Reflections on a New Year – 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.
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; …
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.
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!
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.'
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.
…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.
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.