Archive for August, 2012

Don’t Bring Your Blasphemy Here

A very disturbing report this morning of a young Pakistani girl suffering from Down’s Syndrome being charged with blasphemy (a capital crime) for holding up burnt pages of the Koran. As much as I think this is not right, I have only a news report to go on and that is no basis for forming an opinion. Having said that, I can go on my own observations and research. I  have noticed many migrants to Australia from this region display very different attitudes to what we are used to when it comes to customer service and other aspects. Given so many buy petrol stations that in Sydney at least it is rare to find one not owned and staffed by Pakistani and Indian people. I understand why they do this; it is a cash business and, like with restaurants, allows for steady cashflow. Good business practise that also allows them to hire their own nationals as staff. This is also good business practise as they can no doubt communicate more effectively with them and they rack up ‘brownie points’ giving jobs to relatives and so on. All part of their culture and way of doing business but not something many Anglo-Australians might understand or be comfortable with.

Those employees are often here on student visas and bring considerable revenue to the country in the form of fees and living expenses. Offset by the wages they earn working in the service stations and elsewhere that hopefully tax is paid on, it should be a Win/Win situation. Do those employers pay Award rates? I very much doubt it from conversations I have had with several employees. If ten people in twelve stations tell you they are paid a cash in hand rate then one could presume this ratio is indicative. The thing is, that is how it is done over there and they are familiar with this way of doing business. I have yet to meet many non-Indian/Pakistani locals who don’t have a personal horror story of their dealings with this group (actually very much two very separate groups) either through call-centers located overseas, electricity and telco door to door salespeople or in retail situations. Cultural traits seem to be repeated in all the examples, including my own. Of course there are many lovely Indian and Pakistani people in this country, don’t get the idea they aren’t. They just have different ideas of what is the right thing to do when doing business.

Understand where they come from over a billion people compete for space, food, jobs, marriage partners, everything. Many of these are illiterate and so poor they would think one of our homeless was middle class. The people we meet here are the Sub-Continent’s middle classes for the most part; educated, intelligent and cashed up. Yet still they behave in ways many Australians do not like or find less than acceptable. If we had a society like theirs, perhaps we would accept things more readily when done their way. They have a civilization that includes literature, music, art, science, engineering and commerce that goes back several thousands of years and today provide many of the top minds in computing, aerospace and finance. This is all true yet the reality is that they are not in their society anymore, they are in ours. In time, perhaps three generations, they will be as assimilated as the Greek. Maltese and Italian Australians are today. When I came here from the UK in 1971, it was not quite as it is today. Many Mediterranean area migrants still clung to their ways and were more likely to be in cash businesses and employ their own countrymen and women. The first wave of Lebanese (mostly Christian) migrants followed and they were just the same, as were the Vietnamese who came next. Cash businesses and fellow expats as employees. So it has been with every wave of migration into this country and you know what? We have absorbed them all. There have been ups and downs but in the end we find they all relax and their kids, or their kid’s kids, tend to blend in and emulate the accents and actions of their classmates.

The parents, the ones who made the decision to come here, often resist this and want the best Australia can offer for their kids but without their kids being ‘Australian’. Very often migrant families disparage Australian families and consider them undisciplined and immoral. They are right, but only to the same degree that not all of any migrant group is this way or that way. In time, they appreciate they did the right thing coming here, that not everything in Australia is bad, that to have what we have here you need to give as much as you take and that their kids and grandkids are not a disgrace or embarrassment and in fact, are probably adored and envied when they do the obligatory trip ‘back home’.

So next time you want to throttle someone from somewhere else, spare a thought for how they see things. Be tolerant and compassionate and be the bigger person because we are so fortunate we are Australian. They are all welcome here so long as they line up as asked and when here, obey our laws and do their best to adopt and adapt to our ways. Their religions are welcome, but only if they keep them to themselves, their homes and their places of worship and don’t try to influence our laws. They also need to realise the attitudes and thinking that is acceptable where they came from, such as stoning and execution for ‘blasphemy’, is abhorrent and barbaric in this society. I don’t expect them to apologise for how they like to live there, just so long as they don’t try to force that way on us over here. Sound fair?

Now, next time you interact with a person from overseas, smile and take a moment to find out where they are from. Give some thought to the fact they may speak another language or two, or three. They  will have families who love them and might be missing them and they came here willingly. Put yourself in their place and you might understand why they tend to band together in the beginning at least. At the end of it all, they are human beings like you and me. Begin with that premise and you never know, you might make a new friend and none of us have lives so full we don’t have room for another friend.

Shame, Shame, Shame!

It seems very clear to me that once again Uncle Sam (the Great Satan according to some) is coercing governments to do as it demands through sheer size and power. This time it is the UK who are pandering to the US government by threatening to invade Ecuadorean sovereign territory, their Embassy in London. All to get Julian Assange so he can be sent to Sweden to answer spurious charges, but really so the US can extradite him. Then they will charge him with treason and espionage (not sure how he can be treasonous as he is not an American) because he was one of several in charge of Wikileaks and they posted the emails given to them by a US informant. Espionage? All he did was republish emails someone else stole. Maybe they can charge him with handling stolen goods but that doesn’t carry the death penalty.

Assange didn’t act alone, others were in charge at Wikileaks but Assange is the public figure and the one they can grab. Perhaps if the US government hadn’t sent those emails they wouldn’t be embarrassed by them. Perhaps if they had managed the actual informant better and so on and on but no, they have to chase Assange. He is an Australian citizen but of course our government will do nothing but what the US tells them to do. It matters not which party is in government, they both play the game the same way and they too have had their dirty laundry aired in public by Wikileaks.

I don’t agree that military information should have been released because it could easily result in lives being lost in action. I don’t think Wikileaks should rely on this idea that the public need to know. While I have no illusions that politics is a dirty game at all levels and both domestically and internationally, that is the way it is. Leaking this data won’t change that, it just might change the names on the payroll as new takers for the public largesse move into the vacated offices. I’m not about putting one’s head in the sand and hoping it will all go away, I just don’t think wholesale publication is the best course of action to generate change and so on. But that doesn’t make it right to hunt down Assange or to threaten a sovereign nation.

Ecuador, good for you for standing up to these bullies. The British century was the 19th, the American century was the 20th. The 21st Century, ironically enough in part due to technological advances created by Britons and Americans, is for the non-Anglo world. The BRICS and the little guys. I don’t see this ending well for Assange and of course, the US and those governments that toe their line will rely on the people getting bored and forgetting the real reasons if they ever gave them any thought. No doubt if anyone actually reads this blog, my head is on the chopping block too. Such is life.

Virgin On A Disgrace

Virgin Airlines needs to look at its policy of allocating unaccompanied minors seats next to male passengers. To ask the man to move is sexist and discriminatory and defamatory. They should have not allocated either the man to the seat or the two boys. They should have moved the two boys, not the man. But no, easier to make him feel like a criminal than to get the job done right the first time! Sir Richard Branson are you aware of this? A small matter to a billionaire I’m sure but if it had happened tome, a father of five, I would have been ropable! This is another example of how our society is going soft in the wrong places and getting stupid everywhere else. Over correcting political correctness gone wrong! I’m sending them back their frequent flyer card, I’ll drive from now on.

Happy Hiroshima Day

Battle of Shanghai 1937 – A baby cries after the Railway station is bombed by Japanese planes.

As the clock ticks towards 8.45a.m. on this, the 6th day of August, another Hiroshima Day will be remembered around the world. There can be no argument that both bombs caused considerable suffering and were terrible events. This day has become something of an apology day, yet should we apologise? The Japanese suffered far more civilian casualties in the March/April 1945 firebombing raids on Tokyo.  In fact the raid on the night of 9/10 March was more destructive in human lives than Dresden or the two atomic bomb raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as single events.

Let us never forget for a moment how horrific such events are. But then again, don’t usurp other people’s suffering to make political points decades later and apply the soft sensibilities of this century’s society to decisions made and actions taken seventy or so years ago. Lest we forget why the bombs were dropped and even if they were partly to send a warning to the Soviet Union, the reasons did include the saving of millions of lives on both sides. The Japanese civilians had suffered during the battles on Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa with thousands committing suicide. Orders had already been given for the execution of Allied POWs should the front line of any invasion of the Home Islands come close to the camps. As harsh as that sounds, militarily it is sound as the Japanese didn’t want to run the risk of the POWs operating as bands of guerillas in their rear areas.

They didn’t just wake up one day and think; “hmmm, let’s wipe out a Japanese city…”

Lest we forget the Rape of Nanking, the slaughter of civilians in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore. After they had captured the cities and resistance was finished! The murder of patients on the operating table and the doctors and nurses trying to protect their patients at hospitals in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as Bataan. Not a once off atrocity but something that happened several times indicating an attitude and disregard for humanity that was prevalent in the Japanese psyche of those days. A disregard I have yet to find in the many wonderful, kind Japanese people I have met in my lifetime, or the many wonderful Japanese people who welcomed my father to their homes and country when he visited there in 1969. There is no doubt Japanese (and Korean and Taiwanese nationals pressed into their military service) committed atrocities and war crimes and there is no doubt their Emperor not only knew but condoned these crimes; including the execution and even cannibalism of captured Allied aircrew (Read ‘Knights of Bushido’ By Lord Russell of Liverpool).

On this day, while we pause and remember those who died in the first atomic bomb let us not forget those who suffered in the events that led up to the dropping of The Bomb. Sadly, we still cause suffering to our fellow humans around the world to this very day, it is apparently part of the human condition. What is also very human is to lie and deny. Don’t let’s swallow the revisionist rubbish that the Japanese did not commit atrocities like Nanking, as some try to do. It is as offensive to the Chinese and others as denying the Holocaust is to Jews and all the others who suffered the Nazi’s Final Solution. Do not persecute today’s Japanese for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Rather, read up on the history and try to put it in perspective. While history is usually written by the victors, that shouldn’t automatically make it suspect. Read widely, then perhaps do as I have done and visit these places. I have been to Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Bataan, Hellfire Pass on the Burma Railway and  many other sites of interest from the Pacific War. I have spoken to people who were there and who lived the history I studied. So today, on Hiroshima Day, by all means commiserate with those who suffered, but remember a lot of people suffered on both sides. Commiserate, but don’t condone either revisionist denial or blanket justification and don’t condemn those who made decisions and took actions that, at the time, were appropriate given the circumstances as they knew them to be. Above all else, understand and ensure we never go down that path ever again. Perhaps then Hiroshima, Nagasaki and every other event and death of that war will have achieved some purpose.

NOTE: Before you Comment, read this account by a Japanese serviceman on the beheading of Flt Lt W.E. Newton VC, and take note of the thinking of the writer, how they felt about what we consider barbarism. Lest We Forget

Execution of Sgt L.G. Siffleet, 1943. Wrongly believed for many years to be the execution of Flt Lt Newton VC. Spare a moment to put yourself in Sgt Siffleet’s place…

Double Standards, Glass Ceilings

Once again women cop it for being women. In Costa Rica a member of parliament and Deputy Minister for Youth, Karina Bolanos has been sacked because a personal video of hers taken over 5 years ago showing her on a bed and in her underwear was broadcast online. Nothing said about the computer engineer Bolanos alleges stole the file off her private computer and then used to blackmail her. Who is the criminal here? A young, attractive woman who has a private video that has nothing to do with her public role becomes the victim of some macho wanker and she is the one to lose her job. She is the one to be publicly embarrassed. She is the one who suffers and of course, the slant is that she is immoral and not fit to be DM of Youth. What rubbish! What macho madness!

If it had been a male deputy minister he would be winked at and back slapped and told what a stud he was and at worst he would receive a slap on the wrist. His morality would never be in question. His ethics, his decency would never be on trial. But because Bolanos has a vagina, she gets spat out and tossed on the heap! It is bloody wrong and yet it happens all the time and not just in religion infested places where medieval misogynistic mindsets still rule. The money making mob known as ‘the church’ (pick any one you like, they all make a ton of cash, tax free) have a vested interest in maintaining ancient and unfair hierarchies, the same for those who twist Islam to their own ends. If it were in the Tribal Areas of Waziristan I could understand but Costa Rica? Sadly it happens here in our society also and this two faced insult to gender equality needs to be stamped out wherever it rears its head.

Think about it fellas…. if it is good that she ‘puts out’ for you how can she be a slut if she ‘puts out’ for someone else next time? Yet it is fine for you to sow your wild oats with as many women as you can? That line of thought never made sense when I was a teenager in the 1970s and it will never make sense. It is wrong. Treating a woman differently than a man over the same issues is wrong, whether biased for or against. If a female member of parliament used public funds to pay for prostitutes for her gratification would it be any worse than the male ones we have standing accused of the same crime now? You bet it would be. Huge media beat up. The male transgressor just has to have his wife say how she forgives him or stands by him as he attempts to clear his name. Imagine if the female MP had her partner stand up for her? Blokes would think he is a wuss, less a man and all that while we applaud Mrs MP for standing by her man. What a two faced, double standard society we are!

There are two things men are better at than women. One is lifting heavy things and any smart woman will easily charm a bloke into doing it for her. the other, standing up to urinate, is vastly overrated.

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