Dear friends of The AIMN,
On 15 March 2017 the battered Australian Broadcasting Commission went on air with a 7.30 Report interview to Ms. Sally McManus by the reporter Leigh Sales.
That part of the transcript was headed: “New ACTU secretary Sally McManus says she doesn’t see a problem with workers breaking laws when the laws are unjust.”
The exact words passing between Ms. Sales and Ms. McManus were:
“LEIGH SALES: Yet nonetheless, we live in a country where there are laws that are established by a parliament that all citizens are expected to abide by. So, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with those laws, you said that you believe in the rule of law?
SALLY MCMANUS: Yeah, I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair, when the law is right. But when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.”
I never met Ms. McManus and I only exchanged with her an email on 15.02.2016 when I was researching a certain topic to which she had amply and quite diligently contributed. Unfortunately, Ms. McManus replied – promptly I should add – “my website is down and I’m currently trying to get it up.” End of the contact.
When I first saw and heard Ms. McManus on the 7.30 Report I felt in complete agreement with her. I still am. So, I wrote that much at the old address the day after; there was no reply. I wrote again on 17.03.2017 at her new place of employment – but I expect no reply.
Ms. McManus and I have something in common. We both come from backgrounds which were ravaged by occupiers, albeit at very different times. My remote place of origin was almost completely destroyed by the Roman invaders (@1,000 b.c.e.). Everything standing was destroyed and what could be stolen is now kept in the largest Etruscan Museum, in the Vatican State. We are dealing with receivers of stolen goods, an event quite familiar to the original inhabitants of the place the British claimed in 1770 and occupied in 1788.
I noted in a short biography that Ms. McManus attended Carlingford High School and studied for a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at Macquarie University. One guess: Carlingford was most likely named after Carlingford in Ireland. It is not sectarian – quite the contrary, but another guess is that Ms. McManus is of Irish origin. And, if that is so, she has memory of the occupation of her country of origin by more recent barbarians. Her name is also encountered in Scotland, still occupied by the same barbarians. Both McManus and MacManus derive from the Gaelic Mac Mághnais, which in turn is derived from the popular Norse name Magnus, meaning ‘great’. Incidentally, one of the leaders of the Norwegian resistance against the German invaders (1940-1945) was a McManus. The Norse introduced the name in Ireland but it took on its own separate identity and is now predominantly Irish.
And now to the point of this note: if Australia were a seriously multicultural society it would pay due homage to the substance of that – that is to say, truly to being multicultural – by appreciating the contribution that Hellenism made to it with the arrival of so many people from Greece. Many, many moons ago I used to frequent a Greek club, and I recall quite vividly one of my Greek friends reacting in an ecstatic way at my mentioning Antigone. He thought I knew about her, and that I was familiar with Sophocles – hence we were not only friends, but special friends.
Of course, I knew about Sophocles’ works because of five years of ancient Greek prior and as a condition of admission to university. That ancient I am! Briefly: Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, followed her father when he was banished from his city. When her brothers Eteocles and Polynices killed each other in the war of the Seven against Thebes. Creon, king of Thebes, forbade the burial of the rebel Polynices. Antigone disobeyed his command and performed the funeral service. The moral point of the tragedy is that one must disobey unjust laws.
The mandate is imperative; it leaves no room for the quick but sick humour of the Honourable Christopher Pyne, MP brand, who called Ms. McManus’ statement “anarcho-Marxist claptrap”, or for the delirium of the Honourable (?) Peter Dutton, MP, who called Ms. McManus “lunatic”.
When it comes to the Prime Minister, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull one is in the presence of a cut above the rest, not as high as he would have it, but definitively so: Sydney Grammar School, Sydney University B.A., LL.B., Rhodes Scholar at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he attained a Bachelor of Civil Law.
What the Prime Minister said, and I am sure will repeat with greater, orotund, pompously-mannered vigor, reminded me of an interview to Ms. McManus, during the course of which she was asked: “Do you have a favourite quote? (and replied) I rather like Harry Frankfurt observation in ‘On Bullshit’ that: “It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.”
And, before some impolite ignoramus erupts in outrage and gets all worked-up, I should add: as I write I am looking at ‘On bullshit’ by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 2005). Harry G. Frankfurt (vintage 1929) is a renowned moral philosopher, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.
Thank you, Ms. McManus, and once again congratulations.
And thanks to the friends of The AIMN for reading this.