Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Warren Ryan has a point about racism and classics

Ryan was a football commentator for Australia's ABC

If nothing else, Warren Ryan's use of the term "darky" during a football call draws attention to the remarkable power of words.

Ryan's defence that the word appeared in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone With The Wind might seem a tad lame at first blush – after all, the sensitivities involved in dealing with racism, especially in sport, would not exactly be news to someone in his position.

But is Ryan a dinosaur that time has left behind? Or are we so worried about even appearing to hold a racist view that we find ourselves "investigating" people for being in the same room as someone who drops a howler?

This is certainly the situation Ryan's co-commentator David Morrow finds himself in.

Ryan has a point, in as much as being vilified for referring to a work of literature takes us into troubling territory.

Such controversies have always been with us – it's the context that changes.

When the Gone With The Wind film appeared in 1939, no one batted an eyelid at words like "darky". The firestorm was over Clark Gable's "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".

In 2014, you wouldn't be arrested for tearing pictures of golliwogs out of Enid Blyton books in Martin Place, screaming "This book is a f---ing disgrace!"

You can't buy golliwog books any more, and it's not just kids' books. Joseph Conrad's The Nigger of the Narcissus was on high school reading lists in the '70s. You would be hard-pressed to find a copy in a school library anywhere today.

Our caution about hurting the feelings of others is admirable, and a vast improvement on the self-serving assumptions of the past.

But we must not rewrite history.

Cruel racism is easy to spot and we do give a damn, but by the same token we don't want The Merchant of Venice going the way of The Nigger of the Narcissus.


Qld to absorb pensioner, senior cuts

QUEENSLAND'S pensioners and seniors will be better off after the Newman government backflipped on concessions.

The federal government cut $223 million for water, electricity and rate concessions over four years, and the Tuesday state budget only picked up 10 per cent of the shortfall.

The grey army took the Newman government to task on talk-back radio and on Thursday Premier Campbell Newman announced he'll now fund the full gap.

"We're not only listening to Queenslanders, but we're acting within the space of two days to reinstate the full level of pensioner and senior concessions," he told parliament.

Government backbenchers Sean Choate and Neil Symes Tweeted that Mr Newman had "directed" the treasurer Tim Nicholls to come to the table, but Mr Choate has since said it was a poor choice of words.

Mr Nicholls said he was "absolutely not" overruled.

While the treasurer didn't say when he changed his mind, he had listened to the Queensland Council of Social Services at a breakfast on Thursday morning.

"It is better for us to relieve pensioners and concession card holders of the worry," Mr Nicholls said.

To pay for the shortfall, Queensland would consider withholding or recoup funding from commonwealth programs they ask states to contribute to.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the misstep won't be quickly forgotten.  "The ink isn't even dry on this budget and the premier has scrambled to save his own political skin," she said.

"He made a choice in his budget where he could help Queensland pensioners or hurt them.  "He chose to hurt them."

The opposition delivered its budget reply speech on Thursday.

Exactly how Labor would pay down Queensland's $80 billion debt won't be revealed until closer to next year's election.

The Newman government has given voters an ultimatum - $33 billion worth of assets must be sold to fund new infrastructure and pay down debt.

Ms Palaszczuk says it is a political strategy tailored to create a slush fund to buy votes.  It would lead to higher charges and an "Americanised economy" of low wages and no job security, Ms Palaszczuk said.

Labor would hold onto assets and use their revenue to lower debt and invest in new infrastructure.

But a detailed strategy wasn't released in Ms Palaszczuk's budget reply speech on Thursday.  "We will be releasing a comprehensive plan ahead of the next state election to pay down the increase in general government debt under the Newman government," she told parliament.


Bob Hawke and John Howard: former political combatants impart lessons learnt

For a moment there, if you took away the cameras and the lights, they could have been two old codgers, the years having given them a companionable ease, the tough times done, yarning and imparting wisdom on the steps of a small-town post office.

They were instantly recognisable, of course: the two longest-serving prime ministers of Australia's modern era.

Bob Hawke, 84, a bit stooped but still crested with the silver mane; John Howard, 74, still trimmed by dawn powerwalks in a tracksuit, the eyes startling now he's had laser surgery and the spectacles have gone.

There was no need now for the fire that once sparked between them in the theatre of Parliament or on the hustings.

They came from a time when political opponents shared not only regard - regularly invisible, of course, amid the shouting - but a behind-the-scenes friendship of sorts; an era almost unrecognisable these often-hateful days.

Their relationship was rarely better displayed than a night in 1988 when tomfoolery broke out across the Old Parliament House as MPs prepared to move up the hill to the great new monolith.

Prime minister Bob Hawke and opposition leader John Howard threw arms across each other's shoulders and bawled out the old socialist anthem, the Internationale.

"Bob," Howard conceded fondly when reminded by Fairfax Media on Wednesday of that long-ago event, "had the better voice".

Hawke and Howard had given 57 addresses between them to the National Press Club during their long political careers, always separately. In celebration of the club's 50th anniversary, they made their 58th appearance as a duo on Wednesday.

Hawke, ever the larrikin, couldn't resist recalling his rapid rise to The Lodge in 1983, declaring he had enjoyed the ideal period in the worst job in politics: Opposition Leader.

"Three weeks," he cackled. "The only bloody way to be leader of the opposition, I tell you!"

Howard, who was twice opposition leader - once for four years before being ditched by his own colleagues - ruminated that the Australian people almost always got their judgments right about who should be in government.

"I mean, I would say that, I suppose both of us would say that. We would think on some occasions we got it spectacularly right,"  he chortled, Hawke joining in.

The former combatants weren't at the press club for the wisecracking, however.

They had the indulgence of elders to impart what they had learned.

Hawke worried that today's Parliament was held by the community "if not in contempt, in disdain, and I do think that something ought to be done to lift the quality of performance".

The opposition, he suggested, should support the government without argument on important issues where there was "a degree of consensus".

Howard pointed out that he, as opposition leader, had done just that in the 1980s on the Hawke government's major economic reforms such as floating the dollar and reducing tariffs.

Both agreed the fundamental task of successful leaders was to make their arguments to the people, taking the country with them on the big reforms.

Politics, said Howard, had become less ideological.

"Now, that's good in a way, because one thing I learnt about politics - and I'm sure Bob's experience would have been the same - Australians fundamentally don't like zealots, fanatics. It's part of our deep Celtic scepticism...and long may we remain suspicious of fanatics.

"The bad part of it is that we sometimes lose the capacity to argue the case. We think it's sufficient that we utter slogans. In truth, in politics you need slogans and arguments."

Hawke worried about the future of the world, where technology and science could "either lift the standard and quality of life of all mankind, or, on the other hand, destroy life on this planet as we know it".

His hope was for Australia to help persuade the world to take the former path.

And on they went.

In an era of slogans and shouting, we could have listened to the two old codgers yarning all day. Neither Tony Abbott, who was on his way to Indonesia, nor Bill Shorten attended.


Saudi influence in Australia

While minority Islam continues to spread its influence world-wide, it seems the hard-line Saudis are also behind the proliferation of mosques across Australia. One of which is the proposed Bendigo mega mosque.

Mosque promoters, The Islamic Association’s web page is being administered from Saudi Arabia. The site is Aussiemuslims.com and it solicits donations, however the location of the administrator is listed as Madinah al-Munawarrah (Medina) in Saudi Arabia. Why would a site purporting to be “Aussie Muslims” be run out of Saudi Arabia?

In recent years Saudi Arabia has been pouring money into Australia to establish mosques and Islamic schools. There are reported to be current applications for mosque approvals in 17 major centres across Australia from Horsham to Cairns.

It is widely suspected funds are also being utilised from the Halal Certification protection racket being run in Australia out of Indonesia. This blatant blackmail and extortion racket operating on our food chains has the Federal Government’s approval in the name of “cultural acceptance”.

Bendigo Bank, which was once a boutique alternative to the four majors, is now number five with a sensitive nose for petro dollars.

It has joined with other banks to become a major player in the pursuit of mosque proliferation.

The proposed Bendigo mega mosque is set to destroy the iconic city as a showcase of Australia’s gold rich heritage.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good summary of the current state of the furtherance of the Muslim domination of Australian society. I wonder at the intelligence of our politicians and the banks in advancing the Islam cause. It can only be a disaster in the future.