If you cast your mind back to the Black Lives Matter protests and remember the response from some was: “All lives matter!” and the argy-bargy about how could such a simple statement be racist.
Of course, sometimes it’s not what’s said but the context in which you say it. For example, if a work colleague tells you that they’ve just lost their grandmother, it’s not fine to say: “Yes, it’s been a terrible day all round. The left lane was blocked by road works and it took me an extra twenty minutes to get to work today.”
While what Usman Khawaja wrote on his shoes may seem innocuous enough, it’s the context that matters. I mean, it’s hard to argue that “All lives are equal” and “Freedom is a human right” are controversial statements, the fact that it’s happening at a time when the idea of a ceasefire in Gaza is being debated makes it a political statement and some people get terribly upset when sportspeople make political statements… unless, of course, they’ve just been offered a pre-selection for the party that the person who’d normally object to sportspeople doing anything more than running, jumping and catching balls votes for.
I even saw a couple of comments on social media hoping that Khawaji got a duck in both innings and I have to say that comments like that are so un-Australian that I feel that whoever made them should be deported…
Whatever it’s clear that the writing on the shoes was meant to convey support for the Palestinian people. Clearly by suggesting that all lives were equal, he’s suggesting that somehow Israel’s response to the October 7th atrocities was also an anathema and that killing people is never justified when we all know that the best way to bring peace is to kill a lot of people who’ve done something bad and – unlike you – when you kill people on their side, they are more inclined to just forget the whole thing rather than fight back.
Ignoring the whole Gaza situation for a moment, I’d have to say that I’m finding the Opposition’s recent tactics rather interesting. It seems that focus groups have told them that Albanese is perceived as “weak” by some, and so they’ve decided to hit this button as often as possible.
It may be an effective tactic.
However, there is a big problem with just constantly hitting the same button for two reasons:
- The first is that it’s pretty easy to anticipate the tactics and have a counter strategy. If a tennis player has a weak backhand and you always attack to their backhand, then they’ll soon either work to improve it or simply run around onto their forward because they know where the ball is going. If a football or basketball team always pass it to the same player to score, then it’s easier to cut it off. If you keep saying that a politician is heartless, it’s easy to get a puff piece of how they always visit their mother on Mothers’ Day. And if a politician is weak, he simply needs to find some way to demonstrate strength… like doing something heartless which The Greens will attack.
- The second is that it ends up lacking nuance and eventually you end up attacking something which most people support or where what you’re attacking just sounds ridiculous. You can suggest that people should do more to help themselves and that you believe in personal responsibility but when you try to suggest that someone who’s lost their leg should learn to stand on their own two feet you demonstrate the same careful thinking that made Tony Abbott an ex-PM…
All of which brings me back to Australia’s vote at the United Nations. To suggest that voting against the USA and Israel and supporting the ceasefire is weak lacks all traction when your friends in the media and you attack it. Added to that the fact that most Australians are tending towards support for a ceasefire, even if they were appalled by the attacks by Hamas.
Don’t get me wrong. Australia’s foreign policy is only partly what we decide and partly what’s decided for us. In the case of the UN vote, it may well be that we abstained a few weeks ago for fear of upsetting certain allies (such as the US), but we were quietly told that it wouldn’t be altogether wrong if we were to come to our own decision and to put pressure on Israel because the US doesn’t want to do that… at least, not publicly.
And so, the Coalition will be attacking Albanese as weak at every opportunity which gives him the great opportunity to say that he doesn’t care what they say because he’s tough enough to ignore what they say and to get on wth the job just like we’ve done at the recent COP meeting where we stood up to the fossil fuel lobby and pushed for renewables. (Ok, the reality of what we’re actually doing may not match the rhetoric but it won’t be Peter Dutton and fiends calling him out on that!!) To suggest that Albo meekly followed the rest of the world in doing something about climate change when our party is suggesting tripling nuclear energy in Australia – which means precisely nothing because three times zero is still zero – is not the winner you think it is.
As I said before, it’s all about context. You may get some traction with some people who care more about sport than politics when you say the two shouldn’t mix. And they may agree that they hope that Usman Khawaja goes out cheaply. But you might find that they don’t appreciate you cheering if he goes out in the fourth innings when Australia was nine wickets down, needing just two runs to win!
Sometimes people may get the impression that Dutton and his band of smiling assassins enjoy it too much when things go wrong.
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