The Brazen Rip-Off Of An Anti-Mossadegh Column In Australian Newspaper
The Importance Of Being...Original
The Warwick Daily News — January 26, 1952
If a Plagiarism Hall of Fame is ever invented, there’s an old lead editorial from a Queensland, Australia newspaper that definitely deserves a nomination.
Its entire template, along with nearly every idea, quip, factoid, and error within it, was shamelessly lifted from Peter Russo’s column on the Iranian Premier published one week prior in Melbourne’s The Argus.
There is literally not a single original thought here, just an artfully repackaged synthesis of another author’s perspective. Even the most original thing about it, the title, was just a take-off on Oscar Wilde’s Victorian era play The Importance of Being Earnest.
Of course, stealing can require a certain degree of proficiency, too. The skillful way they camouflaged their plagiarism—rephrasing, condensing, or rearranging the source material—had to have taken a bit of effort, after all.
Generally, the whole point of these monkeyshines is to suck the essence out of someone else’s creation by making enough little changes to be able to deny, with some amount of plausibility, any wrongdoing.
What makes this specimen so confounding, therefore, is that having gone to all this effort to disguise their thievery, they nonetheless chose to repeatedly rip off numerous chunks of verbatim or nearly verbatim text, completely giving away the whole ruse. Not just phrases but even whole sentences were directly swiped from Russo, who happened to have been a quite prominent journalist and broadcaster.
Here’s just a small sampling of their deceit:
“Westerners laugh when Dr. Mossadeq, Persia’s weeping Premier, gets up to speak, but it is always the Westerner who goes out by the same door as in he went.”
The Warwick Daily News
“Westerners laugh when Dr. Mossadeq gets up to speak amid a deluge of tears, but it is always the Westerner who goes out by the same door as he entered.”
[Note: Though “Persia’s weeping Premier” was removed, it did not go to waste—they recycled it into their second sentence.]
“Riding high on the wave of popular nationalism, Dr. Mossadeq has cried his way into the hearts of his people.”
The Warwick Daily News
“There is no doubt, however, that he has cried his way into the hearts of the Persian people, riding high on the crest of a wave of popular nationalism.”
“Which shows how politically backward we really are, and how much we can still learn from people we are professing to teach.” [Fourth sentence.]
The Warwick Daily News
“All of which shows how politically backward we Westerners are, and how much we can still learn from people we are professing to teach.” [Last sentence!]
All of that trouble, just to plunder an imbecilic, gossipy column from a financially struggling competitor which, five years to the day after its publication, was forced to shut down for good. Mates, if you’re going to write trash, at least be original about it—even if you are in a country founded by thieves.
The Importance of Being Tearful
If Mr. Menzies were regularly to sob during his speeches, swoon during debates, and make a practice of inviting foreign ambassadors to talk things over in his bedroom where he writhes feverishly in two pairs of bright pyjamas, he would, without a doubt, be led quickly away by his querulous colleagues and lodged permanently in another place. [Robert Menzies (1894-1978) was Prime Minister at the time]
Yet this is the stock-in-trade of one of the world’s most remarkable politicians, Dr. Mossadeq, Persia’s weeping Premier, and the fascinating part of it all is that no one has yet ascertained just how far his constant and pitiful lapses are genuine.
Westerners laugh when Dr. Mossadeq gets up to speak amid a deluge of tears, but it is always the Westerner who goes out by the same door as he entered. At first diplomats are inclined to treat him gently, because this old man is so frail and timid, with a team of ambulance bearers always at hand to catch him in mid-swoon. But after two or three visits they invariably find that it is they who have given the concessions, that the only way to outsmart the old devil is to outsob him, a technique with which Westerners generally are not greatly familiar.
No one knows how old is Mossadeq, but estimates range from 98 to 78. [He was 69] There is no doubt, however, that he has cried his way into the hearts of the Persian people, riding high on the crest of a wave of popular nationalism.
His Parliamentary technique is ingenious. He begins his speeches mildly, and softly, works up to a critical tempo and then starts to totter. Shrewd observers have remarked that he never actually faints until he has finished what he has to say, and mean while the furious Opposition is left with its protests and counter-motions unmoved, because Dr. Mossadeq has by this been carried away by his bearers.
He may be a pantomime figure, but remember that this is the same man who threw the British out of Persia and has just subjected them to the last crushing humility of closure of their consulates. And it is significant that all those polished Westerners who have since endeavoured to talk the weeping Premier into oil agreements have come away with little more than a generous helping of his own symptoms.
All of which shows how politically backward we Westerners are, and how much we can still learn from people we are professing to teach.
Flight of Shah In Iran Strengthens Red’s Hand — International News Service, Aug. 18, 1953
Mossadeq’s Mission — The Daily Examiner, (New South Wales, Australia), Oct. 18, 1952
Colonel Joe Bush Says || Iran Jokes from the 1950’s
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”