9/11, Coniston and Maralinga revisited

In 2010, to commemorate the anniversary of the ghastly events in New York the Florida Pastor of a Loony Christian congregation proposed a Q’ran burning. In an introduction to a piece in LiketheDew, Michael J Solander wrote:

For a wacko preacher of a church with less than fifty members, the pastor of the Gainesville congregation Dove Outreach Center Terry Jones, has proven himself a master promoter and genius in generating worldwide press coverage that corporate marketers with zillion dollar budgets can only dream about. It seems going public with his intention to stage a Koran burning and weenie roast — now canceled — from the front porch of his sparsely attended church to celebrate the 9/11 anniversary got a few folks, from President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton and General David Petraeus, worked up into more than a spot of bother.

Now read on.

I’m hopping bloody mad – well more frustrated, really – and given my mood I probably shouldn’t be putting fingers to keyboard, especially today of all days, but I just can’t let it go.

Oh, and before I do begin, let me say that nine years ago today I, along with 99.99 per cent of my fellow Australians, was absolutely horrified at what I was seeing on my TV screen. Our great ally and friend in time of need was in pain and we could only listen and watch, numb with shock. The anger came later. So, my dear American friends, be assured that my heart is with you, today and always.

Now I’m going to chuck a deepie.

What started me off was that self-styled pastor being given face-to-face recognition on the TV this morning. To think that this mug lair of a god-botherer would be given this sort of air time and recognition beggars belief, though it’s hardly surprising given the general quality of what now passes for news. If Joseph Mengele reappeared, it’s London to a housebrick on that networks would fight to the death to interview him about his theories of heredity.

Then I looked at my email and noticed that Michael Solander’s piece on this self-styled pastor and his Matchbox Ministry has attracted more responses – yes some are mine – than any other subject. Only one of them is from the anti-liberal right side of the road, which is a bit surprising though I’ll add that it makes a fair impact in its own way, bringing to mind stones and glass houses. But what I do find puzzling are some of the responses to this and other stories in the same vein made by people I like, though I’ve never met them and probably never will.

What is evident in all the discussion is that our own recent past – “our” being a generic term for the “Western” democracies – seems to totally escape us and that other peoples may be struggling to overcome what our not-so-distant forebears once endured is never mentioned.

I know that seeing the US flag burned by a mob in some foreign street saddens and angers you – I’d feel the same if the tens of thousands of Australian war graves on foreign soil were desecrated – but think about that mob for just a second. Those people don’t have the opportunities for education that we had and for the most part get only the news that the elite want them to see, if they get any news at all. Is it any wonder that agitators and political opportunists can so easily manipulate them? What about the direction being taken  by “The Media” in the West and the manipulation of our democratic processes by vested interests?

Nor must we forget that many of these people live in countries created for political reasons and under despotic rulers propped up in many cases by our own governments. The list of tyrants supported by the West is a long and depressing one; Amin, Pinochet and Sadam Hussein spring all too readily to mind. In my own lifetime, many of the countries where ghastly circuses of horrors are played out were colonies or “protectorates” of the Western powers and yet we, their teachers, criticize them for ignoring democracy and for their abuses of human rights.

Political correctness also cops a lot of flak. Corrupted it may have become, but at least it lessens opportunities for outright rudeness. The same dear old gentlemen who bemoan not knowing whether or not it is politically correct to hold the door for a woman probably never told their wives how much they earned.

historySharia law gets a lot of disapproval and rightly so, parts of it are pretty bloody nasty, but there are those in the West, many of them with power, influence and money – tautology if ever there was – who would have us ruled under Biblical law, which is no less nasty. These same people claim to be defenders of democracy, but Biblical law is hardly that.

Does it ever strike you as absurd that these cornflakes-box divines invoke the name of Jesus when they would have us all yoked under laws set out by the tribal leaders of the Old Testament, a document whose worst excesses I thought their bloke was trying to soften?

“I know all Muslims aren’t terrorists but I disagree with the way they treat women” gets a lot of use. Well stop and think about it girls. If you’re around my age you’ll remember that doctors often wouldn’t prescribe the pill to married women unless they had their husband’s permission and if you were single – forget it dearie! Ask one of your older relatives if she ever tried to get a bank loan in her own name. Got a woman relative aged over about 60 whose husband divorced her for her adultery? What sort of settlement did she get? Anyone know an older woman who, a victim of her husband’s violence, went to court and was told that a husband had the right to discipline his wife and/or kids? Whose mum/mom was given a housekeeping allowance by her spouse? And I’m not criticising your dads, it’s just the way it was a few short years ago.

How many years ago was it that the last black person was lynched or murdered in some other equally horrific way by a mob in the USA? Australians still shake their heads in disbelief over these atrocities, then round on me in anger when I point out that the last official massacre of Aboriginal people in Australia occurred in 1928 and that in the mid-1950s the idol of the right, former Prime Minister ‘Pig-iron Bob’ Menzies, authorised nuclear testing on land where Aboriginal people were known to be still living. Pig-iron opined that they’d “probably all been rounded up” before the tests. There are still a few Aboriginal survivors from that time who talk of the “black mist” sweeping into their camps. African Americans were emancipated – on paper anyway – a long time before Australia’s Aboriginal peoples.

Seems to me that one of the tragedies of losing our oral traditions is that a lot of very real history is too soon forgotten. Before we get too hot under our collective collar, let’s pause a while and think about our own turbulent past – it’s a lot closer than we would perhaps like to think.

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