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Change and decay in all around I see…

29 Jan

Jim Belshaw has begun “a series on social and cultural change in Australia that began with A note on Australia Day and related matters.” I see he expects there that I may sometimes disagree with him:

Postscript

Neil wrote:

“I guess we will see some posts expanding on this…”

True of course, but I suspect that while Neil may not like some of the things I plan to talk about, he may be a little surprised at the content.

The posts I have in mind are not intended to tell people what to think nor indeed what I think on specific issues. While I will make my own views clear so that people can understand my biases, I am more concerned to disentangle issues and point to what I see as trends. Where I can, I will put things in historical context. While bias is inevitable, I want to write from a professional perspective.

I will be writing from an Australian perspective, but I hope that the material will be of broader interest.

I won’t say more at this point. I leave it to you, the reader, to form your own views.

I suppose it is possible I may disagree, but I certainly don’t have any problems with the latest in the set — Ladettes – girls acting like boys. Nor do I much worry about Australia Day being 26 January; it could even be argued that date becomes a space for quite useful reflection. This was certainly my case on Australia Day 1988, the Bicentennial, as I suspect it was for many others. I agree too (which I don’t always do) with the more conservative partner in the Skeptic Lawyer blog: I’d like to know where this crap started.

Via LP, I learn that there were several ‘mini-Cronullas‘ this Australia Day, the worst taking place along the Manly Corso in Sydney. No-one dead or seriously injured this time, but people abused, people showered with broken glass, drunken nongs running around wearing the flag like a superman cape (something I find extraordinarily disrespectful), racist epithets flying thick and fast etc etc…

The Americans have somehow managed to be flag-waving and patriotic, but you never see stuff like this attached to their flag; as one American points out, if it happens there it’s the Confederate Flag that gets ‘claimed’ by various drunken nongs. And I just can’t imagine any American using their national flag as a superman cape.

Skeptic Lawyer does bend over backwards to exculpate the Howard years. While I agree it isn’t just that, I think there was a synergy between Howard, the fear generated by 9/11 and Bali etc, and the spirit (demons?) whipped up by Pauline Hanson. It does seem to be very much a right wing phenomenon. SL and I do share distaste for the development nonetheless. Not all change is beneficial.

See what I had to say on Cronulla 05. The posts there were written in the heat, because as one who lived in The Shire for many years I was really upset by what I saw, even if I now concede happily that The Shire is nowhere near as bad as these events and images would suggest. Like just about everywhere else The Shire has in fact changed and in many respects has coped well. Last year’s local government elections tended to bear this out. The extreme racist candidates didn’t get far at all. But I wrote then of Howard, thinking now also of Skeptic Lawyer’s post:

12. PM refuses to use racist tag – National – smh.com.au 2005-12-12 4:10:00 pm

Our PM has spoken at last, refusing to use the R-word when there can be no doubt whatsoever that racism of the crudest and dumbest kind was a big part of what happened yesterday, just as it haunts the psyches of the gang-members, or many of them, to whom the folk of Cronulla rightly object. OK, I would not say all Australians are racist either. I’m not, I hope, though I have had my moments, as we all have. But JH is and always has been namby-pamby in his reverse political correctness on the issue of racism. A bit of “ticker” would have gone down well on this occasion.

I still think that.

When it comes to social change our attitudes are very much shaped by where we’ve come from and what has happened to us. If you want at least one indicator in my case all you need to do is look at a photoset that sums up the last twenty years of my life in its way: M’s New Year party. Little wonder I was sickened by Pauline Hanson, is it?

I do look forward to Jim’s continuing series, because I know they will be, as ever, very carefully considered. Whether I always agree or not is another matter, but Jim has that pretty well covered in the note quoted above.

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One response to “Change and decay in all around I see…

  1. Benjamin Solah

    January 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    The problem I have with the Right trying to distance themselves from this kind of thuggish version of racism is that they’re just trying to hide the fact that their racism is still racism. Howard was a racist, even if he didn’t riot.

    The more vieled forms of racism (Howard was notorious for criticizing culture and not ethnicity as if it makes it better) can sometimes be more dangerous because it’s a more slippery argument to win.

     
 
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