers you can be certain I do not mean the footballer. This Eric Butler; founder of the Australian League of Rights .
An appalling story from this morning's Australian that makes you think Poor Fellow My Country (Xavier Herbert's strange Australian classic linked for a reason I'll get back to.) These stories are behind a pay wall but it is well worth signing up for the free 28 day offer for these alone.
The Australian Press Council chaired by Professor Julian Disney has upheld in part a complaint by an associate of Eric Butler, the evil old Australian war time traitor, against the Australian newspaper because last year the left wing columnist and broadcaster Phillip Adams called the evil old war time traitor an evil old war time traitor which he most assuredly was..
This is indeed an insult to the memory of many Australians.
In the same adjudication, the Australian Press Council has dismissed a complaint against Adams for asserting his target, Eric Butler -- the now deceased founder of the right-wing League of Rights who was known for advocating, among other things, that the diaries of Anne Frank were a hoax -- was anti-Semitic.
APC chairman Julian Disney told The Weekend Australian the adjudication was an important one in terms of free speech, emphasising that the decision did not stop Adams from calling Butler a traitor.
In typical style, Adams wrote in his April 2011 column in The Weekend Australian Magazine that Butler was a "truly evil man" and "Australia's most virulent anti-Semite".
"If the word traitor means anything, Butler was a traitor, often investigated during World War II by stumblebum security people for his pro-Axis activities," Adams wrote.
"He argued that Churchill, Roosevelt and John Curtin were covert communists, that then ally the Soviet Union was a Jewish slave state rolled by international Jewish financiers in New York."
In a complaint to the APC, a friend of Butler and associate of the League of Rights, Nigel Jackson, said the description of Butler as a traitor was "inaccurate and deceitful" on the basis that he had served with the Second Australian Imperial Force during World War II and had been found by the Reed board of inquiry into military offenders as "loyal to His Majesty the King".
Jackson wrote to the magazine with this complaint and a further one that challenged the claim that Butler was generally anti-Semitic. That letter was not published.
The APC decision recognised "the importance of free expression of opinion in columns of this kind" but upheld the first complaint on the basis that Adams had omitted to mention Butler's voluntary war record.
It found the "failure to mention something which is so crucially relevant to the allegation as his voluntary military service during that war, including a hazardous overseas posting, contravenes the council's principles against misrepresentation or suppression".
The complaint against Adams's assertion of Butler as anti-Semitic was dismissed.
"The supporting evidence for that allegation is very much stronger, and the contrary evidence is very much weaker, than in relation to the allegation of being a traitor to one's country in time of war."
The APC also ruled that The Weekend Australian should have published Mr Jackson's letter.
Professor Disney defended the adjudication and told The Weekend Australian that in the interests of free speech, it was "crucial" to recognise that the APC allowed Adams to call Butler a traitor.
"We have very specifically said Adams can call him a traitor but this irrefutable and highly relevant fact (about his service record) should have been mentioned," he said. "The word traitor is not the issue but (rather) the inclusion of a fact that would allow many people to think he wasn't.
"I would have thought it was obvious that the time when our principles are most important to apply is when someone is a seemingly particularly unattractive person.
Professor Julian Disney thinks that this "irrefutable and highly relevant fact" should have been mentioned by Phillip Adams in his column in the paper's weekend edition when Adams rightly called Butler a war time traitor.
Excuse me? What "irrefutable and crucially relevant" fact would that be?
Ran that past us again Professor?
Eric Butler's "voluntary military service"?
Let's be very clear about this because indeed there has been an insult to the memory of many.
Here is Eric Butler's "voluntary military service" according to "one of the his obituarists" at that Wikipedia link..
"He served as a gun sergeant for twenty months without leave in the Torres Straits, taught troops as an instructor at Canungra Jungle Training School for six months, transferred to the Officers Training School at Seymour, Victoria and was honourably discharged at the end of the Pacific phase of the war.
... end of the Pacific phase of the war? What does that mean? I thought that was the end of the war. Not for everybody but it was for Australia. Anyway that sounds like two and a half maybe three years service tops according to our "obituarist". Cool. 1942.
Butler was 23 when Australia entered that war in 1939. There is not the slightest bit of evidence that Butler had the remotest interest in his country's military when it was just a war against the Nazis as it was until December 1941.
For certain he was not the only wartime traitor to eventually end up in the army especially after the only option was conscription into the militia; but how is that "critically relevant"?
Australian Stalinists of the type Senator Lee Rhiannnon was born into immediately come to mind. They were so active in their sabotage of the war effort against Hitler they had to be suppressed under emergency regulations. The same happened in Britain and France. One day the world changed in June 1941. One day the volunteer soldiers of the AIF fighting Hitler's and Mussolini 's armies in North Africa and Europe and taking from the now fascist French (once again with Jewish Legion support) Lebanon and Syria are slandered as six bob a day mercenaries .
The next day it is hip to join up no matter how deeply red your martyr workers' blood flows.
You can be certain the sudden threat to the Jew run Soviet Union did not persuade young Eric to hear his country's call.. No siree. He was 25 when even the Commos were signing up and he still hung out another year. .
and who is this "obituarist"? Could it be? It surely is. It is Nigel Jackson. Eric Butler's old buddy from the League of Rights and the complainant to the APC about Phillip Adam's column.
... and what's this?
this extract from a Security Service dossier on Butler, dated 2/10/42 :
In 1941, BUTLER was called up for Military service, and although this in no way curbed his political activities, it is felt that the entry of Japan into the war somewhat mitigated his morale-damaging writings, since the obvious affinity between his ideas and Nazism did not stretch to the point of welcoming an invasion of this country by the Japanese.
How does the concept of "called up" square with "voluntary military service" especially given that conscripted Australian militia were serving and dying in the Pacific by 1942 anyway?
Butler did not voluntarily see war service in the Pacific. The AIF were volunteers in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East but after Pearl Harbour those who didn't volunteer or were not in a reserve occupation were conscripted into the militia which had every bit as hard a war as the AIF. A number of conscripts transferred to the AIF. The only way that Butler could have avoided war service was to declare himself a traitor in the war against the Japanese as well as the older war against the Nazis.
If you are going to spend some of the war in the military it is certainly a lucky draw of fate to have spent it as an instructor in the Torres Strait, southern Queensland and Victoria where no matter how uncomfortable Butler's belated service was at least it was not made any more uncomfortable by the need to actually fight any Japanese. Is it churlish to point that out?
Between 1939 and whenever it was Butler finally put on a uniform there were many Australians who voluntarily saw war service either in the citizens militia that was minced in New Guinea or in the AIF, navy and airforce. Many troops who were called up saw horrific battle conditions in the Pacific. Butler was not among them. It is an insult to the memory of those who were to claim that he was.
It is also an insult to the memory to all those who served to suggest that because Butler did finally put on a uniform when he had to, and was allowed to keep it, is in the slightest bit relevant. Hundreds of thousands put on uniforms before Butler and it was an old and ugly war by the time he did.
That Butler stayed in the army even after coming under scrutiny as a war subversive says much more about Australian wartime conditions than in any sense mitigate Butler's wartime treachery. He cheered on the Nazis and more right up to and beyond the direct threat of invasion to Australia. If Australia had been invaded it is likely that Butler, like Oswald Mosley in Britain, would have been summarily shot.
A pity he wasn't anyway.
That the Australian would have even considered publishing a letter of a long term associate of this vile ugly old dead man is disgusting and the paper rightfully did not.
It is ominous that the APC should be a party to an attempt to rehabilitate Eric Butler and to rewrite history. Can you imagine a Professor Julian Disney with teeth? Another reason why Finkelstein's Frankenstein must never come to pass.