Sunday, August 22, 2004


Is someone being maximally naughty?

From Saturday's letters section of the SMH:

Reactions to the revelations surrounding the children overboard affair and the fake Norma Khouri story tell us a lot about the nature of prejudice in Australia.

In the first case, there has been a tendency to respond with the idea that while the refugees may not have thrown their children into the sea, they sunk their boat anyway, which makes them just as evil as we thought.

Similarly, with the Khouri affair, the response is that while her story may have been fabricated, "honour killings" do happen, so it is good that she has raised awareness about the issue.

In both instances, the willingness of large numbers within the Australian population to not only accept these fake stories, but also to believe that they are broadly representative of foreign cultural problems, exposes a latent but powerful racism that is easily tapped and exploited for a variety of purposes.

Wake up, people. To believe that Islam routinely encourages the degradation or murder of women, or that certain cultural groups are willing to sacrifice children to achieve their evil ends, shows supreme ignorance.

Women and children are abused and killed within every culture, including ours, for a variety of reasons. You can be sure that anyone telling you otherwise, be they politicians or writers, are using you for their own cowardly interests.

(name and location deleted) August 20.

The name seemed to be so ridiculously Jewish that I thought it was a joke or a fake. It wouldn't be the first time a letter with a fake name had been published.

But I checked white pages, and the details seemed to check out, and it seems someone with that name has written several letters to the editor.

But his letter all but saying that "honour killings" does not occur (criticising the attitude "the response is that while her story may have been fabricated, "honour killings" do happen") because a single claim has been attacked is almost as crazy as holocaust denial.

Yes, domestic violence does occur in many societies. But where there's a trend for domestic violence to be seen as acceptible on certain grounds, that trend should be noted and condemned.

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The terrorists can look out for themselves

Peter FitzSimons notes a markedly non-sheep-like view on terrorism:

"Nah, I've got a gun." New Zealand shooter Nadine Stanton gave this response when asked if she was worried about the potential for terrorist activity in Athens.

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Iraq! Iraq! Iraq! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Iraq has won the men's quarter finals in soccer. It has also fielded its largest olympic team since the depleted Moscow "What if we had a war and nobody came to our olympics?" 1980 games.

To the mainstream media, and to anti-war writers who thought that Saddam did some bad stuff but made the trains run on time, the good news is some sort of fluke. Reuters described the team as "war-weary"and having a "fairytale Olympic run", as if it just happened by magic. And as Bob Ellis reckons that no needless torture occurred in Iraq, the team shouldn't be going as well now as it did when Uday tortured athletes that failed to live up to his expectations.

Elsewhere, the news is not as good. Amir Taheri notes

According to officials in Athens, the number of Muslim women participating in this year's game is the lowest since 1960. Several Muslim countries have sent no women athletes at all; others, such as Iran, are taking part with only one, in full hijab. And state-owned TV networks in many Muslim countries, including Iran and Egypt, have received instructions to limit coverage of events featuring women athletes at Athens to a minimum.

Apartheid South Africa, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Saddam-era Iraq ... bad things happen to regimes that violate the olympic spirit.

With the advent of wild card entries, there should be no excuse for a team not sending at least one female athlete.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004


No child left eyeless ... needlessly

The following extract (in the August 7 "Good Weekend") from Bob Ellis's book "Night Thoughts in Time of War" sums up one of the most loathsome arguments made by those opposed to war with Iraq.

No matter, it seems, the man was a monster, it's good he is gone. He killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. He used chemical weapons on his own people. He, or his agents, gouged out the eyes of a child while the parents watched appalled and screaming.

And so it goes. In most war propaganda a bogeyman kills or tortures children: Herod slaughtered the firstborn of Israel (no he didn't), the Kaiser's mad-eyed ogres bayoneted babies (no, they didn't). It's the first big lie in any war whose cause, like this one, is insufficient.

It's all so vulgar and creepy. I mean I assume Saddam, a ruthless, ambitious fan of Stalin, did bad things and killed a lot of people in his time. But kill them pointlessly? I don't think so. He was too shrewd for that, too shrewd to make enemies needlessly: the extended family of the boy with the gouged eyes and the girl in the rape room, the tribe of the men fed feet first into the human shredder. You don't gain total power by being so diffuse in your targets. You don't keep total power without knowing whom to kill. You don't make enemies needlessly.

Saddam is too smart to harm anyone needlessly. Unlike Yanks in general and Dubya in particular:

The Americans have killed 70 people in a raid on a "terrorist training camp" in Iraq. ... What utter fools they are. The 70 dead will have 500 siblings and 5000 cousins who will be coming for them soon.

Many anti-war arguments boil down to "At least Saddam isn't as dumb as Bush". Saddam is too smart to launch WMDs on his neighbours, he's too smart to give them to terrorists, and now, he's too smart to use them on his own people.


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Thursday, August 12, 2004


Not again

The second desecration of New Zealand Jewish graves in a month occurred last Friday.

NZ parliament passed a motion condemning anti-semitism. As far as I can tell, Helen Clark was absent. If she can be bothered making a big noise alleging Mossad was behind the theft of Kiwi passports, she ought to be prepared to condemn Jew-hatred and this second desecration of graves.

Thanks to Silent Running, which has been following things there.

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Friday, August 06, 2004


Eel out of water?

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

For the past month, Eric "the Eel" Moussambani has sat idle in his hometown of Malabo, waiting for a phone call that has yet to come.

Summoned back to Equatorial Guinea from his Spanish training base, supposedly to collect his Athens accreditation, the iconic African swimmer has recently learned that an application glitch may derail his dream of competing in Greece.

The article goes on to list government incompetence damaging Eric's aspirations. Having read Freedom house's report on Equatorial Guinea, I'm not surprised.

While not wishing this bad luck on anyone, Eric's possible non-start could be a relief for Ian Thorpe.

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Something old, something new

Margo Kingston fan Tim Dunlop has been rubbed off the link list, and some new blogs that have linked to me have been added.

The last straw was Tim's comment

As to Lieberman: what a jerk. One of those liberal hawks who provided cover for the Iraq mess and without an ounce of credibility in these matters. A Zell Miller in the making. As John Stewart said: the candidate for those who think the only thing wrong with Bush is that he isn't Jewish enough.

I mean, really, quoting a comedian that is unaware of the manyfold domestic differences between Lieberman and Bush? That's beyond the pale.

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