Vol 27 No 5

12 March 2017

US/Trump depicted as both puppet and puppeteer. Cartoon by Chris Johnston


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AUSTRALIA

Indigenous citizenship rights 50 years after the referendum

9 Comments
22 March 2017 | Dani Larkin

Front page of Abo Call newspaperIn the face of historically low levels of Indigenous representation in our parliaments, the Indigenous caucus between Commonwealth, State and Territory Labor representatives points to some progress. It is aimed at increasing Indigenous voter engagement figures, increasing Indigenous Labor candidacy, and developing strategic plans that encourage Indigenous students to become young leaders in Parliament. Those are all necessary and noteworthy causes. But we have a long way to go.


MEDIA

Gambling on the fat dollar

3 Comments
22 March 2017 | Rachel Woodlock

Model wearing Nike's plus-size rangeElite athletes wear Nike. Celebrities wear Nike. Beautiful people. People who take their sports seriously. Well, that's what decades of advertising around the little swooshy tick and 'Just Do It' trademark told us. Fat girls don't deserve to wear Nike because they are supposed to feel ashamed of their ample girths. They should exercise, of course, but in sackcloth and ashes, with downcast faces, signalling they understand their moral depravity. Some people, it seems, still feel that's the way it should be.


AUSTRALIA

Don't underestimate the politics of hate

15 Comments
21 March 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Face expressing hatredThe Prioress in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales had a brooch alluding to Virgil's phrase, 'love conquers all'. In her case, her love for her two lapdogs beat her affection for mere people. But in public life one wonders about the truth of the epigram. Indeed a good case could be made that hatred conquers all, and that it is stronger than love. The advent of Donald Trump with his individual style has occasioned lament that the public world is now dominated by hatred and contempt. But there is nothing new in it.


CREATIVE

A life in song for the working class

4 Comments
21 March 2017 | Tony Smith

Danny SpoonerDanny sang of farm labourers, poachers, mariners, union martyrs and miners. He did not simply perform the songs - that would be too much like exploiting them. His aim was to help preserve them. When he introduced a song it was clear that he had great respect for the tradition in which he fitted and that he had done extensive research into the song's provenance. The songs were important because of how they recorded aspects of working class life which mainstream histories might neglect.


REVIEWS

The time-traveller's strife

21 March 2017 | Tim Kroenert

All stories that deal with time travel will come up against paradoxes. Generally the success of the story will come down to how capably these paradoxes are dealt with, and how consistently with the story's internal logic. Otto Bloom turns on the concept of time as an extension of the physical dimensions. If time is as tangible as physical space, then all events in time are occurring simultaneously. That we perceive time as moving in a particular direction is a feature of our human consciousness.


CARTOON

It's all in the timing

8 Comments
20 March 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Opponents of 18C chant for the right to be bigots on Harmony Day. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


AUSTRALIA

Asian women breaking free of the stereotype straitjacket

7 Comments
20 March 2017 | Tseen Khoo

Prof Robert E Kelly keeps his cool during an interview about South Korean politics when his two children interrupt him, live on air, on BBC World News. Last week, an interview by the BBC with a scholarly expert on Korea was interrupted by the scholar's young family. What fascinated me most was the assumption in certain commentaries that the woman in the video was the nanny. Or, even when that was resoundingly countered, that there would be trouble for her when the interview was over. Because she is Asian, and her husband is white. And we all know what that means, right? Whether she's the nanny or the wife, she must be oppressed.


EDUCATION

Towards a more inclusive religious curriculum

21 Comments
20 March 2017 | Sophie Chalmers

Children of different faiths sharing. Illustration by Chris JohnstonThe Dalai Lama is turning 82 this July, and he may be the last in his line. The religious and political ramifications of this are often lost on the general public. Many people in largely Christian Australia don't know the significance of a Mikveh in Judaism, can't explain why the Buddhist Middle Path is so important, or recite what the Five Pillars of Islam are. There are as many diverse interpretations of Hinduism as there are for Christianity, and as many insightful Buddhist stories as there are in the Bible.


AUSTRALIA

The rule of law applies to government too

17 Comments
19 March 2017 | Kate Galloway

Centrelink officeACTU secretary Sally McManus' comments about the rule of law have sparked a lot of chatter on news and social media. While the rule of law arguably does assume citizens will obey the law, it also assumes government will behave lawfully. Further, it might be argued that the rule of law encompasses the principled application of government power. In this respect, the Australian government is itself falling well below adhering to the rule of law. I offer Centrelink #notmydebt as a case study.


CREATIVE

Prayer at the scarred tree

6 Comments
19 March 2017 | Martin Flanagan and David Ad├Ęs

Scarred treeThis hunger that gnaws endlessly in my guts will be the death of me, but is the life of me, because in braving yourself to the emptiness something is born, something happens. Watch and observe, tell the story well, make it an expression of your sanity, which is otherwise at risk from waves generated by the outside world and past regrets.


MEDIA

Bible Society's blunder was excluding LGBTI voices

22 Comments
16 March 2017 | Rohan Salmond

Scene from Bible Society Keeping It Light adThe Bible Society didn't think its video promoting civilised discussion about same-sex marriage would be a problem, but it pushed a lot of buttons they didn't even know existed. There are a lot of layers to the public's reaction, but here's one: the Bible Society has never taken an explicit public position on the present marriage debate, but its sister organisation, the Centre for Public Christianity, only features videos and essays by people who hold an exclusively man-woman view of marriage.


RELIGION

We need civil conversations about religion and marriage equality

7 Comments
16 March 2017 | Michael McVeigh

Scene from Bible Society Keeping It Light adNo conversation on marriage equality should begin from any place other than that same-sex attracted people are equal in dignity, and worthy of the same respect, as heterosexual people. But religion has to be included in the conversation, as marriage equality isn't just a civil rights issue, it's a biblical and theological one. People who hold biblical or theological views on marriage aren't going to be convinced by arguments that don't respect those views.


ENVIRONMENT

No rest for Borneo's indigenous rights warriors

6 Comments
16 March 2017 | Fiona McAlpine

Baram Dam protestorsOne year ago, a remarkable win for indigenous rights took place in a little-reported corner of Asia. On the island of Borneo, rainforest communities won a long fight against a hydroelectric dam that was to be built on their land. After more than two years of muddy resistance, the dam plans were shelved, and land rights were restored to the indigenous population. This was a landmark win, in more ways than one.


RELIGION

Dancing through St Patrick's Day myths

8 Comments
15 March 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Francine (in purple) dancing for St Patrick's DayMy grandfather told me Patrick was a saint because he drove the frogs and snakes out of Ireland. He also told me if I stepped in a fairy ring while we were on our walks I'd disappear forever. So naturally as I grew older, I became skeptical. Each year in my family St Patrick's Day has marked a survival of Irish culture in Australia. Sometimes this can be in subtle ways and sometimes it means singing at the top of our lungs, enjoying a drink and having a dance.


AUSTRALIA

'Rule of law' furore reveals real thugs

18 Comments
15 March 2017 | Fatima Measham

Sally McManus on ABC 7.30A new round of anti-union chest-thumping is underway, following ACTU secretary Sally McManus' remarks that 'I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair ... But when it's unjust, I don't think there's a problem with breaking it.' If any other person had said this in the context of civil and political rights, the words might not be so incendiary. Laws are not as neutral as we imagine them to be. They are constructed by individuals of immense power, with their own set of values and connections.


A pause to reflect in the wake of the youth justice storm

6 Comments
14 March 2017 | Julie Edwards

Boy seated on the floor of youth detention facilityAt present the tornado that has raged in youth justice has abated. Disturbing images from Don Dale led to a royal commission in the Northern Territory. In Melbourne, public fears about gang violence, carjackings, robberies and youth detention centre riots were followed by the placing of many young people in an adult facility and a pledge to build a new prison for young offenders. This pause offers time for reflection on the human reality and needs of children who are involved in the justice system.


REVIEWS

Penetrating the cult of secrecy and abuse

1 Comment
14 March 2017 | Tim Kroenert

The power of Jones' film comes from bringing us the faces and voices of the victims in the present day; to hear in their words and see in their manner the ongoing trauma of those experiences. It is a timely and illuminating exploration of the impacts of child abuse, arriving during a period when many of our Australian institutions, religious and otherwise, have been facing the probing spotlight of a royal commission for behaviour that was at times equally as secretive, and traumatic.


RELIGION

Let's amend 18C to say what it means

24 Comments
13 March 2017 | Frank Brennan

Paul KeatingThe debate over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (18C) has gone on for far too long. It's time to bring it to a close. To date, I have been silent in the present debate, in part because I was a critic of such legal provisions when they were first proposed in 1992 and again in 1994. I have since been convinced that a provision like 18C could be designed to target racial vilification, leaving offensive insults beyond the reach of the law in a robust democracy committed to freedom of speech.


CARTOON

How the west was lost

13 March 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Pauline Hanson speaks for all people, at least those who agree with her fringe views. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


CREATIVE

Vienna bronze

3 Comments
13 March 2017 | Michael Sariban

BronzeWhen she fell, at last, out of this life, I caught him as intended, solid as belief ... eyes raised, palms turned to Mecca, his fixed magnetic pole. A Vienna bronze, perhaps 1920s, most likely a Jewish workshop - a fusion of metals and cultures, before Holocaust, West Bank or Gaza; a figure in robes, on a small carpet, its yellows and reds realistically creased, his sandals ... Aesthetics ranked high in her life - a second, earthly religion - all the style she could afford in the world her parents had fled to.


MEDIA

Pub test is a kangaroo court for victims of racial hate

10 Comments
13 March 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Beer glasses in a pubArguments for repealing 18C ignore the symbolic force of law in an imperfect society in which we live. In public life the One Nation Party, which is able to exert some influence on legislation in a fragmented parliament, regularly criticises Muslims. These views are also retailed by commentators in some mainstream media. They increase the anxiety of immigrants from Muslim nations. In such a context any weakening of 18C will be seen as the declaration of open season against such groups.


AUSTRALIA

Lament of a pro-life feminist

48 Comments
09 March 2017 | Kate Moriarty

Rep from New Wave Feminists holds a placard that says she is a prolife feministI'm what you might call a feminist outsider. I'm passionate about the rights of women. I believe every girl should have the opportunity to be educated, and that workplaces need to become more accommodating of families. I spend a worrying amount of time shouting 'You wouldn't say that if she were a man!' to commentators on the radio. I'd like to be called a feminist. But I don't think I'm allowed to be. You see, I also believe a baby is a person before she is born. And I believe that person has rights.


INTERNATIONAL

US is no stranger to electoral meddling

4 Comments
09 March 2017 | Binoy Kampmark

Trump manipulates puppet strings while he is manipulated with strings from Russia and China. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonEach day is met by the same reports: electoral interference has supposedly taken place, instigated by Russian, or at the very least outsourced Russian entities, in the elections of Europe and the United States. Such claims assert, not merely the reality of these claims, but the nature of their influence. Such a stance detracts from one fundamental point: that the manipulation of electoral systems has been, and remains, common fare, irrespective of the finger pointing at Moscow.