Looking back at 2017 — 4a

Reposts.

Anzac Day

… In 2015 I posted:

In my Neil’s Decades series you will find much that is relevant.

See

And going back to the South African War I should add:

….pictures of the people – all relatives – mentioned in those posts…

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John Hampton Christison in South Africa; David Christison, his son, a sapper on the Western Front in WW1; Keith Christison, my uncle, WW2

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Neil Christison, my uncle, RAAF WW2; Jeff Whitfield, my father, RAAF WW2

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Norman Harold Whitfield MC and bar, German New Guinea, Gallipoli, Western Front – from Wollongong; Kenneth Ross Whitfield, my uncle, from Shellharbour

So here I am at City Diggers…

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Hope

I wanted a positive image to share with you on this day when we are just hearing of the violent fanatic attack in Paris. And here are two. They don’t answer everything, but do say a lot. They remind us that beauty and decency and  mere humanity just may be universal values.

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The story, if you missed it, is here, here and here.

MOSUL, Iraq: Amid the bombed-out ruins of an ancient site revered by both Muslims and Christians in Mosul, Iraqi violinist Ameen Mukdad on Wednesday held a small concert in the city he was forced to flee by Islamic State militants.

As Mukdad played scores he had composed in secret while living under the militants’ austere rule, explosions and gunfire could be heard from Mosul’s western districts where U.S.-backed forces are still battling Islamic State for control…

Wednesday’s hour-long concert marked his first return to the city that was overrun by Islamic State in 2014.

Mukdad said he chose the Tomb of Jonas, or Mosque of the Prophet Younis, as the site is known by Muslims, to symbolise unity.

“I want to take the opportunity to send a message to the world and send a strike against terrorism and all ideologies which restrict freedom that music is a beautiful thing,” he said.

“Everyone who opposes music is ugly.”…

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Recent excursions and events, Sydney and Wollongong

First was this:

My Invitation(2)[123]

Helen, nee Christison, is my cousin. See also Christmas snippetsSELRES_8d6fe2a9-ce01-4673-a6a2-e64ec2c4fd0eSELRES_b76d63f3-9187-468d-be70-81f364309127SELRES_1d83624b-0146-499c-b430-c81f28033597SELRES_1d83624b-0146-499c-b430-c81f28033597SELRES_b76d63f3-9187-468d-be70-81f364309127SELRES_8d6fe2a9-ce01-4673-a6a2-e64ec2c4fd0e. It was a delightful day. There were some there that I had not seen since that wedding in Caringbah in 1968!

Yesterday to Sydney for Yum Cha with M and Nicholas Jose. M is off to Shanghai then S-E Asia at the end of this month. He will be away for two months.

Yum Cha was at Zilver:

To Chinatown and back

Great day yesterday, complicated only by Chris T just missing the 9.47 express to Sydney which departed with me aboard spot on 9.47. Chris T was in the lift descending to the platform at that moment, but he caught the next an hour  later and eventually found us in Zilver.

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The Tele’s history lesson

I was very suspicious when I picked up this morning’s tabloid. After all, they have more than a bit of history of their own on such matters.

The Daily Telegraph’s cultural amnesia

How else to explain this monumentally silly front page? Oh, apart from shit-stirring for fun and profit…

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If you look at the UNSW material you will see it says no such thing. The guidelines are not even new…

So here we are today:

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The meaty bit on pages 8-9 concerns relations between Governor Phillip and Bennelong, an interesting story indeed. The Tele puts a very positive spin on it to aver that nothing all that nasty really happened and all this talk about “invasion” is crap: black armband and all that culture-wars stuff from the early days of John Howard.

The Tele bases its historical case on this, which I happen to have in my eBook library. It can be obtained free from ANU Press in Canberra:

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And it is good too.

Each of our articles sheds new light on Bennelong because each places him in a new or little-appreciated context. Freed from the tyranny of the ‘first contact’ context, Bennelong emerges as a more connected, resilient, global, and human individual than usually allowed…

The final article, by Emma Dortins, places Bennelong in his least-studied context – that of Australian historiography. Dortins includes novels, tracts, and blogs as well as conventional scholarship in her definition of historiography…

Dortins’ excavation of Bennelong’s storywork shows that the tragic narrative has appealed to the resisters as often as it has to the orthodox — suggesting, perhaps, the true source of its strength. While Isadore Brodsky’s Bennelong tumbled into an unstoppable ‘downward rush [of] degradation’, WEH Stanner’s 

Bennelong appeared little better as a ‘wine-bibber, a trickster, and eventually a bit of a turncoat’. Even today, the conservative Bennelong Society’s determined refusal to consider its mascot’s life after 1792 chimes rather uncomfortably with the taciturn grief of several progressive intellectuals over Bennelong’s final years.

New perspectives offer a chance for new beginnings. A reconsideration of one of the most significant Aboriginal figures in colonial history invites us to move away from the search for endings. It suggests a fresh start for the life of Bennelong. It also suggests a fresh start for the meaning of Bennelong in Australia’s modern imagination….

Very interesting stuff. The Tele is of course reacting to the oft-repeated call to change the date of Australia Day, and some of what they say is OK by me: see Indigenous not fussed about day: Mundine.

Fact is, of course, that 26 January as Australia Day is a comparative novelty. See Celebration of Anniversary Day to 1900 and Anniversary Day/ Australia Day/ Invasion Day/Survival Day.

We associate Australia Day with 26th January but an earlier ‘Australia Day’ was celebrated on 30 July 1915 as part of a soldier parade to honour soldiers who had served and to stimulate further enlistment.  It was not until 1946 that all states and territories adopted ‘Australia Day’ as the name for the 26th January celebrations, and it was only actually celebrated on the actual day itself, rather than as a long weekend, in 1994.

There is a degree of discomfort over the choice of 26th January as our national day.  Aboriginal groups have increasingly designated it as Invasion Day, or more recently Survival Day and I think that there’s a growing squeamishness over the knowledge that the aboriginal world fractured from that day onward.

So what alternatives are there?  There is the date of Federation, but on 1 January it would be overshadowed by New Years Day (and besides, it’s already a public holiday).   There’s the 9th May for the opening of Parliament in Melbourne in 1901, then the provisional Parliament House in 1927 and finally the new Parliament House in 1988.  But -oh yawn- there’s not much colour and movement there.  There’s the 27 May 1967 referendum that is the popular (but technically incorrect) date given for aboriginal citizenship.

Now for some reposts of my own.

1: Some of our stories

88 proved to be as good as most reviewers have said. Having been part of the crowd who cheered as the Indigenous marchers wheeled from Elizabeth Street into Eddy Avenue, it thrilled me again to hear how some participants felt in that moment. I joined the procession at that point, partly as a “white Australian” supporting the recognition of our nation’s far longer history and the sadness that is dispossession, but also as one even then aware of the probability that the story my father and mother told me was true – that one of my own grandmothers may well have been of Aboriginal descent.  It was a great day, as far as I am concerned, 26 January 1988 – and that day and the people I met around that time altered forever my view of this country, of myself, and of my place in this land. I still of course had much to learn, and am still learning to this day.

2.  Australia Day: I like it

I have usually marked Australia Day with a post or more: 2016: Australia Day at Mount KemblaHow inspiring! Deng Thiak Adut’s Australia Day address — he’s now a strong possibility for Australian of the Year 2017; 2014: Anniversary Day/Survival Day, from which:

And then on my mother’s side of the family:

And an earlier post on both:

3. Being Australian

Being Australian

In January 2011 I posted a series exploring this topic. Creating this page has also revealed I misnumbered the posts! Now corrected.

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UPDATE: See distinguished biographer of Governor Phillip, Michael Pembroke: Symbolism uncomfortable for many Australians.

Phillip’s official instructions may have required him to “conciliate the affections of the Aborigines” and to encourage everyone to “live in amity and kindness” with them, but he could not see that he and his men were invaders. Nor could he understand why Bennelong, whom he kidnapped and treated like a son, would choose to run away. But one winter’s day in 1790, perhaps the penny dropped. Phillip wrote wistfully, and probably insightfully, to Sir Joseph Banks, saying that “nothing will make these people amends for the loss of their liberty”.

Looking back at 2017 — 4

Reposts.

NOTE 2018: On Mr Potato Head’s latest frolic see Peter Martin and Benjamin Miller. Oh, and we no longer have a dedicated Immigration Department in Australia. Did you know that? Instead we have this gargantuan thing.

Here we go again…

Seems Malcolm Turnbull is these days Mr Potato Head’s glove puppet when it comes to citizenship and “Aussie Values”….

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Some say this could be our next Prime Minister and most agree Malcolm Turnbull is getting more and more desperate to hang onto leadership. The issue being dragged back into the spotlight is this: New citizenship test: Here’s what is changing. I agree wholeheartedly with Jonathan Green:

I remember a time when a key Australian value was abhorrence for the pompous, self righteous, sanctimonious expression of national values.

And haven’t we been down this track before!  Back in the day I posted: When asses rule…,  Migrants to sit English testThat idiotic citizenship “test”Government careers down path of superficial idiocy on citizenship testCitizenship and human rights and That de facto English test: scrap it, or admit what it really is! I also posted in May 2007 Ninglun’s Dinkum Aussie test, mate!

Since the sample citizenship test is such a travesty, let’s get real. The government, for a fee, may use this test any time they like. They can even employ me to generate thousands of similar questions.

1. The best blogger in Australia is

A) Ninglun
B) Thomas
C) Jim Belshaw
D) Marcel Proust

2. When you see a shark while swimming in a Blue Mountains creek you should

A) be very surprised
B) report it to the police
C) eat it
D) report yourself for environmental vandalism

3. Bushwalkers should beware of

A) politicians
B) bunyips
C) hoop snakes
D) all of the above

4. A popular Australian pastime is

A) gambling
B) getting pissed
C) horse racing
D) listening to Radio National

5. The ABC is

A) biased
B) very biased
C) very very biased
D) far too biased

6. Australia’s greatest Prime Minister is

A) John Howard
B) John Howard
C) John Howard
D) John Winston Howard

7. The Liberal Party is

A) the obvious choice to lead Australia
B) the best choice to lead Australia
C) the only choice to lead Australia
D) the party you should join tomorrow

8. Labor are

A) in thrall to the trade union movement
B) not to be trusted
C) getting too bloody cocky
D) all of the above

9. Work Choices

A) never existed
B) was a good idea at the time
C) is far better than anything in your home country
D) is a close relative of the hoop snake

10. When watching the cricket you should

A) avoid snoring
B) close your eyes and think of England
C) look for a bookie
D) wear a silly wig

Any suggested questions?

The real thing (current version) may be practised here. Apparently changes under consideration are as follows:

A new citizenship test, besides assessing their commitment to Australia, their attitudes towards gender equality and whether they have assimilated with the Australian social values, will also test their English proficiency by including a reading, writing and listening test.

If an applicant fails the test three times, they will have to wait for two years before they are allowed to attempt the test again.

Those seeking Australian citizenship will have to demonstrate that they have integrated into the Australian society by way of joining clubs, employment and enrolling their children in schools.

The new test includes questions on domestic violence, genital mutilation and child marriage but the government denies the test is targeted at the Muslim community…

The Revenant of Oz has quite rightly claimed credit.

Do read also The Lying Game: Turnbull Government Concedes Citizenship Test Can Be Coached And Fudged.

In my opinion all that is really needed is that we ensure by education that all Australian citizens take their pledge seriously. It really says it all. (Of course being descended from a family that goes back in Australia to at least the 1820s I have never been called upon to make this pledge. Obviously I would if I could…)

From this time forward
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.

 

Looking back at 2017 — 3

Reposts.

Yesterdays — 1944 and March 2017

I mentioned on Facebook that I managed to speak on the phone to my brother Ian in Devonport Hospital. A nurse took the call and then passed the phone to Ian. Given the circumstances I didn’t talk long, the real object being to let him know I was aware of what has been happening and was thinking of him. He thanked me.

What I didn’t say on Facebook is that his son in Lightning Ridge and his daughter in Engadine had both told me to try to speak to him — he doesn’t always answer the phone — as it may possibly be the last chance to do so. If a new course of antibiotics started yesterday is effective, that may change. If not…

I was at times teary yesterday, but fortunately not when speaking to Ian.

I further posted on Facebook:

Document: 14390 Cpl. Whitfield J. N.
Group 833
RAAF
Pacific
16-2-45

My Darling Wife

I came to work this morning thinking it was just another day, another hot steaming day, after a terrific thunderstorm last night. About nine o’clock a chap came in with some demands that had to be attended to and on dating them the realisation struck me, this was no ordinary day to me, but a very special one, the anniversary of the day when I made my very bestest pal in all the world mine for keeps, for worse or better. You notice I put the “worse” first, because I am sure many, many happy days lie ahead for us. Yes, we have had more than our share of worries & I have at times very selfishly added to them, sometimes quite unintentionally, because there really wasn’t any need for you to worry at all. I’m a bit of a tease really… Anyway dearest one I will try to do as you wish me to in everything. I have caused you enough heartaches. I can’t always help this of course, but I fully intend to try and make up for any short comings I may have. I can never repay the debt I owe you for giving me three such lovely children. I love them very dearly, and am exceedingly proud of their nice appearance & manner… .https://ninglunbooks.wordpress.com/…/about-the-whitfields-2/

warfamily

Back row: Aunt Ruth, my mother Jean, Uncle Neil (on leave from the RAAF), Aunt Beth

Front row: me, my sister Jeanette, my brother Ian

Probably 1944. Creased because my father carried it with him in Port Moresby 1945.

Recalling the Shellharbour that was…

Last night I had a chat via Facebook Messenger with one of my Shellharbour cousins, who no longer lives there. I had not seen or spoken with this cousin for decades! I mentioned how different Shellharbour is today. She agreed, saying she couldn’t live there any more…

Here is how it was when my parents were young in the early to mid 1930s:

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And here Shellharbour township c 1948, in my own early childhood.

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And today, all suburbia…

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See also My 1947: ShellharbourShellharbour: very nostalgicMore “Neil’s Decades” –6: Heimat/Shellharbour.