Diplomatic immunity, Mr Riggs

Congratulations to South Africa for outplaying England in the rugby World Cup this weekend.

The Springboks made history on Saturday for two reasons; they were the first team to have lost a match during the pool stage to then go on to win the final. Secondly, they joined only New Zealand in the club of teams to have won it three times.

It’s actually better than that; two of New Zealand’s victories had the home advantage and the first one (1987) was at a time when the rest of the world didn’t pay their players whilst New Zealand only pretended not to.

England were the favourites in most pundits’ minds, so this was a brilliant upset by the Saffas.

However….

If you can bear to look, there is a concerted effort to frame this victory as “1995 redux”.

For those not interested in rugby, the 1995 World Cup victory by Francois Pienaar’s team against the All Blacks was lauded as a unifying moment for the newly-democratised country, not least because Nelson Mandela publicly supported the team by wearing the jersey with the captain’s number.

It was a really great moment in sport but does it really translate to the wider situation in South Africa? Is it going to make a difference?

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone who has visited South Africa in the last, say, fifteen years knows that this “moment for change” narrative is built on sand.

In fact, anyone who’s met a South African recently will also know it’s total bullshit.

Why? Every South African you meet has a tragic home invasion story about either themselves, a close relative or personal friend. This is not something a safe, civilised country with a positive economic and social future experiences.

Since the end of Apartheid, South Africa has simply switched the race of the 1% of the ruling class. Perhaps the Apartheid era rulers were also massively corrupt, but they managed to maintain some level of protection of personal safety and property rights (albeit for a minority of the population all of the time and the rest of the population some of the time) and could at least keep the lights on and drinking water flowing.

Through incompetence, corruption and an undisguised animus for people with the wrong colour skin (there’s a word for that which escapes me), the new ruling class have managed to reduce the size of the minority for whom living conditions are tolerable to an even smaller number than before universal suffrage.

Anyone who thinks 80 minutes of kicking and catching an oddly-shaped football will reverse the inexorable slide towards Zimbabwe V2.0 has not been paying attention or is suffering from cognitive dissonance.

There is a joke the non-ruling class blacks tell each other in South Africa; we wanted freedom but we got democracy instead.

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

Lifting the veil on the narrative

Consider this tragic story of prejudice and bigotry:

The mood after the race was jubilant. Sixteen-year-old Noor Alexandria Abukaram, who had just run her best time yet, hugged her high school teammates as they realised they were headed to regionals.

So far, so inspiring.

Then the students went to check their individual times at last Saturday’s Ohio cross-country meeting, Abukaram remembers. It seemed there was a mistake – her 22 minutes 22 seconds was not listed.

Oh no! Why not?

Other team members who’d sat out Abukaram’s race told her what they’d heard: an official at the Ohio High School Athletic Association approached their coach just before the race to say Abukaram needed a waiver to wear her hijab. Without it, she couldn’t compete.

That’s awful. Imagine thinking you’d competed and won fairly only to discover an obscure rule you’d never known previously had disqualified you.

Abukaram had never experienced this type of bureaucratic nonsense over religious clothing before, after all.

Abukaram says she’s watched her older sister come home crying from soccer games, after being told to change out of religious garb like the long pants she wears in addition to a headscarf.

Oh, that’s awkward.

The article then mentions a different, elite-level, athlete with similar problems:

Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first US athlete to compete in the Olympics with a hijab, has described sticking out uncomfortably at competitions and being asked to remove her headscarf for an event ID photo.

Well, unless everyone is forced to wear a headscarf, then I suppose she would look different, wouldn’t she?

As for ID photos requiring an unrestricted image of the competing athlete, I’m sure someone with even the mildest ability to hypothesise could think of how waiving that rule might result in a bad result.

Back to Abukaram’s tragic case. What say the athletics event organisers?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association says it wasn’t singling out Abukaram last weekend, just enforcing its rules. Students need a waiver to run cross-country in “religious headwear”, spokesman Tim Stried told The New York Times, and Abukaram’s school had not requested one.

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they, the bigots.

Abukaram’s request after Saturday’s race was approved “immediately”, Stried said. That means Abukaram can run this weekend in regionals.

Oh.

For Abukaram, the decision to strike her time was still hurtful. She wants the waiver requirement dropped – something OHSAA is now considering, Stried told the Times.

Quite right too. Everyone should be forced to change because of one person’s inability to ask for a waiver….which was granted immediately when requested.

Bills Opinion

Crybully is an interesting noun which explains much of what we see in cases involving participants in “The Oppression Olympics”.

In the entire article linked above, and the countless clones of it available via a Google search, the word “why” is conspicuously missing.

As in, “why does the Ohio High School Athletic Association ban head coverings unless agreed in advance?

I can’t find the reasons on the association’s website, mainly because the bylaws and general rules pages have been removed. Interestingly, they are proud enough of their transgender policy to leave that up (spoiler alert; it’s a fudge, like Cricket Australia’s).

We’ll have to speculate then.

I imagine the rule was made because, unless they legislated for every possible religious headgear, they had to reserve the right to review each individual case and not be unreasonable in granting the waivers.

How might a general rule allowing headgear be abused?

Well, we could ask why cyclists wear this type of helmet, for example:

Then there might be reasons of safety; headphones are banned because its restricts competitors’ ability to be aware of other runners.

It seems reasonable, therefore, to check each proposed headgear before a race.

But, claiming victim status and throwing accusations of bigotry is rewarded because incentives matter.

Little Forethought by the Sea

From the book of faces:

This follows on from the Sydney suburbs of Leichardt and Haberfield being renamed to “Little Italy”.

What a great idea and an utterly genius way to improve the social cohesion between various ethnicities living in the melting pot of Australia.

Let’s step through some versions of the possible logic behind this decision:

  1. Everyone is envious of Chinatown having a name other than “the southern part of Sussex Street”, so we should let everyone else name their place accordingly, or
  2. We love multiculturalism so much, although we can’t really explain what it means but it feels like it’s a warm and lovely version of that 1971 advert for Coca Cola, or
  3. There’s a majority of a particular ethnic group in my constituency and this locks their vote in for me next election.

As with all political decisions, the implications of this are only considered when they directly impact the next election cycle.

More curious minds might ask whether naming areas of a city after the majority ethnic groups residing there is a sound long term strategy?

Where might this lead?

Slippery slope fallacies are to be avoided but, if we now have three areas named in such a way, there’s obviously some level of trend to be observed.

It’s not hard to imagine a situation in the near future where tensions are inflamed because of a perception that this is “our area” and a particular ethnicity isn’t welcome.

It probably happens already to a certain extent but now such an attitude has a perception of legitimacy through Council decree.

Bill’s Opinion

Where might this end? Here’s some suggestions for future naming changes:

Lakemba: Little Lebanon

Glebe: Big Lesbos

Mascot: Little Guangzhou

S’nives: Little Jo’burg

Point Piper: Little Taxation

Paramatta Road: Little Hope And Maintenance

Gosford: Little Dentistry

Mosman: Little Empathy On Sea

Canberra: Little Accountability

Bondi: The Irish and the Jewish communities will have to fight it out for naming rights. The clever money is betting Mossad will beat Continuity Backpackers by a cricket score.

As fun as this is, there’s a couple of versions of the future that could be reasonably envisioned. They are both probably unrealistic, but I suspect only one was ever in the minds of the people behind this push to rename suburbs:

No male Bonding

Actress Lashana Lynch will take on the iconic spy role of 007 in Bond 25, according to reports.

Not really; the click bait headline tricks you into learning she’s just been given his code name after James Bond has “retired”.

Putting aside the ridiculous journalistic contortions required to rely on “reports” as a source of news, and who the hell is Lashana Lynch anyway… who cares?

But seriously, who gives a stuff whether Bond is played by a man, woman, Indian, Eskimo or African? It’s a fictional character in a film, a make believe story with people pretending to be someone they aren’t.

If people watch the movie and judge it to be fun and/or credible, they’ll tell other people who will then pay money to watch it. If it stinks, everyone who sees it will loudly say so at every opportunity.

Unlike, say the appointment of a diversity hire CEO of bank, movies have quite a rapid feedback mechanism. The studio accountants will know within weeks of the premiere whether or not a break from the standard formula has worked with the ticket-buying public.

Bill’s Opinion

The next James Bond could be played by a wheelchair-bound gay Native American amputee with a pet squirrel for all I care.

James Bond is not some sacred religious figure who can only be played by a macho white English alpha male. If fact, Daniel Craig is only the 2nd Englishman to have played the part (3rd if you count the David Niven spoof).

If a Bond movie with a non “traditional” actor gets good reviews from sources I trust, I’ll pay to see it. If it gets Ghostbuster-esque reviews (Guardian – 4 stars vs everyone else who doesn’t write for a Woke media outlet – very few stars) I won’t.

Ghostbusters could only reach 22nd place on a list of 2016 films by revenue, by the way.

Why Khan’t you just shut up and do your damn job?

At last, chance to chat about something unrelated to religious rugby players…..

People sometimes ask me why we moved from London to Sydney? Reasons they are correct in assuming played a factor include the weather, the beaches, sailing and the chance to work in the vanguard, nay, the cutting edge of business and industry.

Ok, nobody seriously suggests the latter; if you think Sydney is leading the world in anything commercial, you’ve not been paying attention. It’s not even leading Australia in making good coffee; that’s Melbourne. Sydney sniffily looks down on it’s northern neighbour, Brisbane, as being backward but at least Brisbane has the humility to rarely pretend to be anything other than an oversized country town where everyone is related.

The main reason we moved out of London is that we didn’t fancy burying one or more of our children after they’d bled out on a London street.

Don’t get me wrong, London is absolutely still my favourite city in the world. If you’re earning a decent wedge of cash and enjoy good food, drink, music, arts and great value travel options, London is the place to live. If you’ve got kids of high school age, however, it’s really a holiday destination only.

We could see the trend years ago with a general and pervasive atmosphere of danger increasing over the years. I lived there for most of my adult life and had a great time but this was partly due to the fact that I was, (1) able to afford to live in one of the nicer areas, and (2) physically confident in most conflict situations (thank you Mr. Hamilton, my junior school teacher who introduced me to rugby).

Even with those mitigating factors, there were still a few occasions where the danger crept into our lives. My significant other still berates me for the time when we were travelling home on a bus one afternoon after I’d been playing rugby and I foolishly prevented a young man from attempting to get on through the rear doors (to avoid paying his fare) and he and two mates jumped me. Two factors were in my favour that day; I was in significantly better physical condition relative to the youths and, most importantly, they didn’t have any weapons. Thanks to that second factor and the help from another bloke on the bus, I was unhurt and they left with bruises. It was still stupid of me, however.

One doesn’t just arrive at being financially independent and handy in a fight though, you must survive adolescence and the initial phase of your working life first. High school age children are at a disadvantage, therefore.

Since we left, for reasons unclear to us, Londoners elected (and subsequently re-elected) a mayor who seems uninterested in delivering the most basic of requirements of his job description; i.e. keeping the population alive and physically safe.

Sadiq Khan has overseen the most rapid escalation in knife crime and other forms of serious violence that the capital has experienced since before Robert Peel thought about getting some hairy-arsed blokes together to calm things down a little.

How bad is it? 30 deaths from stabbings since the start of the year.

From that article;

How many stabbings were there in London in 2018?

Figures from London’s Metropolitan police showed that knife crime surged by 16 per cent in the capital year-on-year in 2018, as Britain’s crime epidemic continues.

There were 1,299 stabbings in London up to the end of April, according to official statistics from the Met Police.

In 2017-18, there were 137 knife offences for every 100,000 people in the capital.

2018 was London’s bloodiest year in almost a decade as the murder toll reached 134.

These statistics are appalling but they also tend to obfuscate even worse realisations. For example, how young those 30 murder victims are.

The reason I used The Sun’s article above rather than a more “respectable” mainstream media outlet is because it lists each of this year’s fatalities and gives their ages. Take a moment and scan down the list. Most of those murdered were 25 years old or younger.

When one looks at the probability of being stabbed in London, the “137 in 100,000” is not relevant if you are, say, an 18 year old. Clearly the risk is far greater for you and nearly everything an 18 year old would consider as being fun is likely to contribute to worsening that probability, such as going to a party, drinking in a bar, attending a music festival, walking home from a friend’s house at night, etc.

Bill’s Opinion

Things are likely to get far worse before London improves. The good news is that crime epidemics can be reversed in large global cities like London. New York in the 80s and 90s is the precedent for this.

However, it’s clear that the leadership is where the change starts. If your mayor is more interested at ranting on Twitter about his distaste for the President of the United States than, say, increasing visible policing, targeted stop and search, curfews for school age children, enforcing truancy laws, and generally being bothered about the rule of law, then don’t expect knife crime and other violence to reduce in a hurry.  

Alistair Williams has a good perspective on this;

Australian hypocrisy’s name is Lisa Wilkinson

Christ, can we please all just shut up about Israel bloody Folau?

No? Ok then, here’s our 3rd sodding blog post in a week about the ridiculous saga…..

For those who care enough to continue reading this blog and this specific post but aren’t bothered enough to keep up with the news, which I suppose is probably the square root of bugger all people, the latest update is as follows;

Go Fund Me have taken down his donation page because it breaches their terms of service.

The money will be refunded to the donors.

The Sunday Project (“prow-ject” in the vernacular) host, Lisa Wilkinson, berated a God botherer in a hard-hitting interview last night because he was of the wrong opinion.

Firstly, the Go Fund Me terms and conditions are linked on our previous offering on this subject if you’re curious. They really don’t explicitly exclude Israel’s campaign, but have a big clause about the website’s discretionary powers which would allow them to shut him or anyone else down at a whim. The reporting of this that tries to claim a breach of terms is either wrong or duplicitous. At this stage of the culture war, it’s probably going to save you time if you just assume the latter.

In summary, they are a private website and the contract you sign when you use it allows them to do whatever the hell they want. That isn’t the same as pre-emptively banning on principle Israel Folau’s campaign or similar campaigns.

Refunding the money will be interesting, however. As commenter, Sgt 73rd Regt mentions on our previous post, the inference is that the money goes straight to a trust bank account and doesn’t sit on the Go Fund Me account earning interest for them. I will be able to confirm what really happens shortly as I, ahem, may have considered it worth an amusing tenner to donate under Lisa Wilkinson’s beta male husband’s name….

Which brings us on to the increasingly haggard, post-menopausal La Wilkinson….

Last night on a TV show nobody was watching, she gave a 30 year old God botherer a proper lesson in investigative journalism. Nah, not really; she just did the easiest thing in the world and ran logic rings around someone with faith. If this is important work, there’s a billion people in India who believe God looks like a blue elephant whom she could doorstep with a willing camera crew.

Picking on God botherers is fine, if that’s how you want to make your money but we would like to point out two reasons why La Wilkinson is being incredibly hypocritical;

  1. Her co-host on The Prow-ject is an outspoken muslim  who has struggled in the past, on camera, to explain his faith’s doctrinal view of homosexuals. Presumably, her hard-hitting interview with Waleed will air later this week?
  2. A very lucrative part of Lisa’s annual salary is earned from hosting “Carols in the Domain” each Christmas. One assumes she’s spotted the underlying religious element of that TV program?

Bill’s Opinion

I promise this is the last missive on this subject until something halfway interesting occurs (and that doesn’t include faux legal advice in the comments from a failed civil engineer).

It’s probably worth clarifying my personal faith regarding this issue first; I’m an atheist who enjoys the benefits of where the Judeo-Christian tradition arrived in 2019. Perhaps a “cultural Christian”, if you will. I have no animus whatsoever toward homosexuals, to use the cliché, some of my best friends, etc.

If I could be so inclined, I could seek out discussions with people of faith and run logic rings around them just for fun. In fact, when I was younger, more foolish and cruel, I often did, asking my Christian relatives what they thought about those awkward fossils in the Natural History Museum and what the implications were for their reading of the Old Testament, for example.

What seems odd to me is that Lisa is applauded for poking fun at someone of a particular faith, especially as she’s very fucking happy to take their coin every Christmas. We can play the whataboutery game here too; why doesn’t she ask the question of other religions, for example the bloke she sits next to several evenings a week?

If you don’t believe in the tenets of Christian faith, why would you care about whether it teaches some people will go to a place you don’t believe exists?

Those who suggest this is no longer just about a kick and clap football player and his employer are correct. This is a cultural war being played in AND BY the media. Go Fund Me were bullied into closing down the campaign after a concerted effort by the a small subset of the media. It will be interesting to see where the battle is fought next.

Next week on the Sunday Prow-ject, Lisa Wilkinson angrily confronts Harry Potter fans who claim she can’t travel to Hogwarts.

Take it away, Waleed;

Doing the Decent thing

Tom Decent seems to have decided to not selectively edit today;

GoFundMe’s fine print says the crowdfunding site cannot be used for “campaigns we deem, in our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or sex.”

Here’s my take on his previous attempt to steer the narrative.

Bill’s Opinion

There was a time when journalists used to at least attempt to offer their work as being without bias. I recall a time when they would be referred to as “reporters”. That noun seems to be out of favour now.

It’s absolutely fine to be an “activist”, we all have causes we support, but it’s highly disingenuous to pretend to be a “journalist” at the same time.

Giving no quarter

This is a curious little report.

The United States has rejected more than 300 refugees under the Australia-US refugee deal, leaving the men in Australia’s offshore processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

That’s fair enough; I suppose, their borders, their border entry requirements.

What sort of percentage of these previously slam dunk new American residents were rejected?

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the target of resettling 1250 refugees was not going to be met, hampering the Coalition’s goal of closing down the detention centres.

Crikey, that’s nearly a 25% rejection rate.

“I don’t think we’ll get there,” he said. “There’s been over 300 that have been rejected by the United States for various reasons. They will make decisions about who they will bring under their migration program.”

Various reasons“.

Any chance we, the taxpayer who funds these rejected applicants, could learn what those reasons might be?

Mr Dutton said there were 95 people who have either withdrawn from consideration or rejected an offer, 295 who were in the pipeline for approval and 531 who had been re-settled.

Withdrawn or rejected an offer of resettlement to the USA…. after an expensive and perilous journey across 2 continents and half an ocean followed by several years on an island in the middle of nowhere?

Is anyone else wondering why? A quick scan of the rest of the article would suggest that nobody else is interested in the details.

This is interesting though:

Under the deal, Australia would reportedly accept dozens of Central American refugees in exchange for those in the Australian offshore detention centres, but Mr Dutton said only two Rwandans accused of mass murder by the US had been re-settled in Australia. 

The pair were taken to the US more than a decade ago and charged with murdering eight people in a brutal 1999 machete attack in Uganda.

Wait, what?

“We don’t have plans to bring any others from America at this stage,” Mr Dutton told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.

Oh, that’s ok then. Just the two accused of genocide then. Could someone please let me know what postcode they were relocated to?

He said the historical perspective and circumstances of the allegations needed to be taken into account as well as what has happened in the intervening period.

What does that even mean, do we think?

Because Australia doesn’t have many Tutsi these two accused murderers are not so likely to repeat their actions?

Or, over time, a mass murder event becomes less serious?

If you’re confused by Dutton’s statement, you’re not alone.

“That’s a different situation from someone who just sexually assaulted a girl on Manus in the last 12 months,” he said.”We aren’t bringing in people posing a risk.”

Excuse me if I’m unconvinced by that word salad.

In fact, I’m sure I read something similar from the Argentinian authorities in 1960 after Albert Eichman was captured.

Mr Dutton said the Australian Federal Police, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and international partners would continue to vet asylum seekers and Australians returning from war-zones in Syria.

“They’re complex cases. We’ll look at them compassionately but realistically,” he said.

Right, but back to the arrangement with the USA; it would seem something came up in their vetting that didn’t in ours. Comparatively quickly too, given that these asylum seekers were on Nauru and Manus, under Australian Federal care for 4 or 5 years.

There’s more from Mr. Dutton:

“If we’re bringing teenagers back, for example, who may have been listening to the propaganda rhetoric, having watched horrific circumstances, bodies being mutilated, over a long period of time, what threat those individuals may pose to our country if they’re returned”

What, as opposed to two people accused of doing the killing?

Anyway, these two potential mass murderers aside, what about the nearly 25% rejected applicants? Why might the USA quickly deem them to be not the type of person to be admitted to their country?

Here’s another data point you might not be aware of or have forgotten, certainly the news report seems to have omitted it; the deal wasn’t contingent on the applicants being genuine asylum seekers under the UN definition, they only had to pass a basic safety vetting.

Bill’s Opinion

Why might someone sitting for years on Nauru or Manus withdraw from a chance to be relocated in America?

The Guardian suggests it’s because America is horrid to Muslims, because that’s what several of the asylum seekers told them. More horrid than half a decade on an isolated Pacific Island?

We seem to be missing quite a lot of relevant information here.

Why would the USA be able to determine someone isn’t suitable to be relocated in their country when Australia has been happy to keep that person housed, fed and Xbox’d to their heart’s content for years?

Again, we seem to be missing quite a lot of relevant information.

Incentives matter. The urgency to investigate and adjudicate on an asylum seeker’s case when they are living outside of the country to which they are applying is not as great as when they are potentially about to arrive on your shores.

As for withdrawing an apparently slam dunk application to America because of “Islamophobia“? Our razor suggests that’s unlikely to be the real reason; an explanation requiring fewer assumptions to be correct is that there is something in one’s past that, if or perhaps when discovered by the American authorities, would require you to answer a bunch of difficult questions.

Irony is resurrected for Australian Rugby

The ARU are looking to renew their links to charitable causes and are seeking expressions of interest;

The photo above is interesting; last time I checked, there were 15 players in a rugby team, not 10. More if you count the match reserves.

I wonder why they’ve cropped the rest of the team and wider squad out of the picture?

Perhaps a clue can be found in the press release (highlighting mine)?

Rugby Australia said it is seeking a charity partner that aligns with the game’s core vision, which includes making rugby “a game for all” and igniting Australia’s “passion for the game”.

Right then, a game for all? That’s great.

Can we get a hint of what that might mean by looking at the current charity partners?

The charity will also link with Rugby Australia’s current community partners including Disability Sports Australia, Pride in Sport, the Australian Deaf Rugby Team and Our Watch.

Pride in Sport? I wonder what they’re all about?

Pride in Sport is the only sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist National and State sporting organisations and clubs with the inclusion of LGBTI employees, players, coaches, volunteers and spectators. The world-first Pride in Sport Index (PSI) benchmarks and assesses the inclusion of LGBTI people across all sporting contexts.

Ah, because what one does in the privacy of one’s bedroom and with whom one does it is extremely relevant to kicking a ball or swimming in a pool, isn’t it?

I suppose there’s no point in the charity, The Australian Christian Values Institute applying then?

Bill’s Opinion

As this article points out (h/t Tim), the ARU is one of those organisations that has fully-embraced the current fashion for wokeness. The problem is, they haven’t fully-worked out the details of which victim credentials trump which others.

Hence a deeply religious rugby player is about to sue the arse off the sport for firing him for legally-expressing his views, fully in line with the recognised teachings of the religion, because they are at odds with the feelings of another one of the protected groups.

Unless the Australian judge presiding over the case decides to defenestrate Common Law precedent (which, to be fair, is not beyond the realms of possibility), the ARU are going to have to cut a considerable cheque.

The lesson is straightforward.

Go woke, go broke.

I identify as ethnically grumpy

Australia has a new Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt. It is being widely reported that Ken is the first minister in this role with an Aboriginal heritage which, to be fair, is somewhat surprising given that the role has existed since 1968.

Regardless of whatever political persuasion you gravitate to, the fact that neither the left or the faux right have been able to find someone from that community to make decisions on behalf of them is not a great look, is it? Just to pick on one previous Prime Minister (but the same goes for all the others), Kevin Rudd could tearfully say sorry for something he wasn’t responsible for that happened before he was born but he couldn’t find an Aboriginal to be Minister for Aboriginals?

Little wonder why people are cynical about the motivation of politicians….

Back to Ken, though. Let’s be gauche and point out the obvious; he doesn’t look very Aboriginal.

That statement is not offered in bad faith, but as a lead to a discussion about what ethnicity means and whether it does or perhaps should have any place in decisions about the allocation of employment, particularly those that wield power?

What exactly does it mean to be Aboriginal in Australia in 2019? How is it defined? What difference does it make?

There are three components to the official government definition of who is considered to be Aboriginal;

  1. A person who has Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent; who also
  2. Identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person; and
  3. Is accepted as such by the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community in which they live (or come from).

#3 seems to be the most critical of these; if you can show other “official” Aboriginal people agree you are one of them, you’re one of them. Cynically, this might be considered as somewhat analogous to the Medieval Relic Trade, where a nail from the True Cross could be rubbed on a brand new nail and, lo! the new nail was imbued with the magical qualities of the original.

Yes, I know, I’m sure nobody is deliberately defrauding the public purse with false claims of ethnicity in Australia, I’m just saying the possibility of mendacity is there if someone was so motivated…..

But ethnicity is a funny concept, isn’t it? I have a friend, let’s call him Rupert, who was born to two sub-Saharan African parents. His skin tone is extremely dark and has the facial features one would expect from someone with a long heritage of ancestors from, say, Kenya. Rupert was privately-educated in very expensive schools in England, and consequently speaks and has mannerism like Hugh Grant. If you spoke to him on the telephone, you wouldn’t correctly guess his ethnicity. Culturally, he’s about as English as it gets. We’ve spent many pleasant afternoons together drinking beer watching sports matches at Twickenham and Lords. So, can he really claim to be African?

Similarly, in addition to his Aboriginal ancestors, Ken Wyatt has ancestors from England, Ireland and India. That’s a lot of non-Aboriginal genes.

It’s entirely possible that there are more people alive who are officially recognised as Aboriginal in Australia today than there were when Captain Cook arrived. The British “genocide” of the indigenous people was, frankly, bloody incompetent by that metric.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s great that, finally after 50 years, someone from the Aboriginal community is now in the office responsible for making decisions on their behalf.

It does raise some questions about whether or not we really need people to be selected for jobs simply because of inherent factors like gender, sexuality, or ethnicity. Of those, ethnicity seems the most difficult to define at the margins.

We risk dividing people along lines that are subjective to the point of farce if we take this approach much further along its current course.

Personally, I have no issue with Ken’s “identification” as Aboriginal (and I’m sure he’s going to sleep more easily tonight with the knowledge of my approval); he grew up in an institutional home for Aboriginal children so, even if he was 100% ethnic Faroe Islander, he’ll have a better understanding of Aboriginal issues than most other candidates for his current job.

However, here’s an idea; why not remove the position of Minister for Indigenous People completely, and, while we’re at it, repeal any laws that legislate differently for different ethnicities (of which, there are a few). Finally, enforce existing laws equally; if you physically abuse a child in a remote community, the investigation, trial and punishment should be no different to the same offence committed in a metropolitan area and regardless of “ethnicity” and “culture”.