I have not yet completely shaken off holiday mode, so it’s a rather eclectic mix of things that have snagged themselves in my drifting mind this week. Australia Day gave rise to a flurry of articles (including, it must be said, one of my own), from the angry to the funny and the moving — but more of that later. There was another shooting in the United States, this time in a shopping mall — but, hey, what week isn’t there one? Western Australia started culling sharks, and our fearless leader made a speech at the Davos forum that does not seem to have been greeted with much enthusiasm by either goodies or baddies. Adam Goodes was announced as Australian of the Year, the soul-searching over king hits/coward punches continues, and Fairfax got part of the Gonski report back up on the Department of Education website (for historical purposes only, apparently). A week much like many others, it would seem.
The interesting thing about weeks like this — where there isn’t one theme that dominates everything — is that it allows some of our ongoing discussions and concerns to surface, and I do sometimes wonder if they are not the most important discussions we ever have. We need to know why we do things before we can hope to change them.
Let’s hear it for the boys. Apropos of that, a fascinating discussion by Robert Epstein in The Independent about modern masculinity caught my eye.
And John Birmingham on Fairfax websites on men and street violence reminded me forcibly of one of my favourite stories about Golda Meir. (For the youthful among you, Golda Meir was the first — and still only — female prime minister of Israel.) Prior to being PM, when she was merely the only woman in cabinet (looking at you, Julie Bishop), she was part of an intense discussion with her cabinet colleagues about a serial rapist wreaking havoc in Tel Aviv. A minister suggested a curfew so all women and girls would be off the streets by 9pm — for their own safety, you understand. Meir enthusiastically endorsed the suggestion but with a proviso. She pointed out that as it was a man doing the raping, perhaps all the men and boys should be off the streets by 9. Needless to say the curfew idea was dropped.
Birmingham makes a similar powerful point. I also thoroughly (and I mean laugh-out-loud thoroughly) enjoyed his observations about the rollercoaster ride that is Twitter outrage:
“The storm of controversy began early. Much earlier than the moment at which the first gust of wind tugged at the trending topics; well before a few drops of foreboding rain spotted a single Facebook timeline. What started it? Well, somebody said something wrong on the internet, we know that much for sure. Or maybe somebody did something wrong and somebody said something about it on the internet? And it was #notcool and they wouldn’t even apologise. Or something. What mattered was … it had begun.
“The storm of controversy.
“Or rather #TheControversy.”
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Thanks to Corinne Grant for alerting me to that article and also for her very funny, very angry and very sad piece about what it now may mean to be an Australian. Wendy Harmer saw Australia Day very differently, and I was genuinely moved by her observations. I suppose that’s the great thing about Australia — that both Harmer’s and Grant’s views can be equally true.
There was a bit of a flurry around Australia Day on Twitter, as you’d expect, which delivered the first of my finalists for tweet of the week:
She is quoting British author Julian Barnes.
Violence begets violence. It was the latest mass shooting in the US at a mall in Maryland that prompted the next finalist, from the increasingly interesting Piers Morgan. Whatever you think of his newspaper editing, talent show judging or all round media tartery, his dogged stand against the gun lobby in America is really admirable:
An article from PolicyMic showing maps of the highest concentration of gun deaths and guns would seem to back Morgan’s position to the hilt (there’s an idea; maybe they could swap their guns for swords?).
Class struggle. I am not sure what specifically gave rise to this next finalist, but there is virtually never a time when this isn’t true, particularly with people like Maurice Newman on the planet:
Indeed that tweet reminds me of two terrific memes I came across. The first, via Just Judith and the brilliantly named Badass Teachers group, features the magnificent Diane Ravitch:
And this one starring Paul Keating from Glenn Fowler:
The hands-down winner of tweet of the week this week — also from the consistently pithy David Horton — was probably inspired by the massacre of sharks in WA, but is another thought that holds true across time, space and premiers:
I leave you with one last piece in The Guardian: a rather frightening examination of how the posh (it’s from the UK) are re-asserting their dominance over everything, including working-class culture.