Monday, October 31, 2016
Facts and reason are so regularly subversive to Green/Left claims that it is always amusing to read the commentaries they put up. How do they get around the pesky facts? Mainly by telling just half the truth. There is a good example below. The article was headed: "A New American Low: One Rule For The Whites, Another For Its First Peoples". It's a desperate attempt to connect two totally unconnected things. The article below is from "New Matilda" but there have been similar articles in "The Guardian" and some other Leftist organs.
The first thing covered below is the dispersal of protesters occupying private land in order to block construction of the Dakota access pipeline. The pipeline is an important piece of infrastructure that will enable domestically produced crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner. The pipeline will also reduce the current use of rail and truck transportation. There is of course no mention of the environmental and safety benefits of the pipeline below.
The key claim, however, is that the removal of the "Sioux" protesters shows bias against these wonderful native people who mainly live on the taxpayer these days. Whites would have been treated better, is the claim. Again something is not mentioned -- something that completely blows apart the accusation of bias: Most of the protesters were white, not Sioux! And exactly the same methods were used to disperse both groups. Both Sioux and whites were treated equally! What a laugh! Leftists quite cheerfully lie in their teeth.
The second event covered below is the exoneration of the Bundy brothers. Sit-ins and protests are fine if you are black, Leftist or some other favoured group but sit-ins and protests by white ranchers protesting government oppression get absolutely NO sympathy below. That good ol' double standard again. Apparently, the wrongness of what the Bundys did arises solely from their whiteness! Just the usual Leftist obsession with race
Forget the US presidential race. Over the weekend, two things happened in the USA that define the nation better than a sexual assaulting Republican candidate and a deeply corrupt Democrat ever could.
The story goes like this: Protestors from the Sioux Nation, along with a growing band of supporters, have been facing off with state police against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota.
The pipeline is to carry oil, and traditional owners say it threatens lives and livelihoods, because of its proximity to the Missouri River, the life blood of a huge section of north and central America and the major river system that feeds into the Mississippi.
Over the weekend, about 250 protestors were outnumbered by more than 300 police, armed to teeth and driving armoured cars, Humvees and helicopters.
The police moved in – dozens of protestors were arrested, and some of them shot with rubber bullets, including this guy, who copped one in the face.
The situation is so grave, that Amnesty International has committed to sending impartial observers.
At the same time, a Portland (Oregon) jury came in with a verdict on the armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Reserve, which took place in January this year.
On January 2, dozens of heavily armed (predominantly white) ‘ranchers’ overran the government compound, and seized it in a coup that eventually led to one man being shot by police, and dozens arrested.
On Friday, seven of the white nationalist extremists, led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were acquitted of all charges of impeding federal officers in their duties. The jury was all white.
This despite an armed stand-off that lasted weeks, and included a call out from the terrorists for people to send “snacks”.
It’s not clear what, if any, effect the two incidents will have on the US presidential election. But more than likely, it’ll be none. Business as usual.
Monday, October 10, 2016
From "New Matilda"
Nelly Thomas (below) recognizes that ordinary people disagree with and resent much of what they are told and commanded by the political elite. She even recognizes that the pronouncements and ukases of the Green/Left are part of the problem. And there is no doubt that such resentments do form part of the base of support for Pauline Hanson.
She is wrong,however, in thinking that ONLY the uneducated support Pauline. I am part of a pro-Pauline family and two of us are highly educated. What she says is largely a regurgitation of what is said about support for Donald Trump, and surveys of Trump supporters in America find he has extensive support at all educational levels.
What she overlooks is that at least half of Australians support Pauline's ideas about Muslims. That's surely too many to be dismissed as a "Lumpenproletariat". I suspect that what underlies her thinking and the thinking of other vocal Leftists is the old "all men are equal" myth. In accord with that, Muslims must be seen as not significantly different from anybody else. But they ARE different. Their supremacist religion makes them a breeding ground for terrorism. How can anybody deny that when we have seen so much mayhem from Jihadis arising out of Muslim communities?
So it is entirely rational and reasonable for anybody to be rejecting of having Muslims among us. Muslims are a clear public safety concern. 99% of individual Muslims in Western countries have done nobody any harm but the madmen Islamic communities regularly spawn must make them unwelcome immigrants. In legal terms they are accessories before the fact. Nelly Thomas is completely oblivious of all that. Her Leftist selectivity towards the facts is running deep and strong
I am always amused at the way Leftists froth at the mouth over any hint of white supremacism but close their eyes to constantly and blatantly preached Muslim supremacism. Leftism does entail a profound inability to handle reality. It's a low-level form of schizophrenia
I’ve been wrestling about whether or not to write this piece. So much has been said about Pauline Hanson, so much has been said by her, and so little of it has been productive. But, I’ve decided to weigh in because I come from Hanson country: working class, socially conservative, racist, homophobic, xenophobic Australia.
I went to a public school, I know what it’s like to worry about the electricity bill. The extent of my early cultural experiences were The Sullivans and Albie Mangles. I left my hometown when I was 17, but my roots are there, my family are there and I know this Australia intimately.
For better or worse, unlike most of the people writing, tweeting and talking about Pauline Hanson, she is part of me; part of my story.
A little peek behind the veil.
The last time I went home for Christmas, I went to a family barbecue. I walked in and one of my Uncles turned, saw me, and introduced me to all his friends as, "This is Nelly, she’s my smart-arse radical niece from Prick-toria" (it gets worse), to which – after the laughing had died down – one of the guests said, "I hope she doesn’t protest for those bloody towel-heads," and everyone cracked up again.
And he’s one of the Uncles who actually likes me. For real.
On the same trip I went to visit a school friend. We were catching up on old times and talking about teachers and who ended up with whom and all that stuff, when her husband joined in and, out of the blue, told me he’d seen a local copper chase a little *&^%$ (a word for "Aboriginal kid" that I refuse to repeat) on a stolen bike in his police car and knock him off it.
The boy was 8. Apparently he was physically uninjured and no charges were laid. We weren’t in Kalgoorlie, but close enough.
On another trip, I rang a cousin to arrange to catch up. His voicemail message was him saying in an Indian accent that he couldn’t answer the phone because he was on the toilet after eating a curry.
Another time, an Aunty – who was sympathetic to my "different" views – tried to find common ground and suggested that "The Aborigines" should be given their land back. I was somewhat heartened until it became clear she meant the "desert" and that she thought they’d "all be happier there".
I don’t want to think about how she’d get "them" there.
I could go on. I won’t. And this is not meant to be confessional or voyeuristic – my point is that, to be frank, no-one outside the inner-city is surprised by Hansonism. I’m certainly not.
So, what’s up with Hanson? The woman herself – who the hell knows. It kind of doesn’t matter. What is more important, is what’s up with Hansonism. Why is anyone listening to someone so clearly off their rocker, let alone voting for her?
The usual explanation is an undercurrent of persistent racism in Australia. That’s undoubtedly a major factor, but I don’t think it explains her resurrection in full.
The first thing to know about Hanson supporters is that most of them feel stupid. Really. There’s a base insecurity in much of working class Australia about being uneducated which, often times, is conflated with being dumb.
Some of it is paranoia, some of it is real. Educated people do routinely talk down to the uneducated. This is probably true in all cultures, across all time, but I think it is a particular marker of the experience of the English colonisation of Australia: we have a deep-seated suspicion and dislike of The Snob. Being belittled or patronised by The Snob is not a nice feeling.
Fear of the snob takes many forms. I have relatives who panic about filling out even basic paperwork for fear of spelling a word wrong and others who talk differently – literally in a different accent – at the bank, doctors, Centrelink or on the phone with any "officials".
Many didn’t finish high school, almost none are university educated (certainly none above my generation) and some are functionally illiterate. When they are in the presence of people who sound and look like they’ve been to university, and/or are rich, they’re intimidated.
They will either strike first (their approach with me at the barbecue) or say nothing for fear of being struck (their approach with authoritarian figures).
This is the first clue as to why Hanson resonates: she speaks working class.
Class is complicated in an Australia where a plumber can earn a six figure salary, but suffice to say there is a culture and even an accent and Pauline embodies it, talks it – even when she’s around important people (politicians, journalists, academics)! She’s one of out of the box.
If we had a more diverse political and commentariat class, there’d be others who’d talk working class too, but sadly, we don’t. There’s Jackie Lambie and Chris Bowen, but Australia’s political landscape is dominated by Christopher Pynes and David Marr’s (yes, I love the latter too, but he does sound like a Sydney Grammar Boy on steroids).
In short, Pauline Hanson talks up to the elite. She makes large swathes of working class Australia feel right and powerful. It’s intoxicating.
To complicate matters, every time a commentator, cartoonist, comedian SNOB makes fun of Hanson (and yes, I do it) – especially when she gets a word wrong or mispronounces something – she’s loved even more.
All working class people have at some point experienced that sense of being laughed at. I still wince at the time in first year uni I tried to order an "Alfresco" (thinking it was a coffee) and the time I was asked if I liked Picasso and replied that I didn’t play the piano (I can only assume I thought he was a classical musician). I can joke about these things now, but they sting.
Cultural capital is a powerful thing; and when you don’t have it you know it.
Hanson doesn’t have cultural capital and lampooning her lack of it – please explain – does nothing more than make those of us who already despise Hansonism feel better. And Superior.
Sometimes that’s ok – the choir needs preaching (especially in a comedy club) – but what it does in the media and political sphere is simply reinforce the idea that WE all think we’re better than THEM (The Greens boycotting her second diatribe Parliament thingy did the same. YOU’RE TOO GOOD TO EVEN LISTEN?).
So, first note to self and others: call out bigoted views for sure, but try to leave the easy target bullshit out of it. Her hair, accent, vocabulary and the like are irrelevant. And when you make fun of them, you kind of sound like a dick.
The other thing to understand about Hanson supporters is that, as Kim Carr’s excellent piece on New Matilda recently emphasised, support for Hanson can be tracked geographically and socio-economically.
This is no coincidence.
Most of her supporters are in Western Australia, Queensland and the low socio-economic parts of other states. Yes, there are some entrenched cultural factors of racism and xenophobia at play here, and those should not be underestimated, but there’s also the simple fact that increasing economic inequality in Australia is hitting those areas hardest.
We are a very wealthy country and by-and-large our poorest are better off than the poor world-wide (some Indigenous communities being an exception), but the gap between rich and poor in Australia is growing. This exacerbates feelings of being "left out".
Just this week the IMF attributed the rise of Trump to this phenomenon, and Hanson is no different. The IMF certainly wouldn’t put it this way, but I would argue the working class know they’ve been royally screwed by deregulation, privatisation, union decimation and globalisation. The rich got richer, the poor paid the price.
I’ll give you a personal example.
My dad left school when he was about 13. He worked a series of shit-kicker jobs (his words) and then landed a low-paid but steady government job in my hometown. When he was in his 50’s, the service he worked for was privatised and he was retrenched with an absolute pittance (no Golden hand-shake, that’s for sure).
He was unemployed for almost two years and eventually got a job at a petrol station earning minimum wage. He was 60 and his boss was 19.
Dad’s story obviously isn’t unique. Hanson and Trump country(ies) are full of stories like his, and none of those workers are consoled by the promises of "trickle down economics" or slogans like "no jobs on a dead planet." They see the rise, rise and rise again of corporate salaries, white-collar wages, banking scandals and profits and literally they suffer for them.
Economic inequality – including unemployment (which can so easily become entrenched and intergenerational), underemployment and the working poor – are central to understanding Hansonism. When you’re wondering if you can fill your fridge or pay your phone bill, it doesn’t take much for someone to activate your fear centre. Add Border Security and you’ve got a time bomb waiting to happen.
I jest, but seriously: when you’re afraid, you cast around for a reason. Enter Pauline Hanson with The Answer. Sure, The Answer changes from Asian to Aboriginal to Muslim to Refugees to Penny Wong, but fear never required logic.
One of the most galling aspects of all this, is that the targets of Hansonism are, by any rational measurement, suffering the same or more than the working classes (and indeed, the categories aren’t mutually exclusive)! One of my greatest frustrations in life is not understanding why the combined oppressed don’t unite and see the elite is screwing them all. Again, perhaps too busy with Border Security.
Hansonism is about racism.
It’s also about economic insecurity, fear, under-education and historical ignorance. Australia was a powder keg just waiting for Pauline and her box of matches.
One thing I know for sure is that being right about Hanson and Hansonism won’t be enough to defeat her. And making fun of her won’t help either. I have no interest in offering her understanding, but I’m afraid we are going to have to work harder to understand.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Australian female Leftist Nelly Thomas discovers that Leftist men really have no principles at all. I could have told her that. I also agree with her that their Leftism is an important ego support for them
I am unashamedly left wing. What some call left wing bias, I just call being correct. Mine, like most people’s views, are complex, but in short, I believe in the community over the individual. If you think of "socially progressive", just locate Finland on the political spectrum, keep on moving to the Left and you’ll find me there in the nude, holding a Mapplethorpe. I also have a vagina and I like to make decisions about what to do with it, so I am a feminist. Does that inform my world view? Yes it does. No thanks required.
Like any good communista-feminista I follow as much public discourse about feminist and left-wing issues as I can stomach. As a comedian, I do as many left-wing and feminist gigs as I can (plus, they’re so lucrative). As a human, I have many left-wing men in my love-camp. And I am sick to bloody death of Unexpected Sexists Arseholes.
You know the ones: they’re usually highly educated, right-on, articulate and watch a lot of Game of Thrones. They champion refugees, attend Pride Marches, wear Reconciliation t-shirts and love a White Ribbon. They tell jokes about Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones. They care deeply and you really do love them. But scratch the surface or, say, turn up at a polling booth and lots of them – far too many of them – turn out to be USA’s. It’s so disappointing.
They’re tricky these fellas. They’re smart, so they can defend almost anything rationally. Most often, they mount good free-speech defences of their stuff with sophisticated arguments like, "I can say what I want." And they can. But my kids are 3 and 8, and even they know you don’t get to say what you want without ramifications.
And there’s a clue, because frankly, they often have the emotional intelligence of an adolescent badger. Poke them a bit and they bite back hard. Unfortunately, like the douchebags from high school, when challenged, they often do a good impersonation of a sexually frustrated pit-bull and attempt to reduce you to nothing more than a slippery vulva.
I’m not sure what’s going on for these dudes, but I think it has something to do with the fact that unlike the Neanderthals many of us grew up with, when "progressive" men are called out on their sexism they often seem gutted: like their very identity has been challenged.
Indulge me for a second. Think of your dad not doing the dishes in the 70s. Maybe mum challenged him and called him a lazy sh*t, he laughed, picked up a tea towel and waited for his standing ovation.
Think of the contemporary progressive dad. All the research shows he’s probably still not doing the dishes (metaphor, big picture) but challenge him on this inequality and there’s a good chance he’ll feel that the very idea of who he is has come into question: but I’m one of the good guys, I’m trying so hard, I’m a feminist goddamn it!
This leads to the absurd and head-scrambling situation where progressive men – in both the public and private spheres – are arguably harder to call out on their sexism than a Sam Newman.
I know for sure this can be true of progressive male comedians and it certainly seems to be true of their journalist and commentator mates.
Monday, July 4, 2016
Chronically angry Liz Conor is anyway. And her elitism pops out quickly too. She says below of Pauline: "And why does Hanson even have an opinion on climate science?". The obvious riposte: "And why does Liz Conor have an opinion on climate science?"
The rest of her rant is just one wild accusation after another. I have noted some in the body of her text. I actually wonder if she is serious. I think she just enjoys being a dramatist. But is she right in thinking that Pauline is bad for the Greenies?
Her offsider in Queensland, Malcolm Roberts, is a ferociously well-informed climate skeptic so she will have real intellectual firepower behind her. Nobody will be able to bluff her with phony statistics etc. So it is highly probable that Greenie policies will come under heavy challenge from her. And she is not alone in climate skepticism. About half the Liberal party are closet climate skeptics so if she demands anti-Warmist measures as her price for supporting the conservatives in crucial votes, there will be a real willingness to give that to her
Fellow Austraiyans. If you are reading me now it means that I have become murderous. Murderously, apoplectically incensed.
Pauline Hanson appears to have picked up a spot in our Senate at the time of writing, possibly even two or more. She will represent Queensland in our House of Review, where our nation’s proposed laws are rejected or amended. And it’s not a three-year term. Unless Turnbull (potentially newly rolled into Prime Minister Morrison out of revenge for the LNP’s slashed majority) finds some other spurious reason to call a double dissolution, Hanson’s term is Six. Six. Six.
Hanson will make extravagant use of the Senate’s committee system, already proposing royal commissions into Islam and climate science. How in chrissname do you conduct an inquiry into one of the three major world religions? Imagine the terms of reference. Are there too many believers? Should they perform the pilgrimage to Mecca? Are Humans superior to Angels? Will the Australian Royal commission into erm, Islam require the seventh-century originals of its foundational documents be tendered – the Qur’an, hadith and tafsir?
And why does Hanson even have an opinion on climate science? Why are racists climate deniers? Does Hanson have doubts about enlightenment empiricism? Logical positivism? The verification of Authentic Knowledge? Or has she, like most climate deniers and obstructers, featherbedded her campaign with undeclared funds from fossil fuel conglomerates?
And this from the state where a few short weeks ago 69,000 jobs were unceremoniously scuppered from tourism on our ghostly white Great Barrier Reef. 5.2 billion in revenue sank without trace with the ‘jobs and growth’ shipwreck of LNP sloganeering. [That job loss was a Greenie prediction -- amid actual thriving of reef tourism]
The reef grief and reef rage many of us felt was bad enough. I mean it’s nice to banner hope for the unbleached 7 per cent and ‘recovering’ 65 per cent with a donate button but let’s be honest, the waters aren’t going to get cooler in the long-term, there will be more frequent El Niño events, worsening storms and Crown of Thorn starfish outbreaks. ["frequent El Niño events"? They are reasonably predictable but they are not frequent]
The reef is terminal. [The head of the GBRMPA doesn't think so and it's his job to know]. We have five years to save what little remains but instead the two parties that oversaw this catastrophe now hang in the balance, continuing to accept party donations of $3.7 million from the corporations responsible. While still in unfettered power the Libs demanded UNESCO whitewash any mention of the reef from its report into risks to world heritage sites and tourism.
So. Once you’ve taken out the largest living organism on the planet how precisely do you top that? It seems their ecocidal mania knows no bounds. Both parties can lay claim to the dubious distinction of perpetrating the only environmental catastrophe visible from space.
These people are not in jail where they belong. Instead they spent the last eight weeks fronting up to Australians asking to be entrusted again. We are not in safe hands.
As the 350.org Nemo who intercepted Turnbull might reasonably protest to humans, ‘I’m fed up with being told, this is our reef. Well, where the hell do I go? I draw the line when told I must pay and continue paying for something that happened over 20 years ago,’ namely early and credible warnings of global warming.
What kind of electoral dissonance are One Nation Voters suffering? As we of the Greens voting variety have been instructed, the workers of Australia have been so cowed by threats to Medicare they simply cannot spare a thought for refugees. Apparently the capacity for workers to run more than one thought process in their heads at any time is somewhat limited. Only the left commentariat can multitask, it seems.
But how can we fathom the thinking of One Nation voters, many of them jumping ship from the Palmer United Party.
I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Caucasians, tax evasions and Australasians. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos, and do not assimilate.
We are bringing in people from Oxley at the moment. There was a huge amount coming to our polling booths, and they’ve got diseases, they’ve got BIAS.
Either Blind Freddy or Rip Van Winkel would have to vote for a candidate who did time for electoral fraud. Even if her conviction was overturned it shows a hair-raising lack of judgement in whom she entrusts the basics of organisational governance.
Where will Hanson-voters’ intolerance for Halal snackpacks take us? What other food allergies are they intending to force on the rest of us? Battered Islamophobia? Deep-fried homophobia? Queue-jumping dimsims?
Hanson will find a way to jumble racism with climate obstruction. As Naomi Klein presciently argues they already go hand in glove. She writes, “there is no way to confront the climate crisis as a technocratic problem, in isolation. It must be seen in the context of austerity and privatisation, of colonialism and militarism, and of the various systems of othering needed to sustain them all.”
But let’s give Pauline the last word on facing imminent destruction: “Do not let my passing distract you for even a moment … For the sake of our children and our children’s children, you must fight on.”
Thanks for the tip Pauline. You can bet we will.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Ya gotta hand it to the man: A far-Left Australian Jew claims to understand Islam better than Islamic scholars do
As it is enormously long-winded, in a typical Leftist style, I won't try to reproduce Michael Brull's article here. Below, however, are a couple of his opening sentences. He is discussing the Orlando massacre:
"Right-wing politicians and commentators have hurried to link the attack to Islam and Muslims generally, using the massacre to promote goals like banning Muslim immigration.
While others have responded with critiques of the overt racism of some of these voices, in this article, I want to explain why these claims about the responsibility of Islam for this massacre are substantively wrong"
Brull's basic point is that both in the past and today, many Muslims condone homosexuality -- which is true. With the exception of a few Western Imams, however, Islamic scholars today universally condemn homosexuality.
So what do the Koran and the Hadiths say? The Koran re-tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which teaches divine vengeance upon homosexuality. But the Koran is not specific about how faithful Muslims should treat homosexuals. For that, we have to go to the Hadiths, which are treated by all Muslim scholars as the authentic teachings of Mohammed. And in the Hadiths we find not only an instruction to kill homosexuals but precise instructions about how: They are to be thrown off the top of a tall building, which is exactly what the devout Muslims of ISIS do regularly.
So how come many Muslims condone or have condoned homosexuality? How come the Orlando shooter himself appears to have been homosexual? Easy: Homosexuality is rife among Muslims. Their religion makes their relationship with women very difficult to start with and the toleration of polygamy creates an even bigger stress. Under polygamy, the rich old men get most of the women, leaving lots of young men high and dry.
So sexual frustration among Muslim young men is HUGE and tends to break out in all directions. It's why they clothe their sisters in Burkas, Niqabs and the like. And why many Muslim societies restrict the movements of women -- with some going to the extreme of requiring women to go out only in the company of a male family member. It's all to protect their female family members from other Muslim young men. Their women have to be made as untempting to Muslim young men as possible. Otherwise the women would be sexually harassed. In more liberal Muslim countries such as Lebanon, Muslim women are very frequently harassed and assaulted by Muslim men.
But if women are not available, what is the next best thing? Homosexuality and pedophilia. And in some countries, such as Afghanistan, that's institutionalized -- as with the Afghan "dancing boys". They do more than dance.
So there is HUGE tension between the Muslim religion and what Muslims do. And that dissonance can sometimes be resolved by various sorts of tolerance of homosexuality -- usually silent tolerance.
Brull makes much of some times in the distant past when Muslim societies have tolerated homosexuality fairly openly, but we have to relate that to something that he himself stresses: The diversity in Islam. Muslims are notorious for their sectarian wars. Islam is not unlike Christianity in that it has within it many sects which all think they are right and the other sects are wrong. There was a time when Anglican bishops were burnt at the stake for their beliefs -- a rather hilarious thought when we contemplate Anglican spinelessness today.
The important point is, however, that Christians no longer attack one-another physically, whereas Muslims still do. Religions change and evolve over time and Islam has done some of that too. So what some Muslims have done in the past is no guide to what Islam is today. The past roasting of Anglican bishops is no guide to modern Christianity and nor are episodes of liberalism among some Muslims of the past any guide to Islam today. Islam today treads an enormously difficult path of sexual inhibition, made more difficult by an awareness that infidels have a lot more fun.
As I said, Brull makes much of the fact that Islam is not a monolithic entity. It is split into a large number of mutually hostile sects. He seems to think that the divisiveness of Islam makes it unreasonable to talk of a single monolithic entity called "Islam". But that is only trivially true. There is much more that unites Muslims than there are things that divide them. And open hostility to homosexuality is something virtually all of them have in common. Homophobia is Muslim.
Some Muslim organizations in the West did condemn the Orlando massacre but that is a type of deceptive PR allowed by the Koran: "taqiyya". In some Muslim countries, such as Turkey, the massacre was celebrated -- JR
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
So says Max Chalmers, without offering any comment on the problems she is addressing. His whole diatribe (large excerpt below) could be reduced to the old chestnut that most Muslims are not terrorists so we can do nothing about Muslim terror. He certainly suggests nothing we could do. Just let them go on murdering is his apparent preference.
And what she says is of course "racist" according to young Max. I will bypass the usual retort that Musims are a religion not a race and point to the real issue that he ignores. It is neither a religion nor a race that is being objected to but mass murder. Not that mass murder has ever bothered Leftists, of course. Think Stalin, Mao, Castro etc.
Muslims never stop murderinjg. Mostly, as in Syria, they murder one another but their murderous tendencies do sometimes come out in Western countries too. Islam is clearly a religion that encourages murder and as long as we accomodate hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Australia, some Muslims will act out their murderous tendencies and attack us.
So it is the Muslim community that is the problem. As long as we have that community in our countries we will be subjected to repeated acts of terrorism. So, as Pauline rightly sees, the only way of protecting ourselves from the Muslim fanatics is to cease hosting that community. The first step is obviously to block any further additions to that community and the time may also come when we ask the whole of that community to avail themselves of the Muslim obligation of hospitality in one of the 30 or so Muslim countries in the world. There are a couple of large ones just to the North of us.
It is NOT racist to object to terrorism and to look towards the source of it.
Late yesterday evening, the former MP released a video that serves as a warning for what is at stake should that campaign succeed. It’s hardly a revelation that Pauline Hanson is running as a racist, but the manner in which she is doing so is cause for alarm, both because of what it says about the levels of racism still acceptable in mainstream Australian politics, and the broad threat it poses to Australian Muslims, as well as democratic and liberal ideals.
It starts with Hanson standing in a driveway, a microphone pinned to her rose coloured blazer.
“Let’s have a serious chat about the latest terrorist attack that’s happened in America,” she says, looking directly down the barrel of the camera.
In the next two minutes, Hanson delivers a typically meandering dialogue which tries to reap political capital from the horrible massacre in Orlando, something other conservative candidates have also attempted to do. Insidiously, she refuses to acknowledge the fact the attack targeted LGBTI people, and offers not a single word of solidarity for a global community in mourning.
Bigotry and opportunism are no surprise coming from Hanson, the women whose anti-Asian migration stance has had its absurdity exposed the passage of time. But there is something particularly chilling about this video, an extremity of racism that goes beyond even the rhetoric of Reclaim Australia.
At one point she pauses dramatically, and then delivers the most important line of the video and, perhaps, of her campaign.
“We have to take a strong stance against Muslims,” she says.
Hanson mentions Islam next, but the reducing of ‘Muslims’ to a single cohesive entity – a group of 1.6 billion people who are Sunni and Shi’a, Pakistani and American, radical and moderate, men, women, white, black, brown, gay, straight, and otherwise – helps explain the more obviously shocking statements that follow.
All pretence of ideological criticism or religious critique have been dropped. Being Muslim is adjudicated as a crime in and of itself. Regardless of their actual views, convictions, or actions, Muslims are demonised as inherently bad people.
Except to Hanson, they’re actually less than that. Muslims are nothing more than dangerous animals.
On the tails of the ‘strong stance’ comment, Hanson goes on to compare these 1.6 billion people to dogs. We don’t let Pit Bull Terriers into the country, or certain dangerous toys, she says. The obvious, odious punchline follows: Muslims, like pit-bulls, are dangerous. They must not be allowed to exist here either.
Whether Hanson, Smith, and co end up involved in the Senate balance of power or not, a position in parliament will allow them to open new ground for major party players to tread. The radicalism of their racism will stretch political possibility, emboldening the likes of Bernardi and Abbott while making them appear more moderate in comparison.
These are the kind of shifts that don’t just nudge individual pieces of legislation over the line: they can fundamentally rebalance a nation.
Pauline Hanson has been radicalised. A seat in parliament would allow her to radicalise many more.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Academic suspended for criticising Australian flag
What do you think of the heading above? Sounds outrageous, does it not? It is on the header of the latest mailout from "New Matilda". And, knowing the underlying story concerned, it did give me a laugh. I was even more entertained when the opening sentence of the story described the suspended one, Roz Ward, as a "respected Melbourne academic". Respected by whom? Other Far-Leftists, no doubt.
But the heading is deceptive in the usual Leftist way. The woman did not just criticize the flag. Harold Scruby has been doing that for decades without incident. Having the Union Jack quartered in the Australian flag has long steamed up some Leftists. Ms Ward actually denigrated the flag and what it stood for, which is a more serious matter
The story below is fairly factual, quite devoid of the huffing and puffing one usually gets in Leftist writing. So it leaves the reader in a position to make up their own minds about the matter. I would note two additional points only:
1). Universities these days are very sensitive about speech, "hate" speech, particularly. So LaTrobe would have risked great cries of hypocrisy if they had let Ms Ward's quite blatant hate speech go uncontested. An accusation of "racism" is pretty toxic these days. And directing such an accusation at the university's source of funding just could not be risked. Funding is the thing that universities most passionately believe in these days.
2). The flag is a symbol of the nation so it was Australia as a whole that Ms Ward was denigrating. And Australians are a pretty patriotic lot in a quiet way so there is no doubt that the utterance concerned would have cause widespread offence -- particularly as it came from a source well deserving of opprobrium: A Communist. Glass houses and all that. Just the woman's obvious self-satisfaction was offensive enough, considering the horrors she stands for. So the whole thing was just bad PR for the university. And universities spend a lot on PR these days
No doubt Ms Ward will be reinstated after a suitable interval. She will be found to have uttered "free speech". Marxism is respectable in the universities these days
Roz Ward – a respected Melbourne academic and one of the co-founders of the Safe Schools program – has been suspended from her job at La Trobe University this afternoon, over a private Facebook post which criticised the Australian flag as “racist”.
Ms Ward, who has been at the centre of a News Corporation engineered media storm this week, was notified in writing this afternoon of her immediate suspension (with pay) from the university.
Fiona Reed, the Executive Director of Human Resources at LaTrobe accuses Ms Ward of breaching her employment conditions by embarrassing the university, causing the Victorian Government – a major funder of LaTrobe – to divert resources to defending Safe Schools, and of putting her colleagues at risk by creating an ‘unsafe’ environment.
Last week, under a photograph of the gay and lesbian flag flying above Victorian parliament, Ms Ward joked with a friend on Facebook: “Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”
The ‘red’ is a reference to the Marxist flag – in addition to her work with Safe Schools, Ms Ward is a prominent figure in Melbourne’s Marxist political movement.
The post was leaked to The Australian newspaper, which began a campaign last week to remove Ms Ward from her position with Safe Schools Victoria Coalition, which is funded by the Victorian government and auspiced by LaTrobe.
By early this week, former Liberal Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett – the Chairman of charity beyondblue, which has been a major funder of LaTrobe – had joined the attacks, telling media that if Ms Ward remained in her role with Safe Schools, he would personally argue against any further funding to the university’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, which administers the Safe Schools program on behalf of LaTrobe.
This afternoon, Ms Ward was handed a letter by LaTrobe University, immediately suspending her from her job Specifically, La Trobe claims Ms Ward’s conduct:
“a. … Undermined public confidence in the Safe Schools program by undermining public confidence in you as a researcher and as a person associated with the Safe Schools program.”
“b. … Damages the reputation of the Safe Schools program and aligns the Safe Schools program with views which have nothing to do with the program and its message and content.”
“c. … Has required members of the Victorian Government to take up their time in defending the Safe Schools program, rather than be positive advocates for the Safe Schools program.”
“d. … Has required senior staff at the University to take up their time in defending the Safe Schools program, rather than be positive advocates for the Safe Schools program or undertake other duties they have.”
“e. … drawn (your colleagues) into the negative publicity around Safe Schools and this has impacted on their ability to continue with their research in a safe environment.”
Friday, May 27, 2016
Once again a Leftist shows an inability to mount a valid argument, let alone a thought-out argument. Ms Kovesi below quotes the case of two highly qualified central Europeans in the '50s as some sort of argument against Australia's current immigration policies. But the people trying to force themselves on us at the moment are nothing like highly qualified central Europeans. They have low levels of literacy even in their own languages and few (about 16%) obtain full time jobs. The rest parasitize the Australian taxpayer. So her example is completely irrelevant. And the fact is that the two Europeans concerned came to Australia LEGALLY, whereas the "boat people" arrive illegally.
Ms Kovesi seems herself to see that the examples she gives have no real force so she trails off into saying that shared humanity is the reason why we should throw open the doors to all and sundry. But we have shared humanity with rapists and murderers too. So should we welcome them with open arms too? Perhaps Ms Kovesi would like to billet a serial rapist in her own home? He's human too, you know. And that's all that matters, is it not? She may have a doctorate in history but I think most ordinary Australians would see her as a drongo
Last week’s comments by Peter Dutton that ‘illiterate’ refugees will take Australian jobs misses the point at several levels, writes Catherine Kovesi.
Unsurprisingly, the electoral debate has brought the handful of tragic asylum seekers who live forcibly at our peripheries to our emotional centre stage once more. This time the argument is based on their possible illiteracy and job taking aspirations.
The response by some has been immediately to show the number of highly literate former asylum seekers who are now active and productive participants in Australian society. Others have shown instead how their illiterate parents became productive members of Australian society.
But does this advance the nature of the debate? Are literacy skills or the lack thereof what we should be basing the argument around in the first place?
My father and his brother filled out asylum seeker application forms to come to Australia in 1950. They were 19 and 23 respectively. Both were men of the mind. Highly literate, politically engaged young intellectuals. Fluent in Hungarian, and German, passable in French, and well versed in Latin. But with no English.
My father had studied Philosophy at Budapest University, and then, as a refugee in Austria in 1949, at Salzburg University. My uncle had studied medicine at the same institutions.
However in 1950, Australia was not interested in refugees’ literacy skills. In fact the very opposite. The country was only accepting refugees who had demonstrable practical skills.
My father had only just learnt to drive on the steep alpine slopes of the Tyrol, but he was accepted into Australia on the pretence that he was a truck driver, and my uncle that he was a shoemaker.
Anxiously, as they sailed towards Australia on the good ship Skargum with many other middle European refugees, my uncle studied an old shoemakers’ manual that he had hurriedly bought prior to departure, in case he arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia, to find materials to make a shoe waiting for him at Customs, in order to demonstrate his shoemaking expertise.
Both did indeed take on manual jobs when they arrived. Whilst living in the Northam refugee detention centre, my father worked variously as a gardener (planting out the grounds of the University of Western Australia), as a kiosk salesman on Cottesloe Beach, and as an orderly in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Perth. It was in that sanatorium that he spied some philosophy books on the table of one of the patients.
That patient, Professor Selwyn Grave, encouraged my father, who spoke little English, to come and study at the University of Western Australia – in the glory days of free undergraduate education. My father and my uncle did so.
Within five years my father had a scholarship to Oxford University. My uncle went on to Cambridge to study English Literature (although he always lamented that reading Shakespeare in the original was a disappointment).
But both returned to the country that had offered them asylum. Both went on to academic careers at the University of Western Australia – my uncle teaching English literature with a special focus on Shakespeare, and my father teaching Philosophy to generations of students.
Both are remembered with great fondness.
Sadly both are now dead.
But what they both offered Australia was not their literacy or otherwise. They offered quite simply all that we in turn can hope to offer desperate people who recognise something of good in the traditions of our island sanctuary – their humanity.
Can the debate please be removed from questions of literacy, and return to common questions of our shared humanity?
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Warmists just LOVE the Barrier Reef
It enables them to tell SO many lies. That coral "bleaching" (expulsion of symbiotic algae) has been happening for millions of years goes unmentioned below -- as is the fact that corals have in the past coped with far greater temperature variations than anything we have seen recently. And they are still with us, funnily enough.
They do respond to temperature, among other things, but the "bleaching" is mainly in order to recruit different varieties of symbiotic algae. And corals are hardier than they look. In "bleached" form they can survive for quite a while on their normal filter feeding. "Bleached" corals are NOT dead.
And the present ocean warming is clearly due to El Nino, a temporary warming that is part of a natural cycle. It's actually the La Nina that normally follows El Nino that is the biggest concern. Corals are more likely to "bleach" in response to cooling than they are to warming.
And let me again mention my favourite fact about coral: In 1954 the USA exploded a 15 megaton thermonuclear device over Bikini atoll. And Bikini atoll had lots of coral. So there is no coral there at all now? Far from it. The corals there now are huge, abundant and thriving. So if coral reefs can recover from an H-bomb blast, why is a pissy one degree temperature rise in GBR waters of concern?
Corals at Bikini atoll today
Strange that all that goes unmentioned below, isn't it? You would not suspect any of it from the screeches below. The words below are "an orchestrated litany of lies". They just want more funding and are prepared to lie and deceive to get it. Global warming is a global racket dreamt up by scientists for the benefit of scientists
The Federal Government’s plan to save the Great Barrier Reef is “totally inadequate,” and if whoever forms government doesn’t commit at least $10 billion this election the natural wonder is likely to be doomed, scientists at James Cook University have said.
This extraordinary warning comes from leading water quality expert Jon Brodie and Emeritus Professor Richard Pearson, who are speaking out after they published a paper this week. In an interview this morning, Brodie said the Reef “will never be in its full gory again, we can’t expect that, [but]it’s going to get worse unless we do something”.
The Scientists said the twin threats of poor water quality and climate change could put the Reef in “terminal” decline within five years, unless whoever forms government comes to office with a comprehensive, cohesive, and adequately-funded rescue plan.
The Coalition Government has released a plan, known as Reef 2050, but it scarcely mentions climate change and Brodie said it is “totally inadequate”. “I’m probably the leading water quality expert for the Great Barrier Reef over the last 30 years and I’m saying the water quality [aspect of the plan]is absolutely inadequate,” he said.
“It was meant to be a comprehensive plan, of course, but as has been pointed out by everyone, and particularly the Australian Academy of Science, it’s totally inadequate,” he said.
The James Cook University scientists said catchment and coastal management programs need to be funded in the order of $1 billion per year over the next ten years. “We need a plan to fix up water quality as best we can, to provide some resilience against the oncoming climate change impacts,” Brodie said.
The Great Barrier Reef has made headlines over recent months as 93 per cent of the Reef, which is the only living structure that can be seen from space, has been affected by coral bleaching.
Fuelled by warming waters, the coral bleaching event was the worst in recorded history. The uncompromising heat was a result of an El Nino climate system, superimposed over baseline temperatures already pushed up by climate change.
“Before climate change kicked in we simply never saw bleaching,” Professor Terry Hughes has previously told New Matilda. “It’s quite confronting that we’ve now got to the stage that every El Nino event – and they happen every few years – is a threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” said Hughes, the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
The threats posed by climate change are exacerbated by plague-like outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish, which are triggered by poor water quality. According to the James Cook University Scientists, the next outbreak is most likely to occur around 2025.
If we don’t make serious inroads at improving water quality by then, the fate of the Reef looks grim.
Brodie and Emeritus Professor Pearson are calling for management of the Reef to be extended beyond the bounds of the World Heritage Area, north to the Torres Strait, south to Hervey Bay, and inland to include the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
This would of course come at a cost. But Brodie points out that while $10 billion over ten years “may seem like a lot of money, we know that amount would be effective and it’s small by comparison to the economic worth of the Reef, which is around $20 billion per year”.
Current Federal funding, he said, “is almost nothing”. And that doesn’t look likely to change. “So far in the election campaign, we’ve seen no major commitments about the Great Barrier Reef at all from anybody really,” Brodie said.
The Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Imogen Zethoven said “the massive coral bleaching taking place right now on the Reef and the latest science over recent months all point in one direction: The outlook for the Reef is dire and we must act now.
“Things are worse than we thought for the Reef’s future, we are close to the brink of what this fragile ecosystem can tolerate without a credible plan for restoring it to good health,” she said.
“Australia’s current plans to protect the Reef are inadequate, short-sighted, lack appropriate funding and will not prevent its decline.”
Thursday, May 5, 2016
A reluctant defence of Australia's illegal immigration policy
By Jonathan Holmes
Nick Riemer has a choleric response to the article below on New Matilda -- but I can't see that he offers any arguments that hold water. I am amused that he waxes righteous about what is the "moral" thing to do. Stopping unauthorized arrivals is immoral, apparently. I wonder how he deduces that? And since he and his ilk would in other contexts argue that "there is no such thing as right and wrong", I can't see that he has any basis for his moral claims at all. As I pointed out long ago, Leftists who use moral claims are just being manipulative and dishonest.
And -- OF COURSE -- stopping the boats is RACIST! Everything that Leftists disagree with is racist. So how does Herr Riemer (Riemer is a German and Yiddish name for a maker of leather reins and similar articles) decide that it is racist? Because the illegals are brown. But they mostly are not. Iranians and Afghans are white -- not as white as Northern Europeans but no darker than Southern Italians. And seeing that Australia accepts immigrants of all races through legal channels, the racism accusation is patently absurd anyway.
So I can't see that Riemer has any basis for his opposition to immigration control at all. He certainly does not show that it is in Australia's best interests to accept poorly educated arrivals who subscribe to a barbaric religion and who often hate us and who mostly become welfare dependent. All he has is his rage and his faux morality. The rage could be faux too.
I doubt that he would be happy about a third world family moving into his house and living there without his permission -- but other Australians should accept the something very similar, apparently. Australians are not allowed to regard their country as their home. He wants to deny their government the selectivity that he himself would exercise.
But now for Jonathan Holmes. I have omitted the initial throat clearing:
During the so-called "Tampa" election in 2001, I was the executive producer of the ABC's 7.30 Report. Every time we aired an item that was in any way sympathetic to boat people, we would get a flood of reaction from viewers: outraged, furious, bitter. It gave me some inkling of the tide that was washing into MPs' electoral offices.
And nowhere more than in western Sydney and western Melbourne, the heartlands of Australia's post-war immigrant population, where to have parents who were native English speakers made you the exception, not the rule.
These were people who had stood in the "queue" that others called fictional, who had waited years for the family reunion scheme to bring their wives and kids and parents to Australia; who had relatives and friends hoping desperately to join them; who knew that every boat person allowed to stay was one fewer of their own people who'd be admitted through the off-shore humanitarian visa intake.
They are also the parts of Australia where most people know someone who arrived by boat. They know about the networks of agents set up by people-smugglers, have seen the phone calls to families in Malaysia and Indonesia.
In three Four Corners programs (links here, here and here) that made far less impact than they deserved, Sarah Ferguson revealed beyond doubt that the criminal people-smuggler networks are not just a fantasy dreamt up by immigration ministers. They exist. And a lot of Australians know it. They don't see why people who can pay criminals should be able to buy a chance at a life they themselves had to get by legal means.
I still see the opposition to boat people dismissed by refugee advocates as "racist". That's a fundamental misunderstanding. Australia is rightly proud of its immigration program. It has created one of the most diverse and successful multi-ethnic nations in the world. The reason the boat people had to be stopped was that – justifiably or otherwise – they were undermining Australians' belief in a fair and orderly immigration program.
But, say many of the current policy's opponents, there are other solutions. In this four-year-old blog on the ABC's Religion and Ethics site, Aly argues that it's just a matter of taking more refugees from Indonesia. If people could get here legitimately, they wouldn't risk the boats. The Guardian's Richard Ackland put much the same proposition just last week.
Both blithely ignore that the people in Indonesia and Malaysia who want to come to Australia are not Indonesians or Malaysians. Overwhelmingly, they are Hazaras from Afghanistan, and Iranians; if the way to Australia were open, they would now be Syrians too.
They've already travelled a long way – helped by people smugglers – to get to Indonesia, and there are hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, more where they came from.
Taking a large proportion of would-be Australian migrants from Indonesia would only induce more to follow; very soon there would be far more than any orderly migration program could accommodate. The Indonesians and Malaysians would not thank us for that. That's why we source so much of our refugee intake from camps close to where they've fled from: Somalis and Sudanese from Kenya, Afghans from Pakistan, and so on.
As Europe is discovering, there is an almost limitless demand, through the Middle East, and central Asia, and Africa, for a better, safer life. Whether these people are "genuine refugees" or "economic migrants" may matter to the lawyers, but is immaterial in policy terms.
The brutal fact is that we cannot take them all. We cannot, without risking social disruption, take more than a tiny fraction of them. And as John Howard famously said, it should be our government that decides who comes to this country, not a free-for-all scramble for a place on a leaky boat.
For the poor souls who are its victims, the "Pacific Solution" has provided a living hell. I doubt their agony can be justified philosophically. I don't believe we should be sheltered from it by censorship. I hope, somehow, that it can soon be ended.
But I don't know what the alternative policy should have been in the past, or could be in the future.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Feel the ecstasy below as Canada prepares to emulate Chairman MAO. And they even refer to the policy set as a "Leap". Yet another demonstration that the Left don't remotely understand economics. That the policies described would be very impoverishing is not considered. It's just dreams, divorced from reality. But the policies concerned would be very disruptive and Leftists like that. It is probably the real reason behind the "Leap". Mao's version was certainly very disruptive. The consolation is that, if implemented, the associated disasters will get Pretty Boy thrown out on his ear at the next Federal election
In early 2015, 60 representatives from Canada’s Indigenous rights, environmental, social and food justice, labour and faith-based movements met to draft a progressive vision for Canada’s future. The idea came from a belief that “now is the moment for a transformative agenda to come from outside electoral politics, to build a wave of popular support that will put real pressure on the Federal Liberal government.”
The result is the Leap Manifesto.
The manifesto, described as “a call for a Canada based on caring for the Earth and one another”, makes 15 demands. It starts with respect for “the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land” and full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It urges the shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030, a 100 per cent clean economy by 2050, and commits to no new long-term fossil fuel extraction projects.
Other demands include community control of clean energy systems, investment in public infrastructure, high speed rail and affordable public transport, resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, and a localised ecological agriculture system.
It also advocates an end to damaging free trade deals, welcoming refugees and migrants, expanding low-carbon professions like caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public interest media, a universal basic income and removing corporate money from political campaigns.
These proposals would be fully funded by an end to fossil fuel subsidies, financial transaction taxes, increased resource royalties, increased corporate and high income taxes, a progressive carbon tax and cuts to military spending.
To me, this sounds like a common sense list of good public policy. It would rein in the cowboy extractivism of fossil fuel companies, end the toxic relationship between polluters and politicians, offer masses of good clean energy jobs, deliver justice to the most vulnerable parts of our population and secure a sustainable future for human beings on a liveable planet.
To the establishment complex of banks, government, industry, think tanks and the corporate media, a common sense plan to avoid climate catastrophe is actually an INSANE RADICAL MARXIST AGENDA TO RUIN THE ECONOMY.
The Leap Manifesto has made quite a splash since its release during the Canadian federal election campaign in September 2015, pretty much dividing opinion along these lines.
Thus far 200 organisations, 40,000 Canadians and numerous celebrities (celebrities!!!) have backed the manifesto while the media has hysterically dismissed the document as “economic madness”, a “prescription for economic ruin” and my personal favourite, “another step towards re-enacting the Bolshevik revolution”.
The great strength of the manifesto is its grassroots origins and political independence.
As a “People’s Platform”, it’s not limited by the constant compromises of electoral politics but can still make waves in Parliament. The Green Party of Canada have highlighted similarities between their own platform and the Leap Manifesto. The National Democratic Party (NDP), who were the favourites for the 2015 election until they were outflanked by Justin Trudeau’s disgusting handsomeness, passed a resolution at their convention earlier this month to support the Leap Manifesto and debate its principles at the grassroots level over the next two years. They lost their leader, Tom Mulcair, partly due to his unconvincing and shifting positions on key aspects of the manifesto.
A majority of voters from the Greens, NDP and governing Liberal Party support the Leap.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
On ANZAC Day Dissent And Political Correctness
Michael Brull is a far-Leftist Australian Jew. So he hates Israel and Australia in roughly equal measures. But he is always good for a laugh. His talent for missing the point is unfailing. As with many Leftist articles, his article below is very long-winded. I have however reproduced it all so that people can see that he just doesn't get it.
Yet his basic point can be expressed quite simply. He says that Leftist criticism of the ANZAC commemorations is somehow disallowed or suppressed. But he quite spoils his own argument by listing towards the beginning of his article all the Leftists who HAVE criticised it, some of them quite prominent.
And if such criticisms have been suppressed, how is it that way back in the benighted early '60s my junior High School curriculum included a study of what is probably the most anti-ANZAC story ever written -- Seymour's "One day of the year". And that was during the Prime Ministership of Sir Robert Menzies, an archetypal conservative. Brull is talking through his anus.
He seems to have realized that his article lacked point and was wandering all around the place like Brown's cows so he concluded it by saying: "We are entitled to different values, and we are entitled to say so". It's a conclusion that is quite detached from the rest of his article. If he had shown that someone has denied him those entitlements, it might have made sense -- but he did not. All he shows is that conservatives sometimes criticize criticisms from Leftists. Is it not allowed to criticize Leftist criticisms? Is it only Leftists who are allowed to criticize? He seems to think so: Typical Leftist bigotry.
The big thing that is totally missing from his article is any awareness that ANZAC day is a day on which we remember the premature deaths of our relatives. I had relatives who died in both world wars. I never knew them. I was too young at the time. But I know the families and know they must have been people like me who felt like me and I know how grievous their deaths were at the time. An uncle Freddie of mine in particular was much loved and I regret that I never got the chance to know him.
And most people who attend ANZAC day ceremonies are like that. Their degree of closeness to the dead will vary but they will all be mourning relatives. And the ex-servicemen who march will be remembering close friends who were lost.
And enlisting in the armed forces is an heroic act. We walk into great danger. We offer to put our lives on line to defend our families from an enemy. And on ANZAC day we honour that heroism
And, Yes. I myself did voluntarily enlist and serve in the Australian army in the Vietnam era. I never got to Vietnam but I did apply to go
Go beyond the tedium of mainstream Anzac Day coverage and you’ll see the meaning ascribed to the Day, and the way the history around it is constructed, remain hotly contested. In a fundamentally political disagreement, shutting sceptics out should be seen as an act of political correctness, writes Michael Brull.
Once again, Anzac Day has sneaked up on me. For those of us who are unpatriotic, it is easy to feel like we’re a negligible minority. It is easy to think that your feelings of ambivalence, indifference, or even hostility to Anzac Day are totally marginal and isolated. It is just you and a few of your friends, while the rest of the nation patriotically gets up early and cries on cue at the heroism of our diggers. Yet the truth is that there is plenty of dissent about Anzac. The only reason you don’t hear about it so often is that it’s usually shut out of the mainstream media.
Right-wingers are perfectly aware of this. Since 2009, right-wing historian Mervyn Bendle has been complaining about academics trashing the Anzac legend, in a series of long and tedious essays for Quadrant. The “intelligentsia and the Left”, he complains, offer a perfunctory nod to the bravery of the Australian soldiers in World War One, only to follow by emphasising what they think really matters: an approach which is “always critical, debunking and even denunciatory of the legend, applying a form of methodological nihilism to allege that at the core of the Anzac legend there is nothing—only meaninglessness, futility, error, ‘a nightmare happening in a void’ as George Orwell remarked of Great War literature. Alternatively, if there is something at the core of the legend, it is shown by the revisionist to be unworthy, wicked and iniquitous—militarism, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, masculinism—and therefore can and must be condemned and ridiculed.”
One summary of a collection of academic writings by Adrian Howe, an Associate Professor at RMIT University, identifies the Anzac legend as “a masculinist and British imperialist military tradition”; a “nationalistic, militaristic tradition [that is]class-based, race-based, ethnocentric and male-centred”; while Anzac Day is “a day celebrating Anglo-Australian manhood, militarism and a bloody defeat in an imperialist war [and]should be abolished”.
The list of offending scholars is long. They include Anthony Burke, Mark McKenna, Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake, James Brown, and David Horner. Military historians come in for a particular scolding, including Joan Beaumont, Brown and Horner again, Peter Stanley, and two books edited by Craig Stockings. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating is also counted among the unpatriotic. Bendle grumbles that in a speech, Keating “largely regurgitated the nihilist view that the conflict was pointless and futile, which has long been the default ideological position of the Left.” Alas, Keating dismissed “the war as the lamentable product of European tribalism, ethnic atavism, nationalism and racism in which Australia had no stake”.
Bendle assures readers in the tiny, largely unread magazine of the aggressive, purportedly highbrow intellectual right that Keating’s “facile, unhistorical ramblings” are wrong: “the Anzacs who sacrificed their lives or their health in battle did so for a great cause. To pretend otherwise is to betray their memory.” Thus, to doubt the cause of World War One, 100 years later is to betray the soldiers. It turns out that to be properly patriotic, we must not just mourn the dead. We must also celebrate the reasons they were sent to die.
In a sense, Anzac Day isn’t just about remembering suffering of soldiers. The sanctification of their memory is done with a political intent, with particular political aims.
The parallels to today are not hard to find. Many people thought it was really terrific how there were such widespread demonstrations around the world before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Even if they didn’t stop the war, at least they showed anti-war sentiment. Was there any precedent for such anti-imperialism?
Yes, there was. Adam Hochschild reminds us of the large anti-war demonstrations across Europe before World War One. As Austria declared war on Serbia, 100,000 protesters converged at the heart of Berlin against war. The French Socialist leader Jean Jaurès stood with his arm around Hugo Haase, co-chair of the German Social Democrats, before an audience of Belgian workers. In Britain, Keir Hardie spoke to an enormous crowd at Trafalgar Square, “the largest demonstration there in years”. To wild cheers, according to Hochschild, he urged a general strike in the event of war.
As is known, these protests more or less ended as the war started. As in 2003, the media decided to “support our soldiers”. Like Bendle, this support for the soldiers in practical terms meant stifling any doubts or criticisms about the cause for which they were sent. Though the interests of soldiers and the politicians who command them are not necessarily the same, they are conflated by leading political figures. The loyal scribes of these politicians assure the public that to doubt the politicians is to doubt the soldiers, and how dare anyone cast aspersions on those risking their lives to keep us safe and defend our freedom? How dare anyone belittle the sacrifice of the soldiers, by questioning the values and wisdom of the politicians who send them into harm’s way?
Last year, Scott McIntyre was fired from the SBS for his blasphemies about Anzac Day, at the behest of Malcolm Turnbull, then, judging by Turnbull’s own words, the Minister for Right-Wing Communications. Though McIntyre’s tweets were condensed due to the nature of the medium, his supposedly inflammatory comments were duly analysed by academic specialists on the Anzacs. Professor Phillip Dwyer, Director of the Centre for the History of Violence at University of Newcastle, agreed that the Anzacs were “no angels”, whose members included those who behaved in “overtly racist manner”, and also rapes and summary executions. Geoff Lemon observed that it was hard to argue that Gallipoli was “an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with”.
Recording historical facts about wrongdoing by Anzacs makes it harder to valorise the soldiers. They shift from becoming our heroic diggers, to human beings, many of whom acted in the flawed ways armies often act in conflict zones. Yet historians have not just challenged the factual basis for hero-ising the soldiers. They are also resolutely sceptical about the value of worshipping the Anzacs. Frank Bongiorno commented that “Anzac’s inclusiveness has been achieved at the price of a dangerous chauvinism that increasingly equates national history with military history, and national belonging with a willingness to accept the Anzac legend as Australian patriotism’s very essence.”
Academics are not infallible. Academic specialists can be wrong, just as academic specialties can function to mostly serve power. Anyone who has too much reverence for academic specialists should revisit the performance of all the economists who failed to predict the 2008 crash. They may know more than the rest of us about what happened during the war, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily more right about the reverence with which the Anzacs should be treated.
My point in reviewing their Anzac scepticism is not to suggest that academics verify or vindicate such suspicion. It is to suggest that jingoism tries to pretend a moral or political disagreement is somehow inherently illegitimate. There are many different ways to approach history. Trying to sanctify one approach to one aspect, and acting horrified at those who dissent from this particular approach is a political act.
As noted by Jumbunna researcher Paddy Gibson, in response to Aboriginal protests of Invasion Day, Prime Minister Bob Hawke started to push Anzac Day as an alternative to Australia Day as a way to cement Australian nationalism. This support for Anzac Day since the late 1980s has revived and reshaped Anzac Day, as the government has sought to push Anzac Day, and the particular values of its modern incarnation, on the general public. This culminated in the extravaganza of last year, when the government spent over $300 million on Anzac commemorations. Yet there were signs this had limited effects. Australians didn’t tune in to the World War One documentaries. Attempts to flog Anzac merchandise were increasingly seen as tacky. Everyone tried to cash in. Woolworths and Target put the Anzacs in their marketing. Now folded soft-porn mag Zoo featured a woman in a bikini with a poppy to mark the special day.
This kind of marketing was seen by some as exploitative. But using Anzac Day as a way to promote the virtue of World War One while hiding behind the political sanctity of Australian soldiers who died seems comparably cynical.
If we’re going to remember the past, and celebrate parts of it, why single out Australian soldiers? Why not celebrate Aboriginal warriors, who died resisting the invasion of their land and the decimation of their peoples and cultures? Why not celebrate trade unionists, who secured some of the best working conditions and entitlements across the world, and kept Australia one of the more egalitarian Western countries until the 1980s? Why not celebrate the suffragettes, who earned white women the vote in Australia before most of the rest of the world? Why not celebrate the activists for Aboriginal rights, who fought for land rights, treaty and sovereignty? Or those who won Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the vote, and dismantled most elements of formal racial discrimination in Australia? Why not remember and celebrate the Australians who fought against World War One? Or those who successfully campaigned against conscription in Australia during World War One, or those who successfully ended Australian involvement in the war on Vietnam?
We can imagine a conservative response to these suggestions. Ah, but you see, these are political choices. Celebrating feminists, anti-imperialists, Aboriginal resistance and trade unionists doesn’t reflect the entire political spectrum. We couldn’t base nationalism on the political values of a segment of the population. It would leave out the rest of us.
Perhaps that’s fair enough. But what about those who feel left out by Anzac Day? Honouring those who fought in a war, while refusing to permit reflections on whether the war was unjust or not, is political. And so are nationalism and patriotism.
Some people may be proud Australians, who think ours is the greatest country on earth, with a largely, if not entirely unblemished history. Those who disagree are not committing a crime, they are simply engaged in a political disagreement. Australians who are horrified at Anzac sceptics are simply trying to enforce their political correctness on the rest of us. We are entitled to different values, and we are entitled to say so.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
What we put on our plates has a much greater effect on the emissions driving climate change than most people are aware of.
"The unsung contributor to climate change is the meat industry, which adds as much CO2 as the entire transport industry combined," said Pershin.
Total emissions from the livestock industry account for half of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, and a third worldwide once land-clearing is factored in.
If worldwide meat consumption continues to increase at current rates, we can expect a 76 per cent increase in agricultural emissions by 2050. This would neutralise the positive impacts of any other mitigation strategies, if and when they’re actually implemented.
Reducing per capita meat consumption by 25 per cent could, on the other hand, result in a 51 per cent decline in agricultural emissions over the same period. Such reductions in meat consumption are well within recommended nutritional guidelines.
By far the biggest footprint comes from beef and lamb, thanks largely to the land-clearing required for pasture. Reducing red meat consumption would result in savings not only for our overall carbon budget, but also the budget required to tackle climate change.
"If the average daily consumption of meat were to be reduced by 22 per cent, the cost of staying within the worldwide target of two degrees warming could be halved," said Pershin.
Saving emissions-intensive red meat for special occasions is one action that can keep us within our carbon budget without sacrificing the things we love.
The Climatarian Challenge
The Climatarian Challenge is a month-long challenge that begins with an allocation of points representing the individual’s ‘carbon budget’ – referred to as the ‘carbon foodprint.’
The app allows users to input the portion size and type for any meat included in a meal, and deducts points from the budget accordingly.
The higher the carbon footprint of a food item, the more points are deducted. Eating beef and lamb will quickly deplete a user’s budget while chicken is a relatively low-budget option. Meat-free meals keep the budget afloat the longest.
To survive the Climatarian Challenge, the user must reach the end of the month with at least a few points remaining in their carbon budget.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Liz Conor's blindness
Greenie Liz Conor is a very angry lady. She absolutely pours out vituperation at Westerm society generally and her fellow Australians in particular. And she uses a lot of unusual words, in an apparent attempt to sound learned and profound. Race and racism is her shtick and like all Leftists she has a genius for telling only half the story about that.
She even seems to think it a credit to herself that she is married to a Ceylonese burgher. But although the burghers tend to be brownish, they have a lot of European descent and have largely European characteristics. A burgher lady I knew at one stage was pretty assertive too. They even speak English, mostly. So she hasn't really put her money where her mouth is.
I knew two blonde anti-racist women who did: Barbara M. and Christine A. Both married Aboriginal men and just accepted the limitations that imposed on them -- including syphilis in the case of Christine.
Under the heading "A Little Brown-Eyed Babe Washed Ashore", she is very good at blaming the death of Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi on the wrong people. She completely ignores that fact that he was already dead before he arrived in Europe. But if he was dead before he arrived in Europe how are "we" to blame? Liz seems to think "we" are. She even takes it personally. When she saw a picture of the boy, she found herself "erupting in shame and anger". The fact of the matter is of course that he was one of many victims of Muslim fanaticism. He and his family were driven from their homeland by the incredibly barbarous ISIS.
And Liz OF COURSE does not mention that his family already had refuge in Turkey when they set out. They could have stayed in Turkey in peace if they had wanted to. Their journey was a journey in search of money. They hoped to exploit Western kindness to get a better standard of living. The very risky journey was motivated by greed, nothing else. The father even put the safety of his children at risk to get more money. The death of the boy was a horror but the Western world had nothing to do with it. "We" are not to blame.
The person I grieve most for is the mother. She showed such loving care for her little boy, only to have it all thrown away by a scum father.
I could go on to fill out other incidents that Liz misrepresents but I think you get her typically Leftist strategy of mentioning only those bits that help to fuel her hatred for the rest of us.
But I want to address another one of her articles in the far-Left "New Matilda". She is even critical of the Australian Left's favourite Muslim: Waleed Aly. Aly had an article in "The Australian" that described Australians as "weird" because we are generally unbothered by the fact that there were Aborigines in the country when white men first arrived. The fact that we make extensive welfare provision for them cuts no ice, of course.
I have already pointed out at length that Aly's article is just an extended exercise in fantasy so does Liz think similarly? No. She sees his fantasies as fact. So how has he raised her ire? He did something that is a great unforgivable sin to Leftists, including American Leftists: He praised America! How heinous can you get? The bounder! The cad!
So Liz coped with that by accusing Aly of having ignored the raw deal that American Indians got from white settlers. And there is no doubt that there were real atrocities and betrayals during white settlement of America. But that is all of the past. The past is a different country. The only thing we have any control over is the present. And in the present there is extensive welfare provision and concessions that benefit the American Indians of today.
Like Australian Aborigines, they have big problems with alcohol but to deny them alcohol would be "paternalist" and "authoritarian", would it not?
So Liz is deliberately blind to most of the things she writes about. I guess she hopes that she can deceive a few naive people into sharing her hatreds. She completed her doctorate in Australian cultural history at La Trobe University so she cannot masquerade as simply ill-informed.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Pressure is mounting on the University of Sydney to back away from planned changes to its Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), with Federal Labor MPs writing to the University and urging it to reconsider.
In a letter seen by New Matilda, three Federal MPs and four of their state counterparts have implored the institution not to "downgrade" the Centre into a mini-department.
The CPACS is headed by Associate-Professor Jake Lynch, and has campaigned outside of the classroom on a number of issues. Lynch and others involved in the Centre are concerned the changes to its structure will threaten that side of its operations.
So too are Federal MPs Melissa Parke, Maria Vamvakinou, and Laurie Ferguson, who along with state MPs Paul Lynch, Julia Finn, Lynda Voltz, and Shaoquett Moselmane have signed a letter protesting the restructure and sent to the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Professor Barbara Caine.
"CPACS’s efforts to promote debate on issues like accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka, West Papua, Palestine and human rights generally provide the Australian and the global community with a sophisticated, alternative voice on topical and difficult issues, as reflected in acclamations for CPACS’ work by the likes of Dr Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu," their letter says.
The letter goes on to urge the University to reconsider changing the Centre’s status.
"It cannot be good for our democracy and academic reputation to attenuate such voices. It would be particularly disturbing if a prestigious institution like Sydney University, by the simple expedient of withdrawing resources from CPACS, is seen to supress reflection and debate on important, even controversial, matters."
The move follows similar action from NSW state Greens MPs, who wrote to the University earlier in the week warning the changes to the Centre could look like a ‘politically motivated attack’ to the broader community.
After being contacted for comment today, a spokesperson for University said they did not comment on correspondence with MPs. The University has previously argued the changes to the Centre are due to falling enrolments, but that has been disputed by Lynch.
Lynch has previously been the subject of controversy thanks to his support of the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions campaign. MPs who signed the letter, including Federal members Melissa Parke and Maria Vamvakinou, have been among Labor’s most outspoken supporters of Palestine.
Monday, March 28, 2016
There is a HUGE rant by Geoff Russell on "New Matilda" about global warming being caused by farm animals. It bemuses me to see how many words the Green/Left usually take to make their points and this is an example of that. The article seems to go on forever. The Green/Left must be boiling with rage to pour out so many bile-filled words.
And despite all those words absolutely nothing is said about how humans have evolved to be omnivores and that any attempt to take meat off our dinner tables would be so widely and strongly resisted as to make the attempt futile. He seems to think it is only a "conspiracy" that keeps us eating meat. What a wacko!
He also dosn't question global warming orthodoxy but that is unsurprising. It gives him a hook to hang his vegan crusade on.
That he is actually capable of critical thought is revealed by the second oddity about him. He likes nuclear power. That's perfectly rational if you believe in the evils of CO2 and CH4 but is rare on the Green/left.
And speaking of CH4, the usual swipe that Warmists take at farm animals is at their farts, which do have a lot of CH4 in them. But CH4 intercepts warming in certain wavelengths only and water vapour also absorbs those wavelengths so the theoretical effect of CH4 on global warming translates in practice to a nil effect. So that part of Mr Russell's argument is a washout.
It's amusing, though, that Mr Russell aims primarily at fellow Greenies. He thinks they are conveniently overlooking a major source of global warming. Just a few excerpts:
The makers of the US eco-ethical-documentary “Cowspiracy” are attempting to explain why the world’s largest environmental organisations have ignored the role of meat in both climate change and more generally in trashing the planet.
They use the well-worn tactic of simply asking them… or trying to. When it comes to slandering people for buggering the planet, Greenpeace apparently thinks it’s more noble to give than to receive, so they aren’t keen on being asked inconvenient questions.
This doco has lots of Michael Moore moments. People knocking on doors, asking pointed questions and getting sheepish looks. All the big US players get a mention: The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, NRDC, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, and more.
These groups all love asserting the high moral ground and aren’t used to being questioned about their submersion in a deep trench of cattle excrement.
The inconvenient truth is that none of these environmental icons care enough about their beloved planet to order the vegan option, let alone make the whole menu vegan.
In the case of Greenpeace, their PR people did the old “turn that camera off” shuffle and refused to be interviewed; … priceless!
But after all the fun and games… does Cowspiracy actually explain the inaction of at least the US environmental movement on the meat and dairy industries? Is it really a conspiracy? Is it organised and funded?
US Professor of Nutrition, Marion Nestle blew the whistle years ago with “Food Politics” on how the meat industry stacked and bullied US Government nutritional advice committees.
Cowspiracy lacks Nestle’s academic rigor, but still delivers a few hits.
When asked if the meat and dairy industries donate to environmental organisations, the Animal Agriculture Alliance spokesperson looked like a kid caught with both hands and feet in the cookie jar, and said she couldn’t comment. She refused to answer a direct question about funding Greenpeace.
In Australia, the funding link is clear and a matter of public record. As is the lack of any major campaign against meat by the big green groups (ACF, FOE, AYCC, Greens to name but a few) getting this funding. Tim Flannery is also a recipient of pastoral largess from the bovine broverhood.
Let’s be clear here: different meats have different impacts. It gets tiresome to differentiate constantly, so I’ll do it once now.
Ruminants are the primary climate culprits by way of methane and deforestation, while pigs and chickens primarily pollute air, water and other foods while diverting deforested land from food to feed, while also killing people directly via new diseases (e.g. Swine Flu) while adding to our risk of losing antibiotics.
The cattle barons supporting our big green groups obviously don’t care that their funding is common knowledge. Why? Probably because our mainstream media don’t give a damn. Aussie BBQ culture is at least as strong here as in the US; and don’t forget meat industry advertising.....
Environmental tribalism has our environmental groups automatically anti-GM and anti-nuclear as a matter of ideology. This illustrates a profoundly anti-science bias. They simply don’t get it.
You can’t credibly accept climate science but reject any other science which contradicts your policies. All the science of the last 30 years on the causes of cancer and the mechanism of DNA repair contradict the radiophobia behind green anti-nuclear policy.
When science conflicts with your policy, you may wait a little to make sure the science is solid and well supported, but if it is, then you change your policies. Any high school student can understand this, except perhaps those in AYCC.
When your science is shallow and you don’t really understand the process, you tend to pick and choose what you like. But science isn’t like that.
The human population, even the 9 billion of us expected by 2050, could actually live without doing too much environmental damage if we ate at the bottom of the food chain (vegan) and used nuclear power for all our energy needs.
Energy doesn’t have to have a large adverse footprint on the planet, unless we go with sources having a low power density, like wind, solar and biofuels. It is ironic that our environmental movement has opted for the sources of energy that will have the most impact on wildlife habitat, and therefore biodiversity.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Has radicalism become fashionable?
The Australian Leftist writer, John Preston, below says that centrism is no longer the way to win elections. He makes a reasonable case for radicalism instead -- but I think he is wrong. I will say why at the foot of the article
The popularity of Corbyn and Sanders in the UK and US and the elections of Trudeau in Canada and Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza Party in Greece, and even the success of the Scottish National Party in the recent UK, would appear to offer an alternative theory.
What appealed to UK Labor and the progressives amongst Canada’s voters, and is appealing to Democrats in the US, is strong leadership coupled with high idealism backed up with deliberately progressive rhetoric, if not actual policy.
The diminutive member for Islington North, Jeremy Bernard Corbyn, was universally written off by the UK Tories, the centrist Labour movement and the British press as being much too strongly rooted in his social-democratic roots to become a credible leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom.
Corbyn’s philosophy is firmly based around poverty and social inequality. He advocates the re-nationalization of the railways and public utilities and has championed unilateral nuclear disarmament, free university tuition and an unashamedly green agenda of significantly increased renewable energy targets and the phasing out of the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels.
An unabashed “socialist” in the traditional sense, Corbyn barely gained sufficient nominations from Labour MPs to secure a spot on the leadership ballot, but then rapidly rose to lead the polling for the leadership of the Party for the duration of the campaign and went on to achieve a resounding – some would say ‘landslide’ – victory securing nearly 60 per cent of first round voting.
After announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in April 2015, Bernie Sanders has made consistent and occasionally remarkable in-roads into an apparently unassailable lead by US political royal and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
While at least as unlikely a candidate as his UK counterpart, the rise and rise of this self-confessed socialist, peace campaigner, former conscientious objector and avid critic of the moneyed classes in a notoriously pro-capitalist and conservative United States is remarkable.
In a February 2016 Huffington Post poll, Sanders’ is polling at 36.8 per cent in an aggregated poll of 29 polling organisations monitoring the 2016 National Democratic Primary. To be polling at nearly 37 per cent against an establishment candidate like Clinton (who is, admittedly, at 50.2 per cent) is nothing short of astonishing.
The net effect for Clinton has been a refocusing of her social justice rhetoric, with an increased emphasis on the very same policy positions that Sanders has been espousing. Following the struck match result in Iowa and the apparent 60 per cent to 40 per cent victory to Sanders in the New Hampshire Primary, income inequality and the minimum wage will inevitably feature in Clinton’s stump speeches in the lead up to the South Carolina primary, notwithstanding that she currently holds a pretty comfortable 63.2 per cent to 33.3 per cent lead according to the polls.
Justin Trudeau’s recent victory in Canada’s general elections delivered the largest-ever numerical increase in seats recorded for the Canadian Parliament. Trudeau took the Liberal Party of Canada from a lack-lustre third-position with 36 seats to a victory that saw the party secure nearly 40 per cent of the popular vote and 184 seats in a commanding mandate to form a comfortable majority government.
In the aftermath of the Paris tragedies of November 2015, Trudeau’s commentary was scrupulously measured and cautious, in stark contrast to comments by Hollande in France, Cameron in the UK or the more aggressive protagonists among Australia’s conservative political and media.
The 50/50 split by gender, reinforced by a multi-ethnic and multi-faith cabinet has led the 29th Canadian ministry to be dubbed one of the most diverse of any western democracy. Right out of the blocks, Trudeau’s ministry has begun work on shifting the taxation burden away from the middle class towards the rich, and significantly increasing the Syrian refugee intake to 25,000.
When questioned on the make-up of his cabinet, and in particular why there were 50 per cent women, Trudeau’s now famous reply was “because it’s 2015” – a statement clearly tilting at his progressive agenda.
While arguably more center-left than his UK and US brethren, Trudeau is a self-declared feminist, is resolutely pro-choice on abortion, supports the legalization of marijuana and is a champion of religious freedom.
Perhaps more pointedly, Trudeau’s foreign policy agenda revolves around peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and the reduction of Canadian troops in foreign (particularly Middle-Eastern) conflicts.
Trudeau is, by any measure, a long way from the hardline conservatism of his predecessor, Stephen Harper, and has been pejoratively labeled as: shaggy-haired; gaffe-prone; subject to depthless impetuosity; and, above all, a democratic-socialist in the bleeding-heart liberal mold.
The outstanding success of the Scottish National Party in the recent UK general elections (notwithstanding the re-election of a conservative government) has made the SNP the third-largest political party by membership and overall representation in the UK House of Commons.
The party’s success as a social democratic party is built on much the same basis as Trudeau’s Liberals in Canada and Corbyn’s platform with UK Labour – the environment, social justice, progressive taxation, affordable social housing and an intriguing anti-nuclear stance (Scotland has four nuclear power stations and two nuclear-capable military bases (Clyde and Neptune) which provide significant employment opportunities for Scottish workers).
A potential (although not predicted) coalition of SNP and UK Labour would cause significant headaches for the UK’s Tories at the next UK general elections in May 2020.
In Greece, Tsipras’ Syriza party has had a more checkered but nonetheless revealing history. In reaction to crippling austerity measurements that Syriza claim were being imposed by Germany, Tsipras came to power with a modest 36 per cent of the vote.
In the snap election of September 2015, Syriza was returned on much the same margin despite the failure of Tsipras’ coalition government to achieve the progressive policy outcomes that it had originally sought a mandate for.
On the other side of the political divide, the inexplicable rise of real estate tycoon and reality television personality, Donald Trump, as the front-runner for the Republican (GOP) Presidential Nominations also challenges the centrism theory.
Trump (on 35.5 per cent) is comfortably ahead of his nearest rival, Ted Cruz (18.5 per cent), and is well ahead of the rest of the most ultra-conservative cadre of GOP candidates in United States history.
The increasing momentum of social-democratic movements and their counter-weights around the world makes a considered study of mass-appeal politics and policy in the Australian context a worthwhile exercise.
The rise and rise of Corbyn and Sanders from the left and Trump et al. from the right, suggests that more extreme policy, coupled with decisive leadership and populist policy is at least as likely a recipe for electoral success as the centrist line.
For the Australian Labor Party, rather than shying away from a progressive social democratic platform and strong, idealistic leadership, the strategists at Labor’s National Secretariat may need to offer an alternative to Dyrenfurth’s ‘more vanilla’ centrist mantra and give the electorate a real alternative to garner success at the ballot box in 2016.
As perhaps befits a conservative, I am more cynical than the writer above. I believe that policy plays a secondary role in any election. People elect a person, not a platform. An attractive personality, like the Gipper, will win every time. And Tsipras (Greece) and Trudeau (Canada) are clearly attractive personalities. Even Sanders is, in his way. He at least conveys sincerity. British Leftist, Jeremy Corbyn, by contrast, is not an attractive personality and his popularity ratings are making the Conservative party very happy
And Trump most definitely fits the mould of a popular personality. He has very little in the way of firm policies at all. But what he says and the way he says it sounds good and cheering to a lot of people. People do like a strong leader and Trump oozes strength and confidence. Tsipras and Trudeau also convey great confidence and self-assurance. And what did Mitt Romney convey? Nothing.
And the rising star in Britain's Conservative party -- Boris Johnson, said in some polls to be the most popular man in England -- is nothing if not self-confident and is an attractive and cheerful personality generally. So if Britain votes to leave the EU, he will most likely become Prime Minister overnight. Johnson is heading the "leave" vote while the present PM wants Britain to stay in the EU.
The House of Commons has the power to change Prime Ministers at any time. I am betting that a lot of Americans wish that Congress could toss Obama out. In Britain, Parliament can do exactly that sort of thing. The supremacy of Parliament is a pretty good idea. Britons fought a civil war to enshrine it.
Policies do matter but they are secondary in winning elections