Friday, February 25, 2011


One of the problems with being part of the 'good guys' is that unlike the screaming rightwing whinge-and-whine crowd, we tend to keep our peace unless seriously pushed. Don't believe me? Okay: where's the liberal-minded equivalent of Glenn Beck, Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, and Rush Limbaugh?

Seriously: loony rightwingers are huge frickin' whiners. They like nothing more than a soapbox where they can jump up and down, scream and rant and cry out about their victim status. As a result of this, they often look bigger than they really are. (Like toadfish. Or bullies in general.)

Case in point -- this article:

This is a response to a survey carried out by the University of Western Sydney, by the way. (Who knew Western Sydney even had a university? Is there a Bachelor of Bogan available? Sorry... cheap shot. But fun. And relevant, because of the image of Western Sydney as a low-income, reactionary sort of demographic, which makes the information from this survey all the more interesting.)

The upshot of this article is that far from racism being horribly rampant in Australia, only about one in ten of the population holds what we'd call racist views. Further: the only country the surveyors could name that showed MORE overall tolerance than Australia was Canada, and that, apparently, by not very much at all.

That. Is. So. Fucking. Cool.

What it means for you and me is this: speak the hell up. Don't be afraid. Don't be put off by the vitriol of the Abbotts, the Morrisons, the Bolts and their ilk. Speak out. There are more of us than them by a long, long margin. We are the majority. They are the minority. Speak up and let them know.

Don't ignore it when you hear it. Don't turn away and say nothing. You may fear that publically confronting a racist asshole could get you into trouble. Well - it may, yeah. But the odds are that most of the crowd will be on your side, and if you speak up loud and clear, you may well find that other people are encouraged to speak up alongside you.

I'd guess it's probably not just racism, either. I suspect (given the size and popularity of Mardi Gras in Sydney, for example) that we're not so terrified of homosexuality as they'd like us to be either. And who knows? There may actually be a lot more of us who think like sane creatures on a whole range of issues!

The Egyptians did it. The Tunisians did it. The Libyans are trying like hell to do it. And in Wisconsin, even some of the Yankees are giving it a go.

Speak up. Be heard. There's enough of us to drown out the tirade of hate and fear, and maybe together, achieve something positive for the people of this country, whatever colour or creed they happen to be.


  1. Dirk, with respect, I have to disagree with part of your premise.

    Let's discuss the Gabrielle Giffords (sp?) shooting and the Wisconsin strikes. I relaize it's a bit off-topic, but illustrative.

    After the Giffords shooting, people were howling about the right-wing being inflammatory, provoking some guy who 'must have been a Tea Party member' to shoot this liberal Democrat. Obviously, he listened to talk radio and looked at Sarah Palin's website and that clicked something in his mind.

    Then we find out the kid was simply a nutcase who had no real interest in left OR right wing politics and had his own ideas, most of which were out beyond Alpha Centauri.

    During the funeral for the victims in Arizona, President Obama called for a new era of civility-that we all need to use a lot less rhetoric and a bit more brains.

    Fast forward to Wisconsin. The union demonstrators have signs comparing Governor Walker to Hitler and showing him in rifle crosshairs.

    So what I'm seeing is that it's wrong and vile for those with right-wing sympathies to use the signs and symbols that it's perfectly acceptable for the left to use. And 'civility' must mean that the right-wing has to defer to the left.

    As for the demonstrations in Wisconsin-those are unions representing workers in the public sector, teachers, state workers, and the like. People that are supposed to be working for the taxpayer. Governor Walker is trying to get the unions and their workers to contribute to their own health care and pension plans, sort of like the rest of us have to do in the private sector.
    (We could discuss how governments spend their revenue, but neither the left nor the right have a sterling record in that respect).

    If we in the private sector have to sacrifice by setting aside a bit, why should public sector workers NOT have to as well?

    I recognize the role unions once played in raising the working man above the serf level. They were instrumental in setting standards for worker safety and living wage. But just as corporate greed saps the working man, union greed can kill a company (or a state).

    Case in point (just to show that I'm not talking way out of my rectum). In 1989, some people in the company I worked for at that time felt the company wasn't treating them fairly, so they petitioned to get the International Association of Machinists in the company. It was voted on and done. For a year, the IAM did absolutely nothing for the workers, but was more than happy to collect dues. After a year, the union was voted back out. The union talked a good game, but our company might have been too small for a big organization like that to care about. Not 'newsworthy' enough, maybe.

    I won't go on about State road repair crews with four men in the truck and one man working or (in the private sector) the days of five-man railroad crews where two would do nicely. A fireman on a diesel engine? Please. Both courtesy of union leaders that are as greedy as the 'evil corporate leaders.'

    Governor Walker was voted in by the people of Wisconsin to close the state's budget gap. Far better in my eyes that public-sector workers to sacrifice a bit and free up resources for those that are really in need, in my eyes.

    Finally, I hear that President Obama is in a mess due to the policies of his Republican, right-wing predecessor. If that logic is true, than the Republican Governor Walker must be having problems because of the policies of the left-wing Democrat, Doyle, who was in office previously.

    Sorry. Wrote a book and hogged your bandwidth, chief. Just throwing out my .02. I'm just not sure the left can cry 'foul' while using the same tactics they're condemning the right for.

    I know. It's politics. I'm from Illinois. We've set the bar for sleazy politics here. Put a Bjelke-Petersen up against the Chicago Machine and your guy would go home crying inside of a week.

    Cheers, thanks, and best to you and yours!

  2. "If we in the private sector have to sacrifice by setting aside a bit, why should public sector workers NOT have to as well?"

    They (public sector)agreed to the fiscal elements of the governor's plan. Its stripping them of collective bargaining rights - a totally political element - that is causing the fuss.

  3. As for the SMH article - its interesting because it is very much at odds with the way Aussie society is typically presented by news media.

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Tolerance is pretty quiet, but the Cronulla 'race' riots made for great news. The part that concerns is that the more intolerance is presented in the media the more it appears mainstream, and the more the 10% (according the study) of people who hold such views will feel empowered.

  4. Errr... what?

    Sorry, YD -- not sure which part of my statement you're disagreeing with. I noted that loudmouth rightwing extreme whiners like Beck, Limbaugh, Bolt and Devine don't seem to have an equivalent on the more liberal side of things. I don't see that you've actually discussed that.

    If we're going to disagree, I'd like to take up the logic of your statement that Obama's difficulties with the shitpile left by Bush must therefore explain Walker's difficulties. Umm... no, I'm sorry. I can't see the sense there.

    Gorbachev had problems left by his Soviet predecessors. By the logical structure you've created, that means Hitler was, of course, excused by his predecessors as well. I think we can both agree that's nonsense.

    It is entirely possible for one person to inherit a shitpile, and another simply to be an asshole. But then, I didn't drag Walker into this on his economics, or anything else. I simply noted that in Wisconsin, there are a large number of people standing up against the loud noise of a bully - and I note that Jyggdrasil has neatly clarified that one already.

    Conservatism has its value and its place. Paul Boylan is a wonderful example of a good Conservative. But extremist nutjobbery is never a good thing, and when it comes with a pile of racist bulldust, it should be called out and pissed on in public -- and that's all I'm saying. The fact that the right seems to produce more vocal and more powerful extremist nutjobs than the liberal-minded sector of the populace (note I expressly avoid 'Left') has nothing to do with me... and everything to do with the politics of fear.

  5. And this "good" conservative reminds you that I don not consider those right wing crazies to be conservatives. The term has been corrupted by those who wrap themselves within its respectability.

    Also, I believe your satisfaction could easily be misplaced. The percentage of Australians who hold racist views is not the measure that is important. What matters is whether or not they act in response to their racist views.

    There are many, many racist Americans. But time and the application of civil rights laws has trained most American racists to keep their views to themselves or among their own kind and to avoid taking action based on their racism.

    It please me to know that a small percentage of Australians hold racist views. But what matters is what happens when someone of African or Indian ancestry walks alone down the streets of Melbourne or Sydney. What is the chance they will be harassed? And, if they become the victims of hate crime, what are the odds strangers will come to their aid?

    Those are the measures that matter. If Australian racists are more likely to act out than, say, Canadian racists, then it doesn't matter how comparatively fewer Australian racists there are.

    Finally, the right wing kooks learned how to wine about their victimhood from left wing kooks. Trust me on this. It is a strategy consciously adopted.

  6. What I'm saying is that there are times when the left is quite adept at using the same tactics it accuses the right of doing, which is what I was alluding to in the cases of Giffords and the Wisconsin demonstrations. And the actions of unions, as currently constructed, don't always coincide with the best interests of the members it claims to represent. I don't have as much sympathy for the people in Wisconsin, though they by all means have the right to protest, and I reserve the right to change my mind as facts emerge.

    I'm not as good at putting my thoughts into words as you are. You've had more practice at it, since wordsmithing is what you do.

    You know, I have to ask, though you don't have to answer: You come off as being off to the left, but from what I've seen and read from four or so years, you're self-made, self-reliant (and raising your kids to be the same), I'd guess fiscally responsible, probably help your friends and neighbors, contribute to society, don't wait for government or some other organization to give you something, and don't suffer fools (other than me on occasion) gladly. Those are the hallmarks of what I would consider to be a 'conservative', and what 95% or so of the conservatives I know are like.

    I think you got conservative blood in you, my red-bearded colleague, and are indulging in some fun at our expense.

  7. Unions have been disenfranchised a LONG time ago. And some abuse the power it offers them. the entire system in the US is corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely comes to mind. I don't know what the answers are but I know that many teachers are now without healthcare even tho they have unions. Same with pensions. Many good teachers leaving the field as a result. I'm one. They cut my benefits at Western Michigan University eons ago. I resigned inj protest as if you participate in such a system, you perpetuate it.

    I think it is systemic and that unions are a bandaid on a gash wound. The issues are deep and entrenched and it's gonna get ugly. just my .02.

  8. Funny you wrote this post. I recently found myself in a cab where the driver was listening to a replay of Alan Jones. I ranted back, loudly and swearily. Then I got home and blogged it. Í'm sick of these arseholes getting more media currency and will rant against their manipulation of fear and insecurity whenever it surfaces. And rant again.

  9. Excellent points, Paul -- and precisely the reason I wrote what I did.

    As far as I can tell, the situation re Indians and Pakistanis in Melbourne is far less racially motivated than the press has made out. But that's a specific point, and yours is general, and it's a very good one.

    I do try to avoid 'conservative' with reference to the rightwing nutjobs. I agree: they are in no wise 'conservative'. And yes, it's needful to ensure that the racists don't get to act out freely, even if there are a limited number of them. Still... that limited number is itself cause for a smile. It's perhaps the first piece of anything resembling good political news I've heard in years.

    Ginny -- I'm not as familiar with the American union movement as with that of Australia. But there's been corruption here, too. Nevertheless, my understanding of Wisconsin is that the very right to collective representation and bargaining is under threat. And I note that even in America, there is a debt owed to the labor movement for those (limited) conditions which it has wrested from the Capital side of the equation.

    YD: I'm not insulted by the title of 'conservative'. I simply think it's irrelevant. Believe it or not, if I had my absolute choice I'd support anarchism. But for anarchism to function, the vast majority must be well-educated, responsible, and deeply involved in their roles as public citizens, as well as private.

    I'm aware that's not going to happen. And so I support individual principles as I see fit. I should probably explicate it all somewhere, sometime.

    I will say this, though: You say your allegiances lean to the right, but you seem self-reliant and self motivated...I'd guess fiscally responsible, probably help your friends and neighbors, contribute to society, don't wait for government or some other organization to give you something, and don't suffer fools (other than me on occasion) gladly.

    Those are some hallmarks of what I would consider to be a true 'liberal', and what 95% or so of the liberal-minded folk I know are like.

    ...I think it's just possible that the conservative/liberal dichotomy has (as Paul Boylan noted) definitely got some problems!

  10. Good post FH succinct and to the point.

    I agree that there is no liberal version of the shock jocks but there have been in past loony left personas who were little different.

  11. Possibly true... dear old Germaine Greer springs to mind. But I don't think any of 'em ever got the kind of traction and following that the current crop of beckoid nutjobs has.

  12. Dirk, we are talking back in the good old days of the 70's & 80's here. Nowadays you've really only got aged relics form those days along with 'gorgous' george galloway (the dictators friend).

    What is worrying though is the massive exposure that these hate merhcants get.