On Melbourne — stray thoughts

So sad.

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You probably know what that represents. One positive element has been that amazing homeless man who steered a shopping trolley at the terrorist!

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As for the terrorist, this is what we know so far. Some of the responses from various quarters have been helpful, some almost certainly not: see Australian Imams and Muslim groups say Scott Morrison’s speech following Friday’s Bourke St mall knife attack went too far.

I see since writing that Scott Morrison has discounted the possible role of mental illness. I suspect that will turn out to be a major factor. One should also note that the vast majority of refugees, Muslim or not, do not figure in terrorist incidents in Australia, other than among the victims.

In my own case I am reflecting on experiences from 2005, when I was still working at Sydney Boys High, which I often called “The Mine” at the time. The Melbourne terrorist, we are told, was 30, so in fact he was the same age as the Muslim students I had to do with back in 2005. He was therefore 10 years old or less when he arrived in Australia during John Howard’s Prime Ministership, and almost certainly did not arrive by boat.

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That is a gathering in the Great Hall at Sydney Boys High in 2005. See my posts from 2009: Some non-fiction read recently 2b – the personal component  and Some non-fiction read recently 2c – tentative conclusions.

This goes back to 2005 and a particularly interesting if controversial event. On the day I was not there, as I had to attend a meeting of ESL teachers at Erskineville – or was it Arncliffe, one of the last such meetings for me as I retired the following year. But I did know all the participants at The Mine end, and I posted on it at the time and the following year. See Salt Mine and Islamic Students7.30 Report: The Mine and the IslamistsThe Mine and the Islamists: cause for concern?. On Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07 there is also a major entry from April 2006.

What I found yesterday was a video* on YouTube of the complete 2005 Seminar referred to in those entries. The controversy centred on the guest speakers, Sheik Khalid Yassin and Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Wassim Doureihi. These people would fall in one of Michael Burleigh’s inner circles (see previous entry) but not necessarily, of course, into the innermost circle. While I had concerns about the Mine students involved, I very much doubt they would have even considered the innermost circle – quite the opposite in fact. (I also refer to these students in my Cronulla 2005 posts.)…

*That video is no longer accessible, but I have my own copy. More reflections on it:

I am really trying not to sound patronising, because I respect idealism and even cling to some to this day, modified as it might be by experience and knowledge, especially of history.

The young, confronted with a world that all will admit is not the best of all possible worlds, may react with cynicism, apathy, or a deep desire to make a difference. Those who desire to make a difference will soon seek out how to make a difference, and therein is some danger, as well, of course, as much of the hope of the world. Those boys at The Mine, just like their confreres in the rather fundamentalist Christian and Jewish or political activist groups in the school, look for people who offer convincing solutions. Now you have to admit that both those speakers in the 2005 seminar (the video linked from the previous post in this series) are quite excellent public speakers. As a former debating coach I wouldn’t mind having them on my team, and it is no accident that one of the two sixteen year old presenters was indeed a valuable member of his age-group’s debating team, as was the brave young lad in cadet uniform who got up to rebut what he had heard. (The body language going on behind him, if you have seen the video, is interesting; it’s almost as if the presenters wish there was a hook in the wings or a trapdoor under the stage.) That lad, by the way, is now one of my Facebook friends.

… the seminar the previous year directly dealt with the issue of terror. The tactic was definitely not recommended….

My point regarding some of what has been said about Melbourne is to note that there would be those who would see thought crimes in some of what was talked about at SBHS back in 2005 — indeed some did, as you will discover if you diligently follow the links above. However, none of the people involved in those discussions back then have committed acts of terror, though one (Wassim Dourehi) has been accused of radicalism and is almost certainly being monitored.

Looking back, I have no doubt, by the way, that the kinds of views espoused in that 2005 Seminar could lead into very dangerous waters indeed, but on the other hand they have much more in common than many would want to admit with Christian bigots I have heard or read.

Certainty in belief is not a friend!

Related: search this blog under Islam and terror.

And hasn’t it been wonderful that through all Australia and the UK and Europe those great gatherings marking the end of World War 1 passed without a terrorist incident!

Update

Having read the usual suspects in today’s Tele, it seems appropriate to add Curtis Cheng’s son calls for end to political ‘scapegoating’ of Muslims.

Alpha Cheng’s father was shot in cold blood by a 15-year-old Muslim boy, Farhard Jabar, outside the NSW police headquarters in Parramatta in 2015. Two others were jailed for planning the attack and supplying the weapon.

But he said that was no reason to victimise a community.

“I am tired of needing to explain to adults that the actions of these individuals cannot be attributed to an entire group of people. If I, of all people, can think this way, then sure as hell our ‘elected’ representatives can think this way too,” Cheng wrote in an opinion piece in Fairfax Media.

He said if anyone were to believe that all terrorists are Muslim, then “that person could, and should, be me”.

“It would be frighteningly easy – and I choose those words deliberately – to keep indulging this train of thought. It is not that hard, really.

“A Muslim killed my father. His parents were Muslims. He was manipulated by other Muslims. They are related to Muslims. They probably came from a Muslim country. It is all their fault, kick them out, keep them out,” he wrote.

But he said this was the narrative “those who wish to divide us” were trying to push to “victimise and persecute an entire group because of their religious/cultural background”….

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Wet Friday: more seen in October 2008

Christ Church St Laurence and Central Station:

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Ward Park, Surry Hills — warm spring day:

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Sirdan in Chinese Whisper, Crown Street Surry Hills. Fondly remembered.

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Philip Costello in New York may remember this place: Morehead Street, Redfern —

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Ten years since the GFC!

First, just in case you notice some changes in format here. I am now posting via Chrome, as Microsoft Edge in my Windows 10 no longer displays the log-on box from WordPress.com. There are also issues, I suspect, with Facebook chat — where a cousin of mine noted that Edge is only good for downloading a better browser!

OK, last night on 7.30 we were reminded that it is ten years since the Global Financial Crisis, to which our then Labor government responded — comparatively — quite brilliantly. See Inside Australia’s GFC response: Government wargamed financial disaster scenarios.

So I looked back to my blog for September 2008.

Self-portrait?

22 SEPT 2008

Interpret this as you will! 🙂

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And:

Strange things in the boot of Malcolm Turnbull’s limo…

28 SEPT 2008

Consider Eric Abetz. Now here is a man who knows left-wing bias when he sees it: any lack of resemblance to Quadrant or deviation from the Australian Christian Lobby is clearly a Communist Plot. Now he wants Q&A “regulated” — not just the show, but the audience — despite the good showing his new leader made there last week, and despite the fact that, much as I hate to admit it, Q&A actually made me warm a little towards Julie Bishop!

SENIOR Liberal Eric Abetz believes the ABC TV political talk show Q&A has failed in its attempt to provide a representative cross-section of the community because the audience was overwhelmingly made up of Labor and Greens voters.

The figures, provided to a Senate committee, show that for seven episodes there were on average double the number of Labor and Greens supporters in the audience as Coalition supporters.

In some episodes, Coalition supporters made up as little as 10 per cent of the audience, with an average of 20 per cent. Labor and the Greens accounted for as much as 54 per cent of the audience, which participates, with an average of 50 per cent.

Senator Abetz said: “The ABC has to immediately rectify these figures for the remaining episodes of Q&A this season.”…

Just when some were thinking, or Malcolm Turnbull was having us believe, that this creepy Howardism was dying Eric lands feet first with his hobnailed boots firmly on our faces. Thanks for reminding us why we wanted the Howard government to go, Eric! Well done. We will be very careful to scrutinise the blandishments of Malcolm Turnbull from this moment on…

And:

Turnbull triumphans, Wall Street requiem

17 SEPT 2008

 

To take the parochial first, Malcolm Turnbull is now the Leader of the Opposition here in Oz, around three months later than I expected he would be. As the Sydney Morning Herald notes, Now Rudd has a contest. Sure, Turnbull has an ego the size of Jessie the elephant — who lived incidentally in the old Sydney Zoo where Sydney Girls High now is. But then, Disraeli was hardly a shrinking violet, to cite a 19th century English Conservative in comparison. The Rudd government had better perform now, difficult as that will be with an Opposition scenting blood and still playing spoiler. I know that’s politics, but I really wish they could do better than that. One of the best things that could happen for the sake of the country would be for people like Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott to go completely out of fashion. Their approach to politics damages the rest of us. They think it is about winning a game; I think it should be about winning respect and caring for the country. However, the rise of Turnbull does put an intelligent, capable person in the position of alternative Prime Minister, and that has to be an advance. One hopes the Liberal Party moves right away from the narrow, anal, and even at times quite evil, legacy of John Howard.

Annabel Crabb in the Herald this morning did amuse me with this though:

Accounts of the Turnbull ego do differ across the broad church of the Liberal Party.

Some argue it is Milky Way-sized, while his intimate admirers and defenders (whose ranks are fast swelling with opportunists) argue it could probably be squeezed into Wembley Stadium.

The chances of him finding anything about yesterday genuinely humbling, however, are about as good as Zimbabwe’s new power-sharing agreement panning out well.

Now for Wall Street. I could go into cliche mode about the wickedness of capitalism and the sin of greed, but while I may have such thoughts anything I would have to offer would be utterly banal. So I turn to a couple of people much better informed than I am. First, here in Oz, there is Ross Gittins: Worrying only makes things worse.

One good thing about our modern problem of information overload is that, no matter how bad the news, we never focus on it for long. Another day, another crisis. The end of the world is so last week.

I came to that conclusion in the aftermath of the great Wall Street sharemarket crash of October 1987. It was hugely dramatic and quite frightening. And just because most people don’t know what these things prove, doesn’t stop them concluding they must be Very Bad. Sometimes I think the less you understand, the more dire the conclusions you draw. Just to help things along, the media carried pundits predicting that, as in 1929, the great crash would precipitate another great depression (thereby revealing their towering ignorance of the true causes of the Great Depression).

Always one to react against predictions of death and destruction, I limited myself to saying it made a world recession likely. Wrong. In the end it had hardly any noticeable effect on any economy. I had figured that the scare it gave would prompt people around the world to pull in their heads and thereby bring on a downturn. But I reckoned without the media’s ever-shrinking attention span. After a week or so the crash that was going to end it all hardly rated another mention. The punters soon forgot about it…

Second, in the USA I suggest John Taplin. That links to his September 2008 entries….

Shire: Jannali, Cronulla, family

Is it really a week since I posted this on Facebook’s Sutherland Shire Heritage page?

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That’s my sister-in-law Aileen and my niece Christine (Parkes) in front of The Cotton Shop, Box Road Jannali in 1959. My mother owned The Cotton Shop, a very successful dress shop — until she broke her spine falling over a vacuum cleaner in the shop. The business went on under a manager and in the early 1960s moved to Sutherland, but was never the same without my mother running things. In Jannali she had customers coming from all over Sydney, not just The Shire. On Facebook Mark Wright said: “Mum remembers it mate. She knew Mrs Whitfield.” That’s nice.

Couldn’t help reflecting that in 1959 I was in my final year as a student at Sydney Boys High, and that it was also the 8th term of Prime Minister Robert Menzies! He seemed to me then to have been PM forever, though I did dimly recall his predecessor. Menzies continued until 1966. They built them to last in those days!

1966 I began teaching at Cronulla High School, now in Scott Morrison’s electorate. My second HSC class there — and the second HSC ever! — have a reunion planned. I have been invited, but am not sure I can make it. Night-time events in Sydney are an issue for me these days, but I will surely be there in spirit.

Class of 1968 member Paul Weirick has also sent a list of those attending. Brought back lots of memories.  Fortunately, I had been able to attend a couple of events around the 50th anniversary of the school itself — so I haven’t totally missed out.

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