Sydney’s shame

Our shame has been broadcast around the world. Here from France is just one instance. Quite a balanced report, actually.

Yes, I can understand there is a diversity of views — which in a democracy of course can be expressed but preferably in measured and responsible ways — and there are those being hurt or at the least inconvenienced by the current lockdown in our part of the world, escape from which has just been made LESS likely by the actions of yesterday’s unlovely, angry and undisciplined mob.

But possibly not unorganised.

There is a world-wide movement out there, and here is one of their posts: Freedom March London: LIVE. Look at the fools behind it! The Great Alien Lizard Dude being one name that struck me immediately, described in the post as a “champion of freedom” no less! What utter hogwash! Champion of insanity more like.

Our South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris has it right when he says on Facebook: They are liberating themselves from their … brains.

On Twitter our increasingly attractive alternative Prime Minister, Anthony Alabanese, posted:

The irresponsible and shocking actions of those who engaged in acts of violence today against police officers doing their job have no place in society and should face the full force of the law – our police deserve respect and have taken risks to keep us safe during COVID-19.

Poet Beth Spencer shared a very apt comment, adding: “So sorry, Sydney. So sorry Australia.”

Among my replies I said: How many on the streets of Sydney today thought of this?

“Doctors were immediately concerned as Logan’s organs started to fail, his skin blistered and he developed heart murmurs…” I was referring to this item: Mother’s warning after dangerous COVID side-effect.

I also said:

Here is one of the geniuses at the Sydney lockdown “protest” — that is, the self-destructive mass hysterical self-centred hissy fit. There are not enough synonyms for “drongo” in Roget to adequately describe them.I fully support concrete and real help — Bill Crews for example — for those personally and economically suffering. But unlike these protesters I am not in favour of increasing infection, pain and death as the solution. I am a pensioner living alone in lockdown. The protesters in my book are selfish scum.

Thanks to Van Badham for the meme.

Crazy, mad as a cut snake, certifiable! On the other hand a highly respectable journalist, Channel 10’s Hugh Riminton, noted: A lot of people have been dismissing the #sydneyprotest mob as unwashed, toothless losers. More disturbingly, they looked like anyone you’d see on a train. Which is not to defend the lunacy.

He has a point, and that IS disturbing.

Behind such people are the loudmouths, the motormouths, the People’s Tribunes, the Alan Jones’s of Sky IS The Dark: if you want to know about Alan Jones, view this. When he is not endorsing — often with a clever and mealy-mouthed get out of jail free card to save his arse though — the Great Election Fraud view of Donald Trump, or having the pathetic pollie Craig Kelly on his show as an expert opinion, then he is in the business of white-anting not only obvious targets like Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews but also embattled NSW Premier Gladys Berejilkian. Here he is on that one: Berejiklian ‘should resign’ if she thinks the virus can be eliminated: Alan Jones.

So thanks to a variety of loons, has-beens, alt-right dingbats and comparatively innocent fellow-travellers who may be reacting to genuine difficulties, the mob has disgraced and shamed us in the eyes of the world by organising the greatest super-spreader event imaginable! There must be a lot of very happy Delta Variants out there this morning! Except of course viruses don’t give a shit about politics, religion, freedom or whatever. They are mindless little machines intent on one thing only — spreading and replicating.

Anticipating a predictable retort to such an idea, Hugh Riminton has also tweeted: For comparison, here was the mask wearing during last year’s Sydney #BLM March.

Just to lighten up a tad! I rather like this, which comes from England — which is undergoing an interesting if very probably tragic experiment in political sleight-of-hand at the moment.

Updates — already noted on Facebook

  1. Possibly Australia’s most egregious boofhead, mate of Alan Jones, who regularly infests Sky Is In the Dark, the soon to be former Member for Hughes, that furniture salesman extraordinaire, shows his true colours by rooting for chaos in these ill-conceived “freedom” (aka irresponsibility) rallies.Shame on him! No, let me be old-fashioned — a pox on him! Here is a sample of the sh*t Kelly has posted, annotated by the good people of Hughes, his long-suffering electorate. Vote the bastard out!

2. The Illawarra Mercury reports that “up to” 250 protesters took to the streets of Wollongong. The population of Wollongong is 307,000 plus. I call that a success!

Call me naive, but why can’t our focus be on things like this music, which we can all share?

The world really is mad — and I refer here both to our lot and the others… In politics we seem too often to fall into utter incompetence. I think particularly of our relations in the West with the now powerful China — back where it was centuries ago, perhaps, as a world hegemon — and I am not taking either side. All I know is that I have been able to speak heart to heart, person to person, with people from Mainland China just one mortal being to another. Is it that hard? Why is it that hard? How come our leaders so often seem so dumb?

Well, I do know that this music is superior to all their politicking….

The last two are part of a co-operation between the Carolina International Orchestra in Raleigh North Carolina and members of the China National Orchestra Touring North Carolina in 2013. I wonder if that orchestra is still going; their last Facebook post is 2016.

Since writing that (last night) I have found a back-story in a North Carolina newspaper (4 October 2013).

The opening concert of the new Carolina International Orchestra — with guest artists and conductor from the China National Orchestra — brought the house to its feet again and again Tuesday evening.

“Trans-Pacific Melodies,” an East-meets-West concert presented by this new orchestra, had its debut at Lee Auditorium Tuesday night. It was the first leg on a tour heading up the East Coast.

He Jianguo, permanent conductor of the Chinese orchestra, led performers playing both Western instruments like violins and violas and traditional Chinese instruments many in the audience were hearing for the first time — though the artists themselves are among the elite, at the top in their field.

This new orchestra — blending music, instruments and artists from East and West — is a joint venture begun by concert master Yang Xi and fellow violinist Jenny Zhou following the success of last spring’s first collaboration. In February, musicians from North Carolina hosted visiting Chinese instrumentalists in a series of concerts shared with musicians from the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra….

Ties between Moore County and China’s Hunan Province were forged in World War II when 2nd Lt. Robert Hoyle Upchurch, a Flying Tiger pilot from High Falls, lost his life in aerial combat helping China fight the Japanese invasion.

This concert, featuring its unique and international blend of musicians from China and the United States, is a legacy of that bond, as Blake said just before the Arts Council’s Chris Dunn welcomed the crowd.

“It is such an amazing story — you know he wrote home and said, ‘Don’t worry if I don’t make it home. I’m not married, and in two or three years you will forget me,’” Blake said. “The Chinese built a beautiful monument to him, and now the world knows Hoyle Upchurch.”

An organization dedicated to building cultural, educational and business links — the Carolina China Council — grew from these events. North Carolina and Hunan Province are sister states….

That there is nothing about the orchestra on FB since 2016 makes me wonder whether the Trump era was curtains for this wonderful cross-cultural project.

Later

So I have done a little digging and note that North Carolina has a Democrat Governor, re-elected in 2020. The Carolina China Council was still active in 2019 at least.

On October 4, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper congratulated the opening of the 2019 Raleigh China Arts Festival by proclaiming September 29-October 5, 2019 as Carolina China Council and China Arts Festival tenth anniversary week. Secretary of State Mrs. Elaine Marshall attended the opening ceremony of the 2019 Raleigh China Arts Festival at the Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh and welcomed the world class performers to North Carolina in her opening remarks. Distinguished performers from China, Italy and the United States presented a two-hour world class musical gala to a full-house audience. Mrs. Kacy Hunt, Chairwoman of Raleigh Artsplosure which organizes the annual Raleigh Arts Festival, congratulated the success of this year’s Raleigh China Arts Festival. She is looking forward to a long-lasting partnership between Artsplosure and Carolina China Council to promote East-West exchanges of arts and culture.

Interesting — but nothing in the news section since 2019. COVID would no doubt have affected them.

Back to “The Music of the Night”

Yet another connection, as the competition “Super-Vocal” is from Hunan TV.

Super–Vocal (Chinese: 声入人心; pinyin: Shēng rù rénxīn) is a Chinese reality television created and produced by Hunan TV and iQiyi. It is a singing competition focused on classically trained singers, singing both operatic and musical pieces. It features 36 male singers, with six winners after a total of 100 days of training and filming. “Super-Vocal” Season 1 premiered on November 2, 2018, while Season 2 premiered on July 19, 2019.

The singer Ayanga (b. 1989) is Mongolian, Sheng Yunlong (b. 1990) is from Shandong Province.

Gaza, Israel and all that unspeakable frustration and horror…

I went to a great source for a post on the current hideous developments in a part of the world where such hideousness is alas not uncommon, a part that in some moments we perhaps wish would detach itself from the planet and go, say, to Jupiter… Well, at least some of the parties involved who never ever seem to learn, despite encouraging examples over the years…

The source I quoted recently was Tikkun, framing it thus: If ever voices like this one from Israel were needed, now is very much the time.

Of course no ceasefire. Why should Netanyahu want a ceasefire? Every day in which the shooting continues is one more day of keeping that dreaded mover’s truck away from the Prime Minister’s Residence, one more day of keeping power in his own hands. If there was concrete proof that Netanyahu did it all consciously and deliberately, it would constitute criminal charges far more serious than those he is facing at the District Court of Jerusalem. But any such evidence is probably classified Top Secret and would only be published fifty years from now. So, we can’t prove that he did it deliberately, though there can be little doubt about it. We can only end the war, and immediately afterwards get rid of him.

Perhaps what is happening now will shake President Biden out of the attitude of keeping a low profile on Israel and the Palestinians? After all, all this mess had fallen on his desk with quite a loud clatter…

No great sign of that so far from the USA.

And way back in 2009 I posted:

Joshua to Gaza 2009

05 JAN 2009

It is somewhat ironic that my private Bible reading scheme, which often follows the US Episcopalian lectionary, brought me today to the Book of Joshua.

1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,

2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.

8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

The first thing that must be said is that we are reading saga and legend here, not history. One may as well take Beowulf literally, though of course Beowulf is very informative about the life and times of its culture and milieu and reflects history, which is also true of Joshua. It is pretty much certain that what really happened was nothing like what we read in this book. I don’t find that a problem, personally. One can be inspired by the words of the last verse there without believing that verses 3 and 4 represent some real kind of divine decree still relevant in 2009. Sadly, not everyone agrees.

Israel and Palestine: A Brief History – Part I on the Middle East Web captures this quite well.

The archeological record indicates that the Jewish people evolved out of native Cana’anite peoples and invading tribes. Some time between about 1800 and 1500 B.C., it is thought that a Semitic people called Hebrews (hapiru) left Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan. Canaan was settled by different tribes including Semitic peoples, Hittites, and later Philistines, peoples of the sea who are thought to have arrived from Mycenae, or to be part of the ancient Greek peoples that also settled Mycenae.

According to the Bible, Moses led the Israelites, or a portion of them, out of Egypt. Under Joshua, they conquered the tribes and city states of Canaan…

Paragraph one indicates what really may have happened; the next paragraph recounts the hallowed legend.

Leaping forward around 4,000 years we find ourselves where we are. You can trace that in varying degrees of depth on that Middle East Web, which I referred you to in my update yesterday on A whiff of sanity. (2021 — That link is to a post where I reference a classmate from Sydney High — often sitting just behind me! — Clive Kessler.)

Long term the approach I commend there will be what must happen, but in the world as it is it will be a long time before such an approach is taken seriously by those in power. The point is, however, that we have been told. What looks like good strategy in current Washington and Tel Aviv or Jerusalem – which really should be an international city as the United Nations long ago proposed – or among irredentists in the Muslim world is actually short-sighted policy. Given that Israel may attain its objectives – more about that in a moment – the true cost is incalculable. In brief it involves fuelling further the problem. It inflames further the grievances that have made too many turn to terror as an appropriate response.  The present cost in human lives and suffering is only too manifest.

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald Paul McGeogh offers an interpretive report that rings true.

THE revelation of the daring objective at the heart of Operation Cast Lead calls for Israel’s air-and-ground assault on Gaza to be given a new name. As the rhetorical layers are peeled back, what we are hearing makes Mission Impossible a more worthy contender.

Tel Aviv’s early insistence that this massive military exercise was about putting a halt to Palestinian rockets being fired into or near communities in the south of Israel never rang true.

Measure it by the number of rockets – 8000-plus over eight years – and indeed it sounds like a genuine existential threat. Consider the toll – 20 Israeli deaths spread over eight years, which is about half the number of deaths in just a month of Israeli traffic accidents – and it all loses its oomph as a casus belli.

Israel does not want to deal with Hamas – it wants to annihilate the Islamist movement.

The Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, said as much when she dashed to Paris last week to head off a French push for a 48-hour ceasefire. “There is no doubt that as long as Hamas controls Gaza, it is a problem for Israel, a problem for the Palestinians and a problem for the entire region,” she said.

If there was any doubt after Livni spoke, it evaporated on Friday when the Deputy Prime Minister, Haim Ramon, told Israeli TV: “What I think we need to do is to reach a situation in which we do not allow Hamas to govern. That’s the most important thing.”

And at the United Nations in New York, the Israeli ambassador, Gabriella Shalev, also seemed to depart the approved script. “[It will continue for] as long as it takes to dismantle Hamas completely,” she said.

Analysis and commentary through the first eight days of this conflict have been about Israel’s goal of stopping the rockets. But if the objective is obliterating Hamas, it does indeed seem an impossible task….

jan04 024a

Yesterday in Sydney

Good luck to Obama. Let’s hope for some shift in US policy, which is critical; I am not totally despairing on that front, nor am I totally hopeful.

Update

See Jim Belshaw’s post this morning: Gaza, democracy and the question of world government. Very thoughtful. I think Jim and I share both a certain tentativeness on the issue – which I am sure is a clear sign of intelligence!—and a desire to get beyond the reflex responses we’ve been seeing. That Jim has used one of my photos is of course a bonus.

If you click the head link of that post you will also find six comments.

A rabbi on Gaza

08 JAN 2009

I was going to leave this alone, but in checking my blog roll (which I will soon revise and prune) I happened on Shalom Rav, Random Blogthoughts by Rabbi Brant Rosen in the USA. In particular see Outrage in Gaza: No More Apologies (28 December), Israel and Gaza: In Search of a New Moral Calculus (30 December) and Israel and Gaza: One Geographer’s Prediction (6 January). Really, these have more weight than anything I can say. A brief sample from the first:

The news today out of Israel and Gaza makes me just sick to my stomach.

I know, I can already hear the responses: every nation has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens. If the Qassams stopped, Israel wouldn’t be forced to take military action. Hamas also bears responsibility for this tragic situation…

I could answer each and every one of these claims in turn, but I’m ready to stop this perverse game of rhetorical ping-pong. I don’t buy the rationalizations any more. I’m so tired of the apologetics. How on earth will squeezing the life out of Gaza, not to mention bombing the living hell out of it, ensure the safety of Israeli citizens?…

So no more rationalizations. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza…

More on all sides thinking like that and there could be hope. That’s leadership.

“What Israel is doing in Gaza is an outrage,” wrote the good Rabbi in 2009. And the same in spades, surely, 12 years later!

This is one of the funniest things I have seen in years…

This post relies on YouTube videos, so I just hope they prove durable! You know the problem I mean…

Yesterday I spent what proved to be a very informative and amusing hour watching Kevin Rudd, our former Prime Minister, getting stuck into a Sky “documentary” about Kevin Rudd and another former Prime Minister — but from the other party! — Malcolm Turnbull being two sides of the same coin. Hence the doco title “Man in the Mirror.” Kevin Rudd was interviewed about this — if interview is the right word as it was more like an episode of Gogglebox — in his own lounge room, wearing a hoodie which indeed became a topic of conversation.

The interviewer, who goes by the handle friendlyjordies, is a 30-something clearly gay young man, far from unattractive I have to say.

And yes — I did notice…

Comment on YouTube: Imagine being so relaxed around a former head of state that you could do a one hour reacts video in his living room with your fly undone. Definition of BDE. Jordies, we don’t deserve you.

I had to look up BDE! Probably means I don’t have it!

Of course there was a reply from the mob at Sky. The line note from Sky is as pathetic as the reply itself: “Kevin Rudd’s ‘unusual and awkward’ response to the ‘Men in the Mirror’ documentary is ‘even stranger than eating earwax,’ according to Sky News host Chris Kenny.”

Have a look at both. See what you think…

Reflections on one ex-student, but also on the issues of partisan politics and stereotyping

I posted on Facebook — which does remain useful despite the Wonder Chopper still going about randomly and inconsistently blocking things here in Oz — about an ex-student, Trevor Khan. I trust he won’t be embarrassed, as this has happened before.

As far back as 2007, in fact:

An old teacher always enjoys hearing of ex-students. A story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald has brought back a lot of memories. The story itself is hardly relevant, the only point being that it mentioned National Party NSW Legislative Council member Trevor Khan from Tamworth, a fact that will delight Jim Belshaw.

Trevor, along with my old friend Simon H, was in the class of 1975 at The Illawarra Grammar School in Wollongong. I taught him English, and I suspect Asian Studies, from 1971 to 1974. I was fascinated to read this in his maiden speech delivered in the NSW Parliament on 9 May 2007.

In that speech he said:

However, I feel in detailing my legal career it is only fair that I pay tribute to the many hardworking and talented teachers who saw me overcome early difficulties to eventually enter this profession. I was privileged to attend what was then a small private school, The Illawarra Grammar School in Wollongong. That school provided me with a quality education throughout the time of my schooling from 1962 until the completion of my Higher School Certificate in 1975—in fact, 11 November 1975 was the day of my final economics exam. There can be no doubt that it is the teachers in the early years of my education who are owed the greatest debt, for it was those teachers who identified a reading difficulty which was then simply described as dyslexia.

I well remember those times in the special reading classes. I well remember as a child my school friends speeding along in their reading exercises whilst I struggled with much simpler tasks. It was a difficult and embarrassing time. As I say, if it were not for those teachers who identified my difficulties I may well not have had the opportunity for the higher studies that I have had. But my gratitude to the teaching profession does not end there. As a result of my university years I became a firm believer in the values of the State public education system. This belief in the public education system arose for a number of reasons, but principally because of the significant contribution that a public education system plays in ensuring the homogeneity of our society.

Let me add also, for those who believe in the dreams of Menzies, that a quality education system is one of the great levellers in our community. A quality public education system can help lift those who are less fortunate from their poverty and disadvantage and give to them the chance to share in the wealth and opportunity of our community. My belief in the benefits of the public education system came to be tested when it was time for my children to attend school. Both my children first attended Tamworth Public School and then Oxley High School…

Then in June 2016 I began a post thus: “Trevor Khan on Facebook said something nice about my teaching the other day, but also how long ago that was! Yes, 40 years, give or take a few. Meanwhile Lost Wollongong has posted this really lovely photo of what Crown Street looked like back then…” Of course now I can top the pic that appeared after that with one actually showing me walking down Crown Street at the very time I was teaching Trevor’s class!

But to my latest FB post concerning Trevor Khan:

The FB Chopper is still alive and well. I tried to post about my ex-student Trevor Khan, citing a 2018 New Daily story:

“Nationals MP Trevor Khan has slammed the Anglican school he attended as a child for demanding the right to sack gay staff, in a moving open letter. The NSW MLC has revealed he was furious and then profoundly disappointed by a letter to all MPs penned by some of the nation’s most prestigious Anglican schools.”

I taught Trevor at that very school. I pointed out in my intro to the failed post that Trevor also supports assisted dying partially on the grounds of what happened with his own father. He was a Member of the NSW Parliamentary Working Group on Marriage Equality, and co-sponsored the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019. Hardly your stereotypical LNP person, is he?

He is Deputy President of the Legislative Council of New South Wales in the Parliament of New South Wales.

Reminds us that we need to hold on to our assumptions and stereotypes with a degree of caution — because we might discover that “our” side does not have a monopoly on humanity. Yes, I did ask him how he did it over a beer in Haymarket a few years ago. In some ways Trevor is one of the most progressive people in the NSW Parliament!

His FB has been very quiet lately. Hope all is well.

The pic is from 2019. The occasion: “NSW law now recognises the right of women, and all pregnant people, to make choices about their bodies and futures in consultation with their doctor, free from the fear of prosecution. Any person who is pregnant now has control over determining whether an abortion is right for them up to 22 weeks’ pregnancy in consultation with their doctor. Thereafter, two doctors will need to consider whether an abortion is appropriate….

“Despite widespread popular support, the debate in Parliament was protracted and gruelling. Proposed amendments came thick and fast, with some hand scrawled minutes before being tabled. Standard processes were set aside as the Legislative Council conducted its third longest debate in history, with 26 divisions and 102 amendments. At times it felt like the division bells would never stop ringing….”

Pic: (left to right): Trevor Khan MLC (Nationals), Edwina MacDonald (Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre), Penny Sharpe MLC (Labor). Source: Community Legal Centres NSW.

I have been able above to give a link to the story Chopper blocked! And here is a 2015 bonus from our ABC.

“I’ve avoided from directly commenting on matters federal. I’ve respected the right of my federal colleagues to run their own race but I think on this issue it’s finally time to stand up and say something really has to be done.” – Trevor Khan

A local state coalition MP is calling for his Federal Coalition colleagues to be allowed a conscience vote on marriage equality.

NSW Nationals MLC, Trevor Khan has been involved at a state level in debate in support of a motion on marriage equality and separately supporting a same sex marriage bill.

Up till now he has avoided commenting on what is happening at a federal level, but says something really has to be done.

“It is not an issue that will go away for the Liberal Party or the National Party; a bill will inevitably go forward either during this parliament or the next,” says Mr Khan.

“This is a wave of change that will not be stopped, it is a question of when and I think really one of the things all politicians have to wrestle with at this stage is, do they really want this to be an election issue at the end of this term, and I think the answer to that is no, the time to deal with it is this year, the time to address it is in the Spring session of the parliament, have the vote and let’s move forward,” he says.

Mr Khan addressed the NSW Parliament in the days after the Ireland Marriage Equality Referendum.

“I think there are number of things you can draw from the Irish referendum, we all know Ireland to be a deeply conservative Catholic nation and the fact that people came together, had a quite civil conversation and voted strongly in favour of it, I think is indicative of what you certainly would expect to see in Australia,” he says.

“The church is not nearly as influential in Australia as it is in Ireland and yet people came to a considered view, a tolerant view of both sides,” says Mr Khan.

The Tamworth based MLC says the time to act is this year.

“It’s now time with the winter break coming on for people to go home and reflect, address the issue directly, deal firstly with the right of coalition members to have conscience vote and that having been done for there to be a bipartisan bill and for that bill to go forward to a vote,” he says.

That’s our Trevor! LNP and all….