Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hilarious! Australian students become the first "Aborigines" to attend Oxford University

I wish the young people mentioned in the news story below all the best but calling them Aborigines is a laugh. I have a blue-eyed, fair-haired sister in law who is also called an Aborigine. Such is the politically correct nomenclature used in Australia. That real Aborigines have black skin, dark eyes, flat noses and heavy features is supposed to be invisible, apparently. At least the guy on the right below has something of the distinctive heavy features.

Even Charlie Perkins was not much of an Aborigine. His skin was yellowish rather than black and his nose was as narrow as mine. Such people would once have been called "half-castes" or "quarter castes" and beyond that simply "whites", though it might occasionally be observed that such "whites" had "a touch of the tar-brush" in their ancestry.

In short, the people in this story tell you NOTHING about people of wholly Aboriginal ancestry, though the do-gooders no doubt will be pretending that it does. I think it is an imposture to keep referring to people as "Aborigines" when they are clearly nothing of the sort. It certainly does no favours to Aborigines to have people held out to them as role models who are in fact effectively whites. I know Aborigines well and they have their own great strengths and virtues -- but they are not the same as the strengths and virtues of whites. May I use "paternalism" as a descriptor of the nonsense below?

Paul Gray, left, and Christian Thompson sit with Rachel Perkins, the daughter of Charlie Perkins

When Australian indigenous leader Charlie Perkins played football against Oxford university students in Britain in the 1960s, he was inspired to forgo a contract with Manchester United and return home to pursue a university education. Mr Perkins eventually become the first indigenous person to graduate from an Australian university in 1965 and went on to become a prominent Aboriginal leader who campaigned for civil rights reform.

Now two students will study at Oxford in his honour, the first Aboriginal Australians to be accepted into the prestigious British university. Christian Thompson, 32, and Paul Gray, 26, were announced this week as the inaugural recipients of the Charlie Perkins Scholarships to attend Oxford University.

Mr Gray will develop research into the neurobiological processes in children as a result of traumatic events in early life as part of a postgraduate degree in experimental psychology.

Mr Thompson will undertake doctoral studies in fine art at the Ruskin School of Art where he will conduct research on the Indigenous Australian artefacts at the Pitt Rivers Museum’s Collection. Mr Thompson, an acclaimed artist who is currently studying at the Amsterdam School of Fine Arts in the Netherlands, described it as a “life changing opportunity”. “To be one of the first two Aboriginals to ever go to Oxford is pretty wild,” he told The Times. “It’s going to be exciting to be in an environment which is all about the pursuit of knowledge.” Mr Thompson will also hold a residency with the Blast Theory art collective in Brighton in August prior to starting his studies at Oxford.

For Mr Gray, it will be his first visit to Britain. “I’m really excited about it, it’s going to be such a great opportunity for us,” he said, adding that he is a little wary of the British weather. “Luckily I don’t feel the cold too much, so hopefully it’ll be ok.”

The pair will travel to the UK next month for an orientation visit to the university and will begin their studies in October. The scholarship is jointly funded by the British and Australian governments.

SOURCE (Andrew Bolt has a more graphic comment on the matter)

Media bias about religion: Rudd's Catholic background is good; Abbott's Catholic background is bad

Rudd was brought up as a Catholic but now mainly worships at Anglican churches. He always makes clear that he has a strong Christian committment, however

TONY Abbott is a phenomenon, a former trainee priest who wears his conservative Catholicism on his sleeve; Abbott is an experiment for our politics, public attitudes and media coverage.

There is nothing new about a political leader being a Christian. Paul Keating was steeped in his Catholic background; Malcolm Turnbull was a convert to Catholicism; John Howard, reared a Methodist, practised as an Anglican; and Kevin Rudd is an Anglican who gives television doorstops outside church. Rudd provides politics with a slightly more religious face and hopes to gain from this.

Yet Abbott is different. None of the others contemplated a religious life, spent three years in a seminary or had the same depth of religious experience. Abbott's Catholicism is integral to his political personality. It runs through his speech, outlook and values. It provokes alarm from influential women and feminists.

But what is especially different is that Abbott keeps talking about his values and morality.

During last week's ABC1 Four Corners program on Abbott, interviewer Liz Jackson ventured that "maybe it's the language" he uses that helps to make Abbott so provocative. Former journalist and Peter Costello press secretary Niki Savva said this week that Abbott cannot stop talking about sex, morality and women. This raises the question: Do his advisers ever tell him to tone it down?

On this point the contrast between Abbott and Rudd is pivotal. Abbott opens the door on his moral views and Rudd, as Prime Minister, has firmly closed the door. It is fascinating that the media responds in a dutiful manner. It questions Abbott relentlessly and it largely leaves Rudd alone. Yet the views of the two men seem almost identical. What does this say about media professionalism and fairness?

In Rudd's famous 2006 Monthly magazine article he called German theologian and anti-Nazi activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer his hero and quoted him approvingly that "when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die". Rudd backed Bonhoeffer's rejection of the Two Kingdoms doctrine: the gospel being about the inner person and not the realm of state affairs. By endorsing Bonhoeffer's view Rudd offered the most assertive vision of an active Christianity in politics.

Yet Rudd's Christianity is more acceptable to the media because it enshrines a social justice agenda to support "the marginalised, the vulnerable and the oppressed". Rudd also believes abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research are "matters of deep individual conscience", which means he is not prescriptive on such matters.

Abbott, by contrast, reflects the Catholic struggle between individual conscience and church interpretation of God's will. He flirts with being prescriptive about conscience matters. So Abbott laments 100,000 abortions annually and wants abortion to be "safe, legal and rare"; he says he finds homosexuals "a bit threatening"; and he reveals advice to his daughters not "to give it [virginity] to someone lightly".

This difference is subtle yet vital. Rudd and Abbott have similar views on same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia but Abbott's more prescriptive rhetoric brings him into the firing line.

Of course, Abbott is a politician seeking advantage. He judges his social conservatism will appeal to the former Howard battlers who believe in family and traditional values. Yet the differences between Howard and Abbott are illuminating; Abbott, unlike Howard, has a more explicit religious profile and this poses a greater electoral risk for him.

The truth, however, is that in hard policy terms the guise of "Abbott as Christian crusader" is overdone, exhausted and marginal. Abbott does not seek to qualify the secular state. He has made this clear for many years. He does not seek any change in abortion laws. He does not object to same-sex couples, just their marriage, like Rudd. He does not seek to impose Catholic teaching on Australia. Any such notion is untenable in Australia's secular state.

The real objection to Abbott is that he refuses to disguise his muscular, conservative Christianity. The Australian people will pass their own judgment on muscular, conservative Christianity but it is manifestly offensive to our progressive media. There are numerous examples but the most recent was the Four Corners program last Monday on The Authentic Mr Abbott. The unifying theme was Abbott's religion to an extent that would have been inconceivable in any comparable program on Rudd.

But the real issue was the treatment of Abbott's religion. It was a sustained exercise in reinforcing stereotypes where, for the umpteenth time, Abbott was portrayed as patronising about women, reactionary on abortion, prone to impose his moral beliefs and unsympathetic to the poor and homeless.

Many viewers would have loved it. This program magnified out of proportion and distorted the policy significance of Abbott's religion as distinct from Abbott's views on economics, finance, foreign policy, welfare, education, health, parental leave, industrial relations and so on that will bear directly on what an Abbott prime ministership would mean for Australians.

The more challenging and worthwhile media approach was to discover the "authentic Mr Abbott" by contesting caricature and stereotype. What, for example, is the most obvious political example of Abbott's Christianity?

It is surely his personal commitment to and visits to remote indigenous communities during his entire career. As a newly elected backbench MP in 1994 and 1995 Abbott began these three to four-day visits. They intensified when he became employment minister, then health minister. Abbott formed a relationship with Noel Pearson and became one of the great political backers of Pearson's reforms.

With more time after the Coalition's 2007 defeat, Abbott spent three weeks in 2008 as a teacher's aide working in the classroom from 9am to 3pm at Coen in north Queensland, assisting Aboriginal youngsters with their literacy, and has since followed the progress of some of these children. Last year he spent 10 days at Aurukun in Queensland assisting the truancy team.

Frankly, this shows a rare personal commitment not duplicated by any other national party leader. It is part of the Abbott story unknown to the public. Such commitment is integral to Abbott's Christianity and Catholic background. Yet it violates the stereotype of his Christianity as a negative repressive factor, which is the ABC's dominant ideological mindset.

Such a depiction of Abbott would be contentious because it would mean his Christianity leads to something worthwhile. By the way, have you ever heard on any ABC current affairs program any suggestion that Abbott's Christianity has positive as opposed to negative implications? If so, you are a privileged person.

Four Corners highlighted the welfare sector's outrage about Abbott and stamped its angry foot over his refusal to endorse Rudd's target to halve homelessness by 2020. Yes, Rudd's targets can be constructive but they do not guarantee good policy. Indeed, targets are often self-serving tokenism. At the 1998 election Kim Beazley pledged to cut the jobless rate to 5 per cent but Howard repudiated the target only to better the figure. The program did not mention Rudd's recent concession that homelessness in Australia is increasing. Is this not relevant when Abbott is being critiqued for not matching Rudd's target?

What matters are results, and this was Abbott's point. The program's choice of homeless targets to reinforce the stereotype of Abbott as unsympathetic to poverty-busting intervention was unpersuasive and revealed a pre-conceived mindset towards him.

The program briefly mentioned former One Nation operative David Oldfield, who was employed by Abbott and whose defection to Pauline Hanson was a serious embarrassment for him. Having raised Oldfield, the program declined to mention his consequence: that Abbott as a minister and without seeking Howard's approval launched a political and legal campaign against Hanson that led, eventually, to her imprisonment. Abbott once said he saw this campaign "as the most important thing I have done in politics". Yes, the ABC has covered this issue before. But the idea of a conservative Abbott pursuing Hanson, another violation of the stereotype, was nowhere to be seen in the profile.

The program, fixated on Abbott's religion, missed the obvious point: that Abbott is a classic "Lord, forgive me" Christian, open and humble about his personal failures. Abbott's Christianity underpins his beliefs but facilitates his saga of confessional changes of mind, notably on multiculturalism and parental leave. What, pray, might come next?

Neither Abbott nor Rudd wants to make religion an election issue. While it lurks in the background, it should be kept firmly in the background. It would be a serious lack of judgment if the media invested Abbott's religion with more weight than it deserves in this contest. It would be an equal lack of judgment if the media, in depicting the political meaning of Abbott's Christianity, offered a series of sustained distortions.


Malcolm Fraser's famous missing trousers: Maybe Mossad stole them

Andrew Bolt has below what is probably the last word on the matter. I once met Malcolm Fraser and it took a real effort of will to suppress any mention of the word "trousers" in the resultant conversation

The scary thing is that Malcolm Fraser is now so far to the Left that he probably actually believes it:
Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs (is) jointly written by Fraser and Margaret Simons. According to Simons, Fraser wanted to expose himself to critical questioning. So the co-authored book attempts to be both biography and autobiography which, of course, is impossible.

As is the attempt to finally make go away what happened in Memphis, in 1986, when Fraser lost his pants… “So what happened in Memphis?” asks the book. “Fraser gave some brief comments to the media at the time but has never expanded on them. He does not intend to do so now.”

So much for the critical questioning…

The book explains (Fraser) ... went to town “hoping to find some of the famous live blues venues”. He went for a drink at the flash Peabody Hotel but “awoke in a very different place: the Admiral Benbow Hotel, a notoriously seedy dive”.

It goes on: “Today, both (wife) Tamie and (personal assistant) Heather Barwick are convinced Fraser was telling the truth, that he was drugged.”

Well, yes. The book proposes he may have been the victim of a simple crime, but hints that darker forces were at work. Who? It doesn’t say. The likely suspects were the CIA, because the US was at the time standing in the way of the sanctions, or maybe Mossad, because Israel was apparently selling arms to South Africa and didn’t want Fraser wrecking the deal.

“However,” says the book, “he prefers not to entertain conspiracy theories.”

Paul Toohey goes on to give some gossip of the kind that suggests Mossad may not have sent secret agents across the world to snatch Mal’s daks.
I once went to Memphis looking for Fraser’s pants. I did not find them but I did find other things…

Fraser had checked into the Benbow after midnight, signing in with a scrawl that appeared to read “Joan Jones” from Victoria, and paid for the room with a $100 bill. Fraser later told the Memphis Commercial Appeal he had not called the police about his missing $10,000 Rolex, passport, wallet, $600 cash and, let’s not forget, his trousers because “I had a busy schedule to keep and chances of getting my stuff back seemed pretty remote”.

Fraser was most likely drugged at the classy Peabody by an attractive woman. After the story broke, Janine Perrett, a New York correspondent for The Australian, wrote how “poor old Malcolm was suffering memory losses”.

But she could jog his memory a short time later in New York, where Fraser promised her “an exclusive interview on the merits of floating exchange rates”. The interview never happened. Instead, Fraser wanted to go with Perrett to a “dark, smoky, smoochy bar”.


Australian bishops lead crossing to Rome

FOUR bishops, 40 priests and thousands of parishioners from the Traditional Anglican Communion will petition the Vatican by Easter to be received into the Catholic Church. Archbishop John Hepworth of Adelaide, primate of the TAC, said 26 parishes in Western Australia, Tasmania, NSW, Victoria, far north Queensland and South Australia hoped to be united with Rome by the end of the year.

The move comes as 100 Anglican parishes in the US and some in Canada have announced their decisions to convert to Catholicism en masse, voting to take up an offer made by Pope Benedict XVI in November in his apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus (On Groups of Anglicans). The initiative allows Anglican bishops, priests and entire congregations, if they wish, to join Rome.

Archbishop Hepworth, 65, who is married with three children, said the Pope had allowed for a continuation of Anglican practices, including a married clergy. "In an age when the traditional family is under attack, the presence of a priestly family at the centre of parishes is a real gift," he said. He said the motivation for the move to Rome was a desire for Christian unity and dissatisfaction with the secularisation of the Anglican church. This, he said, included the ordination of women and practising homosexuals.

Traditional Anglicans had also become disillusioned by radical bishops such as John Shelby Spong in the US publicly disbelieving the Gospel accounts of basic tenets such as the bodily Resurrection of Christ, he said.

"Under the process, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith accepts petitions, they are then referred to the local Catholic bishops' conference which gives advice, then an Ordinariate will be established," he said. "I would like to think the process would be close to being finalised by the end of the year because the Pope wants results."

Australia's Cardinal George Pell said members of the TAC would be "most welcome" when the process unfolded. To ease the way, the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference has appointed Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne, the director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, to liaise with traditional Anglicans considering joining the Catholic Church. "The papal offer gives traditional Anglicans the opportunity to be united in communion but not absorbed by the Catholic Church," Bishop Elliott said. "The Catholic Church will be enriched by the very prayerful and dignified approach to worship and the sense of good taste and culture of traditional Anglicans."

Once the Ordinariate is established, ordinary Catholics will be free to attend its Masses.

Archbishop Hepworth acknowledged that some traditional Anglicans would opt not to join the Ordinariate "and they will need to be catered for".

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr Phillip Aspinall, was in flood-affected areas of western Queensland yesterday and uncontactable. But in a recent statement he said that the TAC "is a group of people who are not part of the Anglican Church of Australia nor in communion with the global Anglican Communion". But at least two of the bishops involved in the petition, David Robarts of Launceston and Harry Entwistle of Perth, hold general licences within the mainstream Anglican church's Diocese of the Murray and are therefore in communion with Canterbury.

Dr Aspinall warned lay Anglicans if they wished to become Catholic "they will have to accept all the teaching of that Church including its moral teaching, for example, on contraception".

In Britain, Anglican and Catholic authorities are considering the financial implications of any mass conversions, including the possibility of church sharing or the Catholic Church taking out 100-year leases on former Anglican churches.


Note that my QANTAS/Jetstar and Queensland Police blogs are still getting frequent updates

1 comment:

Paul said...

Personally I think Abbott is doing an excellent job of balancing his personal religious belief with what he knows would be his responsibilties in Govenrmaent. He's shown a level of balanced conviction that I've never seen in Australian politics, except maybe Howard. (I'm a bit young for people like Menzies or Caldwell but my elders speak well of them too).
Abbott's problems don't stem from what he says, they seem to stem from what other people say he says.