What I didn’t know about Australia
I have been to Australia and to New Zealand. Never as a tourist; always OHMS. The meetings I attended could have been held anywhere. Therefore, I do not have a good handle on life in those countries. I have friends in both countries but we do not discuss politics, culture, or the media. My friends there are as normal as my friends everywhere.
When the shooter in the Christchurch mosque massacres was identified as an Australian, I thought, ‘that seems strange’. How could an Australian travel at least 1200 miles without getting side-tracked by a beach or a beer or a BBQ? And Why?
You can see that my portrayal of the typical Australian – and therefore all of them – was based upon my limited interaction with a few of them. Easily done when drinking beer beside the barbie on the beach is the extent of your cultural immersion down under.
This is the error of generalization from minimal data. We all do it.
My search for an in-depth answer lead me to an article in The Guardian. Jason Wilson, a Guardian Australia columnist wrote on St Patrick’s Day his opinion with the title, “Australians are asking how did we get here? Well, Islamophobia is practically enshrined as public policy.”
Really? I didn’t know that.
He describes how Australia was settled by means of a genocidal frontier war, and commenced its independent existence with the exclusion of non-white immigrants. He adds, “White nationalism was practically Australia’s founding doctrine.”
He doesn’t bother to recount that many arrived in Australia in chains delivered by British ships. He does explore how the government refused to admit refugees who had been rescued at sea and then whipped up xenophobia and border panic in order to win another election. He explains that the majority of the refugees thus imprisoned are Muslim and politicians view their detention as a matter of safety, “some of them might be terrorists.”
His narrative was beginning to sound more like a history of the USA.
I read on. What he said triggered connections in my own mind and I concluded that Australia and the US are a lot closer than I had realized.
Australia and the US fought together in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan – much more significant than them being coincidentally allied during the two World Wars and in Korea. Jihadi terror attacks against Australians at home and abroad. Enhanced Australian government surveillance of the population in the name of national security. Australian government agencies declaring that Muslims are a source of danger. The resurgent and enhanced festivities of Australia Day and Anzac Day becoming a celebration of conquest, militarism, and imperialism.
And – something of which I had absolutely no knowledge – the role of News Corp in Australian society.
News Corp? A media conglomerate created by Rupert Murdoch who still serves as Chairman and CEO.
Is that the Fox News Murdoch? Yes. The one and only Rupert Murdoch.