Recycled: pictures from four years ago

Selected from Monthly Archives: April 2013.

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Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, Wollongong

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Macedonian Orthodox Church Saint Dimitrija Solunski, Wollongong

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Thistle, West Wollongong

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Mount Kembla from West Wollongong

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Vanishing “birdcage”– Wollongong Mall

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West Wollongong house on the move

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At the Kiama Jazz and Blues Festival in March 2013

I can’t get too stirred up by…

That storm in a middy glass about Coopers and the Bible Society. I am simply not offended. Why should I be?

Update: Compare John Birmingham:

But having lost seven minutes of my life I’ll never get back again – thanks a lot Bible Society – I  came away thinking the outrage was misplaced. The debate was even-handed, if a little anodyne and wilfully ignorant of the real and violent passions this topic arouses, especially among Twitter eggs with 12 followers.

But WTAF were these two numpties doing shooting a promo spot for a beer company within the grounds of Parliament House? Or anywhere, for that matter?

They could have been debating which of Buffy’s boyfriends was the worst for the 20-year anniversary of the most important show on television and it would still have been bizarrely inappropriate to sit there necking the product of an industry they’re responsible for regulating.

But nobody seems to be talking about that.

Update 2: Equal Marriage advocate Rodney Croome on Facebook

I don’t understand the objections to this filmed marriage equality debate between two Liberal MPs sponsored by Cooper’s beer to commemorate the founding of the Bible Society. It promotes civility in the marriage equality debate. It shows there is a divergence of opinion in the Liberal Party (implicitly making the case for a free vote). Most of all it helps get the pro-equality message to people of faith who may not have heard that message, especially from a Liberal. Some LGBTI people may feel uncomfortable about the involvement of the Bible Society, but whether we like it or not it has stake in this debate. Some may not like the involvement of Cooper’s, but unlike the bulk of the businesses that say they support marriage equality Cooper’s is at least playing an active in the debate….

Second, much as I rejected the notorious Bill Leak cartoon as a throwback to even more racist times, I cannot find joy in putting a self-righteous boot into the now dead cartoonist. I didn’t watch #QandA last night. I rarely do these days. Apparently this happened:

“And we need to have control of those stories. I need to be able to put something out there and go, ‘That’s not all Aboriginal fathers. That’s not all Aboriginal women. That’s not all mothers.’ I am a mother first and foremost. I don’t identify as an Aboriginal mother. I’m a mother. I was mortified when I saw that particular cartoon.”

Adelaide Festival director Neil Armfield – who directed Yovich in The Secret River – said: “I knew Bill. And enjoyed his company. Respected him. I thought those cartoons in The Australian were despicable. I think that as he grew older he became more and more, for whatever reason, sort of narrowed into a corner. And I thought that he was playing into an attitude which was completely the attitude of the racist and the powerful. And that he was ignoring the inheritance of rage and pain that those social situations that he was … showing in his cartoon are the result of.”

Then the audience protests erupted, screams of: “Bill Leak is racist.”

Host Ballard moved to calm things. And then it was back to Mem Fox.

“I looked and I thought, ‘Bill, Bill, no, please, no’. And I loved Bill Leak’s cartoons. And I thought they were fabulous. But … there is another word for political correctness. And it is a simple word. It’s called politeness.”

There is politeness, and then there is politics, and then there is art. As Q&A showed once more, we are surely bound never to agree on where the boundaries of each of them are properly drawn.

Fair comments, except for the howls of the audience. I find those howls offensive and somewhat pharisaical.

Now for something that made me proud of my country. And I wouldn’t mind betting he eats halal food…

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NSW Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson (far right) with the recently sworn in Local Court Magistrates Julie Soars (left) and Imad Abdul-Karim at the Downing Centre Local Court. Photo: Kate Geraghty, Sydney Morning Herald.

He fled war-torn Lebanon aged 14 with his family and learned to speak English in an annex to Beverly Hills Girls High School.

More than a few pairs of eyes were suspiciously moist in the Local Court as former Sydney prosecutor Imad Abdul-Karim was sworn in as a magistrate…

A former Commonwealth prosecutor who oversaw high-profile terrorism cases, including Operation Pendennis which uncovered jihadist cells in Melbourne and Sydney, Mr Abdul-Karim joked that “I lost my hair working on some of these matters”…

Mr Abdul-Karim’s eyes shone with tears as he thanked his late mother Salwa, who came from a “poor and illiterate” background and went on to become a teacher, first in Lebanon and then in Australia.

His voice also cracked as he paid tribute to his wife and “best friend” Salma, an honours law graduate who made “many sacrifices” to allow him “selfishly” to pursue his legal career.

Arthur Moses, SC, the senior vice-president of the Bar Association, said it gave him “added pleasure as a child of Lebanese parents who fled their country to the safety and prosperity of this country as teenagers” to speak at Mr Abdul-Karim’s swearing-in ceremony.

“Upon arrival in Australia as a teenager Your Honour was fluent in Arabic and French – but did not speak a single word of English,” Mr Moses said…

Mr Abdul-Karim worked as a taxi driver and a kitchen hand to support his young family while he studied Science at the University of Wollongong and later at Western Sydney University Law School, where he was in the first class of graduates…

SBS: Is Australia Racist?

Just to remind you: here is a Friday market day in The Gong:

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And here is some of what I saw on SBS last night: I thought it was great!

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That last one:

A middle aged man has been secretly filmed as he abused a young Muslim woman in a niqab during SBS’s new show, Is Australia Racist.

“Where’s your f—ing face? What are you hiding from? F—ing Allah?” a white man in his 50s can be heard yelling at a woman whose garment only allows her eyes to be made visible to the public.

It is just one of many incidents of racism and bigotry highlighted during the hour-long documentary presented by Ray Martin.

The abuser in the above incident had no idea the veiled woman, Afghan refugee Rahila Haidary, was a volunteer for the SBS program.

The man approached Haidary in the street and almost immediately began to verbally attack her in full view of stunned onlookers.

“You’re in my face like that,” the man yells.

“You’re in our country because we helped save you from where you came from, from where you’ve been persecuted and you wear things like that.”

The woman responded by asking the man how she should dress. He retorted she should dress like other Australians.

Charming eh! See also SBS’s Is Australia Racist? exposes a shocking insight into everyday bigotryIs Australia Racist? SBS documentary makes for uncomfortable viewing and Is Australia Racist? Ray Martin thinks he has the answer, but you may not agree.

“I don’t think we’re racist,” says Ray Martin, who presents the one-hour documentary of that name that kicks off SBS’s Face Up to Racism week. “I think our attitudes are generally much better than they were. The discussion of racism, of anti-discrimination, of reconciliation and so on is far more widespread and stronger than it was when I was a kid.”…

This latest show combines the findings of an academic survey into attitudes about race and racism with some hidden camera stunts to illustrate those findings. So we see a black-skinned woman in African dress being harassed in public by two young white women. We see a woman in niqab (a veil covering the head and face, but not the eyes) confronted by an angry white man in a town square. We see how people respond to an African man who greets football fans outside the MCG with a placard reading “Stop Racism Now”….

All of which might lead to the conclusion that yes, Australia is indeed racist. But then you have the results of this survey of 6001 Australians, conducted by Professor Kevin Dunn at Western Sydney University, that point the other way. To some degree, at least.

It found that 80.4 per cent of respondents believe “it is a good thing for a society to be made up of different cultures”, 77 per cent believe “something should be done to minimise or fight racism in Australia”, and 76 per cent “would stand up for someone who was being discriminated against” on the basis of their culture, ethnicity or religion.

The hidden camera results suggest that yes, indeed, some people would stand up for someone being victimised because of their ethnicity. And for Philp, that was a positive. “It was good to know that people would stick up for me,” she says….

…there are fewer people who think they are prejudiced against other cultures (62.7 per cent) than there are thinking there is racism in Australia (79.3 per cent). It’s always someone else who is at fault, not me.

And that, says Martin, is where this show helps shine a light on the contradictions and the consequences around the question of our disputed racism.

“The value of doing a show like this is that it focuses on real people,” he says. “It focuses on the injustice of people saying these knee-jerk things without thinking about it – without realising how hurtful and dangerous it is.”

Some might be wondering how Muslims become part of the show’s brief; after all, Muslims are not a race, are they? The answer is that there is such a thing as cultural racism: see Muslims Aren’t A Race, So I Can’t Be Racist, Right? Wrong.

Need more proof that Islamophobia is a form of cultural racism? Consider the experience of Inderjit Singh Mukker. Mukker was assaulted in September 2015 for “looking Muslim”; he was dragged out of his car and beaten to a pulp by a man screaming “you’re a terrorist, bin Laden!” The twist here is that Mukker is not even Muslim; he is Sikh. The perpetrator of this crime looked at Mukker’s turban and thought “he’s a Muslim. He’s dangerous.” A cultural symbol, in this case, was used as a signifier to judge an entire group of people, however wrongly. Is this racism? Most definitely. Even Sikhs suffer from Islamophobia.

Ultimately, the issue here is “racism without race,” as sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva calls it. The more we assume that race is limited to skin color, the less we understand about contemporary racism faced by Muslims at home and abroad. Now is the time to teach youth that racism is much more than the white-black dichotomy. Racism is changing in its form, but the beast is still very much alive and well.

And here and now in Oz we have rancid groups like the Q Society, and worse. For a thorough demolition of the Q Society and all its works see Inside the sick, sad world of the Q Society and the Australian Liberty Alliance, a must-read if ever there was.

So, again, why the concern from the Q Society and others on the political far right?

Josh Roose, the director of the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at the Australian Catholic University, puts it down to “paranoia”. This paranoia has strange expressions.

In 2011, the Liberal member for Cowan, Western Australia, Luke Simpkins, presented a petition in federal parliament on behalf of constituents concerned that unlabelled halal food was so common in Australian supermarkets that “you cannot purchase the meat for your Aussie barbecue without the influence of this minority religion”.

He used the occasion to show off his knowledge of Islam, quoting Mohammed: “The nonbelievers will become Muslims when, amongst other things, they eat the meat that we have slaughtered.”

Simpkins emphasised the point. “This is one of the key aspects to converting nonbelievers to Islam,” he said. “By having Australians unwittingly eating halal food we are all one step down the path towards the conversion…”

That is plain bonkers. But then I may be a “victim”: see my post Munching halal and Japanese bikers again!

Update on Q Society and halal paranoia

See Q Society, Australian Liberty Alliance campaigner apologise to Halal director.

The anti-Islam Q Society and Australian Liberty Alliance campaigner Kirralie Smith have apologised to the director of a Halal certification company, settling defamation proceedings out of court.

Mohamed El-Mouelhy, Chairman of the Halal Certification Authority, claimed that a video now removed from YouTube implied that he was “part of a conspiracy to destroy Western civilisation from within” and “reasonably suspected of providing financial support to terrorist organisations”.

Those behind the video have apologised for the imputations.

“The Q Society, its board members and Kirralie Smith apologise to Mr El-Mouehly for the hurt caused to him as a result of the publications,” they said in a joint statement to the NSW Supreme Court.

“In light of the above apology Mr El-Mouehly withdraws the comments he made about the Q Society, its board members and Kinalie Smith.”

The apology comes after a two-year legal battle.

Inevitable outcome given the sheer idiocy of the premise of the action.