Ugly Australia

This isn’t the thread I had planned to write.

Actually, I had planned to put out an essay last Thursday—Australia Day, commemorating the 224th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove. I had planned to tell you how happy I was to live in what I regard as the greatest nation on earth. How, despite all its problems, many of which I have detailed at great length on this site, Australia still affords its citizens a greater chance of liberty, and a degree of control over their own lives and the potential to pursue their own happiness by their own efforts, than just about any other country on the face of the earth. I wanted to express to you my own pride at being a living, working part of Australian society, with our inherent laid-back egalitarianism, our friendly acceptance of each other irrespective of national or racial background, our preference to pursue national rivalries on the sporting field rather than the battlefield, and even our willingness to send our nation’s finest into harm’s way when we believed the peace of the world to be threatened.

Those are the things I feel, the things I believe. I still do. But this year, Australia Day raised an ugly spectre of a past that refuses to die.

Some background first. I assume you’re all aware in a general sense that many advances have been made throughout Australia’s history, particularly over the last half-century, to redress the disposession and subsequent social dislocation of our Aboriginal population. What you may not know is that prior to a referendum in 1967, passed overwhelmingly by the voters of this country, our constitution did not even count Aborigines in the census, accord them citizenship, or give them (until 1962) the vote in Federal elections.

Even following the 1967 amendments to the constitution, many injustices remained. The legal doctrine of terra nullius (the assumption that the Australian continent was sovereign to no people at the time of white settlement) was not overturned until the High Court’s 1992 Mabo decision; prior to this, Aboriginal people who had continuously occupied lands throughout the period of white settlement had no claim of title upon them, and were thus formally dispossessed under the law.

To this day, disparities remain that are an open sore in our society, and perhaps our greatest source of national shame; Aborigines are an order of magnitude more likely to be imprisoned, have life expectancies decades shorter than the rest of our society; I have written previously on this site about the well-intentioned but disastrous social engineering attempts to herd a nomadic people into fixed outback settlements, far from any source of employment, resulting in virtually complete societal breakdown (of which I can’t even bring myself to give you any details, it’s just too terrible; follow the links if you really want to know), resulting in over-late, drastic counter-measures by later governments—yet more state-imposed social engineering, and equally doomed to fail.

State-imposed moral codes to make a Libertarian choke - but what else could they do?

It was in this climate of clear injustice that, in 1972, a small group of activists created the Aboriginal tent embassy on the front lawn of the Old Parliament House in Canberra, where it has remained, on and off, for nearly forty years now. Originally seen as a national focal point for indigenous protest, by 2012 it has decayed into something of an anachronism, or even an embarrassment, peopled as it is today by the more lunar fringe of Aboriginal rights protesters, and facing calls for its dismantling, even by many Aboriginal leaders, including the Ngunnawal people, the traditional owners of the lands about Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory.

Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra, 1972

Last Thursday, Australia Day, both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott were attending a formal luncheon near Parliament House at which were being presented bravery awards to those who had been involved in the rescue efforts following the 2011 Queensland floods. The event was barely under way when the glass-walled structure in which it was being held was surrounded by a large group of protesters who had made their way over from the tent embassy. Amid shouting, banging of fists and throwing of objects against the walls, Gillard’s personal security team intervened. Gathering Gillard and Abbott, and surrounded by Federal Police officers in full riot gear, they ploughed through the crowd; the images of a terrified Gillard, one shoe missing, man-handled into her car beside Abbott were flashed around the world’s media.

Gillard, being rushed to safety, trips and falls before being physically dragged to her waiting car. In America, the bullets would have started flying long before this.

I have no time for Gillard at all, as I’ve made abundantly clear on this site many times. She came to her office unelected, the result of a sleazy back-room factional deal, an office she retained by means of a blatant lie to the Australian electorate. I believe she is doing everything within her power to drag my country the way of Europe and America, to become the ultimate slaves of the bankster-enviro-nazi nexus.

But the fact remains, she is my democratically elected Prime Minister, and what befell her that day is an absolute disgrace. I’m also enough of a dinosaur to be outraged that our first female Prime Minister, in particular, was subjected to such an indignity. I’m sure that such a thing would never have been allowed to happen to an elected head of government in Britain or the United States.

But even that isn’t what sticks in my gullet the most. No, the truly ugly aspect of this year’s Australia Day débâcle is the way in which it came to occur. Details were sketchy at first, but are becoming clearer with each passing day, and the lines of evidence are pointing ever upward.

Earlier in the day, Tony Abbott was asked by an ABC journalist, out of the blue, a most curiously-worded question: Mr Abbott, today is also the 40th anniversary of the tent embassy in Canberra. Do you think it’s still relevant, or should it move? Abbott’s response was both innocuous and to the point:

Look, I can understand why the tent embassy was established all those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then. We had the historic apology just a few years ago, one of the genuine achievements of Kevin Rudd as prime minister. We had the proposal, which is currently for national consideration, to recognise indigenous people in the constitution. I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian, and, yes, I think a lot’s changed since then and I think it probably is time to move on from that.

That’s it, word for word. But we now know that a junior staffer from Gillard’s own office, one Tony Hodges, placed a call to Canberra unionist Kim Sattler, who is Aboriginal herself and has functioned for some time as an unofficial go-between, from the government to the tent embassy. Hodges relayed to Sattler, who then passed to the activists, both the fact of the Abbott interview and the details of Abbott’s movements that day. Versions of the story diverge at this point; Hodges (who has now resigned his position) and Sattler both claim they transmitted Abbott’s words verbatim; yet according to this story, it is clear that Sattler told the tent embassy activists that Abbott “wanted the tent embassy torn down”; Sattler is alleged to have urged the activists to go to the official luncheon and “liven things up”. From the Tim Blair story linked,

If someone in this chatter-chain had paused to review Abbott’s gentle comments, perhaps trouble might have been avoided. Well, maybe not in the case of the tent embassy’s more excitable inhabitants, who would probably be provoked to screaming rage by the opposition leader quoting Enid Blyton. But what excuse can be offered by relatively senior political operatives, with their access to the latest devices?

The media have even fewer excuses. A YouTube clip shot by tent embassy supporters last Thursday shows Ten reporter Amanda Hart at the protest being advised by an activist: “Don’t forget to say that Tony Abbott asked for the tent embassy to be shut down.”

Sure enough, on Ten’s 5pm bulletin, Hart’s piece included this line: “The protest was launched by Aborigines from the nearby Aboriginal tent embassy, sparked by Tony Abbott who said the embassy, now in its 40th year, should be shut down.”

There, in one hit, is laid bare both the media’s hypocrisy and blatant political bias, not to mention hints of this whole thing being planned from higher up yet. The Federal Opposition are calling for a full inquiry into the affair, and blogger Andrew Bolt has a list of pertinent questions he would like to see that inquiry ask.

The political implications are wider still. As expected, following the tawdry Slipper affair last December, Labor have gone back on their written agreement with Tasmanian independent MHR Andrew Wilkie, who now says he will henceforth support government legislation on a case-by-case basis only, but will support a no-confidence motion only in the case of severe misconduct. But according to this story in yesterday’s Australian, Wilkie appears to believe that if senior government figures lie behind the events of Australia Day, deliberately provoking a race riot for political purposes, it would in fact constitute such misconduct. Slipper, who would then have the casting vote in a no-confidence motion before the House, would hardly support Labor in such a circumstance (as he has nothing left to gain or lose by doing so), leaving the Gillard government, and probably the entire Australian Labor movement with it, one raised hand away from oblivion, possibly permanently.

Sigh. I’m still proud to be an Australian. I really am. But there are times, like this one, when I just want to close the doors, turn off the internet, and not come out again until I can see at least a glimmer of the antipodean sunshine I believe to be my birthright.

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54 Responses to Ugly Australia

  1. hazymMark says:

    I’m not sure your numbers are right here. Even if Wilkie sides with the Libs and votes for a no confidence debate or even supports a no-confidence motion, that doesn’t give Slipper a casting vote. Indeed with 150 members there are only 149 votes (the speaker doesn’t vote) so the only way the speaker gets a casting vote is if someone doesn’t vote.
    In the current setup, even if Wilkie fully supported Abbott, the votes would still fall 75 for Gillard, 74 against. Hence Wilkie’s pronouncements about what he will and won’t do are just so much gumph and pretty standard for him.
    Nup, it still comes back to the ALP loosing a vote somewhere eg Thomson. But that’ll only happen if Fairwork Australia start to act like the umpire they claim to be rather than the industrial/judicial arm of the left. Or maybe Oakeshott or Windsor will grow a conscience.

    But I suspect that if the ALP did suddenly loose a vote somewhere, our oh-so-principled PM would suddenly rediscover the virtues of pokie reform and Wilkie would suddenly find himself in a very forgiving mood.

    So whatever the scenario, Slipper’s view is inconsequential …but he’d be used to that.

    G’day Mark, and welcome to LibertyGibbert.

    Yes, I’ve noted the numbers too, and reported on them back in my thread on Slipper. Check Bolt’s take on them here – he seems to be factoring the Greens’ Adam Bandt into this.

    You’re right, otherwise it will depend on either Thomson being convicted, or the parliamentary inquiry being so damning that either Oakshott, or Windsor (or both) will calculate their only chance left with their electorates lies with their supporting a no-confidence motion. Or maybe (and here’s a wildcard) a Labor member, probably in a clubland seat (maybe even Thomson?) or about to retire, turning “rat”, voting against Gillard; lots of potential scenarios – Oz

  2. farmerbraun says:

    What do you read this line to mean Ozboy?
    “I think it probably is time to move on from that.”
    Seems to me that it is politician-speak for something: but what?
    Even taken at face value, it seems a little premature. Sheesh, even in Godzone we’re not saying that yet.

    To their eternal credit, Aboriginal leaders, including former ALP national president Warren Mundine, have come out in the media and both condemned the protesters, and pronounced Abbott’s statement mild and unremarkable. “Time to move on” is, as I said above, a sentiment shared by many of those leaders, as Abbott knows full well – Oz

  3. farmerbraun says:

    Just a thought ; is Poor Fellow My Country required reading in Oz schools?

    None I went to (I was in Year 7 when it was first published anyway). And at 1500-odd pages, it’s unlikely to ever be prescribed as a school text – Oz

  4. Luton Ian says:

    Hi Oz,
    Glad to see you are well enough to post.

    I will give your piece the careful reading it deserves in a few days time, I’ve been on the road for too many days now and must get going again soon.

    It is a pity that organized groups attempt to stay together long after the main work has been achieved. They continue to push for more and more ridiculous “advances” way into the zone of diminishing returns.

    How can the rump groups manage to stay together?

    Who funds the tent embassy?

    Rhetorical questions I guess?

    If something makes no sense at all, the hand of the state, and the source of that most addictive and most corrupting drug of all cannot be far away.

    It sounds like opium, but has been the source of far more death, destruction and misery than anything harvested from a beautiful and God given poppy could ever be.

    OPM – other people’s money. It can only be Harvested with state violence.


    Surprisingly, it seems the Oz Broadcasting Corp has interviewed Prof. Hans Herman Hoppe(probably the World’s leading Anarcho-Capitalist thinker), and, given him a fair hearing. I’m looking forward to listening to it:

  5. izen says:

    Not sure whether it is Poetic, Ironic or Karmic justice that a ploy to try and ’embarress’ the opposition leader so spectacularly backfires…

    The cries of outrage at a PR wonk ‘leaking’ the Abbot itinery and re-phrasing his comments is a bit fake. Seems like standard operating procedure for politcs – even the ineptitude of triggering the protest when their own leader is there…

    The problem with the re-interpreting of the Abbot comment as calling for a removal of the tent ’embassy’ is that the comment made was the usual political equivication that could be ‘read’ different ways. To those who favor the removal of the tent embassy it would be a ‘dog-whistle’ comment confirming their views. To those radically polarized to support the tent embassy anything that is not whole-hearted suport would be read as a call for removal.
    Thats the nature of extremist dogmatism.

    That it has been there 40 years(!!!) is a sign that it is now the preserve of the polarized dogmatic. In any such protest there will be those that see a time when the protest is no longer effective and those that decalre that any abandoment before EVERY LAST DETAIL of their demands has been met is gross heresy and treason to the ’cause’.

    It is a sign of romanticism, or insanity to persist with the same actions when they don’t work. Repeating something and expecting different results is not rational. If 40 years of this ’embassy’ has not got everything, its a method that isn’t working.

    The problems Australia has with its indigenous people are largely self-inflicted. But probably inevitable. From neolithic times onwards whenever agriculturalists invade the territory of hunter-gatherers the conflict is usually genocidal for the hunter-gatherers. Certainly their way of life is destroyed. The two social systems are incompatible.

    Extolling the virtues of a long obsolete way of life and demanding rights over the land in the present that where never execised, or imagined in the past is a nonsense, an attempt at gaining rentier advantage from an appeal to nostalgia.

  6. izen says:

    really shouldn’t post from a browser without a spellchecker….

  7. Tucci says:

    If Mr. Abbott genuinely wants to defuse the issue of the Aboriginal tent embassy, all he really has to do is put the muscle of the Liberal Party and the rest of the opposition behind declaring a formal recognition of the tent embassy site as an official monument to the Australian people – Aboriginal and non-indigenous together – and the spirit of tolerance throughout the nation.

    Since 1995, the tent embassy has been listed in the Australian Register of the National Estate as the only Aboriginal site in the country representing political resistance against government actions interpreted by the indigenous peoples as violating their rights. It’s certainly a site imbued with historical significance for all Australians, the more so with the addition of Julia’s shoe, which the Aboriginal people of the nation should preserve as a sacred trust until it’s either ransomed or can be buried with Ms. Gillard and her career.

    In the meanwhile, how about the proposal of a degree of special consideration for Australia’s Aborigines and other indigenous peoples?

    Exempt them from Juliar’s carbon tax.

    “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

    — Thomas Jefferson

  8. Amanda says:

    Fascinating. This is the first I’ve heard of the tent and this incident.

  9. fenbeagleblog says:

    …..Intriguing Oz, thank you.

  10. farmerbraun says:

    My point about the “moving on” remark from Abbott is that, regardless of the truth of his statement, it would be politic if utterance of that sentiment was the sole preserve of the aboriginal leaders, who undoubtedly subscribe to that view.
    That would be the practise in Godzone. If a non- Maori politician were to say it , it would be construed as rabble -rousing and exploitation of the lunatic fringe for political gain.
    Too PC?

  11. farmerbraun says:

    Where are the photos showing Gizzard being threatened? The photographers appear to be the only threat. The call to drag her out with the full “protection” is interesting one.

  12. Amanda says:

    Re Izen’s comment. The tent embassy is a totem, a shrine. Rather a weird one from a foreigner’s point of view, but then again, the Stone of Scone is pretty scruffy and unremarkable too, and yet people have fought over it, absconded with it, etc. An attack on the totem is seen as an attack on the people it represents (not unreasonably). The thing is, totems can not only outlive their usefulness, they can actually prevent people from ‘moving on’, in the ways that would best serve their happiness (or wellbeing, to be less ambitious). I think Abbot’s comments, and even his vocal delivery, were perfectly unobjectionable. But then, what if, in America, someone said that we should rename all the streets called Dr Martin Luther King Boulevard (every town and city has one: it’s a contemporary piety)? Because blacks have equal rights and equal treatment — indeed, preferential treatment in many cases — and therefore King’s work is done and we can take back Presidents’ Day for the presidents now (the national holiday was renamed to honour King instead). And we don’t need a whole month for ‘Black History’: a week will do. That kind of thing. There would be an uproar. It’s not about reality any more. It’s about honour (and some would say, about keeping the grievance wheels turning).

  13. Amanda says:

    Correction: The full honourific is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Bit of a mouthful.

    I’m a bit weak on the origin of America’s holidays, but I think that in order for King to have his own day, the previous separate holidays honouring Washington and Lincoln and in some places Jefferson (who was born in a different month) were lumped together into one day — ‘Presidents’ Day’. So we don’t have a day for ‘Washington’s birthday’ any more, just that catch-all P. Day. Some people don’t like that, since it represents a watering-down of reverence for our founding presidents (Lincoln represents a ‘rebirth of freedom’) for the sake of someone that was a good man but arguably not a great man and certainly not a statesman. But that’s not an argument you can make in America if you want any kind of political existence.

  14. Amanda says:

    Oops: no U in ‘honorific’. I get confused sometimes because my spell-checker is American and I usually have to override it because I’m trying to spell in British English on non-American blogs. In that case I should have left it alone.

  15. Amanda says:

    P. S. It’s not that I’m running my text through a checker: I could spell under torture, except that time! It’s just that this new Mac does it automatically as I type, usually removing letters that I actually want to keep — but it also fixes transpositions, which is useful. Those of you with Apples (what do I call it — Apple? Mac?) will already know.

  16. Amanda says:

    Sorry, and it’s Abbott with two Ts, too. Last time I take my spelling cue from Izen!

  17. Amanda says:

    FB: From my perspective, very touchily PC, but you know your own country.

  18. Dr. Dave says:


    We still have Presidents’ Day. It is celebrated in February. MLK day is recognized in January. Both tend to be “bank and post office” holidays. That is, almost everyone works on these days except state and federal workers and bank workers. My GF is a paralegal and she gets off for every one of these “quasi-holidays” (e.g. Columbus Day, Veterans Day, etc.). Some years ago I worked for an organization that gave us Presidents’ Day off. It really kind of screwed up my scheduling. I was told that they used to grant Good Friday off but that apparently offended an extreme minority of rabid secularists among the predominately Catholic majority in this area.

    My ex-wife used to work for a Texas regulatory agency and it was even more ridiculous. She was off work for the usual (big 6) holidays that are almost universally recognized – New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. She was also off for MLK Day, Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, June-teenth (i.e. Emancipation Day), Confederate War Heroes Day and one other I can never remember (cat appreciation day?).

  19. izen says:

    I know I get seen as the resident pro-government, collectivist liberal… or even (!) socialist around here… so the following may seem a contradiction with other views I have voiced.
    By all means raise any such issues and I will try and address them -GRIN-

    “In the meanwhile, how about the proposal of a degree of special consideration for Australia’s Aborigines and other indigenous peoples? ”

    Lets not.
    I know you suggested this in jest from the idea that they get exemption from the carbon tax, but the suggestion that any group, organisation or collective should have special consideration is a category error in ethical principles.

    1st principle – ONLY individual persons have moral agency. Therefore any reciprocal moral consideration can only happen between individuals. Liberty, Freedom, Justice, Equality, all the key concepts in ethics can only apply to individuals because they are the primary intentional agent. Groups only ever have secondary, derived ‘rights/responsibilities’.

    Groups may be defined by the sharing by many individuals of a genotype, phenotype, cultural history or viral meme. But such partitioning of individuals is never a justification for assigning ethical rights or responsibilities onto a constrained subset. Intentional agency is the first and only criteria for the applicability of moral action.
    Ascribing to a constrained assemblage of individuals the ethical consideration deserved by a person is at best a metaphor and often toxic to individual rights & responsibilities.

    To give a real world example; this is channeling Jonathan Meade to some extent, his present series on France is as thought-provoking as usual…
    The espousal of ‘multiculturalism’ in the UK is an anti-libertarian mistake. It encourages the individual to be identified NOT by their uniques personal qualities – and the shared human condition of sentience, but by some historical background, their ‘roots’ from which they derive the rights and responsibilities within society. The idea is promoted that membership of a group confers ‘special consideration’ for the individual. Respect, or at least tolerance is expected because of claimed membership of a reified aggregation.
    Or congregation. -g-
    The fact that an individual happens to share their irrational beliefs with around a billion other deluded co-religionists is no justification for the individual to claim any right for me to respect that belief if they seek to restrict my right as an INDIVIDUAL to hold my own set of irrational beliefs….-Grin-

    Past occupation of a land does not confer future rights to ownership of the resources of that land that were never known or developed in the past. Aboriginal claims of ownership of mining rights is a diversion from the real issue of how such finite resources can be ‘owned’ in a way that maximises the benefit for the most INDIVIDUALS, not a ‘special interest’ group.

    I am well aware that all to often in the past discrimination, repression and worse have been directed at a defined group. The positive special consideration sought now is seen as a corrective to the negative discrimination targeted at the group in the past.
    But the mistake is in treating groups as if they had the status of an individual, not the ‘sign’ of the interaction.

    Tribal identity, religious affiliation, nationalism and political ideology are all the foundations of fascism; the subservience of the individual to the collective and are the enemies of individual liberty.

    Sacred sites ??!
    Bah… admire them, like the gothic churches in Europe, for the splendor and beauty of the human thought and endeavor they represent, but no individual in the present can claim they require some greater ‘special consideration’ because they share some statistical resemblance to the probable genotype of the original creators of those wonderful creations.

    …okay, rant over the moment…
    normal service will be resumed as soon as we figure out what normal is….

  20. Amanda says:

    Can’t see anything wrong with Izen’s latest. I would point out though that there IS some entity besides the individual that has ‘moral agency’ or ‘intention’, and that is the natural family: in the first case, the mated pair and then also the children of that pairing. Allan Bloom said that Communism is inherently strange to humanity — that we chafe against that kind of pooling except where there is love (or, I suppose, where there is a contract, but love is the most binding ‘contract’ of all). In short, true communism can only exist between lovers or those that love: the family — where mine really can be thine and there is no necessary distinction between them in important matters.

    The state (or in ancient political-philosophic parlance, ‘the city’) acknowledges this as a fact by privileging married people and the family in a way that it recognizes and accommodates no other groups. We have seen a weakening of this in the past half-century, and that’s a bad sign for our civilization.

  21. Tucci says:

    At 7:06 AM on 31 January, izen had responded to my suggestion that the Aborigines and other indigenous peoples of Australia be exempted from Juliar’s carbon tax with:

    I know you suggested this in jest from the idea that they get exemption from the carbon tax, but the suggestion that any group, organisation or collective should have special consideration is a category error in ethical principles.

    Like hell was I jesting.

    Such a measure would doubtless tickle the dickens out of the protesting indigenous peoples (and be effectively impossible for Australia’s cancerously progressive lefties to oppose, it being all politically correct and like that) but it would infuriate the overwhelming majority of non-indigenous people in the country, functioning as a wonderful “consciousness raising” measure to keep that majority massively pissed off about la Gifford’s vicious warmista excises.

    I’m as methodologically individualistic as it’s possible to get when it comes to individual human rights. That being understood, I want Juliar and the rest of los warmistas skewered and flamed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-six days a year, without remit or relief. If I could find a way to follow ’em into hell, I’d bring kerosene.

    It’s the socialists who speak of “group rights” as if this were an ethically legitimate concept.

    Okay. So let’s use that concept against them.

    Pardon the addition of yet another metaphor, when given the opportunity to hoist ’em on their own petard, all I want to know is how to detonate the explosive. I think we’ve got ourselves a possible good fuze to ignite here, don’t you?

  22. izen says:

    “Sorry, and it’s Abbott with two Ts, too. Last time I take my spelling cue from Izen!”

    Hey you are lucky it started with the right letter….
    its got TWO B’s !?
    Know what you mean about Apple stuff, annoying when it ‘corrects’ a name for a website or email because it is similar to a common word…

  23. izen says:

    @- I would point out though that there IS some entity besides the individual that has ‘moral agency’ or ‘intention’, and that is the natural family: in the first case, the mated pair and then also the children of that pairing.

    Good point.
    Pair bonding is sufficiently predominate in human society and efficiently stabilising of the society that it can be regarded as a collective moral agent without much risk to individual rights. Especially as moral agency, along with sentience is a developed quality from infancy to adulthood. Giving the parents rights & responsibilities covers the transition and aligns with deep biological/human drives and motivations.

    Variations on the mated pair are sufficiently rare, and confined to economic extremes – the harem for the wealthy, the commune/kibbutz for the marginal.
    But what about a cult that advocates polygamy?
    Or did…How’s Mitt doing?

  24. Dr. Dave says:

    I can’t help myself. I need to ask both izen and Tucci their opinion of Affirmative Action. I vehemently oppose Affirmative Action with only a few exceptions. What Tucci suggested is essentially “Affirmative Action” for Australian aborigines. We now have our first Affirmative Action President. This is one of my favorite lunchroom topics for debate among my left-wing colleagues.

    One would be hard pressed to find anyone who is more sports apathetic than me. But I admire professional sports because they’re all about skill, ability and performance and not about race, gender or disability. The best suited for the job make the team. Those who fall short get cut.

    I maintain that entry into law school, medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, nursing school, engineering school, etc. should be granted to those who demonstrate the greatest aptitude, scholastic acumen and ability to communicate in English (more important for the healthcare professions). But decades ago Progressive Democrats decided we needed more representation by women and minorities in these professions irrespective of aptitude. Government can fix this!

  25. Tucci says:

    At 8:54 AM on 31 January, Dr. Dave had written:

    I need to ask both izen and Tucci their opinion of Affirmative Action. I vehemently oppose Affirmative Action with only a few exceptions. What Tucci suggested is essentially “Affirmative Action” for Australian aborigines.

    Oh, I think that “affirmative action” is not only morally indefensible but abjectly idiotic. Divisive and denigratory as all hell, fundamentally destructive of social comity and good civil order, prejudicial to that sense of genuine just conduct essential to the maintenance of government legitimacy.

    That’s why I’ve proposed it as a way of addressing this Aboriginal collective “rights” issue.

    Y’see, Dr. Dave, I’d like to blow the government of la Gilliard and her ilk right to hellangone out of the water. To the extent that they can be induced to adhere to their stated precepts and what we’ll laughingly call their “principles,” this is the kind of measure likely to engage public rage and hatred quite fulminantly, not only engendering increased resistance against their warmista “carbon tax” but also grinding the feculence of these leftie-lusers into the faces of the electorate with inescapable and undeniable effectiveness.

    I want the Gillard government to fall in total ruin. I want people to use “Gillard” as a synonym for hateful overreaching incompetence, and I hope to make this kind of political correctness not only third-rail untouchable but radioactive in the bargain.

    Imagine la Gillard’s feet poking out (with only one shoe, natch) from underneath a mid-sized house dropped upon her from a great height, the residents of Oz gathered around in pleasurable contemplation as they shrivel and roll up to disappear beneath the foundation.

    Short of breaking ’em on the wheel and then subjecting them to slow dismemberment, I can’t think of anything more likely to make of them the sort of object lesson they so richly deserve to be.

    If anybody has suggestions to increase their public agony and humiliation, I’d welcome participation in the brainstorming.

    Remember, we’re not dealing with any sort of living creatures with whom honest people could possibly develop any sense of sympathy.

  26. izen says:

    @-Dr Dave
    I need to ask both izen and Tucci their opinion of Affirmative Action.

    Affirmative action is usually the result of past… dis-affirmative action.
    Until relatively recently in the societies where we live, half of individuals where denied full autonomy, they did not get the rights to own property or involvement in collective decision making granted to other individuals. The correct action is to grant every individual the SAME autonomy. Whatever their Y chromosome status.
    Obviously the discrimination is far more damaging to the individual and society than extra ‘affirmation’….
    But both are ethical category errors. And the tools of fascism. As I said in the other post, only the sign differs (well and the degree of damage…-g-)

    @- Tucci
    It’s the socialists who speak of “group rights” as if this were an ethically legitimate concept.
    Okay. So let’s use that concept against them.
    Pardon the addition of yet another metaphor, when given the opportunity to hoist ‘em on their own petard, all I want to know is how to detonate the explosive. I think we’ve got ourselves a possible good fuze to ignite here, don’t you?

    Not really.
    As a ‘hippy-dippy Utopian I think it would be groovy if we could all, like get on peacefully man… all this talk of explosives is bad karma dude….
    Or, when groups oppose groups its always individuals who suffer. As the ongoing events in Syria reveal. There are BIG problems looming with the contending forces in that whole region. Lots of petards will get hoisted in the future – even if the best possible outcome is achieved…

    I will settle for the cowardly avoidance of conflict over ‘group beliefs’. As FB noted, because of ‘PC’ considerations it is … inadvisable to express views in certain ways – and probably counter productive. We are faced with the illegitimate inanities of ‘group rights’ whether from the socialist left, or the cronyist right – citizensunited – corporate personhood !?…
    Best to merely express an opinion of the INDIVIDUAL espousing such nonsense, and the best response may lie in the root meaning of your explosive metaphor and is embodied in the act that could have only come Rabelaisian France – Le Pétomane !

  27. Dr. Dave says:


    I guess we’ll have to find another issue to argue about. In terms of Affirmative Action I’m afraid you couldn’t pick a fight with me with a stick. We agree…for the most part. A very good friend of mine is a Native American FP. He’s pretty sharp. He’s a member of one of the 16 or so Pueblo tribes here in New Mexico. These tribes speak one of three very closely related languages. If you are fluent in one you can usually understand and be able to communicate in the other two. But we also have two tribes of Apache and the Navajo here. My buddy, Tim, can’t speak a word of Navajo yet this is the population he works with the most. Most Native Americans speak English quite well. Only the elders speak only their native language…but guess who shows up in the clinic? My friend Tim is very active in an organization devoted to producing more Native American physicians but it focuses mostly on communication rather than inherent ability. Tim would be just as sharp had he been born to Caucasian parents in the suburbs of Albuquerque (where he now lives). He was NOT a product of Affirmative Action…he’s just a smart guy who happens to be a Native American.

    I had a good friend who was a neurosurgeon. He was from India. I never got the full story but my guess is that his parents sent him to the US for college. He did his undergraduate studies here, then med school, a surgical residency and then a neurosurgery fellowship. He had only the faintest of an Indian accent and was one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. The guy was quintessential “American”. He had a most impressive mansion and in the basement was a huge walk-in vault where he kept the most impressive firearm collection I’ve ever seen. He also played guitar and sang (rather poorly) American country music. I used to kid him that he could be the breakthrough “Country & Eastern” star. Sadly, this fine man died a decade ago from Hepatitis C. I guess this is an occupational hazard. But I never thought of him as “Indian.” To me he was an “American” and he was damn sure never a product of Affirmative Action.

    But Tucci, I share your opinion of Juliar. I suspect our opinion is milder than Ozboy’s and lies somewhere between our opinion of Clinton and Obama (and I KNOW how much you love Obama). Still, I wouldn’t wish something like Affirmative Action on any civilized nation…certainly not an ally.

  28. Kitler says:

    Tucci, Dr Dave and Izen can’t we all just get along….


    …nah, that doesn’t work – Oz 😆

  29. Kitler says:

    Ozboy since I don’t want to get dragged into the affirmative action discussion or I will start frothing at the mouth I thought some peace and love for a change.
    One thing I find interesting is the way New Zealand and Australia treated the native inhabitants well badly in both cases but it’s the degree of badness. I think the difference is that the Maori’s fought back in a more structured and organized way and earned the grudging respect of the soldiers who fought against them is probably why.

    That’s part of the explanation. The greater harshness of the Australian landscape, plus the fact that unlike NZ, we were a penal colony, explains more. If you get a chance, look for a copy of Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore – Oz

  30. Kitler says:

    Ozboy a bigger difference is that the indigenous population in New Zealand were a farming society with a structured leadership that were dealt with with by treaty’s albeit bad ones for them, even Papua New Guinea was dealt with better because they were farmers and tribal society’s.

    It’s a factor, but the landscape dominated history. Remember the Australian mainland has about the same land area as continental United States. The aboriginal population, being nomadic hunter-gatherers, roamed vast swathes of tribal land, usually following the seasons. So when white settlers parked themselves on traditional Aboriginal lands, very often the inhabitants were absent and did not discover the interlopers until they returned, possibly months later. In that sense it is truer to say that the Aboriginals “discovered” white man, rather than the other way around. I think that, given the brutality of our early society, even had the Aborigines been settled farmers like the Maori, it would not have been long before they were subjugated by, and subsumed within, the newly-dominant European culture.

    For an excellent historical perspective on this aspect, you might like to try Professor Geoffrey Blainey’s 1967 classic The Tyranny of Distance – Oz

  31. izen says:

    @- Dr Dave
    “I admire professional sports because they’re all about skill, ability and performance and not about race, gender or disability. The best suited for the job make the team. Those who fall short get cut.
    I maintain that entry into law school, medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, nursing school, engineering school, etc. should be granted to those who demonstrate the greatest aptitude, scholastic acumen and ability to communicate in English”

    Ahh… the meritocracy, the Utopian ideal of ‘from each according to their ability’.
    Attempts at meritocracy often end up just meretricious….

    The problem with educating/training/rewarding on merit is that the definition of merit can be selective, and even in the apparently unambiguous world of atheletic prowess advantage is gained by chemical means, the drug support to the E German teams was notorious, but US athletes have not been innocent.

    Clique advantage is often purchasable with special private education. It would seem that in the UK the measure of merit for most prime ministers is their attendence at Eton and Oxbridge… The principle of metritocracy may be theoretically fine, but it is open to ‘gaming the system’ by buying merit and the elite redefining merit to include themselves and exclude the majority.

    One last point before I take a rest from all this arbitary ethical polemic…
    The test of toxicity for affirmative or discriminatory groups is how they – and the ‘outgroup’ – respond to heresey.
    If an individual cannot choose to leave or repudiate their membership of a group it is a fascistic denial of autonomy. Groups which seek to punish apostates are enemies of individual liberty. If neither the group, or society at large will allow a group member to leave and renounce their affiliation then gross damage is done to individual liberty.
    Islam fails this test, but then it isn’t so many decades since catholics burnt protestants -and vica versa.

  32. meltemian says:

    I’m pretty much OT here but your YouTube link reminded me of Kostas Georgakis.
    I hope things don’t get that bad here this time!

  33. farmerbraun says:

    @Ozboy and Kitler

    The historical fact of course is that Australia was “discovered ” by Maori, who then took the only course of action which was sensible, in the circumstances.

    Get over here and onto the dole? – Oz

    Actually, the pākehā are just as guilty of that 😉

    Something more uplifting…

  34. Amandaa says:

    Kitler and everyone: To be frank, there’s no treating tribal people roaming about on land you want in a fair and equitable way. I won’t talk about Down Under because I don’t know enough about it (but am interested in learning). But let’s just take a landmass I DO know very well: the North American continent above Mexico and below (well below!) the Arctic Circle.

    When the settlers started colonizing in a serious way, importing yet more people from Europe and expanding the population with children that had never seen the home country, there was nothing to be done but impose the Western dispensation on the rough land and the even rougher inhabitants. What was the alternative? Leave states and provinces unconquered so that the native Indians could have a state within a state, which was yet not a state and never could be because the very idea of a state was foreign to them? ‘America’ isn’t some sort of existential category: it had to be founded by people with notions of statehood and nationality and principles of founding. Before the colonists colonized and the settlers pushed north, south, and west, there was no such thing as ‘America’, just nature on a big scale. That is why Canadians that get annoyed and say ‘we’re Americans too’ are completely and essentially wrong. And in fact, what really motivates them in making that claim is that they want the American glamour of south of the border to cling somehow to them to. I lived there 19 years: I know what I’m talking about. Maybe things have changed a bit, but Canadians had an odd personality problem: on the one hand, constantly defining themselves as not American, and on the other hand, craving American attention and recognition like a younger sibling, and proud of the many elements of cultural similarity with Americans. A very ambivalent people.

    But I digress. The point is that ‘America’ as a nation-state is a better place than America was as a landscape, and the nation-state could not have coming into being without the subjugation of the Indians. Note that I didn’t say abuse. But how could the subjugation not, in the nature of things, be abusive? It was not going to be a pretty show, whatever happened. Not all the Indians were terrifying savages, but a good many were, and it doesn’t take much reading of real history as opposed to Hollywood or storybook fantasy to discover that. My neighbour in Houston, a rancher with a town home, showed us old photos of ranching in Texas from the late 1800s, and told stories that his grandparents passed down about what life was like with Indians roaming about. *Very* scary people, very callous about life, including animal life. There was not going to be any negotiation if settlers wanted the rule of law, and basic standards of justice.

  35. farmerbraun says:

    Re Kiri: You’re not getting her. She is a taonga. Hands off.

  36. Amandaa says:

    To clarify: When I speak of Indians ‘roaming about’, I don’t mean minding their own business. The Indians made raids (I don’t how frequent, but the ranchers had a drill for them, so it was often enough): stealing the grain and killing any animal they laid eyes on, in a barbaric cruel fashion. All humans had to retire to the cellars, shotguns in hand. To say that relations were tense would be understating things.

    As for the typos: correct as needed.

  37. Amanda says:

    How did my name acquire an extra A? : )

    P. S. For all I know, the Indians stole other things as well. I’m recalling a conversation of more than a year ago.

  38. Dr. Dave says:

    Amanda makes some very excellent points. ALL lands are “conquered” lands, including all of Europe. I feel not a twinge of guilt for Negro slavery or broken treaties with Native American tribes. At least on my father’s side, my great grandparents came to this country AFTER slavery ended and the “Indian Wars” were a thing of the past. My Mother’s side of the family might very well have been in this country for a long time. They all had terribly English sounding surnames like Hamilton and Williams. But I’m quite certain none of my ancestors kept slaves or stole land from Indians. Any guilt by association by being a “white man” is utterly preposterous.

    Lots of folks seem to believe that before the arrival of the evil “white man” North America was populated by dozens and dozens of native tribes who lived in harmony with nature and each other. This is nonsense. They were largely barbarian tribes that warred with and slaughtered each other for centuries before the Spaniards introduced the horse to the continent. The arrival of the horse actually resulted in the formation of entirely new tribes and cultures (think Dances with Wolves).

    I live in the American southwest. There’s a peculiar mindset out here. Apparently the “rightful” owners of land are those who stole it from the Indians first. The northern European “white man” is vilified while the brutality of the Spanish Conquistadors is given a pass. I could go on and on but Bill Whittle explains it so succinctly in under 10 minutes:

    There is archaeological evidence that the ancestors of today’s Australian Aborigines replaced an earlier, smaller race, presumably by armed conquest. I wouldn’t know, and we can’t recreate the past as if such conquests had never happened.

    Nor should we. What we can do, and must do, is avoid airbrushing history to suit the sensitivities of any one culture, race or society, and to make sure that no race is unfairly treated in our own society as a result of such conquests. Sadly, that is not yet the case here in Australia, although as I described above, much progress has been made in recent decades – Oz

  39. Amanda says:

    Hi Dave, interesting comments. I know where you’re ‘coming from’.

    By god, being an American has sure been an education. I wanted to be a purely English girl, living in England all my life, but fate intervened, and it’s certainly broadened my mind. It’s had the effect of kicking a lot of liberal pieties in the teeth — or, to put it in gentler fashion, turning them on their head.

    Apparently the Japanese are not native to their islands, either. Almost nothing (as I recall) is known about the people they replaced. They did a thorough job of claiming the land for themselves.

    Ozboy: Hope you’re feeling better now, mate.

  40. farmerbraun says:

    So is that it?

    Well, no police inquiry; but there still might be a parliamentary inquiry – Oz

  41. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave actually some evidence suggests that the original inhabitants of North American were European and South America came from of all places Australia invaders from Asia replaced them.
    Now my daughter can count among her ancestors the original Virginian colonists in the early 1600’s but as far as I can tell none ever held slaves they were just farmers. Anyhow she has the snob factor to go with her heritage as does my wife’s adopted family friends of Dick Cheney and Teddy Roosevelt among others we are talking old blue bloods. Although my own wife’s heritage is prouder having been raised in the imperial palace in Hue (the purple city) in Vietnam. As for me I’m just a humble descendant of many lordly families a mere nobody who had two ancestors at Hastings (winning team).
    To be honest none of this matters it’s who we are as people not who our ancestors were or what they did it’s how we personally treat others.
    Although admittedly I do get the urge to dress up in Armour and wield a sword to crush my enemies and here the lamentation of their women.

  42. Kitler says:

    amanda ….Leave states and provinces unconquered so that the native Indians could have a state within a state, which was yet not a state and never could be because the very idea of a state was foreign to them?

    Ever heard of the Iroquois confederacy part of there pact the founding fathers stole from for the constitution? they existed as nation and a state albeit in a primitive form.

  43. Kitler says:

    amanda as you know my daughter in law is native Alaskan I have never asked her about what she feels about her land being taken from her by foreign invaders? Not that I expect much of an answer as she can be as dumb as a bag of spanners, sweet woman that she is. However if she was a tad smarter she may be a tad angry.

  44. Kitler says:

    Izen the closest thing you will ever get to a meritocracy is Genghis Khan or Cromwell’s new model army ask the people whom they conquered how they feel about them.
    Now as for the real world of people of helping family and friends getting ahead of others or Nepotism what do expect we are just clever monkeys playing a game of social infighting. How naive are you? It may not be right but it is who we are.
    Kommunism fails because it neglects to factor in the monkey element of our nature. I could exploit my connections with the rich and powerful but I choose not to, and my enemies I could at my leisure crush if i wanted to but I don’t.
    I choose not to because I’m not a monkey I’m truly human.

  45. izen says:

    @- Kitler
    “Izen the closest thing you will ever get to a meritocracy is Genghis Khan or Cromwell’s new model army ask the people whom they conquered how they feel about them.
    Now as for the real world of people of helping family and friends getting ahead of others or Nepotism what do expect we are just clever monkeys playing a game of social infighting. How naive are you?”

    Oh incredibably naive… most of the time.
    Then I get cynical and think we have more effect on the weather as individuals than we have on the political dynamics of society…-grin-

    I agree, I think the idea of a meritocracy is a Utopian absolute, unrealisable in a real social system because of all the other interactional factors.
    It also has as a hidden assumption that people at a young age CAN be accurately assessed on ‘merit’ and assigned a role.
    It is marginally true perhaps for atheletics with fast muscle fibre percentage being a factor. Mathematical ability and musical ability also have some inate variation.
    Most of everything else is open to change with training.

    The IQ test was originally intended by Benoit to identy the children who required MORE education to maintain a standard, not as a measure of an unchangeable quality.

    Look back, it was not I that suggested a meritocracy, it was Dr Dave….

  46. Amanda says:

    From what I know of the history of colonial America, the conditions of its founding, the nature of the Revolution, and the Enlightenment character of the Founders, who agreed above all with John Locke (and Adam Smith), as well as being well versed in the classical political philosophers, the influence of the Amerindians on the Constitution was probably in the neighbourhood of zero.

  47. izen says:

    Errr, that should be Binet’s IQ test, not Benoit….
    Just reading Mandelbrot’s book on why markets crash so had ‘benny’ in mind….

  48. Amanda says:

    Izen: Like your comments. Interesting. Re: mathematical and musical ability, which you mention as having ‘innate variation’. I was never good at math as a child but there were a number of contributing factors that made it difficult for me to be good: 1) change of countries/style of schooling at an early age; 2) parents’ divorce — mother clueless about anything regarding education; 3) mother telling me she was bad at math and so I was bound to be, too. Basically, I was a mathematics headcase because all the above factors convinced me I was too stupid for it. It took a lot of growing up to show me how untrue that was. In the meantime, the damage had been done.

    Coming now to musical ability: I thought I had none to speak of, despite playing a few instruments, my parents not however sitting me at the piano when very young, even though we had one (just another indication of the non-middle-classness and unaspirational thinking, if you can call it that, of my parents). Liked cello but my high school just had a band, so I joined ‘the cement-heads in the clarinet section’, as my music teacher called it. On the other hand, I knew how to pronounce Dvořák and he didn’t. Anyway, I always wanted to write songs. But I only started writing them when I was 35. Then I couldn’t stop: they flowed out like eruptions. Words and melody, together. I’d always written poetry, but lyrics are different from poems. It’s just as though one day something in my head just clicked.

    So: latent ability, perhaps. Music is a major part of my life, and might have been even more so had I been able to unwrap the gift earlier. But who would have guessed?

  49. izen says:

    @- Amanda
    I suspect that just as there is an optimum time for a child to learn a language (or two!) there is a time when exposure/involvement in music can unleash potential talent.

    Musical ability is odd. There are examples of the exceptional, and anyone who has been involved in music, bands and performance will know that there are always around people who are just an order of magnitude better at music than the average musician. It is a human skill with a few of the best FAR beyond the average, or even the averagely good…
    It is clear to anyone who has observed audience participation when people get up to sing, nowdays its karaoke, in my day it needed an accompanist that could play anything in any key… But while there is a great variation in ability there is an amazing amount of unrefined musicality.
    However not even the most musical are automatically able to create new music, to write and compose.
    Creativity in any field is not directly correlated with ability – although it often helps!

    I quote a certain grumpy old man:

    First of all it’s never too late in life to learn to play the piano or keyboard but it has to be taken into consideration that the older you are when you start will limit the standard you could eventually attain. This is because whilst the muscles and joints in young hands are still forming, they develop much better to the needs of playing the piano.

    Also I’d say because at a young age you can develop the ability to “think musically” and instinctively, as opposed to through the formality of musical notation and lexicon. I’m watching this in Oz Jr. (age 5) as a work in progress and I can tell you it’s damn fascinating – Oz

  50. Dr. Dave says:


    I have to agree and disagree with you about musical ability. I agree in some respects because it remains a mystery to me. I’ve played guitar since I was 11 years old. Somewhere in my early 20s I “peaked”. I had too many distractions that prevented me from getting much better (but back in those days I wasn’t bad).. These were little things like college and girlfriends. Still, I was always astounded by those with inherent musical acumen that seemed to transcend “training and practice”. A lot of these folks were very good friends of mine who I basically grew up with and yet despite having “day jobs” their musical acumen seemed to develop almost exponentially as they grew older.

    You made another astute observation. Musicianship and creative songwriting ability do not seem to be necessarily linked. In my youth I was in a band (actually a few of them). The best one had two Dans. I was closer to the first Dan who was always an accomplished guitar player but then became a phenomenal banjo picker. The other Dan was a guy I’d known for years. He was a couple of years older than me. His parents were Greek and they brought home for him a gift of a magnificent bouzouki. Hell, he was the only Hillbilly bouzouki picker I ever met! But this “Dan” was really no better than I was on guitar but he was a killer songwriter. Sadly, this “second Dan” died of leukemia about 10 years ago. He was playing gigs almost right up to the end.

    But my question to you is how does musical, artistic or athletic ability differ from inherent scholastic ability? Now, I will readily admit I was a medium to (at times) lousy student in high school but I had very good grades in the sciences and math and I scored very well on various aptitude tests. Once I got in college I discovered I enjoyed learning and liked being challenged. My GPA shot up and I was able to go on to do what I wanted to do. Should I have been denied a slot because a black student with far less aptitude wanted to be a “doctor” when they grew up?

    I’m all for equal opportunity but remain firmly opposed to government imposed “equal outcomes”.

  51. Kitler says:

    Amanda sorry to burst your bubble but Jefferson did nick a sizable piece for the constitution as well as other sources it was hardly an original work, the genius was cobbling it together into something better than the sum of it’s parts.

  52. izen says:

    @- Dr Dave
    “But my question to you is how does musical, artistic or athletic ability differ from inherent scholastic ability? ”

    Consider the autistic idiot-savant. They can have exceptional levels of skill and ability in music, mathematics and memory, but fail to be an integrated human personality.
    You don’t get idiot-savant doctors, plumbers, lawyers or CEO’s. Those human achievements requires extensive training and pedagogical susceptibility. Most human skills, and scholastic ability depend on a multitude of human capabilities that interact to produce an integrated personality (more or less!). Too many factors combine to determine how well an individual might learn to be a lawyer, nurse or engineer. Trying to measure aptitude when it emerges from the synagystic interaction of a accumulation of innate, acquired learnt and external influences is probably impossible and reifies a distributed capability.

    The idiot-savant abilities seem to be tied into complex pattern recognition and memory, they can clearly vary innately without a direct correlation with scholastic aptitude for general learning.
    Functioning as a social being, and having the flexibility to learn require complex integrated personalities composed of far more collective abilities than the specific, unitary, skills in music, memory and athletics.

    Although there is probably some overlap….

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