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A baby’s cry insinuated itself on the adults in the room

Friday 29 June 2018

As I was basking in the sunshine of my granddaughter’s birthday party last weekend, watching their childish frivolity, their laughter and their naughtiness – the inventiveness of their play, in staggered flickering pictures I was taken back to the body of a little boy washed up on the shore like a rag doll.

It’s a picture that has remained indelible on my mind but is now erased by one depicting another little boy looking up at the President of the United States. It’s on the front cover of Time Magazine.

Both pictures in their own way depict man’s inhumanity to children of a lessor responsibility. Kids of insignificance. Leaders suggest we shouldn’t be that bothered because they aren’t us: they are of another creed. Australia’s reputation in the treatment of other nations brings tears to the eyes of an old man desirous of pride in his place of birth.

Oscar Cásares in a piece for the Washington Post tells an amazing story about children crying that captures the essence of the language of crying:

“There’s a reason we took a collective gasp when we saw the photo of the bloodied and ash-covered face of a 5-year-old Syrian boy after an airstrike hit his family’s home in Aleppo, or the image of a 3-year-old Syrian boy whose drowned body had washed up on a Turkish beach, or even further back, the iconic photo of a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl, naked and terrified after her village was scorched with napalm. That wasn’t a Republican or Democratic or independent gasp — it was just a gasp, proof of our shared humanity.

We are wired to take care of those more vulnerable. This is what we do as humans.”

 

We always pick up the baby first.

At this point I wonder if at the beginning of any peace conference if it would make any difference if the participants were given a baby of another race, in a bassinet to look after for the duration of the conference.

When the babies all began crying for their milk in unison would the politicians “pick up the baby.”? What would they do? One would hope that they wouldn’t reach for a jacket with “I really don’t care. Do U? ”Silk screened on the reverse.

Meanwhile in Australia I read that “In three weeks, Bernadette Romulo will be sent back to the Philippines while her son remains in Australia.”

“I don’t know where to start,” Romulo says. “It’s painful every minute.

“Every day I remind him of what’s going to happen, I’m preparing him. I always tell him, always pray at night, always remember everything that I tell you, be kind to people, spread love to everyone.

“And then I always tell him … I don’t want him to be angry about what happened. He is angry and he wakes up in the morning and he’s angry. He’s a child, he doesn’t really understand things at the moment. I help him, I say keep praying and I will be there always.”

THIS IS NOT THE AUSTRALIA I GREW UP IN.

THOUGHTS FROM 2015

On this day in 2015 I wrote The PM gets what he wants from The Murdoch papers? What an utter disgrace. He knows whose side Rupert is on. Front pages of The Courier Mail and The Daily Telegraph are totality reprehensible and a leader with any character would say so.

Also in 2015. A week is a long time in politics. Last week in parliament the PM was enthusiastic in his praise for the ABCs production of The Killing Season. This week he wants to know whose side they are on. Pathetic hypocrisy but totality predictable. I note that Peter Greste says Q&A with Zaky Mallah ‘didn’t cross the line’ to incitement. He says the government is shooting the messenger in slamming the program.

I thought Richard Ackland got it right with this quote:

“The hysteria over Zaky Mallah on Q&A would make Joseph McCarthy proud.”

The public have faith in the ABC, as shown by this week’s Essential poll, which found the most trusted media were ABC TV news and current affairs (63%), SBS TV news and current affairs (61%) and ABC radio news and current affairs (58%).

4 I am assuming Andrew Bolt will come out strongly in support of Zaky Mallah’s right to free speech in his column this week.

Come on, Aunty, defend yourself

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

In case you didn’t know, Murdoch’s share of English newspapers is 34% but in Australia his newspaper titles account for 59% of all sales of daily newspapers, with sales of 17.3 million papers per week, making him the most influential newspaper publisher by a considerable margin. His closest rival, Fairfax Media has 22 per cent.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have hate on their lips and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile.”

 


23 comments

  1. Babyjewels

    Lately, I have an overwhelming feeling of defeat. The bastards have won.

  2. Frank Smith

    The inhumanity that has gripped the world has spread like a contagious disease, spurred on by media barons, right wing male politicians, and gullible voters. We should all despair at the thought of Donald Trump reshaping the US Supreme Court after the impending retirement of Justice Kennedy – that could really take the world back to the 1950’s. I too, often feel “the bastards have won”.

  3. Darrell

    Getup have a petition for the granting of permanent residency in Australia for Bernadette Romulo after winning a twelve month reprieve. Here’s the link: /www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/watchhimgrow-updated-petition/keep-this-family-together?t=Z27D6S7Jq …pass it on.

  4. Jagger

    The “bastards” have got us right where they want us, extreme household debt, rising unemployment and casualisation of the workforce, reduced services through privatisation. Yes John, you are right it’s not the country I grew up in neither, it’s turned into a dog eat dog society.
    Murdoch’s rags promote hate and division everyday in the media which have hardened the hearts of many Australians, they manipulate, misinform and lie by omission for their own benefit and that of their LNP who donate our $ to keep them in power.

  5. helvityni

    I don’t know why can’t Bernadette Romulo and the nice, much liked Sri Lankan family stay in Australia….?

    What a wonderful cover for TIME magazine: a little brown boy and a portly well-fed white man juxtaposed…

    Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale predictions are happening, not futuristic anymore, but very NOW…. the children and mothers are separated…

  6. pamela

    Is this how people in Europe felt in1930?

    Sadly we know what happened next.

  7. Phil

    This linked essay in The Atlantic Monthly is a very worthwhile read. There are strong similarities with the path Australia is currently on. It’s a longish essay but I found it compelling reading.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/the-birth-of-a-new-american-aristocracy/559130/

    I concur in part with your view John Lord concerning insensitivity to the common good. I think it is an unfortunate and destructive trait found along the breadth of the political spectrum, but I agree that it is especially the ‘right’ of politics that promotes the pursuit of self interest as the highest ideal.

    I see the Turnbull government’s obsession with a tax cutting agenda as a sad and stultifying illustration of the politics of greed – an appeal to self interest – of aspiring to wealth and higher economic status, but also it is intended to suppress and override our inherent sensitivity to the common good. It’s the same monotonously zero sum politics that every generation and every age must confront from leaders in thrall to themselves.

    There is a solution. Vote only for political representation that stands by policies that serve the common good. Tax cutting is not a policy for the common good.

  8. bearbrooke

    Trump the giant towering over a weeping child, he probably likes the image, an illustration of how he imagines himself. Like so many (supposed) leaders, how plumped out he is with his high opinion of himself.

  9. Egalitarian

    John

    “I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have hate on their lips and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile.

    Their hate is mainly about their fear.And their main fear is not having enough riches. As most fear is expressed in labeling others.

  10. Mick Byron

    I am half expecting Dutton to get emboldened by Trumps victory in the Supreme Court banning Muslims from 5 countries and try something similar.
    Problem is, a whole swath of Australians would either support it, or just don’t care

  11. diannaart

    I thought the Time cover was intended to display Trump’s mental preparation for meeting Kim Jon-un …

    @ Helvityni

    You watch “The Handmaid’s Tale”?

    In particular, last night’s episodes?

    Pleased to know that you do. Sometimes we need fiction to bring home reality.

  12. Godwin

    diannart quote “Sometimes we need fiction to bring home reality”.is one hell of a Profound Oxymoron!

    And talking on Framing an argument or frameup in Trumps case

    Trumps attacks on so called fake news. He frames it as an attacked on The American people or words to that effect

    He’s one dastardly clever delinqent .

  13. Godwin

    diannart’s quote “Sometimes we need fiction to bring home reality”. Is one hell of a profound Oxymoron.

  14. helvityni

    Handmaid’s Tale, for me it’s chillingly good TV…

    Must be made in Canada.

  15. diannaart

    @ Helvityni

    Was glued to the TV last night and, yes, the series is made in Canada – which is a good thing. Read the book many years ago, when I heard it was to be filmed, prayed the story would not be screwed up and it wasn’t. This second series has been very slow, but with such high production values and superb acting has been worth it.

    @ Godwin

    Hope you are feeling better now.

  16. helvityni

    Mick Byron, when I meet new people, I almost always think how soon will they tell me how much they hate Muslims. My response usually goes like this: there are good and bad people in every race , in any country…then I change the subject matter…or walk away.

    In the past,( so I’m told), Italians were garlic smelling crims, Croatians were Soccer hooligans and accused of burning shops, Lebanese were all that and more, Greeks ate funny food…

    The Dutch had it easy because they were pale in colour, and were seen as hard workers…sometimes they worked TOO hard and were disliked as BAD role models …too frugal too and did not drink enough alcohol….

    ‘Go back were you came from’ , was a constant shout in those days

  17. Vikingduk

    Via getup — Bernadette has been given a 12 month reprieve, what happens then may depend on election.

  18. Vikingduk

    Once upon a time the others were called “refo’s” one of many insulting terms used on those that continued to arrive as refugees post WWII. The more things change the more they stay the same.

    Handmaid’s Tale — the Neo con’s wet dream, panting for the day they can emulate this to complete reality.

    Why is it so that cruelty and greed and hate have such fans, spreading like a contagious disease all over this planet?

    Make Art Not War

  19. Mick Byron

    helvityni

    June 29, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I am a builder/contractor and in contact with a variety of contractors daily.
    I am gobsmacked how many support Hanson, caring little what her policies are other than tough on asylum seekers and believe Dutton ‘stopped the boats and stopped us getting overrun with Muslims”
    It doesn’t seem to be the country of origin these people come from [at least half of the contractors or their employees were born overseas} it is the religion and the Koran they have the hatred of

  20. helvityni

    LOL, Vikingduk, no need to tell my family about ART, hubby’s painting did not win the first prize In the yearly Wynne competition, but was good enough to be hung as one of the finalists in the NSW Art gallery… I have forgotten which year it was…

    The kids were saturated with Art and Art gallery visits. When taking them to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, they were waiting for REAL paintings to emerge, they had not seen too many dark Rembrandts in Oz,,, for them, real paintings were light and colourful Aussie style…

  21. Godwin

    Re diannaart: Hope you are feeling better now?

    In regards to what ?

  22. Vikingduk

    Helvityni, the comment that I quoted, “Make Art Not War” is a Shepard Farey original. How you could then presume I am trying to educate you or anyone else on art confuses me. I am sculptor, Valkyrieduk is painter, one son is tattoo artist, another son designs web sites and daughter keen photographer as well as running online business.

    Once again — perhaps you might read with a little more understanding — Make Art Not War.

    Cheers

  23. wam

    Why is there such a long time to complete the processing of asylum seekers?
    Why, when men fill the boats, are women and children shown in adverts?
    Why are the words ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘refugees’ used depending on the purpose of the speaker or writer?
    As for muslim hating? Poobah.
    I love the men who believe touching menstrual blood puts them into the unclean bin with the pigs and women with a period.
    I admire women who can worship a god that rewards men who kill men, women and children, with a penis and a supply of ‘virgins’.
    Although I am not aroused by female head hair, muslim men consider its exposure immodest and expect women to hide it from view in public. In some cultures everything about a women represents sex so top to toe should be hidden from the view of non relative males.
    If such sex ideas can be attributed to god, such coverings move from cultural wear it or get beaten and killed to wear it or be beaten or stoned.
    Not that keen on kneeling 5 times a day but in rome.

    ps
    Mick, in my facebook, the buzz call to hatred or fear is sharia

    I taught high school from 1960 till bolus hystericus and onset expectationus maximus sent me to a corro office.
    In my first 3 years, I taught in a high school established for the Gepps Cross migrant hostel.
    My home room was 2M a second year mixed class. The students were tested and ranked: A B C D E F G H J K L M.
    Big school big classes, multi cultural staff and students.
    When a lovely young man Taso G came to the desk I lit up a rothmans which kept us both at arm’s length.
    That year, courtesy of a punjabi teacher I had my first taste of savoury rice and spice

    Romulo should just do what the muslim men are reported as doing take the child to a muslim country regardless of the australian custody decision.

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