Sunday, March 5, 2017
Below is an excerpt from an article by Michael Brull. Brull is a far-Leftist Jewish Australian and his writings boil with hate. I have left the abuse and hate out. I have just excerpted the apparently factual bits of his article below. So the article now is about half as long as comrade Brull left it
Today Tonight in Adelaide featured yet another report on Muslims.
The story was based primarily around three figures, supposedly representing the important insight of Muslims concerned about Muslims. Two of them were presented as Muslim clerics. One was Mostafa Rachid. The other was Mohammed Tawhidi. And the third figure was Jamal Daoud, presented as a “Sunni community leader”. Daoud’s is called a “leader” presumably on the basis that the TV presenter liked what he was told by Daoud.
The star of the show was Tawhidi, who used his supposed status as a Muslim religious scholar to attack Muslims and Islam. The show opened with him saying that, “When I am worried about what’s happening and what I see from my community and my religion, trust me that there’s something that’s going on.”
Tawhidi made numerous inflammatory statements. He claims there was a plan to increase the population of Muslims in Australia, to buy real estate, and give the streets Islamic names. And those Islamic names would be in memory of those who “massacred and killed people”. And then they’ll ban drinking and anything “un-Islamic”, it’ll be a small Islamic country within Sydney. He also claimed that ISIS hides among refugees fleeing to Europe, some of them disguised as women. Presumably he is opposed to Western countries accepting Muslim refugees.
The journalist was impressed by this rendition, and his “stark warning of a plan to alter Australia forever, to establish a caliphate here right under our noses”. Tawhidi confirmed this theory, saying that the alleged fact that a Muslim imam is worried (him), shows that something must be done.
Tawhidi called for governments to stop the building of mosques and Islamic community centres, and for a government body to be established to investigate everything in relation to the Muslim community.
In response, the online Muslim magazine One Path Network issued a video response to the report, along with a short written summary. Both are refutations of Today Tonight’s report. They showed that the two supposed Muslim scholars have something like zero credibility. As for Tawhidi:
“Little is known about Mr Tawhidi, who claims to be a “Muslim leader” in South Australia. His centre named the “Islamic Association of South Australia” was only set up last year and there is little to no information available about the centre and its attendees.
When One Path Network approached the Australian National Imams Council, ANIC, for comment on the above individual, they stated that Mr Tawhidi was “not recognised as an Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader”. ANIC is the official representative body of all Imams across Australia and has over 250 members.
The Imams Council of South Australia was also approached for a public comment and they too stated that ” he was not recognised” and “not part of the Islamic leadership in South Australia”.”
And Rachid, the supposed scholar brought on to claim that alcohol and pork are halal? One Path Network reports:
“The other “Imam” used in the segment is known as Mustafa Rashed, and is a known imposter and fraud. He has previously claimed to be the Mufti of Australia, and was exposed by ANIC in 2014 for his fraudulent remarks. He has no known credentials in Islamic Studies and neither does he have a centre in Australia or a following.”
This was followed by a media release by ANIC, the Australian National Imams Council, featured in the video report by One Path. It observed that Tawhidi is “not a recognised Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader”. The video report, fronted by Malaz Majanni, noted that “Imams for Peace” seems to consist entirely of Tawhidi.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Reliance on "renewables" was the problem
Let’s recap on exactly what happened based upon the actual reports written after people knew what had happened, rather than before. First a little background on South Australia’s electricity system.
We had about 6,000 mega watts (MW) of capacity in 2015-16; which means when all of these sources of electricity were running flat out, we could light up about 60 million 100 watt globes. But because about 2200 MW of this capacity is wind and solar PV, then that would be impossible except perhaps on a hot and very widely windy day. On a windless night, that 2200 MW will produce bugger all. Since then, we have lost about 1,000 MW of baseload capacity. The word baseload is a little misleading, the right word is despatchable… meaning you can choose when you want it rather than with wind and solar, which operate according to the whims of the wind and weather.
Our maximum demand is only about 3,400 MW, but because of our high renewable mix, we not only need interconnectors to handle windless nights, we needed to upgrade the biggest of these in 2016. The flow of electricity into South Australia over the past decade has been steadily growing as our despatchable power stations close.
If all of our 4,800 mega watts was despatchable power, then we’d never need either of our interconnectors; Murraylink (220 MW) and Heywood (recently upgraded to 650 MW).
On the 28th of September, the Heywood interconnector was supplying 500 MW with Murraylink running at 110 MW. When the storm knocked over the transmission towers and some wind farms shut down, the system lost 445 MW of capacity.
Imagine sucking a drink through three straws and one of them blocks, then the suck on the other two rises. This is what happened when the wind farms shut down; the combined demand, the suck, was transferred to the interconnectors. Remember, Heywood was upgraded to handle a 650 MW suck and was running at 500 MW. When the wind farms died, the suck on Heywood surged to 850 MW and it turned itself off to prevent catastrophic damage. The rest is history; a cascade of failures.
Had we had 4,800 mega watts of despatchable power, then we wouldn’t have had such a load on the interconnectors and they would easily have had the capacity to absorb the additional load when the wind farms shutdown.
Was the SA generation mix a factor in the blackout? Of course. Are there generation mixes which would have prevented it? Of course; I just gave one.
The great thing about the interconnectors is precisely that they can function to satisfy demand during the loss of capacity. But if that function isn’t available because your interconnectors are already saturated making up for renewables which aren’t currently doing much, then you have a problem.
What enrages me so much about the debate on this issue is that everybody has an opinion about why the blackout occurred without understanding what actually happened. If you don’t know the simple facts of what happened, they how can you imagine you understand why?
I’ve deliberately ignored important things like frequency control and spinning reserves in an effort to keep things simple. But our renewable mix has various other complicated effects on our grid to make it less robust in the face of disturbances.
The short-term answer to our problems is to change the NEM rules which discriminate against despatchable systems. This will allow gas operators to make money and stay running. This will also allow investment in clean despatchable systems, meaning nuclear, that can solve both our reliability and climate problems simultaneously. Remember, the main reason that the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission found that nuclear would be uneconomic in SA is that under the current NEM rules, all despatchable power is uneconomic. When reliability isn’t considered worthy of a price premium then it will vanish, exactly as we have seen.
Friday, February 10, 2017
Trump must be biting his fingernails over that one
An academic boycott of the United States is warranted, writes Dr Christopher Peterson. But the Australian tertiary sector’s response so far is too weak.
Today I signed a petition calling for a boycott of international academic conferences held in the US. The boycott has been organised in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban entry to the US by Muslims from seven selected countries.
The boycott currently has over 5,000 signatures. I also signed another petition imploring Australian Universities to explicitly denounce Trump’s polices as well as to support international students by funding scholarships for students from countries affected by the ban.
I am an American citizen by birth, and a naturalized Australian citizen. So it’s disorienting to say the least to be boycotting my home country.
Detractors of boycotts point to the collateral harm they sometimes inflict on those whom we are intending to help. Yet the preservation of American democracy outweighs whatever temporary inconveniences American academics might incur if the call for a boycott receives widespread support.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Chris Graham is proprietor of a far-left Australian webzine called "new Matilda" with rather shaky finances but he seems to be far more rational than most Leftists. He defends coal below and hints that nuclear power may be the best of all. Beat that! He seems to be on the same page as Trump when it comes to the electricity supply so it's a wonder he can stand the embarrassment.
His main concerns in fact seem to be Aboriginal welfare and Palestinians. He publishes some pretty one-eyed stuff on those topics. The Aboriginal stuff probably bores most of his readers. The Australian Left mostly regards the Aboriginal problem as "too hard", which it is. Compare the Canadian "first nations" problem or the native American problem. But Palestinians are red meat to Leftists so that probably keeps Chris's ship afloat
Naomi Klein: Definitely of the left and a powerful advocate for the oppressed; at least when they have two legs and an upright stance. Her first book, No Logo, was a powerful polemic against the branding and bullshit of the modern corporate culture.
Klein is now getting heavily involved in climate change politics, writing one of her characteristically large books on the topic a few years back: This changes everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate.
Here’s a shorter taste of Klein in full flight. It’s an essay adapted from her 2016 Edward Said London Lecture. The essay’s central theme is how Said, a Palestinian born Professor of Literature, thought of environmentalism as a bourgeois playground and missed what Klein thinks is the powerful connection between environmental destruction and oppression.
I think she’s a bit rough on Said; he died in 2003, well before many non-scientists realised the deep gravity of climate destabilisation. The penny hadn’t dropped then with Tim Flannery, for example; or I think, Klein herself. It was 2004 before the penny started falling with me.
But even if Said had realised the seriousness of climate destabilisation, would he have agreed with Klein on the connection between oppression and trashing the climate? Perhaps Klein’s connection is simply the result of moving outside her area of expertise. Science changes everything.
Klein is used to identifying protagonists and telling their stories with events and anecdotes. Science is about numbers, evidence and carefully constructed arguments. Klein’s not comfortable with any of the three.
For example, Klein wants to assert that our fossil fuel problems are the result of our othering of miners and Indigenous peoples. Meaning that we treat them as less than human to justify their exploitation.
Did coal and oil mines displace Indigenous people? Certainly, but were they the biggest driving force or simply a minor footnote in a much more general process?
It’s easy enough to check. I’ll illustrate with some Australian numbers, but they illustrate general principles. We crop about 20 million hectares in Australia and graze another 70 million hectares of improved pasture. Cattle and sheep also graze another 330 million hectares of natural vegetation.
Keep in mind that the entire area of Australia is about 770 million hectares. We also have a couple of million hectares of plantation forests. And our mines? All up, not just coal, they occupy a few tens of thousands of hectares and much of that isn’t the prime area with surface disturbance. So… which activities have done most to dispossess Indigenous people? Mines of any description, or cropping or grazing?
The ratios are similar the world over. Mines are tiny, cropping is big and grazing is huge. Indigenous people have been dispossessed by the sheer weight of numbers of non-Indigenous people and the fact that the latter all eat; with the biggest dispossessors being those who indirectly appropriate the most land… meaning meat eaters… which probably includes both Klein and Said (as far as I can make out).
Now think about the other part of her claim. Coal mining is definitely a filthy business, but a damn site healthier than what it replaced… chopping and burning wood. And what did they use to light the lamps of Europe before oil?
They used whale oil.
Perhaps Klein would like us to return to men in little boats throwing sharp pointy things at whales, but I’d rather drill holes in the ground. And wood isn’t dead yet. Some 3 billion people still cook with solid fuels; mostly wood, but also cow dung or charcoal or even coal itself.
Wood smoke indoors shortens lives and kills children. The death toll from household air pollution is about 4.3 million people a year; and the suffering on top of that is immense. The upside of a coal industry, particularly when it became used to generate electricity, is that by replacing wood, a large number of people benefitted from the toil of a few.
The other great thing about coal mining is that it’s a big compact centralised industry; which means it’s easier to regulate. Think about the difference between a textile factory with a union and regulation compared to people working at home. Highly distributed industries are tough to regulate. Globally between 1990 and 2013, coal production trebled, but deaths from black lung dropped from 29,000 to 25,000.
Black lung is the common name for CWP (Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis). It’s the biggest killer of coal miners and is caused by breathing coal dust. But when you mine coal from big open cut holes while sitting in massive air-conditioned machines, the problem can be eliminated; and the pay is better than many other jobs. But it does take good unions and continued vigilance.
There were 6 cases of CWP in Queensland between May 2015 and February 2016 which prompted calls for action in the Medical Journal of Australia. Science changes everything.
Klein can point to coal mining abuses in various parts of the world, but ignores the benefits of coal over what went before. I don’t know of any studies on how many lives coal has saved in replacing wood, but there are studies on the numbers of premature deaths nuclear power has prevented in replacing coal… about 1.8 million. The number of lives coal has saved by replacing wood would be far greater.
Klein is so closely focused on oppression by big business that she missed the much bigger cause of Indigenous displacement and thus all the subsequent domino progression of problems. She misses that large industries can be regulated and improved and that in many countries that’s exactly what has happened.
Similarly, when she talks about health, she is so focused on laying out her argument that she doesn’t bother to check the facts. Consider:
“Turning all that coal into electricity required another layer of othering too: this time for the urban neighbourhoods next door to the power plants and refineries. In North America, these are overwhelmingly communities of colour, black and Latino, forced to carry the toxic burden of our collective addiction to fossil fuels, with markedly higher rates of respiratory illnesses and cancers.”
Where’s the proof? For females in the US, whites have a higher rate of cancer than blacks, with Latino’s significantly lower again and American and Alaskan native Indians lower still! For men, blacks have the highest cancer rates, with whites a little lower and again Latinos and American and Alaskan native Indians lower again.
There may be pockets around power plants where rates are a little different but where’s the data?
As for respiratory diseases, the biggest most serious of these is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and yes, rates of COPD are higher for non-whites. But what’s the problem, is it mining?
Here’s what a major 2013 US study says: “Because smoking is the dominant risk factor for COPD and contributed to about 80% of COPD deaths in 2000 to 2004 much of this disease is potentially preventable.”
With regard to cancer, Klein makes the same mistake made over many decades by the anti-nuclear movement. They seized on the fact that radiation can cause cancer and entirely ignored more recent findings that radiation is a much weaker cause of cancer than lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, red and processed meat, and being fat and inactive.
Climate science is a little different from some sciences in its emphasis on ranking causes. Plenty of science is focused on tiny details but the climate gurus have to look at a vast array of quite different problems and try to rank them.
Klein cites a paper by Hansen on sea level rise; but when she starts discussing climate science she begins with a faux pas.
“Fossil fuels aren’t the sole driver of climate change – there is industrial agriculture, and deforestation – but they are the biggest.”
Industrial agriculture is a very misleading description of a major part of the climate problem. A more accurate description would be simply “methane from sheep and cattle”.
The 1.4 billion cattle on the planet are unprecedented and have driven a considerable component of the deforestation as well as emitting large amounts of methane as they digest their feed. And what about the “industrial” adjective? Cattle in feedlots generate less methane than cattle eating grass. Industrial methods of animal production are horrid for the animals but far less bad for the climate.
Klein assumes that the cause of the dominance of fossil fuels in our energy supply is otherness, oppression and racism. But I’d rank ignorance very high up on the list of reasons. Klein’s shorter essay illustrates her ignorance about cancer and other health issues and this ignorance very clearly misinforms her narrative.
If you want to take part in charting a course to reduce climate destabilisation, then sympathy with the oppressed isn’t enough. Klein’s essay ignores nuclear power and the obvious role of the anti-nuclear movement in the dominance of fossil fuels.
We could have gotten rid of the fossil fuel industry decades ago, back when climate change was first recognised as a serious issue by the world’s climate scientists; the 1990s. But we didn’t.
The fossil fuel industries thrived because they had no competition and were far better than wood. They were safer, cleaner, and yes, even healthier. They thrive today because people like Klein look at nuclear power without bothering to compare its health and safety record with anything else. Not coal, not wood, not anything.
They just say “Oh gosh, this is scary, radiation can damage your genes and nuclear plants are … well … just plain big and built by big companies!”
As it happens food is also energy and it has an environmental impact and it also damages your genes; meaning that some foods and some diets can cause cancer. Foods can shred DNA … quite literally … causing single and double strand breaks; just like radiation; only they are far more potent.
But ignorance about the big causes of cancer meant that fear of the little causes proliferated in a knowledge vacuum, and any nuclear project was hit by demonstrations and legal challenges and a rolling barrage of increasingly bizarre safety requirements.
So the big energy companies said, “Gosh nuclear is hard, let’s just keep on with coal”. And everybody relaxed and got on with building bigger houses and writing bigger books and going on more holidays and generally having a real nice time. Even the coal miners.
Monday, October 31, 2016
Facts and reason are so regularly subversive to Green/Left claims that it is always amusing to read the commentaries they put up. How do they get around the pesky facts? Mainly by telling just half the truth. There is a good example below. The article was headed: "A New American Low: One Rule For The Whites, Another For Its First Peoples". It's a desperate attempt to connect two totally unconnected things. The article below is from "New Matilda" but there have been similar articles in "The Guardian" and some other Leftist organs.
The first thing covered below is the dispersal of protesters occupying private land in order to block construction of the Dakota access pipeline. The pipeline is an important piece of infrastructure that will enable domestically produced crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner. The pipeline will also reduce the current use of rail and truck transportation. There is of course no mention of the environmental and safety benefits of the pipeline below.
The key claim, however, is that the removal of the "Sioux" protesters shows bias against these wonderful native people who mainly live on the taxpayer these days. Whites would have been treated better, is the claim. Again something is not mentioned -- something that completely blows apart the accusation of bias: Most of the protesters were white, not Sioux! And exactly the same methods were used to disperse both groups. Both Sioux and whites were treated equally! What a laugh! Leftists quite cheerfully lie in their teeth.
The second event covered below is the exoneration of the Bundy brothers. Sit-ins and protests are fine if you are black, Leftist or some other favoured group but sit-ins and protests by white ranchers protesting government oppression get absolutely NO sympathy below. That good ol' double standard again. Apparently, the wrongness of what the Bundys did arises solely from their whiteness! Just the usual Leftist obsession with race
Forget the US presidential race. Over the weekend, two things happened in the USA that define the nation better than a sexual assaulting Republican candidate and a deeply corrupt Democrat ever could.
The story goes like this: Protestors from the Sioux Nation, along with a growing band of supporters, have been facing off with state police against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota.
The pipeline is to carry oil, and traditional owners say it threatens lives and livelihoods, because of its proximity to the Missouri River, the life blood of a huge section of north and central America and the major river system that feeds into the Mississippi.
Over the weekend, about 250 protestors were outnumbered by more than 300 police, armed to teeth and driving armoured cars, Humvees and helicopters.
The police moved in – dozens of protestors were arrested, and some of them shot with rubber bullets, including this guy, who copped one in the face.
The situation is so grave, that Amnesty International has committed to sending impartial observers.
At the same time, a Portland (Oregon) jury came in with a verdict on the armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Reserve, which took place in January this year.
On January 2, dozens of heavily armed (predominantly white) ‘ranchers’ overran the government compound, and seized it in a coup that eventually led to one man being shot by police, and dozens arrested.
On Friday, seven of the white nationalist extremists, led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were acquitted of all charges of impeding federal officers in their duties. The jury was all white.
This despite an armed stand-off that lasted weeks, and included a call out from the terrorists for people to send “snacks”.
It’s not clear what, if any, effect the two incidents will have on the US presidential election. But more than likely, it’ll be none. Business as usual.
Monday, October 10, 2016
From "New Matilda"
Nelly Thomas (below) recognizes that ordinary people disagree with and resent much of what they are told and commanded by the political elite. She even recognizes that the pronouncements and ukases of the Green/Left are part of the problem. And there is no doubt that such resentments do form part of the base of support for Pauline Hanson.
She is wrong,however, in thinking that ONLY the uneducated support Pauline. I am part of a pro-Pauline family and two of us are highly educated. What she says is largely a regurgitation of what is said about support for Donald Trump, and surveys of Trump supporters in America find he has extensive support at all educational levels.
What she overlooks is that at least half of Australians support Pauline's ideas about Muslims. That's surely too many to be dismissed as a "Lumpenproletariat". I suspect that what underlies her thinking and the thinking of other vocal Leftists is the old "all men are equal" myth. In accord with that, Muslims must be seen as not significantly different from anybody else. But they ARE different. Their supremacist religion makes them a breeding ground for terrorism. How can anybody deny that when we have seen so much mayhem from Jihadis arising out of Muslim communities?
So it is entirely rational and reasonable for anybody to be rejecting of having Muslims among us. Muslims are a clear public safety concern. 99% of individual Muslims in Western countries have done nobody any harm but the madmen Islamic communities regularly spawn must make them unwelcome immigrants. In legal terms they are accessories before the fact. Nelly Thomas is completely oblivious of all that. Her Leftist selectivity towards the facts is running deep and strong
I am always amused at the way Leftists froth at the mouth over any hint of white supremacism but close their eyes to constantly and blatantly preached Muslim supremacism. Leftism does entail a profound inability to handle reality. It's a low-level form of schizophrenia
I’ve been wrestling about whether or not to write this piece. So much has been said about Pauline Hanson, so much has been said by her, and so little of it has been productive. But, I’ve decided to weigh in because I come from Hanson country: working class, socially conservative, racist, homophobic, xenophobic Australia.
I went to a public school, I know what it’s like to worry about the electricity bill. The extent of my early cultural experiences were The Sullivans and Albie Mangles. I left my hometown when I was 17, but my roots are there, my family are there and I know this Australia intimately.
For better or worse, unlike most of the people writing, tweeting and talking about Pauline Hanson, she is part of me; part of my story.
A little peek behind the veil.
The last time I went home for Christmas, I went to a family barbecue. I walked in and one of my Uncles turned, saw me, and introduced me to all his friends as, "This is Nelly, she’s my smart-arse radical niece from Prick-toria" (it gets worse), to which – after the laughing had died down – one of the guests said, "I hope she doesn’t protest for those bloody towel-heads," and everyone cracked up again.
And he’s one of the Uncles who actually likes me. For real.
On the same trip I went to visit a school friend. We were catching up on old times and talking about teachers and who ended up with whom and all that stuff, when her husband joined in and, out of the blue, told me he’d seen a local copper chase a little *&^%$ (a word for "Aboriginal kid" that I refuse to repeat) on a stolen bike in his police car and knock him off it.
The boy was 8. Apparently he was physically uninjured and no charges were laid. We weren’t in Kalgoorlie, but close enough.
On another trip, I rang a cousin to arrange to catch up. His voicemail message was him saying in an Indian accent that he couldn’t answer the phone because he was on the toilet after eating a curry.
Another time, an Aunty – who was sympathetic to my "different" views – tried to find common ground and suggested that "The Aborigines" should be given their land back. I was somewhat heartened until it became clear she meant the "desert" and that she thought they’d "all be happier there".
I don’t want to think about how she’d get "them" there.
I could go on. I won’t. And this is not meant to be confessional or voyeuristic – my point is that, to be frank, no-one outside the inner-city is surprised by Hansonism. I’m certainly not.
So, what’s up with Hanson? The woman herself – who the hell knows. It kind of doesn’t matter. What is more important, is what’s up with Hansonism. Why is anyone listening to someone so clearly off their rocker, let alone voting for her?
The usual explanation is an undercurrent of persistent racism in Australia. That’s undoubtedly a major factor, but I don’t think it explains her resurrection in full.
The first thing to know about Hanson supporters is that most of them feel stupid. Really. There’s a base insecurity in much of working class Australia about being uneducated which, often times, is conflated with being dumb.
Some of it is paranoia, some of it is real. Educated people do routinely talk down to the uneducated. This is probably true in all cultures, across all time, but I think it is a particular marker of the experience of the English colonisation of Australia: we have a deep-seated suspicion and dislike of The Snob. Being belittled or patronised by The Snob is not a nice feeling.
Fear of the snob takes many forms. I have relatives who panic about filling out even basic paperwork for fear of spelling a word wrong and others who talk differently – literally in a different accent – at the bank, doctors, Centrelink or on the phone with any "officials".
Many didn’t finish high school, almost none are university educated (certainly none above my generation) and some are functionally illiterate. When they are in the presence of people who sound and look like they’ve been to university, and/or are rich, they’re intimidated.
They will either strike first (their approach with me at the barbecue) or say nothing for fear of being struck (their approach with authoritarian figures).
This is the first clue as to why Hanson resonates: she speaks working class.
Class is complicated in an Australia where a plumber can earn a six figure salary, but suffice to say there is a culture and even an accent and Pauline embodies it, talks it – even when she’s around important people (politicians, journalists, academics)! She’s one of out of the box.
If we had a more diverse political and commentariat class, there’d be others who’d talk working class too, but sadly, we don’t. There’s Jackie Lambie and Chris Bowen, but Australia’s political landscape is dominated by Christopher Pynes and David Marr’s (yes, I love the latter too, but he does sound like a Sydney Grammar Boy on steroids).
In short, Pauline Hanson talks up to the elite. She makes large swathes of working class Australia feel right and powerful. It’s intoxicating.
To complicate matters, every time a commentator, cartoonist, comedian SNOB makes fun of Hanson (and yes, I do it) – especially when she gets a word wrong or mispronounces something – she’s loved even more.
All working class people have at some point experienced that sense of being laughed at. I still wince at the time in first year uni I tried to order an "Alfresco" (thinking it was a coffee) and the time I was asked if I liked Picasso and replied that I didn’t play the piano (I can only assume I thought he was a classical musician). I can joke about these things now, but they sting.
Cultural capital is a powerful thing; and when you don’t have it you know it.
Hanson doesn’t have cultural capital and lampooning her lack of it – please explain – does nothing more than make those of us who already despise Hansonism feel better. And Superior.
Sometimes that’s ok – the choir needs preaching (especially in a comedy club) – but what it does in the media and political sphere is simply reinforce the idea that WE all think we’re better than THEM (The Greens boycotting her second diatribe Parliament thingy did the same. YOU’RE TOO GOOD TO EVEN LISTEN?).
So, first note to self and others: call out bigoted views for sure, but try to leave the easy target bullshit out of it. Her hair, accent, vocabulary and the like are irrelevant. And when you make fun of them, you kind of sound like a dick.
The other thing to understand about Hanson supporters is that, as Kim Carr’s excellent piece on New Matilda recently emphasised, support for Hanson can be tracked geographically and socio-economically.
This is no coincidence.
Most of her supporters are in Western Australia, Queensland and the low socio-economic parts of other states. Yes, there are some entrenched cultural factors of racism and xenophobia at play here, and those should not be underestimated, but there’s also the simple fact that increasing economic inequality in Australia is hitting those areas hardest.
We are a very wealthy country and by-and-large our poorest are better off than the poor world-wide (some Indigenous communities being an exception), but the gap between rich and poor in Australia is growing. This exacerbates feelings of being "left out".
Just this week the IMF attributed the rise of Trump to this phenomenon, and Hanson is no different. The IMF certainly wouldn’t put it this way, but I would argue the working class know they’ve been royally screwed by deregulation, privatisation, union decimation and globalisation. The rich got richer, the poor paid the price.
I’ll give you a personal example.
My dad left school when he was about 13. He worked a series of shit-kicker jobs (his words) and then landed a low-paid but steady government job in my hometown. When he was in his 50’s, the service he worked for was privatised and he was retrenched with an absolute pittance (no Golden hand-shake, that’s for sure).
He was unemployed for almost two years and eventually got a job at a petrol station earning minimum wage. He was 60 and his boss was 19.
Dad’s story obviously isn’t unique. Hanson and Trump country(ies) are full of stories like his, and none of those workers are consoled by the promises of "trickle down economics" or slogans like "no jobs on a dead planet." They see the rise, rise and rise again of corporate salaries, white-collar wages, banking scandals and profits and literally they suffer for them.
Economic inequality – including unemployment (which can so easily become entrenched and intergenerational), underemployment and the working poor – are central to understanding Hansonism. When you’re wondering if you can fill your fridge or pay your phone bill, it doesn’t take much for someone to activate your fear centre. Add Border Security and you’ve got a time bomb waiting to happen.
I jest, but seriously: when you’re afraid, you cast around for a reason. Enter Pauline Hanson with The Answer. Sure, The Answer changes from Asian to Aboriginal to Muslim to Refugees to Penny Wong, but fear never required logic.
One of the most galling aspects of all this, is that the targets of Hansonism are, by any rational measurement, suffering the same or more than the working classes (and indeed, the categories aren’t mutually exclusive)! One of my greatest frustrations in life is not understanding why the combined oppressed don’t unite and see the elite is screwing them all. Again, perhaps too busy with Border Security.
Hansonism is about racism.
It’s also about economic insecurity, fear, under-education and historical ignorance. Australia was a powder keg just waiting for Pauline and her box of matches.
One thing I know for sure is that being right about Hanson and Hansonism won’t be enough to defeat her. And making fun of her won’t help either. I have no interest in offering her understanding, but I’m afraid we are going to have to work harder to understand.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Australian female Leftist Nelly Thomas discovers that Leftist men really have no principles at all. I could have told her that. I also agree with her that their Leftism is an important ego support for them
I am unashamedly left wing. What some call left wing bias, I just call being correct. Mine, like most people’s views, are complex, but in short, I believe in the community over the individual. If you think of "socially progressive", just locate Finland on the political spectrum, keep on moving to the Left and you’ll find me there in the nude, holding a Mapplethorpe. I also have a vagina and I like to make decisions about what to do with it, so I am a feminist. Does that inform my world view? Yes it does. No thanks required.
Like any good communista-feminista I follow as much public discourse about feminist and left-wing issues as I can stomach. As a comedian, I do as many left-wing and feminist gigs as I can (plus, they’re so lucrative). As a human, I have many left-wing men in my love-camp. And I am sick to bloody death of Unexpected Sexists Arseholes.
You know the ones: they’re usually highly educated, right-on, articulate and watch a lot of Game of Thrones. They champion refugees, attend Pride Marches, wear Reconciliation t-shirts and love a White Ribbon. They tell jokes about Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones. They care deeply and you really do love them. But scratch the surface or, say, turn up at a polling booth and lots of them – far too many of them – turn out to be USA’s. It’s so disappointing.
They’re tricky these fellas. They’re smart, so they can defend almost anything rationally. Most often, they mount good free-speech defences of their stuff with sophisticated arguments like, "I can say what I want." And they can. But my kids are 3 and 8, and even they know you don’t get to say what you want without ramifications.
And there’s a clue, because frankly, they often have the emotional intelligence of an adolescent badger. Poke them a bit and they bite back hard. Unfortunately, like the douchebags from high school, when challenged, they often do a good impersonation of a sexually frustrated pit-bull and attempt to reduce you to nothing more than a slippery vulva.
I’m not sure what’s going on for these dudes, but I think it has something to do with the fact that unlike the Neanderthals many of us grew up with, when "progressive" men are called out on their sexism they often seem gutted: like their very identity has been challenged.
Indulge me for a second. Think of your dad not doing the dishes in the 70s. Maybe mum challenged him and called him a lazy sh*t, he laughed, picked up a tea towel and waited for his standing ovation.
Think of the contemporary progressive dad. All the research shows he’s probably still not doing the dishes (metaphor, big picture) but challenge him on this inequality and there’s a good chance he’ll feel that the very idea of who he is has come into question: but I’m one of the good guys, I’m trying so hard, I’m a feminist goddamn it!
This leads to the absurd and head-scrambling situation where progressive men – in both the public and private spheres – are arguably harder to call out on their sexism than a Sam Newman.
I know for sure this can be true of progressive male comedians and it certainly seems to be true of their journalist and commentator mates.