A few must reads from a good/bad news week
Eric Tenin in Europe, a photoblogger of note, drew attention to this: This is the truth about the Berlin Christmas market terror attack. Do give it due thought as it swims rather against the tide at the moment.
I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve said since: “This is the legacy of Angela Merkel’s open door to refugees.”
Well, no it isn’t.
This is the legacy of people who believe that what they FEEL is the truth must BE the truth. And that’s not how truth works.
Here is the truth we know so far…
Second, I endorse HRH the Prince of Wales.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s religious Thought for the Day slot, the prince delivered an outspoken attack against religious hatred and pleaded for a welcoming attitude to those fleeing persecution.
He said: “We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive to those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s.
“My parents’ generation fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and inhuman attempts to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.”
The prince did not mention any politicians by name, but his address will be seen by some as a veiled reference to the election of Donald Trump in the US, the rise of the far right in Europe, and increasingly hostile attitudes to refugees in the UK.
“That nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is to me beyond all belief,” he said. “We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.”
Finally, I commend C August Elliott to you. “C August Elliott is a former soldier, completed foreign language (Arabic and French) and anthropology degrees to the Masters level at the ANU and he now specialises in conflict ethnography and political anthropology in the Islamic world. Read his blog.” His latest on ABC: Melbourne terror plot: Extremist radicalised terrorism is a statistically enduring anomaly.
But while ISIS-inspired terrorist plots are on the rise in Australia, the nativist movement which is sweeping the West — exemplified by Trump, Brexit, Le Pen and One Nation — is a phenomenon which is tied to “fear of small numbers” — an inflated perception of actual risk.
At first glance, Mr Dutton’s comment that “of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third generation Lebanese-Muslim background” seems pretty alarming…
There is a problem amongst Lebanese-Australian youth which police and community groups need to redress. Even still, we need not let the Minister’s alarmism colour our perceptions of the Lebanese community as a whole.
If there are in fact 22 young terrorists out of a community of 203,139 (the number of Australians who claimed Lebanese ancestry in the 2011 Census) a better way to truly gauge the scale of the problem comes from appreciating the reality that only 0.0108 per cent of Lebanese-Australians have demonstrable ties to terror….
Back in February
One theme to emerge and which continues to this day is profound disappointment with the person formerly known as Malcolm Turnbull.
Posted on February 25, 2016 by Neil
Looks like we are seeing on several fronts what the corollary of “agility” is for Malcolm Turnbull – a surgical removal of the spine. Very disappointing. I borrowed my heading from Sean Kelly at The Monthly.
Turnbull caves to Liberal right-wingers*…a couple of weeks ago I gave credit to Simon Birmingham, appointed education minister after the snarly mess Christopher Pyne had made of that portfolio, for sticking up for a schools program that was under threat.
Under that program a teaching manual, aimed at combating bullying against young people who might be just discovering they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex or transgender, was distributed in schools.
As the Australian reported at the time, the program has the backing of the Australian Secondary Principals Association, beyondblue, headspace and the Australian Education Union.
Some religious groups, however, decided they knew better. The Australian Christian Lobby spokeswoman said that forcing students to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship was a “form of cultural bullying’’.
Yes she did.
Birmingham didn’t give some mealy-mouthed comment in response to this garbage. On the substance he pointed out the program was opt-in for schools, and on the principle he said: “Homophobia should be no more tolerated than racism, especially in the school environment. The resource is intended to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school.’’…
Today Malcolm Turnbull hung Birmingham and his pretty principles out to dry. At the prime minister’s invitation, the minister will report back to the Liberal party room on the results of an independent review of the Safe Schools program that will now occur. (For “invitation”, read “order”.)
In other words, he gave a whole lot of oxygen to the very debate his own minister had recently called “foolish”….
See also Max Chalmers, The Anti-Gay Emails To MPs: Safe Schools Program Will ‘Destroy Civilisation’, Safe Schools: Education or social engineering?, Safe Schools: Malcolm Turnbull requests investigation into program helping LGBTI students, Jill Stark, Safe Schools program: why zealots are trying to drag us back to the dark ages. From that last one:
Imagine being 12 years old and seeing your name scrawled across a school toilet door next to the word “faggot.” Or being beaten up and spat on by a gang of classmates who discovered you were a “tranny.” What if you were kicked out of your football team because you weren’t “masculine” enough?
These are just some of the real life school experiences young people have shared with me over the past few years.
We may pride ourselves on being the country of the “fair go” but in 2016, bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) children remains rife in our schools. It makes the relentless and vicious attacks against a program set up to protect those children even more abhorrent.
As Malcolm Turnbull yesterday caved into his party’s religious right and announced an investigation into the Safe Schools Coalition one thing became clear: we are in the midst of a culture war. And vulnerable children are being used as cannon fodder.
In a Coalition party room meeting on Tuesday, February 23, Senator Cory Bernardi called for the program to be defunded, claiming it was being used to “indoctrinate children into a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism.”…
Now I am such a Marxist, eh! Why only a couple of days ago on this blog I was commending Robert Service’s Comrades: A World History of Communism (2007) to my readers! A Marxist I really am not, but I do embrace diversity as a core aspect of the human condition and commend any society or program that does the same. Hence on Twitter I wrote yesterday: “I totally support #safeschools.” I also retweeted: “RT @JoshThomas87:.@TurnbullMalcolm You’re turning out to be a real shit bloke.” Among others.
First, a really really good idea is to read the actual stuff that Safe Schools offers.
I think it is brilliant and just wish that it had been there ten to fifteen years back when I was still tutoring and teaching and even on a high school welfare committee. Mind you there have been precursors like Bullying No Way and Racism No Way in NSW.
Of course I have form. Some will know my English/ESL blog, now an archive and not maintained, began as a semi-official resource c. 2000 to 2005 in the school I was working in. There is a section there called Diversity. A subsection is GLBT resources, that being the acronym 10-15 years ago. Now of course it is dated and who knows how many of its many links still work? But I am proud still of this. first written over ten years ago:
The theme of this page may offend some, but my position is that such offence is less than the needless suffering, failure of self-esteem, depression, and even sometimes suicide, that dishonesty about this subject can lead to.
Nor am I advocating a “lifestyle”: to quote from an article mentioned below:
There is a big taboo about converting straight people to homosexuality. (Personally I think the chances of that actually happening are as good as your chances of getting kicked to death by a duck.)…
See also from February 2016: Mardi Gras recycles: 2008, For the 78ers and Ian Thorpe, Gayby Baby, and today in my life.
Posted on February 5, 2016 by Neil
Several decades here, but let’s start with this photo from 1956.
That’s Shellharbour’s ocean pool, image from Shellharbour History in Photos. It’s a bit unclear but I could almost believe the man right foreground is my father, especially if what is immediately behind him is a white dog (is it?) in which case the kid running towards him may well be me! We were holidaying in Shellharbour in the summer of 1956.
That pool was renovated and renamed Beverley Whitfield Pool in 1994. See Beverley Whitfield on the Shellharbour Local History blog.
L to R: Edgar (Dunc) Gray, Mayor Cec Glenholmes, Beverley Whitfield, Andy Gerke and Terry Gathercole
Andy Gerke was Beverley’s uncle, and my cousin Una’s husband. Sadly Beverley died two years later at the age of 42. I was at the funeral, but circumstances had led to my family not seeing much of the Shellharbour Whitfields after 1975.
For my father Shellharbour remained Heimat.
Heimat is a German concept. People are bound to their heimat by their birth and their childhood, their language, their earliest experiences or acquired affinity. For instance, Swiss citizens have their Heimatort (the municipality where the person or their ancestors became citizens) on their identification. Heimat as a trinity of descendance, community, and tradition—or even the examination of it— highly affects a person’s identity.
Though in the war years he broke away yet he always was rooted in that place and time 1911-1938. Indeed he returned in 1970 until illness/distress forced his return to Sydney in 1975. Strangely I too have returned in a way, back here in Wollongong almost six years now after an absence of 30 years, But I have only been back to Shellharbour once, and that just before I actually returned to the Illawarra. See Shellharbour – a double post (2010) and more posts here, here and here.
You see, there is much of Heimat in Shellharbour for me too, even if my parents left it before I was born. We did constantly visit in my childhood, and many a story have I heard about the place. But the place of my childhood is not there any more. Well, it is, but its surrounds buried under suburbia, some of it good and some of it rather awful. Progress I suppose.
Here is my childhood’s Shellharbour:
My brother spent his first year or two in Shellharbour, having been born in Kiama.