Australians declare themselves Nation-Neutral.

Increasing numbers of Australians are identifying as nation-neutral in response to the country’s collective behaviour and its tattered international reputation.

People who identify as nation-neutral are Australian citizens and residents who do not adhere to traditional notions of patriotism or nationalism, not even while athletes are competing in national colours during the Tokyo Olympic Games. Nation-neutral people include citizens living in Australia and those stranded overseas due to the government’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nation-neutral people do not refer to themselves as Australian, or any other nationality, and do so for various reasons. The recent lockdowns have caused a surge in nation-neutral identification, as citizens realise the federal government has failed dismally to organise quarantine and the vaccination rollout, but keeps getting voted back into power by a gullible populace.

Self-identification is also the result of Australia’s contribution to and inaction on climate change, including the destruction of native wildlife and the power of the fossil fuel industry. This has ruined Australia’s international reputation and encouraged people to hide their nationality.

Others cite the treatment of Indigenous Australians and the growing racism which is reflected in the exclusive patriotism which is sweeping the nation. People also point to the treatment of refugees, the lack of respect for education and academia and the declining rates of literacy and numeracy. Further reasons include the treatment of women across all sectors of society, the inadequate national internet service, the state of aged care and disability services and the country’s simple economy which relies on mining, agriculture and tourism.

Nation-neutral people are not stateless, nor are they sovereign citizens. A stateless person is described as

‘a person who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law’ whereas nation-neutral people still hold citizenship and are beholden to the laws of the nation. Sovereign citizens, meanwhile, believe that they are not obliged to obey the laws of the country in which they live, and normally refuse to pay tax. In contrast, nation-neutral people are law-abiding citizens who work, pay taxes, raise families and contribute to their local community.

Some nation-neutral people refer to themselves as ‘Global Citizens’, ‘Strained Strayans’, ‘Internationalists’ or ‘Estranged Australians’, while many don’t use any particular label, as long as they are not labelled ‘Australian’.

Critics have slammed people who choose to identify in this way. They have condemned the move as an act of treason and declare:

“It’s Australia, if you don’t like it Fuck Off!”

Critics also labelled nation-neutral identification as another example of politically-correct, woke, cancel culture inspired by inner-city, latte-sipping, left-wing hipsters. At the same time, however, many people are themselves identifying as nation-neutral because they fear Australia is being taken over by politically-correct, woke, cancel culture inspired by inner-city, latte-sipping, left-wing hipsters.

Nation-neutral people are adamant their status is fluid. They say they will identify as Australian when the country fixes the problems that led them to deny their nationality in the first place. They argue that the problems plaguing the nation all have ready-made solutions, which simply need to be implemented.

Spotting a nation-neutral person is not easy, although this may change. Nation-neutral people do not display their status outwardly, but overseas Australians may start putting New Zealand flags on their backpacks just as US backpackers put Canadian flags on their luggage because they are too scared or embarrassed to admit they are American. That said, unless Australia changes its flag and/or becomes a republic, no one will know the difference between the Aussie and Kiwi flags.

The federal government issued a statement via NewsCorp outlets in response to the revelations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said:

“This is UnAustralian and an act of treason against the nation and Team Australia. Every Aussie should be enormously proud of this nation and what makes it great. We’re all in this together and the only thing that will get us through the challenges of life is patriotism. Anyone who identifies as nation-neutral is a threat to the fabric of our society and they must stop. Just don’t do it.”

The statement also outlined proposed punishments for people identifying as nation-neutral.

“We will imprison them as soon as we send the asylum seekers back to where they came from. We will deport others to various countries who owe us money and have no choice but to accept people into their country who have not been vaccinated. Furthermore, we will immediately strip every nation-neutral person of their passport.”

The final threat is unlikely to have any impact, because most Australians know it will be a long time before they need a passport.

Image: http://www.worldatlas.com

Scott Morrison changes national anthem just weeks before the Olympics.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dropped the word ‘Advance’ from the Australian national anthem and has instructed the IOC to play the new anthem if Australians win gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The national hymn will now be known as ‘Australia Fair’ after Morrison made the shock announcement from Parliament House.

“Australia is not advancing,” he stated.

“If anything, the country is going backwards, so keeping the word ‘advance’ in the title and in the anthem is misleading.”

“If Australia was advancing, we would embrace renewable energy and phase out fossil fuels. If Australia was advancing, we would respect Indigenous Australians and the world’s oldest surviving culture. If Australia was advancing, women would be paid equally and treated fairly. If Australia was advancing, koalas would not face extinction. If Australia was advancing, our national broadband network would work. If Australia was advancing, women would not be getting harassed in parliament house. If Australia was advancing, public education would be adequately funded and literacy and numeracy levels would improve. If Australia was advancing, Rupert Murdoch would not have so much control of our media. If Australia was advancing, Clive Palmer would not be able to influence the outcome of a federal election. If Australia was advancing, most federal coalition politicians would have been sacked for their corruption or immorality. If Australia was advancing, we would not lock up asylum seekers indefinitely. If Australia was advancing, Pauline Hanson would still be selling fish and chips. If Australia was advancing, the populace wouldn’t be easily swayed by slogans and nicknames. If Australia was advancing, we would not be destroying The Great Barrier Reef.

“If Australia was advancing, I wouldn’t be prime minister, so it was imperative that we drop that word from the anthem before I announce the next election.”

Morrison first changed the anthem in December 2020. He changed the second line from “for we are young and free” to “we are one and free”. The change was the only work he did all year, and earned him a Christmas holiday. Following this most recent change, he is expected to take another holiday with Jen and the girls.

Official instructions have already been sent to schools, government departments and every athlete so far chosen to represent Australia in Tokyo, informing them of the changes.

Meanwhile, Australians and the media were left shocked at the sudden announcement. Many are angry that they were not consulted and are dismayed that the national hymn can be changed permanently with such ease, and some wanted to know if the word advance can ever be returned to the song.

“Only if my party gets voted out,” answered Morrison.

One perplexed citizen commented on social media that Australia Fair is the name of a giant shopping mall in Southport on the Gold Coast, Queensland. He questioned whether a national anthem should take the name of a large, soulless, characterless, generic shrine to capitalism full of stupefied citizens, to which Morrison replied,

“Of course. That’s the country I’m creating”

Image: http://www.worldatlas.com

ANZAC Day is an ideal time to denounce right-wing extremism.

Will Scott Morrison denounce right-wing extremism on ANZAC Day?

Will the Prime Minister of Australia use his national address on April 25 to publicly denounce the rise of right-wing extremism in the country and make a strong statement that the racist ideology is not welcome in a democratic country? The prime minster’s speech writers will fill his public statements with phrases about ‘protecting our way of life’ ‘laying down their lives for our freedom’, upholding ‘Australian values’ and ‘defending democracy’, as well as encouraging us all to ensure we never live through another war. He might even pretend to cry again. But will he denounce one factor which contributes to war?

Why do it on ANZAC Day?

ANZAC Day recognises the sacrifices, suffering and deaths of individual soldiers from Australia and New Zealand since WWI. It also reminds all of us to do whatever we can to prevent war in the future, and this includes preventing right-wing extremism and excessive nationalism from becoming entrenched and accepted.

Excessive nationalism = war.

Excessive nationalism is a form of extremism. Hitler understood this very acutely, and labelled his party the National Socialist party. He also created a nationalism which was deliberately exclusive. He famously scapegoated Jewish people, and excluded them from notions of German identity, and excluded anyone else who did not conform to his party’s ideal of the pure Aryan race. Ironically, Hitler himself did not satisfy his own criteria for pure Aryan blood. Right-wing extremism caused World War II.

The ANZACs fought against the Hitler’s Nazis in WWII.

Recent media reports point to an increase in public declarations of excessive nationalism and growing support for Neo-Nazi ideology and activity in Australia. Neo-Nazi groups, emboldened by right-wing media and defenders of ‘free speech’, have been gathering in groups and happily publicising their existence across social media platforms. Swastikas have been spotted on people’s cars, their clothing, their skin and their social media accounts, and racially motivated attacks on innocent people are reported regularly.

Furthermore, Brenton Tarrant is Australian. Tarrant carried out the two terrorist attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, and Australia produced him. Tarrant grew up in Australia and is known to have followed various right-wing extremists groups on social media before he carried out the pre-meditated attacks. He also admitted that racial and religious intolerance motivated the attacks. New Zealand soldiers fought alongside Australian soldiers during the battles which are remembered on ANZAC Day. Is this how we repay their service?

The prime minster and his Liberal National Party coalition have yet to publicly criticise the extremism which provoked the massacres.

Will he do it?

No.

Morrison and the LNP need the Nazi vote. The conservative party’s new constituency includes right-wing extremists who believe in exclusive nationalism which excludes anyone who is not white, straight and Christian. The Nazi vote is even more important after the party and the prime minister failed disastrously to handle the 2019/2020 bushfire crisis, the abuse of women in parliament house and the COVID-19 vaccine roll out. Die hard coalition voters and right-wing extremists may well save the LNP from defeat at the next federal election. This is also the party which famously boasted about ‘Turning Back the Boats’ as the cornerstone of a racist immigration policy, and which has a disastrous record on Indigenous issues.

Should he do it?

Yes

Denouncing right-wing extremism close to ANZAC Day will carry more weight. War and the suffering of conflict are at the forefront of people’s thoughts. The desire to prevent another war is stronger during commemorative days, so denouncing the philosophy which led the world to war in the past is very appropriate on ANZAC Day. In addition, ANZAC Day has become more patriotic in recent years and right-wing extremists may be more likely to exploit the surge in patriotism to push their racist agenda, so the government should denounce this ideology strongly and publicly.

Image: http://www.abc.net.au

ANZAC Day is the one day of the year…

ANZAC Day is the one day of the year that many Australians show any genuine respect for Australian history. For the remaining 364 days, many remain ignorant, dismissive, racist, sexist and bigoted. These overtly patriotic Aussies access a deeply-hidden reverence on April 25 and demand that the remainder of the population display an equal amount of pride in the achievements of soldiers and the nation as a whole.

Respect Australian history!

Many Australians implore us all to respect the nation’s history on ANZAC Day during personal conversations, across social media, in the workplace and on the flagpole in front of their house. These same people exhibit very little interest in the stories of women, migrants and Aboriginal people and the part they played in the nation’s history. History for many Australians extends to accounts of WWI and WWII, the Gold Rush, Federation and the Explorers. The figures they credit with building the nation are Diggers (soldiers) farmers, sportspeople and Explorers – almost all of whom are Caucasian and male. All Australians recognise the part these people played in shaping the modern nation, but some realise that women, migrants and Aboriginal people also made a significant contribution to contemporary Australia, and deserve to be remembered.

The respectful mourners cling to the following tried and true phrases about the history of this nation:

Australia has no history

Proud, flag-waving patriots often bemoan the fact that Australia has no history. They perpetuate this idea with reference to the age-old cultures and structures of Europe or Asia and compare these to Australia’s comparative youth. There is one major flaw in this thinking; it completely dismisses the existence of Indigenous Australians, who continue the world’s oldest surviving culture.

It happened long ago, forget about it

When confronted with the truth of colonisation and the forceful dispossession of Indigenous people from their land, many Australians tell Aboriginal people that ‘it happened a long time ago’ and that everyone should ‘let it go’, ‘move on’ or ‘forget about it’. They issue the same response to stories of the Stolen Generation, The Aboriginal Day of Mourning’ and accounts of individual massacres of Aboriginal people across the nation. Interestingly, they refuse to forget about WWI even though that happened ‘a long time ago’.

They defend our way of life

We are told that Australia’s armed forces defend the nation. We are told that our armed services personnel ‘keep us safe’ and ‘protect our way of life’. The last time we were reminded of this our prime minister, Scott Morrison, even forced himself to cry for the cameras. Most of us believe these broad statements, out of patriotism or naivety. We fail to recognise that these statements are often used to justify support of the multi-million dollar defence industry, and to send young people to needless deaths. Armed forces play a part in defending the nation, but so do trade and diplomacy.

Did the ANZACS protect Australia?

ANZAC Day was created to recognise the sacrifices, hardships and deaths of soldiers in WWI, particularly in Gallipoli, Turkey. WWI never directly threatened Australia. Australians lost their lives protecting Great Britain. ANZAC Day also recognises Australia’s contribution to WWII, when we fought again for the British. Our own country was directly threatened in WWII when Japanese submarines entered Sydney harbour and their planes bombed Darwin. It is also argued that the fall of Singapore posed a subsequent threat to Australia, and that Australian soldiers suffered while defending the tiny nation. That said, most Australian armed forces personnel fought for Great Britain in WWII, in battles waged a long way from Australia. Did they protect Australia, or did they protect our relationship with our colonial masters?

Current ANZAC Day commemorations pay tribute to soldiers who have have worn the Australian uniform in any war, but all of these battles have occurred overseas, most often in service of The United States during their wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. The only extended battle that occurred on Australian soil was the battle between the British colonisers and Indigenous Australians, but the ANZAC Day commemorators don’t like to be reminded of this. They cling to another popular phrase associated with the history of the nation: Australia was settled, and not invaded.

Do Australians realise this historical truth, or are they too enamoured with the patriotism of ANZAC Day to accept the subtle and nuanced details of modern history?

The strength and depth of emotion prompted by ANZAC Day could be explained by a question:

What is Australian?

The problematic nature of Australian identity also explains the heightened reverence towards ANZAC Day. April 25 has become a quasi national day and surpassed January 26 in the minds of many Aussies, because Australia Day is problematic.

Many Australians continue to celebrate Australia Day with joy and pride, while Indigenous Australians refer to it as Invasion Day. The day itself raises the difficult question of what it means to be Australian. Is an Australian an Indigenous person? Is an Australian a Caucasian soldier, farmer or athlete, or is an Australian a migrant who could have been born anywhere in the world? Is it all of the above?

For many Australians, this question is too difficult to answer, or even to consider, so they impose their patriotism on ANZAC Day. Some keen observers have tracked the increasing patriotism associated with ANZAC Day, and fear it could overshadow the remembrance of fallen soldiers, for whom the day was created.

Don’t criticise ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is sacred. ANZAC Day is off limits. Even this article is likely to be met with scorn and criticised as unpatriotic or an insult to fallen soldiers – most likely by the same people who carry bumper stickers reading:

Australia, if you don’t like it, fuck off!

Any questioning of any aspect of ANZAC Day is interpreted as an attack on the memories of fallen soldiers and their surviving families. These reactive, emotional responses exemplify the blind reverence for April 25 among a section of the Australian population, who show little to no interest in nuanced and varied accounts of Australian history for the remainder of the year.

Should we ignore ANZAC Day?

No

Absolutely not.

This article is in no way intended to diminish the sacrifices of individual soldiers, civilians and their families. It is not intended to brush aside the sufferings and horrors of war. It is designed to remind people that historical perspective should be exercised every day of the year, not just when commemorating war. It is also designed to remind all Australians that patriotism is a vital component of ANZAC Day celebrations but it should not overshadow the original purpose of the day; to pay respect to individual soldiers, and to do everything possible to make sure war never happens again.

Image: http://www.abc.net.au

Discounted patriotism.

What motivates people more, savings or patriotism? Are people more driven by love for their country, or the chance to save money?

We were on our way to the KTV centre for an enjoyable few hours of massacring popular songs in Chinese and English, and we decided we could only do so with a substantial supply of snacks. Thus, we detoured via the main shopping strip of central Qingdao to quickly fill our bags with some tasty morsels.

Just days before our singing sojourn, tensions had risen between China and Japan over the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Both countries fiercely claim ownership of the archipelago, and regular statements from either government create controversy and wide-spread media coverage in the two proud nations.

Citizens on both sides of the East China Sea commonly react with patriotic fervour and denounce the opposing nation and their culture in personal conversations and across social media. Some patriotic citizens call for boycotts of the other nation’s stores, products and cultural influences, and this had occurred in the days leading up to our karaoke trip.

Toyota and Honda claimed arsonists had badly damaged their stores in Qingdao, while Panasonic and Canon shut some of their stores in major cities. Japanese citizens throughout the country stayed home in fear of retaliation during large-scale protests, Japanese schools cancelled classes, and some Japanese restaurants were seen covering their storefronts in Chinese flags.

Despite this, we were on our way to karaoke – a famous Japanese export.

In Qingdao, the Japanese store Jusco had been attacked and damage was done to its facade and sections of its interior. The store was forced to close for a few days to carry out repairs and to protect its employees. When the worst of the protests subsided and the store reopened, it still showed the scars of the attack.

As we approached the shopping precinct with empty bags and empty stomachs, we discussed which store we should visit, and based our choice on expediency, products selection and price. We could have ducked into Carrefour, but it was crowded and famously expensive. We could have chosen Chinese stores Da Run Fa or Jia Jia Yuan, which offered much the same stock and price, or we could stock up at Jusco.

As we neared Jusco, we saw many locals streaming in and out of the store with bags full. We were confused, after days of patriotic statements and anti-Japanese sentiment, until one of my local colleagues discovered why the store was full.

“Look, everything’s on sale!”

Without hesitation, my colleagues left their patriotism at the door before rushing into Jusco, collecting some tasty delights and smuggling them into the karaoke bar.

Which is your favourite national anthem?

National anthems stir emotions in us all. They evoke national pride and a sense of belonging. They can inspire international athletes, and persuade patriots to lay down their lives. Anthems can make grown men cry and create incomparable life-long memories.

So which is your favourite anthem? Is it the anthem of your nation of birth, or the nation you now call home? Does your country have an anthem, and what does it mean to you? Perhaps your favourite anthem belongs to a foreign country.

I have heard a number of national anthems during my travels and I’ve listed the songs which created the strongest impression on me.

Multilingual anthems

I like multilingual anthems. I like the interchange between the languages and the recognition of the multicultural composition of the country. Multilingual anthems acknowledge the indigenous inhabitants of the country and attempt to unite every citizen, at least symbolically.

South Africa – Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica

Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica translates as God Bless Africa. The anthem features Zulu, which is the most commonly spoken language in South Africa, as well as Xhosa, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. The anthem moves seamlessly from one language to another and encompasses the contrasting cultures which make up the rainbow nation, which actually has 11 official languages.

New Zealand – God Defend New Zealand

God Defend New Zealand is another bilingual anthem, which is sung in English and Maori. Now, as an Australian, I’m not supposed to like the New Zealand anthem, nor their Rugby Union team, nor their cricket team. I’m also not supposed to admit that anything from Aotearoa is better than anything in Australia, but NZ gave women the vote before Australia, signed a treaty with their indigenous population, and gave us Sir Edmund Hillary, the All Blacks…

A national song featuring Maori lyrics is also a perfect precursor to the Haka, performed by many New Zealand sporting teams. Needless to say, I enjoy watching rubgy games between the Springboks and the All Blacks.

Ireland – Ireland’s Call – Amhran na bhFiann

Ireland does not have a bilingual anthem, it has two. Amhran na bhFiann is the official anthem, with Irish Gaelic lyrics, while Ireland’s Call is sung for the Irish Rugby Union team, because the team is comprised of players from the Republic of Ireland and from Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Ireland’s Call is said to promote a greater sense of unity.

Scandal

Spain – La Marcha Real

The Spanish national anthem, La Marcha Real, sparked a social media meltdown during the FIFA World Cup in 2018. The Spanish players did not sing to their anthem before their first game against Portugal, and people blasted them for being unpatriotic, pampered, unworthy and disloyal, and demanded the entire team be dropped before the next game. People unleashed their own fury on La Furia Roja until one informed user explained;

The Spanish national anthem has no words.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and San Marino also have no words to their anthems.

Sport, religion and war

A pattern exists in national anthems. Most of them reference war and religion, and they provide an effective backdrop to sporting contests. Most anthems pay tribute to the country’s most prominent deity, and encourage loyal citizens to give their heart, their soul or their lives for their country. Anthems of colonised peoples honour battles against oppression, and anthems of the colonisers praise the might of the nation, normally referred to as the Fatherland.

Was any national anthem written by a woman?

Sporting competitions are obviously the most visible expressions of nationalism, and anthems are central to that expression.

Australia – Advance Australia Fair

You’ve already realised that I’m not very patriotic; after all, I extolled the virtues of New Zealand. And no, I don’t love my own anthem. The tune is boring and uninspiring, and the words are equally tepid, as well as being problematic.

I’m not the only Aussie who doesn’t love their anthem. In fact, custom dictates that any Australian who knows all the words to the anthem is UnAustralian. Anyone who sings with their hand on heir heart is pretentious and trying to be American. The phrase ‘girt by sea’ confuses most citizens and even the most patriotic locals sing ‘let us ring Joyce’ instead of ‘let us rejoice’. No one knows who Joyce is and why we should call her – maybe she knows what girt means.

Advance Australia Fair is problematic. The opening lyrics tell us that ‘we are young and free’. Calling Australia young ignores the indigenous history of the country. Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest living civilisation, having occupied this land for about 60,000 years. Calling Australia young recognises only the history of the country since colonisation in the late 1700s – i.e. White Australia.

Using the word ‘free’ also ignores Australian history, and the fact that Aboriginal people were enslaved (yes, slavery existed in Australia) were stolen from their families, were denied the right to vote and were not even counted as people until 1967. For these reasons, and the ongoing disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, many indigenous people disapprove of the anthem, and many indigenous athletes refuse to sing it while representing their country.

Many Australians find little inspiration in Advance Australia Fair, and often look to pop songs for patriotic stimulus. I am Australian by The Seekers is a popular substitute.

I’m also not a fan of God Save the Queen, because England is ‘The Old Enemy’, and because I despise royalty. I also dislike the Star Spangled Banner because the only thing worse than losing to England is losing to The United States of America, and because the anthem usually accompanies chants of “USA!!, USA!!…” I found the national anthem of Brunei so uninspiring that after three years of living and teaching in the ‘Abode of Peace’, I don’t remember a single word.

Cyprus

I’ve never heard the national anthem of Cyprus, but not because I’ve never been there. Cyprus has no official national anthem.

Mexico – Himno Nacional Mexicano

Invoking war and warriors is a common theme in anthems, and this is true of Himno Nacional Mexicano. The stirring tune begins with:

“Mexicanos al grito de guerra…” which translates as “Mexicans to the cry of war”. It ends with “un soldado en cada hijo te dio,”, a promise that every son or daughter is a soldier for Mexico. It is one of the more passionate anthems, expect when mumbled by a bunch of teenagers at 7am on a Monday morning.

A legend also accompanies the creation of the hymn. According to historical accounts, Francisco Gonzalez Bocanegra wrote the lyrics after being locked in a room. His girlfriend encouraged him to enter the competition to devise the lyrics and when he refused, she locked him in a room full of patriotic images and only released him once he slid the ten-verse piece under the door.

France – La Marseillaise

I nominate La Marseillaise as my favourite national anthem. I know I’m not alone in this choice. I’m not French, I wouldn’t call myself a Francophile and I don’t speak French, but I was moved most by this national anthem.

I experienced a rousing rendition of the anthem on two occasions at the Stade de France in Paris in 2003. After Eunice Barber won the long jump, and her compatriots won the Women’s 4 x 100m relay at the World Championships in Athletics, I witnessed a stadium full of French patriots belting out their anthem with unbridled passion and raw emotion. I felt goose bumps and the hairs stood on my neck. It was so moving that I stopped working. Most reporters at international Athletics competitions don’t stop working during medal presentations because they’re too busy. When the French filled the stadium with their patriotic fervour, however, we all savoured the sound of thousands of patriots singing one of the world’s most inspirational anthems.

Image: Anders Kelto

Wogs vs. Aussies.

“Righto boys, it’s a bit wet outside, so do you wanna play basketball or indoor soccer?”

“Basketball, soccer, basketball…” the sporting options were parried back and forth until Cameron, the captain of the A-grade Rugby team and thus favourite for future school captain, muttered his decree.

“Soccer”

“Ok boys, Grella and Kalac, can you get the goals?” directed Mr Brosnan, as he went to collect the ball.

“Oi, it’s Wogs vs Aussies boys,” declared Cameron, and the students dutifully arranged themselves into a team of Caucasian students and a team of ‘ethnic’ students, as they had done so many times before. Mr Brosnan pursed his lips around the whistle before deciding that Yr.10 boys could referee themselves, and as long as no one broke any bones he could enjoy a coffee on the side line.

“Blakey, go up front,”

“Yeah, you’re our White Wog,” joked Woods, “at least someone on our team knows how to play soccer.”

With that, I took up my customary position at centre forward and hoped that my fellow Aussies would this time secure enough possession and open space to provide me with a realistic chance of slotting that ball past Kalac in the goals.

We’d never beaten the wogs in soccer, indoor or outdoor, and even though I was pleased with my exalted status among the cool white kids and rugby heroes of the school, I still felt the pressure to earn this status by scoring goals.

The fact that a lot of my friends were on the ‘other’ team didn’t really occur to me – in Sydney in the early 1990s this kind of casual racial division was just a bit of fun – or a quicker way of picking teams. To be honest, I never questioned it. The casual racism was buried underneath the testosterone fuelled atmosphere of a PE lesson at a school whose reputation was built firmly on sporting prowess.

Just then, I caught a glimpse of Eldridge and for the first time ever, I felt a morsel of his inner conflict. The product of a white father and Thai mother, he seemed to hesitate in assigning himself to the Wogs or the Aussies, as he had never done before. I was forced to consider whether his increasing maturity and self-awareness, which descends upon every teenager, had prompted him to examine his own identity more deeply. I mulled this over in my mind until Maxwell screamed,

“Ello, go to fullback, hurry up” and Eldridge’s search for identity was put on hold.

At that, Mr Brosnan glanced up from his coffee cup and blew the whistle, we were off.

Bresciano fed the ball to Postecolglou who nutmegged Johnson before skirting around the burly prop and flicking the ball across to Vidmar. The little magician weaved his way past Woods, Maxwell and O’Sullivan before stepping over the ball and completely bamboozling Stevens in goal.

1-0

“Orale pues joven, que golazo!!!!!,” exclaimed Ortega, as Vidmar thrust his shirt over his head and celebrated his goal with arms outstretched.

Ortega himself had dabbled in Rugby, which apparently made him less of a wog, but he still had an ‘ethnic’ surname and spoke in tongues when feeling excited or cheeky. He hadn’t quite reached the status of Aussie – a wog who was so Australianised they cease to be a wog.

Perhaps it was his father’s single silent protest which set back Ortega’s entry into the mainstream. At an official school function, Ortega Senior refused to stand for the toast to the Queen, because the memories of the Falklands War were still far too real. We didn’t realise this of course, and only learned once young Ortega gave us a short history lesson.

I remember thinking, at least he has a reason for remaining seated. I only stood up because the teachers told me to, and I know my classmates didn’t truly know or care why we toasted the British royal family. We also didn’t know or care why we called wogs wogs.

“Come on boys, what’s goin’ on?”, admonished Johnson, “let’s smash ‘em, they’re not that good.”

Bresciano this time fed the ball to Popovic who directed a lovely through ball past two awestruck Aussies and towards Santos. Santos plodded toward the ball and took a massive air swing before falling on his back side. The debating champion attempted to shrug off the failure with self-deprecating laughter, before Fallon asked,

“How are you so bad at soccer Santos, you’re a wog?” and the Aussies enjoyed a chuckle.

Should I laugh? Is Santos truly shrugging this off as friendly banter?  Did these ‘harmless jokes’ seep beneath the skin when the boys got home? When Wogs vs. Aussies was transferred to the Rugby field, my incompetence, and that of Cleary and Stevens, was not linked to our skin colour or racial background.

Cleary was teased that he was hopeless despite being built like a prop, and everyone accepted that Stevens was allowed to ‘suck at Rugby’ because he was an academic genius and computer whiz. That’s also why he was always forced to play keeper.

Me, I was just ‘too skinny for Rugby’. So skinny in fact that my Aussie teammates told me how they wished I could be a wog for a day because they’d love to tackle me and drive me into the turf.

“He is a wog, he’s good at soccer,” they’d say, but their jokes didn’t cut through me like they did the real wogs. Even if I was a wog for a day, it was only a day. I could still return to the White Side and survive the school playground in relative anonymity.

In the meantime, the little master had stepped and swerved his way past the Aussie defenders for another easy goal.

2-0

Mr Brosnan sipped his coffee contentedly while the teenage boys battled for football supremacy. My blustering teammates took advantage of the game’s self-regulation and ‘tackled’ some of the wogs so fiercely that they took possession and managed to feed me the ball. I dodged Rossi and swivelled past Zelic before placing it into the back of the net.

7- 1

My teammates went wild and hurled insults at the wogs with such passion that you’d think they’d won the World Cup. Guys, it’s only one goal. But apparently a goal for the Aussies was worth more than a goal for a wog.

A few more stern challenges and violent toe pokes succeeded in advancing the ball towards Kalac in goal, and a blind thundering kick from Taylor smashed into the hands of Kalac and out the other end.

7 – 2

“Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole,” sang my teammates and I joined them heartily. We were mounting the greatest comeback in the history of world sport and it deserved extravagant celebration. Then the tone of the chanting changed. The universal football chant was distorted with derision and mockery and was peppered with random ‘foreign’ words the Aussies had learned from their multi-cultural classmates. It was as if my teammates had appropriated this ‘ethnic’ chant and were ridiculing it to put the wogs back in their place despite the scoreboard.

Maybe this silently enraged the wogs, and they responded with an all-out assault on our goal. Poor old Stevens was sent diving and gaping for thin air as Vidmar, Bresciano, Arzani et al scored goal after goal.

“Righto boys,” called Mr Brosnan, “time to get changed.”

The massacre had ended.

12 – 2

Yet again, the wogs won, on the field at least.

Image: Pascal Swier

Let Them Drink Bleach.

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If US citizens want to drink bleach to protect themselves from COVID-19, why are we trying to stop them?

When news broke that certain commentators and influential leaders in the USA advised their supporters to drink bleach in order to immunise themselves from the deadly disease, sane people rushed to social media and other channels to strongly advise them against this course of action.

Why?

Why didn’t we let them drink bleach?

Because many people would have died. Yes, many bigoted, ignorant, intolerant, stupid Trump supporters would have died. They are the biggest threat to the world right now.

So, you have something against Trump supporters?

Yes, I do. But not because it’s de rigueur, and not because I’m an inner-city, latte sipping lefty. But because Trump supporters, and stupid people throughout the world, are the biggest threat to our planet.

They are populating the earth.

Overpopulation is the biggest threat to the world right now. There are simply too people many on the planet and we as a species have not found a way to limit or restrict birth rates. If we continue to populate the earth at current rates and to live the destructive lifestyle we now follow, we will destroy the earth. Before the earth finally succumbs to the current cycle of abuse, life on the planet will be horrible for many, many people.

They are climate change deniers

Trump supporters advocated the consumption of bleach, and Trump supporters deny climate change. This denial was a strong component of Trump’s election campaign, and remains a major weapon in his efforts to win re-election. His personal attacks on Greta Thunberg and the countless destructive policies of his government will accelerate climate change and further destroy the natural environment upon which we all rely for our survival. He can continue to do this because ignorant people continue to vote for him, just as stupid people continue to vote for Morrison (Australia) Johnson (UK) Bolsonaro (Brazil) and other such leaders.

They are religious

Most Trump supporters come from the Bible Belt, the religious heartland of the country. Most of them are Christian (it would be hard to find a Muslim who supports Trump) and organised religion is a major barrier to solving many of the world’s problems.

Primarily, religion is a major impediment to reducing the world’s population. As we have already outlined, overpopulation is the biggest problem facing the world. Religion hampers efforts to limit population growth because it prevents or even criminalises practical solutions such as euthanasia, suicide, abortion, birth control, homosexuality and gender equality.

Research indicates that relationships with greater gender equality produce less offspring. Same sex couples cannot naturally reproduce, and euthanasia, legal suicide, abortion and accessible contraception would all help to reduce the world’s population.

They vote against their best interests

Ironically, the stupid people are destroying their own future. To demonstrate this, we can go to Australia. Recently, China imposed strict tariffs on Australian barley exports. This ruling will severely harm the income of Australian barley farmers.

Why?

Experts believe China reacted to the Australian government’s call for an inquiry into China’s role in the spread of COVID-19. Not an inquiry into the pandemic, but an inquiry into China’s role in the pandemic. China is thus punishing Australian farmers because of the actions of the current Australian government, the Liberal National Party (LNP). The LNP is the conservative party and farmers have always voted for the National Party, and in turn for the LNP. Now, their own party has destroyed some of their businesses completely.

Similarly, many experts expect Trump’s own supporters to suffer financially because of his social and economic policies. Don’t forget, Trump is a businessman before he is a leader. Leave voters are yet to feel the true economic impact of Brexit.

They are gullible

Poor education convinced many people to believe in the curative powers of bleach. Poor education makes people more gullible, and more susceptible to politicians and corporations who lie and manipulate the truth. Ignorant and stupid people lack the critical literacy to discern the true meaning of a message, and are particularly susceptible to Trump’s incessant accusations of ‘fake news’ any time anyone criticises him.

While Trump runs his country via Twitter, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, runs his country via slogans. So common are his slogans, in place of real policy, that he earned himself the nickname ‘Scotty from Marketing’.

Ignorant people are persuaded by Trump’s tweets. Ignorant people are persuaded by Morrison’s slogans, and ignorant people voted for Brexit.

Someone’s gotta go

It’s not murder. It’s not killing someone, it’s letting that person kill themselves, which, after all, is the same as legalising suicide.

But you’re targeting a particular section of society.

This is happening anyway. COVID-19 has demonstrated the increased vulnerability of older people, people with disabilities, the poor and people from certain races – many of whom find themselves forced to work on the front line during the pandemic.

They own guns

Trump supporters are so stupid that they risked their own health to gather in groups to protest against lockdown measures that were designed to protect their health. Not only did they protest, draped in national flags, many of them did so with guns. Real guns. Big guns. Serious guns.

Were they going to kill someone who is trying to stop them from dying from a disease?

If these armed protesters had shot a government official, they would have increased the likelihood that they themselves would die.

They won’t be told.

Bigots and disciples of the theory that bleach can cure COVID-19 won’t be told. Even if a message or piece of advice is in their best interest, or in this case, could keep them alive, they still don’t listen. They subscribe to the cult of the individual and believe that their individual rights outweigh the needs of the society at large, even when their individualism threatens the safety or wellbeing of the community. When ‘bleach believers’ are advised against drinking bleach, they refuse to be told what to do. If they refuse to listen anyway, why should we tell them?

We are living in the era of stupidity and we must do something before it is too late.

Let them drink bleach.

Image: Washington Post

Let Us Pray: Rodeo Townsville.

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The Professional Bull Riders event in Townsville was supposed to be a celebration of athleticism, courage and rodeo skill, but it was as much as celebration of religion, patriotism and the military.

The PBR Townsville was the final event of the Australian leg of the international sporting competition, and served as the finals of the national championship.

The overt militarism of the event was obvious before entering the stadium, as fans lined up for selfies with the sparkling new army tanks parked outside the convention centre. This continued during the prelude to the sporting contest as members of the defence forces were presented to the crowd, and when the American host referenced the military ties between Australia and The United States by using a phrase similar to “The Coalition of the Willing”. George Bush would have been proud.

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The bull riders were presented to the crowd and the well-lubricated fans showed their admiration for the athletes, especially those from Queensland. The raucous cheering subsided upon the singing of the national anthem, as cowboy hats were removed and beer cans put aside.

Once the national anthem was finished, I expected either an acknowledgement of country, or a bull bucking in anger. However, neither happened. An acknowledgement of country is a spoken recognition of the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land on which an event takes place. Anyone can do it, and it has become very common in Australia in recent years. However, there was no acknowledgement of country at PBR Townsville. I don’t know why.

Nor did the action begin.

No, first we had to say a prayer.

I have never said a prayer before a sporting event in Australia, and I’m no spring chicken. But this was my first PBR, so I could only assume this is normal.

Thus, hats were removed, beer cans put aside, again, and the hundreds of people in attendance stood silently and in great reverence for a prayer which thanked god, thanked the military for keeping us safe and protecting our freedom, and asked for the safety of the riders and the bulls. Yes, the host even prayed for the bulls – but did not acknowledge country.

The prayer was also surprising because I can guarantee that most of the crowd, who showed great reverence and finished the prayer with a loud ‘Amen!’, would never got to church – except at Christmas and Easter, in true secular-Australian style.

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With the prayer over, and the military saluted, I though the bull riding would finally begin. But no, there was another treat for the audience: Ryan Weaver. The worst singer I have heard in public for a long, long time. This guy was worse than a drunken friend at a karaoke bar. He was terrible, but he was loved.

Why?

He was patriotic.

Not towards Australia necessarily, but towards the US. He emerged in boots, buckle and big hat, with the stars and stripes emblazoned on his T Shirt. He was universally loved because he sang about patriotism and the military, and because he is a US war veteran.

Once Ryan had made his patriotic exit, the bull riding finally began.

The action was impressive, as the hulking masses of beef bucked off rider after rider and only a select few riders manged to stay on their ride for the mandatory eight seconds.

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One rider stood out from the rest not because of his scores, but for another reason. His name is Cody Rodeo Tyler. Yes, that’s his real name. On his birth certificate, his passport and his entry form.

The boy from Guthrie, Oklahoma was obviously destined to ride bucking animals, and he does it well. One wonders, though, if Cody has a son and wants to set his offspring on the path to success in the future, will he call him Cody ‘Rodeo’ Tyler Jr., or Cody ‘Influencer’ Tyler.

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Cody and his colleagues threw themselves around the arena for the initial rounds in an attempt to qualify for the final, and after many thrills and spills, an intermission was called so the riders could take a well-earned rest.

I was deciding whether I needed to go and buy another pie, take a comfort break or stretch my legs, when the decision was made for me. Ryan Weaver walked back out onto the arena and belted out another massacre.

Time for a pie.

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Ryan finally made way for the riders, who treated the crows to some exciting action and spectacular falls.

Who won the event in the end?

Let’s just say patriotism was the winner

Apartheid in Australia.

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Apartheid operates in Australia. It operates to this day.

Apartheid exists in remote Aboriginal communities in the form of liquor permits for residents.

Basically, if you’re white you get one, if you’re black you don’t.

A liquor permit is a piece of paper which allows the holder to consume alcohol inside the physical boundaries of the community. Permits are awarded by the local council, which is administered by the Aboriginal community in conjunction with the government. To my knowledge, the system still operates in 2018.

There are a few conditions governing the liquor permits. Holders may only consume alcohol in their own home, and only in the presence of other people who hold a liquor permit. If only one person at a social gathering does not have a liquor permit, no one can consume alcohol. For this reason, obtaining a liquor permit was one of the first things that I did once I arrived in the community of Yirrkala, in north-east Arnhem Land, in 2004; not because I was desperate for a beer, but because the other white fellas in the community, most of whom were my teaching colleagues at the local school, insisted I get my permit as soon as possible.

“If you don’t get one, none of us can drink when you’re with us,” they informed me.

I was promptly issued with a permit after visiting the office. It didn’t seem very difficult for me to get one.

I couldn’t help thinking, why was it so easy for me to get a permit? There was not enough time for the issuer to run a background check on me. Is it because I was a Teacher? Does that automatically make me a respectable citizen? Yes, Teachers are respectable citizens, but I certainly wouldn’t have been the first Teacher with a drinking problem, especially in a remote community – it’s a tough job.

The only conclusion I could make is that it was because I’m white.

In my mind, that equates to apartheid.

So, should Aboriginal people be given liquor permits as well?

No.

Alcohol is destroying Aboriginal communities and a lot of the good work that is being done, including at the schools, is rendered redundant through the destructive power of alcohol. To solve the massive problems in Aboriginal communities, it’s imperative get rid of the alcohol – as a starting point.

Of course, the permit system didn’t stop Aboriginal people from abusing alcohol. Groups of men would gather at the town limit and drink to excess, in plain sight of anyone driving in or out of the community. They would then stroll back into the community and cause problems. There were also many venues in the nearby mining town of Nhulunbuy which served alcohol.

The white fellas would also abuse alcohol, so it was not as if all of them were worthy of the permit. There also seemed to be a reluctance among some white fellas to leave behind some of the comforts of their urban upbringing, such as Friday night drinks, when they chose to move to the remote community, despite the fact that they saw the damage alcohol was doing on a daily basis.

Apartheid is not new to Australia. The liquor permit is one of the last vestiges of this discriminatory colonial practice.

Pubs throughout the country once posted the ubiquitous signs, ‘No blacks, no dogs”. Many cinemas reserved the best seats for whites and the worst seats for Aboriginal people, and of course Australian history since 1788 is full of occurrences such as The Stolen Generation, blackbirding and genocide which saw Aboriginal people stolen, enslaved or murdered.

Apartheid occurred, it just wasn’t given a name. As a white South-African once told me, one mistake the authorities in South Africa made was assigning the word Apartheid to their system of racial discrimination. This opened up the Afrikaans to criticism from authorities throughout the world, many of whom, including the British, imposed exactly the same discriminatory practices on indigenous populations, but escaped the criticism because they didn’t label their practices.

Why is this not commonly known?

Because, like so many incidents and stories involving Aboriginal people since 1788, they are simply ignored or covered up because many Australians are too uncomfortable, too patriotic or too ignorant to talk about them.