On reactions admirable and otherwise to Stan Grant’s stepping aside

This man and this speech.

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And here is just a sample of what caused him to say and do this.

On Wednesday night Charlie Pickering skewered the pathetic attempt by the Murdoch media to deflect attention from their key role in stirring the pot that harboured this wicked and shameful brew.

All he had to do to prove Patricia Karvelas right was play one after the other poisonous grabs from the claque pictured on the left of screen there.

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Just after the story first broke I posted on Facebook:

I watched the Coronation on 10 because they had the best coverage from the BBC. I did not want pontification or discussion to detract from my enjoyment, and as you know I did enjoy it. I think the ABC would have been well advised to separate commentary from presentation that night. It is not what I wanted, irrespective of what views may or may not have been expressed. Let that top and tail the event, talk your heads off then — no worries! I just wanted to see the Coronation so that night the ABC was not to my taste.

But I DO NOT blame Stan Grant. I deplore the comments he has been getting. I am deeply saddened by what he has experienced lately and by his decision to get out. His story is in so many ways an inspiring one, a great example to all Australians. Any who are gloating and putting laugh emojis on stories about his decision to leave are just scum.

I have quite often referenced Stan on my blog in the past. For example: Living with the facts of our history (2017) and Free E-book from ANU: The Lives of Stories (2019).

My free e-books from ANU Press include some excellent publications on Indigenous Australian History, Emma Dortins, The Lives of Stories: Three Aboriginal-Settler Friendships (2018) being one. The three friendships are: Arthur Phillip and Bennelong (see cover), James Morrill and the Birri-gubba people of Queensland, and Windradyne and the Suttor family of Brucedale, Bathurst NSW. The first story is the best known, the third less well known by most Australians. The Windradyne/Suttor story features in Stan Grant’s excellent family story, The Tears of Strangers (Harper Collins 2002), which I read recently courtesy of Wollongong Library….

One of the finest responses I have seen to all this came from my cousin Ray Hampton Christison on Facebook. Ray is no mean historian himself.

I respect this man. I have been reflecting on the difficult conversation our nation in engaged in as we collectively confront the violence and injustice at the root of our national story. Stan Grant has been a wise, gentle and compelling voice in this conversation.

I fear that the conversation may have led many Australians of European descent to an underlying fear that they are outsiders. I was born on Eora land and grew up on Dharawal land, the fifth generation of my family to inhabit this land. I hold a deep and visceral love for this country but am fully aware of the much deeper connection and history that precedes our coming.

When I was a young boy my Sunday School teacher took our class on an excursion to Jibbon Head, near Bundeena. We walked along Jibbon Beach (to me one of the most beautiful of Australian beaches) and on to the headland. Here there are ancient Dharawal rock carvings – a whale, an octopus and the image of a man. I now recognise that image as Baiame, the creator. Back then those carvings told me that this land has custodians who were here long before the British flag was raised at Kamay or Warrung.

I am faced with a conflict. I love this land and my desire is to respect its ancient peoples. I must recognise that my family’s presence is just a blip in the 60,000 year story of this great land. I hope that as a nation we can come to a place in which the first peoples have a true say in how the nation moves forward together.

I replied:

Yes indeed, Ray Hampton Christison! Looking out every day on Mt Keira I can never forget I am on Dharawal country. According to what my father and mother told me about my father’s mother even likely of Dharawal or Yuin descent myself.

See November 25th is a day of some family significance.

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The joy of social media? And more China stuff thereby…

Yes we all know of the downside. This post is about some of the up side…

Treasures Facebook delivers are legion

There is the music of course, and discovering long-lost friends and even relatives some of whom one would never otherwise have met. An example recently is my late Aunt Beth’s grandson Max whom I have never met. The Rabbit once had the pleasure of meeting Aunt Beth and I am sure will recall how she spoke of Max….

At the end of December 2002 Mister Rabbit drove me out to Sutherland. I said at the time, and still say five to six years on, that this was one of the best days I have ever had. I told the story thus on New Years Day 2003…

Mister Rabbit’s account

… We got back in the car and drove to Sans Souci to visit Aunt Beth, who I was prepared for by N’s reports of her alacrity. But nothing could have really prepared me for one of the most remarkable women I’ll ever meet. I’d only considered abstractly the notion of the elderly as living treasures; after yesterday, I have a concrete example. She told some amazing stories, and she’s immensely proud of her grandson Max, who I’d love to meet some day. We spent just 45 minutes, but there was never a dull moment!

The Rabbit reappears in the next section.

Facebook delivers a conversation on China and Chinese languages

Given yesterday’s post that was of considerable interest. It began for me with a post by ex-Sydney Boys High student Kieran Oakley who would have been in the Class of 1988 (along with another FB friend now in California, Russell Ward) but seems to have left at the end of Year 11. Kieran shared this.

Map of languages spoken in China — from Amazing Maps.

I engaged in a comment thread there.

When I was in the 90s especially working with Chinese people a lot I reached the point where I could tell if someone was speaking Shanghainese (Wu) or Mandarin. For example Mandarin ni hao sounds in Wu more like noo hor. There are also vocab differences. Cantonese is when spoken virtually a separate language! A Wu/Mandarin speaker told me once that Cantonese sounded to him like dogs barking. The wonder is the writing system unites them as they can read the same newspaper in their respective languages and get the same meaning — as long as they don’t read it aloud. We can do the same thing with numerals of course, reading 3 as three, trois, drei and so on.

  • Kieran: Sounds like you have a lot of experience working with Chinese people. I spent a month backpacking through China in 1995 and really loved the place. I was amazed by the ethnic diversity I found. So many different peoples living together. It’s almost like another version of Europe. But I would not go back now. There is so much surveillance and mistrust of the government. I feel like Xi is losing his grip on power and I worry that he will send the country to war against Taiwan to maintain control of the people.
  • Neil James Whitfield: Correction: my friend compared Cantonese to ducks quacking. It was English that sounded like dogs barking! And see my blog post today.
  • Kieran: Haha! I can verify that. My bogan neighbours next door sound like dogs barking.

In turn I shared the map on my own profile with another conversation ensuing in which The Rabbit assumes his proper name as these days he is a very reputable member of the teaching profession… You may recall our conversation about the Coronation some days back.

In fact Mitchell has noticed something there which I have to admit I had missed. Taiwan is not included. To correct that see in Wikipedia Languages of Taiwan. As you would expect given the history I recount below Mandarin is the main language, though they prefer the traditional writing to the simplified used on the mainland.

It is common for young and middle-aged Hakka and aboriginal people to speak Mandarin and Hokkien better than, or to the exclusion of, their ethnic languages. Of the approximately 26 languages of the Taiwanese aborigines, at least ten are extinct, another five are moribund, and several others are to some degree endangered. The government recognizes 16 languages and 42 accents of the indigenous languages.

Russell Darnley is a former Sydney Boys High colleague with his own excellent blog. He in turn shared this map on his Facebook feed.

And all that is just one example of many I could give of the joy of social media! One more….

There are amazing things to discover

Like this treasure from Australian literature — so poignant given the recent passing of the great Robert Adamson and the whole amazing but sad story of Michael Dransfield. This morning it appeared on the page Thirroul History in Photos.

A letter to Bob from Michael Dransfield no less (how poetic is that?)

Letter card franked April 24 1972 (1 year before Dransfield’s death), with heading ‘Easy Rider, Take 2’. ‘Dearest Rob, day after i left you i was riding down the Hume Highway back to Canberra when an off duty cop ran me off the road at 60 miles an hour’ continues with description of injuries and the possibility of amputation. ‘It was absolutely dreamy to see you last week . As you know i love you but really Bob your new poems are enviable’…and more. Signed ‘all my love sweet fisherman’. This accident is often cited as the impetus for Dransfield’s return to narcotics and subsequent short life.

And speaking of treasures: Robert Adamson on Michael Dransfield.

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Coronations I would like to have seen

The DIY Coronation of Napoleon I

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He famously placed the Crown on his own head. The Vatican was not amused.

Coronation of Queen Victoria

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Posted by a Korean fan.

The Coronation of Edward VIII

That raises a few difficulties…

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But it did save embarrassment later on…

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Coronation of Elizabeth I

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Our Prime Minister and Charles III by the Grace of God King of Australia

Just now, this shot — and not uncontentious. But it is what it is. More of that in the next post. By the way (if you read the previous post) I no longer have a Meccano set.

And out of interest a flashback to last year: