Sunday, April 03, 2016
Waleed Ali has a good imagination
Waleed Ali is an Australian-born Muslim lawyer. He is the go-to Muslim for the Leftist media. He has a long screed below about how weird Australians are. They are weird because there have been a few media discussions about the right way to describe white settlement in Australia. He seems to think such discussions are illegitimate. Since there is disagreement about it, I would have thought such discussions to be perfectly normal. It is just one of the many things that arise for public discussion all the time.
And there is something to discuss. Calling white settlement of Australia an invasion conjures up visions of an armed force arriving and doing battle with another armed force to take possession of territory. But the white settlement of Australia was nothing like that. The whites who arrived under Governor Phillip in 1788 encountered no systematic resistance at all. Basically, the Aborigines just looked on in astonishment. There were one or two minor skirmishes after a while but that was all. So calling the British arrival an invasion is misleading. And why it is not sufficient to say simply that the British expeditioners "settled" in Australia escapes me. That says nothing about who else might have been there at the time.
So if this passing topic of conversation has any implications at all I would say that it is just another instance of Leftists using misleading language and others insisting on greater terminological accuracy. All the vast implications for Australian souls that Aly writes about are just figments of his imagination.
I grew up among working class Australians of the same British ancestry as mine and I can assure one and all that in that environment, on the rare occasions when it is mentioned, the topic of Aboriginal displacement evokes mild sympathy but absolutely no Angst. Leftist might agonize but agonizing is what Leftists do
Leftists cannot cope at all with carefully expressed conservative thought. Confronted with that, all they can do is stick fingers in their ears or run away. So the focus of their criticism is always on impromptu and less well educated conservative utterances. They reveal their own limitations in doing that. Waleed Ali does
This "lowest common denominator" representation of conservatives is a common Leftist strategy. I wish I had kept a link to it but around ten years ago I saw a New York Times article about conservatism that was illustrated by a picture of a snaggle-toothed Appalachian. You can lie with statistics but you can also lie with pictures.
And there is in fact an incontrovertible example of the NYT deceiving in that way. When the Trayvon Martin death became a great Leftist campaign, Martin was represented by a picture of him as a nice kid aged about age 11, rather than equally available pictures of him as the sneering thug that he later became.
Every country has its weirdness, its reflex points that trigger spontaneous, uncontrolled actions that look almost comically irrational to the observer. It's the kind of thing you can only comprehend once you know the anatomy.
Take, for example, the United States' permanent weirdness on guns. Viewed from Australia – a nation that embraced gun control with relative (though not total) ease after a single massacre – it's gobsmacking that repeated mass shootings seem only to entrench positions rather than inspire a solution.
It's only when you grasp how guns have become totems of individual liberty and a principled distrust of government – and that these ideas constitute nothing less than the country's very reason for being – that you can begin to make sense of the madness.
So, beneath every weirdness most likely is a revelation. Not about the substance of whatever issue is in play, but about the essence of the nation grappling with it.
For Australia, it's Indigenous history. The US may be caught in a cycle of tragedy and denial, but we simply do away with the cycle. For us it's a founding tragedy, then steadfast denial ever since. The specifics might change – terra nullius, the stolen generations – but the constant is a remarkable jumpiness at the very thought of facing the past. A jumpiness so powerfully reflexive, it doesn't matter how insignificant the stimulus.
This week it's a guide on "Indigenous Terminology" from the University of New South Wales. As documents go, it's resoundingly minor: an advisory list, likely to be read by very few people, that "clarifies appropriate language" on Indigenous history and culture. But that was enough to start the nation's most prolific outrage machines to humming.
"WHITEWASH", boomed The Daily Telegraph, taking particular exception at the guide's suggestion that Australia was not "settled" or "discovered" by the British, but rather "invaded, occupied and colonised". This instantly triggered the talkback reflex, with lines of angry callers – historians all, no doubt – venting with all the gusto Alan Jones or Ray Hadley could inspire in them. For colour, and certainly not content, Sydney radio host Kyle Sandilands joined the party, ensuring the meltdown covered all frequencies.
Where do you start? Perhaps with the Tele's remarkably sloppy allegation that "UNSW rewrites the history books to state Cook 'invaded' Australia". Of course, UNSW did no such thing. The reference to Cook is entirely a Telegraph invention. The guide talks of invasion but doesn't attribute it to James Cook, who had no army with which to invade. It's an extrapolation showing that not only does some editor or other know nothing about the history they're so keen to defend, but that they're also quite keen to rewrite the present.
Or perhaps you might begin with precisely which historical account does the rewriting: the one of "settlement" with its implications of an uninhabited continent, or the one whose language of invasion and colonisation implies the significant resistance of Indigenous people and the slaughter that flowed as a result?
All that history is well trodden. For now, it's the weirdness of this, and what it reveals, that interests me. Specifically: why is this hysterical response so entirely predictable? Why is it that the moment the language of invasion appears, we seem so instinctively threatened by it? This isn't the response of sober historical disagreement. It's more visceral than that. Elemental even. It's like any remotely honest appraisal of our history – even one contained in an obscure university guide – has the power to trigger some kind of existential meltdown. What strange insecurity is this?
An American observing this, perhaps even while carrying a gun, would be entitled to be bewildered. Theirs is a dark history too – one that encompasses indigenous dispossession, slavery and segregation – but it's a history they can hardly be accused of denying in the way we do.
Sure, indigenous American history is frequently ignored, but this is partly because it is buried beneath the sheer tonnage of black history that is so constantly rehearsed. There will be people in the US south who lament losing the Civil War, and who cling to the Confederate flag. But it's hard to imagine a public freak-out because a university wanted to discuss slavery. By now, slavery and its abolition are central parts of the American story. There might be varying degrees of honesty in the way the US tells that story, but it has typically found a way to incorporate its warts.
Why do we struggle so much more? Demography, sure. It's harder to brush aside the claims of 13 per cent of the population than the roughly 2 per cent of ours that is Indigenous. But it's also a function of national mythology.
The US is built on the idea of constant progress through individual liberty. It's a nation that is never finished, never perfect, but always being perfected. Its historical scars are therefore not fatal to its identity. Indeed, they are essential because they allow Americans to tell a story of their own perfectibility. In these hands, slavery is not simply a stain, but a symbol of how far they've come. So, in the process of acknowledging slavery, the US is celebrated, not condemned.
We're not like that. We struggle with our history because once we admit it, we have nowhere to go with it; no way of rehabilitating our pride; no way of understanding ourselves. As a nation, we lack a national mythology that can cope with our shortcomings. That transforms our historical scars into fatal psychological wounds, leaving us with a bizarre need to insist everything was – and is – as good as it gets.
That's the true meaning of the love-it-or-leave-it ethos that so stubbornly persists. We don't want to be improved in any thorough way, because for us that seems to imply thorough imperfections.
Instead, we want to be praised, to be acknowledged as a success. It's a kind of national supplication, a constant search for validation. And history's fine, as long as it serves that purpose. But if it dares step out of line, it can expect to be slapped swiftly with the Sandilands dictum until it changes the subject: "you're full of shit, just get on with life". Then we can be comfortable again.
Sydney University Catholic Society faces ban for Catholic-only board
The 88-year-old Catholic Society at the University of Sydney is facing deregistration on the grounds that it requires senior members to be Catholic.
In a move that has startled many of the university’s Catholic students, the society, formed in 1928, has been told that its membership requirements are discriminatory, and further funding could be denied if the Catholic stipulation is not removed.
“It’s a surreal situation,” society president Francis Tamer said. “We have been told we are discriminating against people because you have to be Catholic to be on the executive. Of course you do — we are the Catholic Society.”
One of the university’s best known Catholic alumni, Tony Abbott, agrees, saying “it seems like a hell of a double standard” given that Sydney University has long offered both a “women’s room” and a Koori Centre for indigenous students. The Catholic issue came to a head after the University of Sydney Union, which funds social clubs, this year decided to enforce a longstanding requirement that they be free of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and religion.
Other clubs caught in the mire include the Evangelical Union, which requires members to pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ, but not the Wom*n’s Revue Society, which freely admits to producing a stand-up comedy show comprised only of “female-identifying students”.
The USU president, Alisha Aitken-Radburn, said the issue had “turned into an argument over whether we are discriminating against Catholics or whether we are anti-Christian, which simply isn’t true”.
“We value religious clubs, but we don’t understand why they need to force their members to say this or sign that,” she said.
“We don’t mind if it’s voluntary, but we don’t want clubs to force members to have to do anything to join.”
Mr Tamer and fellow Catholics lodged a formal protest against the planned deregistration during a USU board meeting yesterday and after much discussion, the USU promised to “address the complex issues identified in this matter” and to seek legal advice, “because the law surrounding this matter is complex”, before axing the club.
“It’s a relief, although we’d still like more clarity because we don’t know if they’re putting it on hold forever, or for a day, or for what,’’ Mr Tamer said.
He said anyone could join the Catholic Society. “We get all kinds of people — Muslim, Jews, atheists — coming along, who might be curious,” he said, “but if you want to be on the executive ... you do have to be Catholic.”
Mr Abbott said the requirement was “sensible, because I’d assume that if you are the gymnastics club, you don’t want people coming along who have no particular enthusiasm or passion for gymnastics”.
The Catholic Society has won the support of other religious groups on campus, including the Sydney University Muslim Students Association, whose president Shahad Nomani said: “We have been toeing the line, saying you don’t have to be Muslim to join our executive, but it’s actually ridiculous. All members of our executive are Muslim but we are not allowed to say they must be Muslim.”
University Liberal Club president William Dawes said his club was also sympathetic to the Catholic Society’s cause: “We don’t force you to join the Liberal Party, but what would be the point of joining our club if you didn’t support the ... party?”
The president of the university’s ALP Club, Dylan Williams, said his club “doesn’t say you have to be a member of the ALP to join our club, but we exist to promote the ideals of social democracy, so it would be weird if a Liberal wanted to join”.
Ms Aitken-Radburn said the issue was “about the mandatory requirement for membership. I really don’t understand why clubs can’t ask members to stand up on a voluntary basis and swear allegiance to whatever, without forcing them to do it. What is the practical difference?”
Shocking video shows a drunk African slam an elderly driver to the ground and almost run him over in a violent carjacking
Bill Bakow was sitting in his car outside Ridleyton Foodland in Adelaide when Zac Chol jumped onto his bonnet, hauled him from the vehicle and sent him sprawling onto the concrete.
When 33-year-old Mr Chol tried to drive away he nearly backed over the pensioner, who suffered back, shoulder and arm injuries from the attack, reports Yahoo.
Mr Chol told the court he thoroughly regretted the 'huge mistake' after he sobered up, sending a letter of apology to the victim.
However the prosecutor for the case noted the random and brutal targeting of Mr Bakow – who suffers nightmares from the attack - warrants time behind bars.
Mr Chol pleaded guilty to the car theft as well as spitting at the police officers who arrested him shortly afterwards.
The court heard he was a chronic alcoholic who had escaped atrocities in Sudan.
Refugee Council accuses Australia of 'cherry picking' Syrian refugees for resettlement
I certainly hope that we are cherry-picking. We want refugees who will fit in well to Australia and there is no doubt that Christians will do that much more readily than Muslims
The Refugee Council has accused Australian immigration officials of "cherry picking" Middle Eastern refugees to be resettled in Australia.
"I don't think anyone expected that the program would be weighted as strongly towards Iraqi Christians as it now appears," Paul Power, the council's CEO, told 7.30.
"No-one can argue that those who are getting resettlement to Australia need resettlement.
"But there are millions of refugees in the middle east in need of resettlement and for Australia to cherry pick people from perhaps 1 to 3 per cent of the refugee population in countries such as Jordan and Lebanon really doesn't reflect at all well on Australia."
Mr Power said it was wrong to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis with a program that prioritises persecuted minorities, when the vast majority of Syria's nearly 5 million refugees are Muslim — many who have suffered their own persecution at the hands of the Assad regime and Shia militias because they are Sunnis.
"It's pretty clear that religious minorities are not the only people who have fled," Mr Power said.
"In fact, the religious minorities are represented in only a small way amongst the refugee populations in Jordan and Lebanon."
The Hunter Coal Festival starts today and runs until Sunday 10th of April. Tomorrow Saturday I shall be in Singleton compering Family Day which will be great. It is all free and everyone is welcome.
Coal is wonderful and is a gigantic contributor to our prosperity. Unfortunately there are people with wicked motives who are waging war on coal.
For the past five years there has been a continuous propaganda campaign run internationally by the Greens and their allies against coal generally and in particular against Indian Companies involved in the coal industry. The campaign has also embraced a raft of spurious lawsuits trying to destroy, damage or delay the plans of Adani and GVK to become significant producers and exporters of Queensland Coal.
One of the catch cries of the villains is the theme “CAN’T EAT COAL”. The truth is that coal is a huge contributor to the provision of food worldwide. Without coal there would be No modern agriculture, No tractors or harvesters, No trucks, No fertiliser, No pesticides or herbicides, No refrigeration, No steel cans or bottles, No grain silos, No efficient transportation, No modern irrigation, No scythes or spades, No modern fishing fleets. Without coal most of the world’s population would starve to death in the dark.
The enemies of coal are the enemies of 300 million people in India who don’t even have a light bulb. These people want their children to be able to study at night. They want to refrigerate food for themselves and their families. The enemies of coal exhibit a strongly racist view that these 300 million people should be deprived of the benefits of coal because they are only Indians.
As one example of this wicked war on coal, in May 2015 a bunch calling themselves “One Million Women” was operating a website which made this false claim:
The Indian company Adani is in charge of the coal terminal at Abbot Point - This is expected to destroy our Great Barrier Reef.
The One Million Women Website on Monday 11 May 2015 was displaying a photo of Sir Richard Branson and a headline asserting “Richard Branson Lobbies UN to List Great Barrier Reef as ‘In Danger’”.
On a very large percentage of Virgin Australia flights in and out of Brisbane Airport the passengers include men and women wearing hi-visibility outfits. These are among the thousands of miners whose purchasing power helps Queensland and the rest of Australia prosper. Another useful piece of information is that Brisbane Airport’s long overdue second runway now under construction has been made possible by a dredging program involving the delivery of eleven million cubic metres of sand sucked out of Moreton Bay. That is nearly eighteen millions tonnes, and the massive dredging job was finished in December 2014. So the founder of the Virgin group of companies is happy to sell thousands of air tickets to the mining industry and is happy to receive the benefit of dredging when it suits him. I should mention that every concrete runway in the world has depended upon coal or a coal substitute for the production of the cement.
So what is the Australian Coal Industry doing to defend civilisation against these unworthy attacks on coal? We know that the enemies of coal deliberately tap into the ancient racist assumption that everything that is black is somehow inferior, which you will admit puts coal rather at a disadvantage.
So Australian Coal Industry scientists working with their Indian Counterparts have developed a coal preparation process which at the front end changes the colour of coal to GREEN. I have a lump of this amazing green coal on my desk and I am posting a photograph of this green coal on my website.
The good news is that green coal has all the calorific value of its black ancestor. The only difference is the colour. Everyone loves Kermit the Frog. The enemies of coal will have to find a different target.