Critical Comment

19. Jul, 2021

On Sunday, 18 July 2021, The Jakarta Post ran yet another heart-wrenching story about the Wuhan Virus in Indonesia, it included inter alia:

“The national COVID-19 task force reported 51,952 new confirmed cases on Saturday, bringing the cumulative confirmed tally to 2.8 million cases. One thousand ninety-two people died from the disease on Saturday, the second-highest daily fatalities after a record-high of 1,205 deaths on Friday.

However, both figures are believed to be higher due to inadequate testing and tracing efforts outside Jakarta.”[1] 


This is daily reality in Indonesia: Our next door neighbour, with a population of 270.20 million people whose health system is breaking down, who are desperately short of medical supplies, and whose hospitals are running out of oxygen.

Quite obviously, because of our own incompetence and decades of economic stupidity, Australia is unable to assist in providing medical supplies but there is much we could do to help logistically: food supplies, emergency accommodation, managerial and communications support and so forth. To date, all Australian governments are silent on this matter. The bleeding-heart brigade, progressives and chattering classes are predictably silent on the issue and our strategic thinkers are yet to have the matter raised on their various committee agendas.

Until then, our neighbours keep dying – for want of care and concern.

Let us turn then to a reality that grasps the tiny minds of our informed classes, those paragons of progressive equity.

A story in the last Weekend Australian [17-18 July] provides a clue: ‘One-sex lesbian events unlawful’.

According to the OZ, lesbians will be breaking the law if they exclude biological males who are transgender from social events. This follows a ruling by Sarah Bolt, the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner who ruled lesbian events that exclude trans-women carry a “significant risk” of breaching legislation.

Ms Bolt refused to grant an exemption to allow the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Alliance to exclude “biological men” from lesbian events.

According to the OZ Launceston lesbian Jessica Hoyle, who made the application on the alliance’s behalf, said:

“I want to exclude people with penises, because being a lesbian is about same-sex attraction. It’s not about same gendered attraction … There are many events that cater for the trans community in Tasmania that are all-inclusive.

This event was going to be just for lesbians who are samesex attracted.”

This nonsense was compounded by a group with the sinister moniker Transforming Tasmania arguing that the exclusion of trans-women from lesbian events was discriminatory. The Oz considers that this controversial discrimination ruling is set to become a national test case.[2]

Hurrah! Hooray Hetty!

Just consider. Several minority sexually deviant groups have got their collective knickers-in-knot over a deviants’ party. All of them being victims in today’s society, they naturally go to their local [Tasmanian] discrimination court.

The Discrimination Commissioner, one of seven in Australia – one for each state and one for good luck - applies the full weight of her [of course] intellect and that of her over-staffed Quango to the matter. I point out that the salary of said Discrimination Commissioner, which is hidden deeply in the Department of Justice Annual Report [see if you can find it], would be enough to feed great numbers of Indonesian families for a year. The associated costs of taking this nonsense to court would pay for heaven only knows how much hospital oxygen in Jakarta.    

But, it would seem, all for a good cause. Australians now have some resolution, some clarity, as to whether people with dicks can attend a ‘ladies only’ deviant party. Well, for the time being anyway.

Meantime, back on the island of Java, thousands are dying every day ..... about those shades of reality ....   

……………….



[1] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2021/07/18/conflicting-statements-brings-uncertainty-over-ppkm-darurat.html

[2] https://theaustralian.smedia.com.au/HTML5/default.aspx?href=NCAUS/2021/07/17

14. Jul, 2021

We have all variously heard and read about the contemporary, and decidedly illiberal, ‘cancel culture’ prevalent in our society; perhaps we might know someone who has been cancelled and denigrated or perhaps, been part of a group thus treated. It is a particularly pernicious disease in an open-society, a disease however most of us merely dismiss with the obligatory shaking of the head and much tut-tutting as we get on with our lives.

I opened my e.mail this morning to receive the news from the Australian Christian Lobby, an organisation I support, that the ruling one-party state of Western Australia, supposedly a free, tolerant and integral component of Australia’s federal democracy has, in effect, cancelled Christianity. 

I cite in-Toto:

            "Hi John. You won’t believe this. The Albany Entertainment Centre has cancelled us. Why? Because our views are not the WA state government’s views 

Apparently the WA government won’t allow venues to host people who disagree with them. Welcome to China!

We asked for a copy of the policy on which they relied to make the decision. They said it was an “internal working document.”

When pressed, the Minister’s office sent us a copy of a short “policy” which consisted mostly of anti-ACL talking points. The tracking information showed it was last edited on the very day it was sent to us.

If the centre was run for a religious or political purpose that was incompatible with ACL, I’d totally understand. I’m not expecting the Pride Centre or an Islamic School to rent us their lecture room.

But this is a public venue supported by taxpayer funds. Albany ratepayers top up their coffers by about $400,000 every year. Yet they decline legitimate, paying customers.

The truth is, what they have done is illegal. Such a venue is not permitted under WA law to discriminate on the basis of political or religious conviction in the provision of goods, services or facilities (Equal Opportunity Act 1984, s 62).

That is, unless they exist for a political or religious purpose. And they do not.

So, WA friends, we’ll be in touch in the next few days to let you know how you can respond. I know many of you will want to make your voice heard. Keep an eye on your inbox!" 

 

This is most disgraceful state of affairs. Quite naturally I do not expect everyone to agree with my view of the world or to like the friends I choose to keep. But I do expect our society to allow me my weltanschaung, to be able to express my views freely and, equally, to associate freely with my friends when and where I chose to do so.

Most of you are doubtless long-tired of my continuing prognostications about the decline of our society, its values and its freedoms. Too bad about that. Remember Niemöller: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out...”

When will you remind your political masters and their politicised [including the blue uniformed gun-toting] apparatchiks that they are, in fact, your servants! You can continue to sit on your jacksies and take it or you can do something about it?  

Your call sport!

*****

24. Apr, 2021

As many of you know I am working on a major study of Christendom. To this end, early this morning in the quiet of my library I was writing a summary biography of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes [1588-1679].

Writing during the tumultuous years of the English Civil War, Hobbes is known for his seminal work on political philosophy, particularly his views that government should be ‘absolute’ in order to guarantee collective security and safety. His argument, in part, served as prototype for future totalitarianism viz. the surrender of personal liberties for the greater good of the state.

My morning deliberations on Mr Hobbes were interrupted by a call from my wife working in the adjoining study: “Come and have a look at what those crazies in Western Australia have done now!”  

She referred me to a breaking news story in The Australian:

Crazy Covid panic: one escape shuts down state: Two million plunged into lockdown, Anzac Day services cancelled after an outbreak at a WA hotel identified as ‘high risk’ more than two weeks ago.[1]

Yet again, by the hands of the Labor Premier of Western Australia, this country’s liberal democratic federation is traduced. Moreover, the lockdown amply illustrates, yet again, a knee-jerk reaction by a government bereft of sound policy and without the mechanisms to deal with a minor emergency. Far more insidiously however, the continual use of lockdowns indicates the natural totalitarian instincts of a certain stripe of politician whose first recourse to a problem is the use of absolute government power to solve it – the very term ‘lockdown’ says it all.     

His fellow crypto-totalitarian in Queensland has since gone out in sympathy and will quarantine anyone coming into Queensland from Western Australia.

What nonsense this all is!

There was a time when liberty loving Australians would have turfed both totalitarian-tossers into the parliamentary dunnies. Sadly, what mealy-mouthed and whinging-weaklings we have become. There will be no protest, no civil-disobedience – on the contrary, we will continue to cheer on our totally inept leaders as they continue to traduce our liberty in our vain hope that they know what they are doing - all in the name of keeping us safe!

Perhaps Hobbes understood human nature far better than his critics.

ENDS 

[1] https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics-live-news-australia-crazy-covid-panic-as-one-escape-shuts-down-parts-of-wa/news-story/121038779af019fcec7e1941250ab391?

 

13. Apr, 2021

Beginning on May 10, 1933, Nazi-dominated student groups carried out public burnings of books they claimed were “un-German.” The book burnings took place in 34 university towns and cities. Works of prominent Jewish, liberal, and leftist writers ended up in the bonfires. The book burnings stood as a powerful symbol of Nazi intolerance and censorship.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

 

One would have to be a first-class nit to deny that intellectual intolerance and intellectual absurdity are but two of the defining pillars of contemporary society. For a trip into nonsensicality I take two recent examples to illustrate the parlous state of our belles-lettres. The first is an article in today’s Australian newspaper [13 April] and another is a news story of last month [March 2021].

The Australian today carried an exclusive story headlined: “Elite journal under fire over ‘racism’” and penned by Stephen Rice.[1] It concerns the publication of a peer-reviewed study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. This study, published last September, points to high levels of violent crime by Sudanese-born youths in Victoria. The publication of this study has however engendered a bitter row amongst the Australian fraternity of criminologists and lawyers, some of whom claim the study to be racist. 

The authors of the study are Dr Stephane Shepherd and Benjamin Spivak. Dr Shepherd is a Swinburne University Researcher; a Fulbright scholar, an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, a member of the Eastern Regional Advisory Committee of the Victorian Multicultural Commission and author of dozens of academic papers on race and crime. He is also an African-Australian.

Dr Benjamin Spivak holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and a Ph.D. from Monash University. In his own words: I am a lecturer at the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, Swinburne University of Technology. My research interests relate to measurement, causal inference and prediction applied to understanding problems in criminal justice. My research focuses on three areas - legal decision-making, risk assessment and cross-cultural differences in offending and victimization.[2]

Stripped to its essence, the authors’ article posits that higher rates of African-Australian youth imprisonment were most likely because of an increase in violent activity by some members of that group rather than because of police profiling.

Their study found there was a significantly higher rate of “crimes against the person” — such as robbery and assault — by South Sudanese-born youth compared with Australia-born youth. The authors explicitly noted however that “the overwhelming majority of Sudanese-Victorians are law-abiding” and their findings “should prompt concerted efforts to better address specific community needs”.

These conclusions and the study itself have, however, been condemned as being: “racist in terms of its methodological approach” by some academics and activists.

In an emotive and highly unprofessional rant, Melbourne Law School senior fellow (Indigenous programs) Amanda Porter demanded the editors and editorial board of the ANZJC “do something about the racist trollop (sic) that appears on the regular in your not-so academic journal”.[3]

Quite obviously the Shepherd/Spivak study failed the litmus test narrative of progressive public policy. The ‘debate’ will presumably continue in the similar, undignified, un-academic and vitriolic bullying style that we have come to expect from contemporary academia. I hold no expectation for a reasoned outcome.

Moving onto a slightly different perspective of political and cultural narratives is a story that did the rounds of the international media last month. It caught my attention at the time and has given me much food for thought.

To recapitulate, the story in essence is this. Those that watched President Biden’s Inauguration Ceremony might remember a young black school girl reciting a poem. The title of this poem was The Hill We Climb and it was composed by the reader herself, Amanda Gorman. The merits or otherwise of this poem are not the subject of this comment – its international publication is. The details of this farce were kindly provided to me by that ever reliable iconoclastic news agency, Russia Today.

For whatever reason the US publisher, Viking Books, took it into their corporate heads to publish this poem internationally. To produce a Catalan edition they contacted the Barcelona-based publisher Univers, to commission an appropriate translator. Univers commissioned Víctor Obiols, a renowned English-Catalan translator, because they considered him to be the best qualified. Obiols is well-known for translating the works of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde into Catalan.

However, after Obiols completed the translation, Viking Books contacted Univers and asked them to find a translator: “who is a woman and an activist, preferably of African American origin, instead”.[4]

Speaking to the Agence France Presse news agency, a clearly nonplussed Obiols confirmed: “They did not question my abilities, but they were looking for a different profile, which had to be a woman, young, activist and preferably Black.”

He continued by observing that he was flabbergasted by the US publisher’s stance. 

“If I cannot translate a poet because she is a woman, young, Black, an American of the 21st century, neither can I translate Homer because I am not a Greek of the eighth century BC. Or could not have translated Shakespeare because I am not a 16th-century Englishman,” he told the media.

Evidently Obiols is not the first European to be thus discriminated against on equally specious grounds. In Europe that particular ‘debate’ continues.

The immediate issues of concern emanating from these examples of imbecilic nonsense are straightforward. Has contemporary academia totally lost the ability to accept a narrative that deviates from popular fashion? What constitutes the appropriate authority for anyone to write about anything pertaining to another culture?

Given their pedigrees, I am quite certain that Drs Shepherd and Spivak deserve more than the irrational ranting dismissal issued to them by Dr Porter. Moreover, using the yardstick stipulated by Viking, the history of many past and present cultures might never have been documented.  What authority, for example, did the early Europeans colonists exercise in writing about their colonised subjects?  As ridiculous as this would appear, it is a real question if one extrapolates logically along Viking’s path. 

Sadly, all too few appreciate the seriousness of this growing imbecility in the halls of our academy. Most would read the story, tut tut, shake their heads in disbelief and file it away along with the statue toppling stories of last year. Popularly known as ‘Cancel Culture’, this anti-intellectual impetus is, in reality, a pernicious nihilism which represents a serious threat to the fundament of our civilisation.          

Thoroughly embedded in our tertiary education system and highly prevalent in our general education system, this post-modernist culture is call to the upcoming leaders of tomorrow to deny the legitimacy of our society. Piece by piece, edifice by edifice, icon by icon, tradition by tradition, line by line our history and our heritage is being dismantled – before our very eyes. And still we sit - inert, memorised and naked in fright to speak out.

How many times do we need to be reminded of the magnificent post-war words of the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller. He was describing the cowardice of German intellectuals and clergy - including his own, despite spending seven years in concentration camps as a dissenter – in facilitating the Nazi rise to power and the subsequent horrors thereafter: 

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. Pastor Martin Niemöller.

These oft quoted, underappreciated and rarely acted upon lines should serve as a constant call to action to all those who value that which is good about our civilisation – freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of worship and so forth.  

These freedoms, that we once took for granted, are under increasing pressure as our supposed ‘liberal progressive’ governments tighten the noose around our necks. On whose authority has this happened? Ours: because we chose not to speak out. We remained silent when we should have defended our birthright.  

Literature is, in my view, society’s expression of its soul. The more sophisticated and complex the society is the more sophisticated will its literature be. A free and vibrant society will produce a literature that records, challenges, questions and entertains.

Book burnings were a favourite pastime of the enemies of the open society. Books contain heresies to the authoritarian narrative. Today this metaphorical enthusiasm is manifest in censuring social media – and books. The great political philosopher Sir Karl Popper spent the best part of his lifetime deconstructing the political enemies of the open society. Books, open education and the encouraging of questioning minds were of paramount importance to him.

I have always detested the millenarian left because of their certainty in their cause and their willingness to use coercion to enforce their millenarian ideal. When I started university in 1972 as a young returned soldier I was horrified at the totally closed minds of the Viet Nam Moratorium Peaceniks. I use the term ‘totally’ with deliberation. At that young age they had swallowed in toto a complete world-view that brooked no questions, no dissent, not even a tiniest element of doubt. Such I thought were the enthusiasms of youth.

I confronted my first formal academic variation of this closed-mind-set in my first philosophy tutorial wherein I was insulted by the staff tutor for my military service. Modesty and a touch of embarrassment forebears further details. Suffice it be said that I gained requisite satisfaction.  

But this experience had a profound effect on my intellectual development. I learnt, within a few days of my first term, that academia was not all about nuanced study, considered discussion and the proverbial cut and thrust of robust and civilised debate. I realised that I was, to put it bluntly, within the enemy’s walls. I came to determine the distinct difference between having ones ideas challenged and ones weltanschauun tested as opposed to being indoctrinated and threatened. Since those far-away days and several years of formal study later, nothing has disavowed me of my dim view of progressive academia: Scratch a progressive deep enough and you will reveal a totalitarian at heart. Therein is not an individual but a corporate mind and therein a collective responsibility. It’s called passing the buck. Why? The corporate progressive mind holds that the Party, the Cause, the Movement is always right, whatever its machinations, its twists and turns and despite the vileness to which it steeps.

None of this of course is new – critics of dystopic and/or authoritarian politics have been saying this, more elegantly, since the Greeks. However it cannot be said enough. A society that has lost its public discussion, its art and its literature to the ‘Party’ has truly lost its soul. Our dreadful descent into the Abyss can and must be stopped.    

….and there was no one left to speak for me.

ENDS

1,855 Words



[1] https://theaustralian.smedia.com.au/HTML5/default.aspx?p

 [2] Home | Benjamin Spivak

[3] The Australian op.cit.

[4] https://www.rt.com/usa/517891-gorman-translator-black-poem/?u

 

31. Jan, 2021

 

In my experience the first month of a new year provides a lunatic backdrop for the remainder of the year – this year is certainly no exception.

Setting aside the ongoing tragedy, politics and mismanagement of the pandemic – about which enough has been written – the international community has been witness to some extraordinary events in the United States and some very ‘ordinary’ events in Australia. I offer comment on a select cross-section of these stories which I consider to be outstanding examples of lunacy and/or great sadness. 

 

A Quadrennial of Democratic Debasement

Topping the list is of course the demise of Trump and the spiralling descent of American politics.

Consequent to Donald Trump’s defeat at the polls the United States imploded into a paroxysm of hysterical hypocrisy unmatched in recent memory. Wholehearted stupidities were screamed and enacted by all and sundry. The hyperbole was certainly matched by the spectacle!

In this moment of quiet reflection however I suggest that there is little doubt that the polls were fraught with irregularity – nowhere perhaps to the extent claimed by Trump and his apologists but certainly sufficient I would have thought to attract the interest of any red-blooded reporter or investigative journalist. Sadly for the health of the American polity the mainstream media were disgracefully silent on the matter.

Trump’s wilful refusal to accept defeat sealed his ignominy. This media, who had long abandoned any pretence of objectivity, turned themselves inside out like a pack of dogs attacking the carcass of Trump’s personal and political legacy. The celebrated riot outside the Capitol in Washington provided wonderful images of chaos and mayhem. The Democrats and their media allies promptly branded this a formal Trump inspired ‘insurrection’  conveniently forgetting last year’s numerous riots and civic savagery directly sanctioned and abetted by senior Democrat politicians and public figures. Consequently, these same figures,  not satisfied with winning the election, and in vindictive and self-indulgent rage, bayed for Trump’s impeachment, hastily ramrodding the articles thereto  through the House of Representatives – as though there were no more pressing matters to occupy their fevered minds.

Trump will now be centre-stage in yet another Grand American Show Trial with national hysteria at levels unseen since the ‘good old days’ of the McCarthyism of the 1950s. Americans quite obviously do love to witness a good kicking when the man is down.

The obvious and manifest hypocrisy surrounding the Trump years hardly needs reciting but, for the record, state it I will. The Trump presidency was marked from the day of his election by the outright and activist denial of a significant sector of the nation. This sector embarked upon a concerted and radical campaign to de-legitimise their president.  This sector could not accept Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Trump and effectively undertook the immature position of: ‘we woz robbed’. 

Trump’s presidency was truncated by several politically motivated inquiries that revealed nothing particularly untoward; he suffered constant excoriation by the media, academics and commentators; his policies upon which he had been elected met with a constant barrage of legal obstructionism levelled by Democrat judges and the tenure of his presidency was punctuated by violent and continued demonstrations and riots.  Even his Inauguration Day was marked by a partial shutdown of Washington due to massive demonstrations aimed specifically ‘against Trump’.

The Democrats, the progressive left and even large numbers of the Republican political elite failed to grasp or accept that he had won the election.  Like him or loath him, he was as he was, the elected president of the United States, elected by a clearly identifiable cohort of American politics – a cohort openly disliked and denied by the elites, the intelligentsia and the Democrats. It is hardly surprising that at the end Trump finally went feral.  

In my mind the Trump presidency may be described as being a Quadrennial of Democratic Debasement. It was a period that laid bare the poverty of American democracy inasmuch the anti-Trump forces – which I term the progressive populists – refused to accept the verdict of the umpire and squarely derailed the presidency. This was effectively an insurrection by other means.

That such an occurrence could happen in the country that once claimed to be the leader of the free world and bastion of democracy speaks volumes about the quality of its institutions and its political culture.

The incoming Biden administration, aided by a sycophantic, and dare I say, fawning media, working on the assumption that if Trump did it, it must be bad, has within a week already undone much of Trump’s work by President Biden’s executive action. The hypocrisy of Biden’s inauguration call for ‘unity’ cannot be overstated – let alone the moral question of wilful and arbitrary de-Trumpism by executive diktat.

Again all in the name of unity, President Trump – remember that in the United States former Presidents retain the honorific ‘President’ – will be publically excoriated before the Senate and the eyes of the world. Whatever the ‘trumped’ up charges, it will be ugly and unpleasant to watch as Americans drive yet another humiliating nail into the coffin of their democracy. Vindictiveness has no equal to progressive rage.

Joseph Stalin – enjoy.

 

 Not My ABC

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s [ABC] News and Current Affairs  Department, that long-standing ‘enemy of the people’ and constant critic of all and everything Australian, distinguished itself this week by formally describing Australia’s national day as ‘Invasion Day’. It did so in sympathy with the 28% minority bubble of progressive populist Australians who share their cultural cringe.   

It was an ill-conceived, out of touch and totally arrogant decision. Granted the corporation quickly backtracked, grudgingly and incompletely in the face of overwhelming public wrath, but the damage was done. That the ABC chose to support that 28% of cultural cringers amply demonstrates its cultural and political leanings.

Of late this benighted broadcaster has loudly proclaimed its lack of bias in its services. Utter balderdash. Blind Freddy and his dyslexic monkey would see through this nonsense. The corporation needs a root and branch shake out. Its news and current affairs department, a deeply-embedded and discredited crèche for politically pre-pubescent progressive piss-wits, should be summarily closed down. Why? Because, by any yardstick one cares to apply, this egregious bunch cannot be trusted with the truth.

 

Australia Day

The pejorative term ‘Invasion Day’ was coined during Australia’s Bicentennial Celebrations in 1988 by a group of aboriginal protestors in Sydney. Since then it has garnered currency amongst the usual crowd of cultural cringers who choose to denigrate any Australian tradition that emanates from the ‘evils’ wrought by British settlement. The irrationality and predictability of the mind-set of this heterogeneous mob would be amusing if it were not so serious.

There is no denying that British settlement caused enormous dislocation to the 500 or so hunter gatherer tribes that inhabited the continent. I have previously written on this subject in some detail wherein I commenced by observing: The story of the then world’s most technologically advanced culture interacting with the world’s most primitive was never going to be easy; …[1]

The reality of the aboriginal situation today is tragically straightforward. So equally is the solution:

This country needs to abandon its quasi-apartheid policy of tokenism and paternalism and accept its Aborigines as true citizens with the full rights and obligations afforded to every other citizen. The Aboriginal community writ large should be fully apprised of the fact that money does not grow on trees and that, like everyone else, they have to earn it. More importantly, Aborigines ought to be taught elementary civics – the difference between right and wrong, that obligations come with rights and, ultimately, that they have to take responsibility for their actions.

A straightforward solution – unnecessarily complicated by lack of political will. Indeed, it would take a brave politician to enunciate such a policy. Notwithstanding, the facts of the matter clearly indicate this direction. Certainly, should such a policy be instituted, it would come as an enormous culture shock - and of course, a high degree of discretionary compassion would need to be exercised. But, for the sake of the simple humanity of our Aboriginal citizens, firmness and fairness, opportunity and equity need to be the order of the day.[2] 

Whilst aboriginal history should be taught at schools and aboriginal cultural icons should be appreciated and even embraced by the rest of us as being uniquely Australian, there is no place in the future for continuing feelings of ‘white guilt’, ‘black entitlement’, paternalism and feel good tokenism. Aborigines  comprise some 3.3% of the population – by all means provide this minority cohort with every opportunity to progress in the world – but it is racist, insulting and cruel to confine them in the pampered enclaves and geographic ghettoes that are the consequence of land rights, mining royalties and other paternalistic policies. These readily bring to mind images of demented and self-interested anthropologists running around in circles exclaiming: don’t touch them – they’re mine, they’re all mine!  

 

More Codswallop

As an extension to the foregoing I received an e.mail this week from a highly reputable organisation that I support. I was so moved with disapprobation that I penned the following, slighted redacted reply – I have for the sake of propriety removed all reference to the identity of this organisation:

I am in receipt of a copy of your e.mail of 23 January inst. Concerning your First Nations Policy Announcement.

In reading same I presume you announced your Board’s endorsement of its ‘First Nations’ Policy last …. at a ceremony held in the forecourt of …….. I note that the occasion included a ‘Smoking Ceremony’.

With the greatest respect, given your explicit statement that: we’ve never excluded supporting indigenous ….. and that your Policy now explicitly states: our commitment to ensuring that we provide care and support to all eligible families in a culturally appropriate manner[.] invites the obvious question - how did you support them previously? Your new policy infers that previously you didn’t treat them in a ‘culturally appropriate manner’. Perhaps you treated them equally in the same manner as you would any other family? Is your new policy now positing a multi-tiered support system with special treatment for aborigines and perhaps select other groups?    

Following on from this incongruity, I am disappointed indeed at your organisation’s craven capitulation to the forces of arrogance and political correctness concerning the well-being of our aborigines. Although I am sure your ceremony and policy was well-meant, it was clearly an extension of the patronising national political and cultural trend of insulting anthropological arrogance towards our native peoples, which include inter alia as describing Australian aborigines as ‘First Nations’ and then paying them to perform humiliating stunts, specifically welcome to country and the smoking ceremonies. 

The strictly Canadian term ‘First Nations’ is totally inappropriate to describe the pre-European contact Australian aborigines. The upward of 500 disparate hunter and gatherer tribes of the continent can in no legal or anthropological manner be described as a nation[s]. A tribe upward of ten souls is a tribe, a family, a collective a clan and so forth. I remind you that as at the Census of 30 June 2016 there were 798,400 indigenous people in Australia, comprising some 3.3% of the total Australian population. Albeit politically correct to call this miniscule cohort thus, it is not a nation. So let that nonsense be removed from your future public vocabulary.

I might add for your serious consideration that continuing recognition of these tribal peoples as ‘First Nations’ will ineluctably raise insurmountable questions of sovereignty and constitutional legitimacy. Sadly these subtleties of history and consequential law are far beyond the intellectual grasp of our politicians.   

I now refer to the smoking ceremony. As you are doubtless aware the origins of the smoking ceremony are lost in the sands of time. Traditionally the smoking ceremony is an ancient aboriginal custom involving smouldering native plants to produce smoke. This pungent smoke is believed to have cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits. I beg you to do your own research on the matter, but in brief, the modern ‘Welcome to Country’ and ‘Smoking Ceremonies’ bear little or no relation to ancient intent and usage and were only introduced into our culture firstly, in 1973, by the Australian Union of Students at the Aquarius Festival held at Nimbin; secondly by Ernie Dingo and Richard Whalley of the Middar Aboriginal Theatre who claimed to have ‘invented’ the ‘Welcome to Country’ in 1976. Thirdly, the distinction for having ‘invented’  this ceremony is claimed by the aborigine Rhoda Thomas, then head of indigenous programming at the Sydney Opera House, who claims the ceremonies were developed during the 1980s by her and members of the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust which she co-founded.

These ceremonies are not without controversy and critics. I draw your attention to the respected former NT politician and aboriginal activist, Bess Price, who in January 2018, famously described such ceremonies: 'All the "Welcome to Country", all the "Smoking Ceremonies" and all the made up bulls*** rituals about "pay our respects to elders past and present" is just one big lie. 'Shame shame shame.'[3]

I might add that Ms Price’s comments were made in the sadly continuing context of the serious abuse of women and children in aboriginal communities by the men and the very elders we are supposedly venerating.

You should have been advised that these ceremonies have little basis in traditional aboriginal lore – whatever that may be – and that just because our parliament in Canberra chooses to thus debase itself in the name of political correctness there is no reason why a perfectly sane organisation such as yours should follow suit. I also note the timing of your ceremony, the day before Australia Day. Whether your choice of date was unfortunate or deliberate it was certainly ill-timed and adds further hubris to the debate about the 26th of January.

This political correctness concerning our aboriginal community stems from selected ‘white guilt’ about the past; from political mischief and malice and from extremely deep agendas. However, allow me to assure you that, as an immigrant myself, I am proud of my country, of my military service to my country and of my citizenship; I suffer no feelings of guilt about the past – history is as it is; I consider aborigines to be equal citizens to be treated equally and I respect their venerable culture as far as we can discern it. To this end, I resile with great sadness from the insulting, patronising revisionism and Eurocentric tokenism that further debases this culture.

It is my sincere hope that yours, an organisation that has done so much good for the community, is not stumbling down the degenerative path of political correctness, social faddism, revisionism and cultural re-imaging.

I am

Yours faithfully

 

 …And how’s  the Cricket?

A significant irritant of the month pertains to the once innocent and noble game of cricket.

The first recorded cricket match in Australia was held in Sydney in December 1803 and a later report in the Sydney Gazette in January 1804 that suggest the game was well established in the young colony. Thereafter the game became closely linked to Australian culture. In 2003 the venerable and respected Australian Cricket Board changed its moniker to Cricket Australia to flag its fashionable credentials and intent.

Of course the new entity comes with all the politically correct bells and whistles. Its website highlights programmes of inclusion and diversity and specifically parades its ‘Reconciliation Action Plan’. The latter includes the usual guff about acknowledging the ‘First Nations’ and Traditional Custodians, their spiritual connections to the land and so forth. It also includes the sentence: We respectfully acknowledge all Elders past, present and emerging as we continue to cherish shared wisdom and grow with their guidance as we walk together toward a connected Country.[4]

Presumably these are the same elders that are a national disgrace in having caused so much misery amongst the women and children of aboriginal settlements – past and present.

Australia Day has traditionally been the day of Australian cricket.  Australia Day cricket is a fixture on the sporting calendar – until this year.  In its politically correct wisdom the Grand Panjandrums of this sport came out in support of the aborigines – remember, some 3.3% of the population and, in accordance with the principles of the reconciliation action plan dropped the name Australia Day in all of its marketing material, choosing rather to describe the day as ‘26th of January Cricket’!

Australian sport is becoming totally obsessed by politics. This is an excellent reason for me to ignore the lot. It is also an excellent reason for the federal government to formally disassociate itself with the sports industry – period. Cut off all taxpayer monies supporting and subsidising all sporting activities; close the many and various institutes of sport; cease building sporting stadiums and so forth and to cease providing taxation breaks to sports. This would release considerable taxpayer monies which could be redirected to towards hospitals, scientific and engineering research and sound education.

As to the future of Australian cricket – a gaggle bunch of oafs in coloured pyjamas playing with their balls - I really couldn’t give a toss.

 

A Hospital Reflection

I spent a few days recently in our local hospital. Not taking well to confinement I took whatever opportunity I could to mount my crutches and hobble out to the very small but quite delightful roof-covered garden reserved for patients. It was never well patronised save for one old broomstick of a man who used it as his private smoking area, despite its prominent no smoking sign.

Early one twilit evening I was leaning on my crutches inspecting a particular tropical plant, the steady wet season rain pattering on the roof and spilling out of its gutters  onto the glistening-black roadway – when the door opened and out stepped a late teenage aboriginal youth, complete with baseball cap, peak pulled down over his eyes.

I welcomed him warmly, sympathetic for an indigenous young man desperate to escape his aseptic confines and get in touch with nature and, in part, his cultural roots. He acknowledged my greeting with a grunt, thereafter studiously avoiding my presence, and stood at the railing near the road. From one pocket he pulled out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter and proceeded to smoke. From his other pocket he extracted a new smart phone and spent the next ten minutes staring at its screen pressing buttons. On completion of his cigarette he stubbed it out on the concrete with his left thong and without a word walked back inside – leaving me in a deep brown study.

It struck me that this young lad, in some respect, served as a metaphor for a rapidly increasing cohort of modern aborigines.  He showed zilch interest in his surroundings – it may as well have been snowing in the desert for all he knew or probably cared. His interests were totally absorbed by his cigarette and playing with his phone. Doubtless he would return to his bed and continue to play with his phone. His actions were those of any other late teenager.

However, what price the nobility of his connection with the land, his innate affinity with his surroundings and with nature? I would humbly suggest that I possess a deeper, more sincere affinity for the Australian bush-scape than that young chap.

In this age of identity politics, should I therefore identify as being aboriginal – why not? I might pick up a new car and a fancy phone on the gravy-train!

 

The Last Word - For the Record

Given the paucity of positive comment about Trump I provide one last word about this enigmatic character. Although it is unfashionable to say so, but President Trump can count several worthwhile achievements that should serve to benefit both America and the world, being:

  • He overcame the United States’ most intractable foreign policy problem by opening dialogue with North Korea
  • He succeeded in driving forward the peace process in the Middle East as evidenced by the recent raft of treaties Israel has signed with its neighbours
  • He revived the American economy; encouraged factories to return to America and generated widespread job creation
  • He openly confronted the China question bringing the nature of Chinese trade, foreign and imperial-military policy centre-stage of international relations
  • He exposed the insular, mean-minded and selfish stupidity that is NATO  
  • He restored pride and self-belief, for at least four years, in a cohort of Americans who had thitherto been long ignored by the American political elites 
  • He shook America’s corrupt and self-sustaining political establishment to the core thereby exposing the lie that is contemporary American democracy

Thank you and Goodbye Mr Trump.

 


[1] Coe John J. The Smiling Autarch. 2013. p.98.

[2] Ibid. p.102