15 December, 2013


Joining the grown-ups

Following the Guardian's recent bid to recolonize Australia and to bring intellectual succour to the beleaguered minority of decent metroliberals there, drowning as they are in a sea of couthless bogans, I have been following, with the requisite morbid fascination, the recurring CiF-Au threads about how jolly nasty the Aussies are to all those desperate folk from central and south Asia who brave the lethal seas in rickety boats to make the crossing from Indonesia to Christmas Island.

Actually the ritual exchange of calumnies, addictive as I may find it, is repetitively tedious and cumulatively uninformative, and I find this bit of news,

People smugglers struggle as demand dives

rather more telling in divining the drivers and motivations of the boat people.  Put simply, are these folks seeking refuge from mortal terror or are they more interested in achieving the mythical Eldorado of Oz  and "a better life™"?  The dramatic fall in boat traffic following the Australian government's decision to accommodate refugees indefinitely in camps in PNG (much as happens elsewhere in the world) is, as they say, interesting.

But something else puzzles me, particularly after reading

As a refugee lawyer, the last few weeks have been heart-wrenching

The author, Sharara Attai, has an intriguing history.

As someone who came to Australia as a refugee, I find TPVs [temporary protection visas] troubling. My parents are originally from Afghanistan and fled the country in the early 1980s following the Soviet invasion.


My parents fled to India where my two brothers and I were conceived. From there, they sought asylum in Australia and were eventually resettled here.

Hmm.  India may be a bit of dump, full of resentful wogs eager to blame the British for every failing, injustice, misfortune or mild inconvenience that has ever befallen India since time out of mind, but as corrupt, hypocritical oligocracies go, it is a reasonably safe corrupt, hypocritical oligocracy.  Certainly so for middle-class Afghan professionals like Sharara's parents seem to be.  And yet they felt the need to apply for, and were bizarrely granted, a more comfortable class of protection in Australia.

Of course, India is not a signatory to the UN refugee conventions, which is the point I am laboriously groping towards.  Nor for that matter is Indonesia, the final staging point in the journey to the Lucky Country.

I have a simple question: Why not?

India and Indonesia are not failed states.  They are successful middle-rank economies. They demand to sit at the top table, to be accepted as modern, developed economies and political entities. But curiously, when they are expected to take on board the concomitant responsibilities expected of the "developed world", it's

"Oh no, Sahib, we are but poor starving peasants trying to scratch a living from the parched earth. We cannot afford to help these people.

"And, Sahib, please understand, these people, they are not of our tribe — they will cause trouble."

09 December, 2013


De mortuis...

I slept late this morning.

BBC R4 is running the Long Walk to Freedom as its morning book reading.  Woman's Hour, which I blearily heard in my semi-sentient stupor, was dutifully interviewing some Saffer MP tart about Winnie.

At the time of writing the UK landing page of CiF features six different articles about the late Nelson Mandela.  I think it's six, anyway: the CiF homepage often repeats links two or three times under different rubrics and I can't currently muster sufficient unbefuddledness to be sure I haven't double-counted.

In our culture there is a tradition of reticent positivity about the recently dead, but isn't it about time for a bit less of  the nil nisi and a bit more of the plain old nil?

07 December, 2013


Zaphod's just zis guy, ya know?

According to Gag Halfrunt, anyway.

Much the same can be said of Nelson Mandela.  Mr Mandela, a former terrorist/freedom fighter (delete according to taste), provided a valuable service in brokering a relatively peaceful exit for the increasingly unsustainable apartheid regime in South Africa, a situation the end of which could easily have become a bloodbath. 

For that act of wisdom we owe the late Mr Mandela our thanks and respect.  But the current simpering worldwide apotheosis of the man is deeply unpleasant, not quite — yet, at least — as actively frightening as the mass hysteria following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, but this reaction, for example,

Nelson Mandela death: Football matches pay tribute

is unconscionable.  Today, the football premiership, presumably all of it, held "one minute's applause" in memory of Nelson Mandela at the start of the match.  Forgive me for the perhaps cynical thought that one minute's applause was ordained rather than the more usual one minute's silence in the hope of drowning out possible negative interjections from the off-message.

To be honest, I'm more interested in whether Jacob "Showerhead" Zuma, and Julius Malema — the latter currently out of favour but I don't think we've heard the last of him — are going to behave themselves now the reproving shadow of Tata Madiba is safely out of the way.

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