Monday, August 30, 2010

RACISM: Germany's answer to Glenn Beck?

If you thought Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book contained gross generalisations, wait till you get your hands on the German Central Banker Thilo Sarrazin's book. Published in German as Deutschland schafft sich ab ("Germany does away with itsel").

So what does he say that is so offensive? According to DW:

At the launch, Sarrazin reiterated his beliefs about the threat of Muslim culture to European societies. He told reporters that Germans were in danger of becoming "strangers in their own country" and demanded stronger checks on immigrants.

You don't need to know German to read that kind of sentiment. Just listen to the likes of Pauline Hanson, Fred Nile or Andrew Bolt.

But it gets better. Philo also talks about the existence of a "Jewish gene". What a ridiculous suggestion.

"All Jews share a particular gene," Sarrazin said in an interview published on Sunday. "That makes them different from other peoples."

Still, why should anyone complain about that? After all, he was only saying about Jews what a certain American citizen has said about Muslims.

Perhaps FoxNews could have its own German language version. And with Thilo Sarrazin, Mr Mrdoch might have his own Glenn Beck.

Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf

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VIDEO: Jihadi jokers ...

This movie looks friggin hilarious. Innit. But will our local tea party commentariate get the jokes?

SPORT: Cricket corruption ...

Corruption in cricket (or "kirkit" as my chronically South Asian mum calls it) has become a joke. South Asians are used to corruption. It's an everyday thing in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It never happens in Australia. Just ask the Australian Wheat Board. Or the Queensland Police.

Malcolm Conn uses a column in The Australian to remind us all of just how corrupt everyone is in Africa and Asia.

Cricket is widely regarded as a microcosm of the country where it is played, which offers an instant insight into why Pakistani cricket in particular and the ICC in general is such a basket case ...

The Afro-Asia bloc, which brought down the process, has South Africa coming in at 55 on the corruption index while India is ranked 84, Sri Lanka 97, both Pakistan and Bangladesh on 139 and Zimbabwe 146.

He argues that these countries all opposed John Howard's potential presidency to the ICC. A Howard Presidency, just like the Howard Prime Ministership, would never have tolerated corruption. It would never have whitewashed or made excuses for the corrupt. It would have kept a huge distance from itself and corruption.

Conn is right. Just ask the Australian Wheat Board.

UPDATE I: Australian wickie legend Ian Healy claims there was no fixing by the Pakistani wickie at the Sydney Test in January.

UPDATE II: Fairfax websites reproduce an interesting article from the UK Daily Telegraph in which the author makes these enlightening observations:

Pakistan's dressing room is unusual. The first language is not English and Muslim prayers are said and Ramadan, as now, observed.

Gee, that's strange. They don't speak English in the Pakistani dressing room. I wonder why. Could it be because Pakistan is a non-English speaking country? And what is so unusual about Muslim prayers? Last time I checked, the country was called the "Islamic Republic of Pakistan". Yes, the corruption isn't terribly Islamic. But to make a link between corruption on the one hand and prayers and linguistic choices on the other is ridiculous.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

COMMENT: Watching the election in boganville ...

I have my computer with me at McDonalds in Mackay city, taking advantage of their free internet connection. I'm surrounded by alien and ugly looking creatures with tattoos running up and down their arms. But I needn't worry about them reading what I type. It's likely they cannot read.

OK that's a little slack. 95% of them cannot read. And their English vocabulary is generally limited to words consisting of no more than four letters.

A large number of these people would have voted for the Liberal National Party (LNP). You have to wonder about people who would vote for a party whose name makes it sound more like a New Zealand soft drink than a serious political choice.

I'm told such people don't by any means represent the majority of people in this fine city. I won't be staying here long enough to find out if this is true.

But what of the ALP? Ever since Julia Gillard decided that irrational hatreds and fears of boat people is the way to survive in politics, the wingnuts in the Coalition have had even more reason to scream "STOP THE BOATS". Including those who themselves own at least one boat.

Anyway, as at 10pm, it's almost impossible to tell who is going to win. Or even whether there will be a winner.

If the Greens win both Grayndler (unlikely) and Melbourne (almost a certainty), can the ALP work with them in government? And what is Andrew Wilkie wins Denison in Tasmania (which I think he already has), what kind of minority government would the ALP form?

Then there is the issue of the three independents (Tony Windsor, Bob Katter Rob Oakeshott) who both have histories in conservative politics. Windsor has worked with a Labor government when he was a State MP. Would he work with Gillard and deny Abbott the Prime Ministership?

But let's give credit where credit is due. Tony Abbott has brought back the conservatives from the political wilderness. He worked hard. He showed discipline, far more so than his political opponents. He was always out there. He travelled the length and breadth of the country.

For sheer hard work, if anyone deserves to be PM, it is Tony Abbott. But I hope he doesn't become PM. Why?

Because he is surrounded by wingnuts who want to turn the Coalition into the Australian chapter of the Tea Party. Tony is a good decent man surrounded by an assortment of morons, bigots, racists, homophobes, muslimphobes, commonsensephobes refugeephobes, Sinophobes, Asiaphobes and closet anti-Semites.

For the sake of the country, let's hope Julia remains PM.

Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

POLITICS/CRIKEY: Northern Qld politics no place for wusses, sheilas

Politics in the central Queensland mining town of Mackay isn’t a game for wusses. Or women for that matter. Which might explain why not a single female candidate showed up to the Dawson "Great Debate" last night at the Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre. It’s not that chick candidates wouldn’t have been interested. It’s just that there were no sheilas running this time around.

Unlike the LNP candidate George Christenson, few conservative women I know would be stupid enough to spend their university days writing stuff that single-handedly offends Jews, women and gays.

When asked about the remarks published in The Student Advocate in 1998, Christensen said sorry to everyone for his "pretty stupid and quite frankly offensive" comments he made "when I was a teenager" and emphasised how he had never believed his mum was stupid. One prominent academic, Heather Nancarrow from nearby Central Queensland University, told Christensen she had asked each party for their policies on reducing violence against women and children. She’d received stuff from all other parties present (Greens, ALP and Family First) but not from the LNP. Christensen replied words to the effect of "I’ll get it to you before the election. It’s been a busy week".

On the other hand, how many left-of-centre women would you know who, like ALP candidate Mike Brunker, would end up in a fight with the president of a local turf club and be facing criminal charges a week out of the election? Brunker denied it all and told us about how he’d "copped it on the nose" from the said Cyril Vains (himself an ALP member) and merely defended himself. The editor of the Daily Mercury, who was chairing the debate, noted that the defence involved Vains receiving cuts to his eye and a bruised face. Brunker responded that he had lots of witnesses including a minister of religion. At this point, one lady screamed out: "Good on ya Mike. We still love ya!".

Apart from this heckler, there were very few sheilas in the audience. Or indeed blokes. The hall must have had a capacity of about 1500. Hardly a fifth of that number showed up. Among the no-shows was a candidate from the Citizens Electoral Councils. I doubt he’d have been missed.

The Greens chap Jonathan Dykuj began his presentation by acknowledging the traditional owners of the area. This caused a tiny ripple of applause up the front and a much larger groan around the rest of the hall. Perhaps Christensen should have just focused on the blacks and left the sheilas and poofters alone.

Speaking of the backwardness of black fellas, some bloke representing the local branch of a forestry lobby group got up and lectured us all on the evils of world heritage listing before reminding us of how "white man had discovered the value of our forests". No one took him seriously except Christensen, who reminded us that people should be able to chop down trees on their property.

Christensen also kept going on and on about the mining tax, which was killing local businesses and sucking millions of dollars out of the local economy each week. "Talk to the mining contractors and ask them about how they are suffering." Then one bloke stood up and declared: "I’m a mining contractor and my business is going gangbusters. Which mining industry are you talking about?"

Some bloke surnamed Kelly lambasted the ALP over its broadband plans in Tasmania and then asked Christensen a dorothy dixer about the LNP’s NBN proposal. Christensen then lambasted the ALP’s proposal as being based on outdated technology like optic fibres. He must have been a little perturbed to see on Lateline Tony Smith says that the Coalition’s plan is built upon the same outdated technology. And the questioner, Mr Kelly, wouldn’t have been happy to be identified by the Greens candidate as being the husband of former National Party MP De-Anne Kelly

The only sombre moment was when one brave woman stood and said she was a consumer of mental health services. She wanted to know what each party was doing to attract mental health service providers to the area. On this issue, the candidates decided to stop verbally punching each other and address the issues.

As I walked out with the crowd, I could see some Convention Centre staff looking rather desperate to get home. "Full house?" I asked one. They sniggered and responded: "Should have advertised it as a mass debate."

First published on the Crikey website on 19 August 2010.

Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf

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