How bloggers see Prime Minister John Howard’s reignition of the history wars (full speech here) at the recent Press Club luncheon:

  • Australia Day commemorates the
    arrival of the First Fleet rather than Federation (which inconveniently
    falls on 1 January); in American terms it’s closer to Columbus Day than
    to the Fourth of July. Australia Day is thus a focus for battles over
    national identity and its historical roots that Independence Day in the
    US is usually spared. The PM has taken this to a new level with today’s
    ‘This Is Who We Are’ speech, which lays out the cultural bedrock of
    Howard’s Australia – Judeo-Christian ethics, British heritage and
    commitment to racial equality. Apparently “the divisive, phoney debate
    about national identity… has been finally laid to rest.” The
    falsity of this statement is evident from Howard’s own efforts to
    tiptoe round last month’s race riots in Cronulla, which even this “One
    People, One Destiny” speech can’t escape. – Bowling for Illidan
  • The ABC failed to report the Prime Minister’s National Press Club
    address but have moved quickly to report reaction to it. You could
    drive a bus through the space between what the PM said and
    what his critics said he said. The one thing that cheers me is that
    these people are digging themselves a hole they won’t be able to get
    out of … Howard is a plain speaker but the speech was also nuanced.
    sectional interests have been put on notice, if only they are smart
    enough to realise it. The academic historians are going to be put under
    pressure, the schoolteachers are going to have their assertions
    challenged, the dole bludgers will face higher hurdles and the Muslims
    have been told to fit in with broader society. – HappyJohn
  • Happy Invasion Day. And remember, there’s no need to be alarmed.
    Because John Howard has claimed Victory(TM) in the National Culture
    Wars*! *NB Not actual war. – Reasons You Will Hate Me

  • John Howard’s version (or, perhaps, ‘vision’) is a
    question of faith just like the Holy war of the Right-eous, evidenced
    by his use of Bushisms in his rhetoric: “I would like to enlist a
    coalition of the willing … to bring about a change in attitudes.”On
    what? Tradition. – Glenn Fuller

  • A ten year fully fledged war of debate, of information sharing, of
    exchanging ideas, could not win against the audacity, the viper’s lair
    of lies that flickered from his twisted mouth. A paragraph: “So
    far in this new century, we’ve made a good start. Our economy is
    strong. Our society is cohesive. Our nation is respected around the
    world. Our democracy is robust.” Economy – largest ever trade
    deficit. Largest ever household debt. Massive changes to industrial
    relations “to ensure productivity” despite unpopularity of such
    measures. Cohesive society – look what they’re writing about us in New Zealand. ‘Nuff said. – Foucault on Acid