Thursday, January 26, 2006



Here is a grab bag of today's ickiness.

ICK #1

Approaching his 10th anniversary as Prime Minister, Mr Howard also hailed research showing that fewer Australians were ashamed of the nation's past. "I welcome this corrective in our national sense of self."

Ucking feck! An incorrect lack of shame is not a corrective. I BLAME YOU FOR THIS.

"Young people are at risk of being disinherited from their community if that community lacks the courage and confidence to teach its history."

True. However, you don't mean it like I mean it, do you. See, I think we are being disinherited of our history because your view - that history should be tailored so that it instils feelings of pride in people - is holding sway in the public discourse. Which is backwards and wrong. We SHOULD KNOW, at a very immediate and ingrained level, what it took to get us here, and how intertwined our 'achievement' is with the systematic and ideologically supported abuse of indigenous peoples, for ONE thing. So dude, YOU are the one that lacks courage and confidence. YOU are the one who is ripping us off. You'd prefer to give people a false impression, and then crow that the false impression has taken root. INSANE, dude. The study of history is supposed to be a thoughtful and critical engagement with the past, placing heavy emphasis on, you know, facts-slash-the evaluation of a variety of possible veracities. This is not dodgy relativism, it's JUST THE WAY IT IS. And so, to flip it up on ya, I think you'll find that understanding that there is more to history than one overriding 'structured narrative' [structured by who? etc etc] actually IS true blue, Aussie as, realism and balance. DICK.

He warned that, in the search for the right balance in the age of terrorism between the legitimate interest of the community and individual civil rights, a bill of rights was not the way to go. "I believe it would lessen our ability to manage and resolve conflict in a free society."

PLEASE EXPLAIN. What on earth does that mean? Having rights makes things too complicated when you need to lock people up incommunicado?

ICK #2

I have bolded the most objectionable bits. And have sometimes been unable to restrain myself from commenting on them. These comments are italicised in square brackets. (Full scale ick can be read here.)

No country has absorbed as many people from as many nations and as many cultures as Australia and done it so well. The strength of a culturally diverse community, united by an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia, is one of our greatest achievements and one of our greatest national assets.
Some have questioned my optimism, especially in the wake of the violence in Sydney earlier this summer. These events brought shame on all involved. Australians, whatever their background, deserve to be treated with tolerance and with respect.
Racial intolerance is incompatible with the kind of society we are and want to be. Within limits, all Australians have the right to express their culture and beliefs and to participate freely in our national life. And all Australians have a civic responsibility to support the basic structures and values of Australian society which guarantee us our freedom and equality.
The criminal behaviour of last December should be met with the full force of the law. I do not believe it calls for either national self-flagellation or moral panic. Our response should reflect this nation's unswerving commitment to racial equality, coupled with an absolute determination to ensure that all sections of the Australian community are fully integrated into the mainstream of our national life.
On these bedrock principles rest both rights and responsibilities that apply to all Australians. In the 21st century, maintaining our social cohesion will remain the highest test of the Australian achievement. It demands the best Australian ideals of tolerance and decency, as well as the best Australian traditions of realism and balance.
Australia's ethnic diversity is one of the enduring strengths of our nation. Yet our celebration of diversity must not be at the expense of the common values that bind us together as one people - respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, a commitment to the rule of law, the equality of men and women and a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need. [GAH! That you of all people can speak of fairness and compassion.]
Nor should it be at the expense of ongoing pride in what are commonly regarded as the values, traditions and accomplishments of the old Australia.
A sense of shared values is our social cement. Without it we risk becoming a society governed by coercion rather than consent. [DUDE, you've already made it one of those. To an unprecedented degree. Anti-terrorism bill, much?] That is not an Australia I want to live in. [Me neither. And yet, we do. BECAUSE OF YOU] Again, our goal must be to strive for a balance in questions of national identity and cultural diversity. And for the most part I think we achieve it. We've drawn back from being too obsessed with diversity to a point where Australians are now better able to appreciate the enduring values of the national character that we proudly celebrate and preserve. [Most honest you've ever been about your agenda.]
We've moved on from a time when multiculturalism, in the words of the historian Gregory Melleuish, came to be associated with "the transformation of Australia from a bad old Australia that was xenophobic, racist and monocultural to a good new Australia that is culturally diverse, tolerant and exciting". [WHY, WHY, WHY DID WE MOVE ON FROM THAT TIME? Again, I blame you.] Such a view was always a distortion and a caricature.
Most nations experience some level of cultural diversity while also having a dominant cultural pattern running through them. Our dominant pattern comprises Judeo-Christian ethics, the progressive spirit of the Enlightenment and the institutions and values of British political culture. Its democratic and egalitarian temper also bears the imprint of distinct Irish and non-conformist traditions. [Quit trying to stamp them out then, if you love them so much.] Of course, each wave of new settlers to Australia influences our culture and character, helping to forge new attitudes and traditions. From our art and literature to our scholarship and diplomacy, greater cultural diversity has changed how we see ourselves and how we view the world. It has contributed to our more enterprising and entrepreneurial society. We should have faith in what we have achieved and what we have become.
I believe the time has also come for root and branch renewal of the teaching of Australian history in our schools, both in terms of the numbers learning and the way it is taught. For many years, fewer than one in four senior secondary students in Australia has taken a history subject, and only a fraction of this study relates to Australian history. Real concerns also surround the teaching of Australian history in lower secondary and primary schools.
Too often, Australian history has fallen victim in an ever more crowded curriculum to subjects deemed more "relevant" to today. Too often, it is taught without any sense of structured narrative, replaced by a fragmented stew of "themes" and "issues". And too often, history, along with other subjects in the humanities, has succumbed to a postmodern culture of relativism where any objective record of achievement is questioned or repudiated. [Questioning is GOOD.]
Part of preparing young Australians to be informed and active citizens is to teach them the central currents of our nation's development. [Racism, exploitation, violence... So that we may tackle them and stop the pattern from repeating. Denial. Isn't. Working.] The subject matter should include indigenous history as part of the whole national inheritance. It should also cover the great and enduring heritage of Western civilisation, those nations that became the major tributaries of European settlement and in turn a sense of the original ways in which Australians from diverse backgrounds have created our own distinct history.
In the end, young people are at risk of being disinherited from their community if that community lacks the courage and confidence to teach its history. [True.] This applies as much to the children of seventh generation Australians or indigenous children as it does to those of recent migrants, young Australian Muslims, or any other category one might want to mention.
When it comes to being an Australian, there is no hierarchy of descent. Whether our ancestors were here thousands of years ago, whether they came on the First Fleet or in the 19th century, or whether we or our ancestors are among the millions of Australians who have come to our shores since the Second World War, we are all equally Australians - one no better than the other.
So let us indeed celebrate our diversity. But we should also affirm the sentiment that propelled our nation to Federation 105 years ago - one People, One Destiny.

ICK #3

"The other observation I will make is there is no reluctance on the part of those who are already Australian in accepting people who have chosen to make this country home."

AS LONG AS you are prepared to change and we don't have to for a second. Also, we reserve the right to turn on you the moment you start to think maybe that's unfair.

ICK #4

Patriotism is spiking. The Australian flag is outside more public buildings and suburban homes than ever before, according to Melbourne's oldest flag manufacturer, Evan Evans. Sales have increased three-fold in the past five years, with the most notable rise among private rather than corporate buyers.



Dr Kwan attributes much of the current rise in patriotism, especially among the young, to the activity of conservative lobby groups and policies of the Federal Government…

…Dr Kwan said Americans' preoccupation with their flag, "Old Glory", began in the 1880s as their cities were flooded with non-English-speaking immigrants. She wonders whether the same thing might be happening in Australia, as our migrant intake has shifted from mainly Anglo-Saxon to larger numbers of people from Asia and the Middle East.
"Groups pushing the anti-change-to-the-flag line have an attitude of hanging on to what they see as the old Australia, an Anglo-Saxon Australia," she said.

Even so, the xenophobia that has typified much of Australian history and was the dark undercurrent at Cronulla, is now part, for a significant number of Australians, of what it means to be Australian. This is borne out in the acceptance of mandatory detention and in suspicion displacing charity towards asylum seekers.

Anyway, let's not think about that now. Today isn't even Australia Day, really. Because....


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