Archive | Australian Culture RSS for this section

ANTI-ISLAMIC SENTIMENT IN AUSTRALIA IS SO HYPOCRITICAL

Are you one of those people who believe Islam should be banned in Australia or protest against Halal Certification on products? Then you should read this.

I recently read an article about a South Australian Dairy Company that pulled its Halal Certification because of a social media backlash from anti-Halal protesters. As a result, they lost a $50,000 supply contract with Emirates Airlines. Are they crazy? They paid a measly $1000-00 annual fee for Halal certification that would have seen their products on the menus of Emirates flights but they pulled it because of Facebook trolls.  This company made a stupid business decision allowing itself to be overrun by ill informed people and bigots with an agenda. It was a simple request by a major client. They weren’t asking for anything illegal or immoral.

Kirallee Smith is the woman at the forefront of the anti-Halal protests and thanks to her, Australian businesses are being pressured to stop the certification and in turn, lose a market share of consumers. Kirallee Smith has her reasons for being an anti-Halal certification activist. She doesn’t want to pay the fees. Other niche companies are gaining a larger market share with Halal Certification. So she launches a Facebook campaign and attracts every bigotted moron under the sun who believe Halal Certification somehow funds terrorist groups. The Australian Crime Commission has found no links to prove that at all.  Despite this, Smith and her followers still believe its an Islamic tax and certification funds terrorism.

What Emirates asked for was vastly less demanding than what Coles and Woolworths want from their suppliers. Maybe Smith should focus on the way the big supermarkets screw farmers than worry about an imaginary “bogey-man’s” tax.

The rise of the anti-Halal movement is directly linked to the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in Australia that really started after 9/11 and has worsened since. Muslims have been living in Australia since the 1800’s. Halal Certification didn’t start yesterday.

Many companies also have Kosher certification which can cost companies between $550.00 to $2200.00 per annum. Kirallee and her friends don’t seem to be paying much attention to that.

And they shouldn’t either! Having one’s product certified to cater for wider markets is good business practice. First we accuse Muslims of not subscribing to “Aussie values and culture” but then we bitch and complain when a Four’n’Twenty pie carries a badge that allows a Muslim kid to enjoy one with other Aussie kids.

If simply being anti-Halal isn’t enough, we have movements like the Australian Defence League, shock jocks and commentators who’s names won’t be mentioned here,  politicians like George Christensen and the redneck pin up girl, Pauline Hansen suffering relevance deprivation syndrome bleating her way back into politics. All of whom are trying to convince the majority of Australians that Islam should actually be banned from Australia. If they knew anything about our constitution and freedom of religion, they’d realise how illegal their incorrect, banshee-like screeches really are.

Many Australians are following these movements not realising that they are being rather hypocritical at the same time.

So What Does Halal Mean Anyway?

Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. In reference to food, it is the dietary standard, as prescribed in the Qur’an (the Muslim scripture). The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. 

All facets of life; Sports, education, arts, transport, banking, careers, money as well as food preparation. In fact just about everything we do in everyday life is considered Halal apart from a few thing

Let’s not include and confuse ourselves with organisations and societies that persecute each other or don’t allow women to go to school or drive cars etc. That’s just blatant radical barbarism using local laws imposed by the likes of the Taliban and ISIS and others and has nothing to do with Islam.

So if Halal applies to all things lawful under Islamic law and applies to all facets of life, if you’re going to boycott Australian companies for their Halal certification and if you believe Islam should be banned from Australia, are you prepared to do the following?

Boycott Cricket Australia and Channel Nine for hosting and broadcasting any cricket match involving Pakistan, Bangladesh or even England (there’s Muslims amongst the poms y’know). Cricket is lawful in countries like Pakistan. In fact, it’s huge!  It’s Halal. It’s lawful.

Boycott the AFL,  Channel Seven and the Collingwood and Richmond Football Club. The AFL use Etihad Stadium and Channel Seven is situated there. You know Etihad? The airline owned by Muslims. Collingwood Football Club are sponsored by Emirates. You know Emirates? The airline owned by Muslims. The Richmond Football Club has Bachar Houli; Australia’s first devout Muslim player. Aussie rules footy, stadiums, aeroplanes and air travel are all Halal.

While we’re at it let’s go for A-League Soccer. Melbourne City Football Club is sponsored by Etihad Airways as well. Let’s boycott them too.

And forget the Olympics and Soccer World Cup. Way too many Muslims sports people and sponsors.

If you live in Victoria, go to work on Melbourne Cup Day. Don’t take the day off. Boycott it. There are too many horses owned by Middle Eastern syndicates and there’s that Green, Black and Red Muslim Airline with their posh marquee wooing the social elite including the Prime Minister’s daughter who is a Spring Carnival Ambassador.

Boycott the Rugby World Cup, the Formula One Grand Prix because Emirates sponsor them too. Rugby and Car Racing is Halal. Lawful under Islamic Law.

Boycott Qantas. They have partnered up with Emirates who have taken over several of their traditional routes.

Boycott McDonalds. Many of their products are Halal Certified. No more kiddies birthday parties because you think Maccas pay an Islamic tax!!!

Boycott all Australian companies doing business in the Middle East.

If you’re anti-Halal, protest against Australian farmers who’s drought affected livelihoods depend on exporting cattle to Indonesia.

Boycott oil. Most of the oil we depend on doesn’t come from the North West shelf. It’s coming from the Persian Gulf. Our manufacturing sector, or what’s left of it depends on crude oil for plastics and other essential products. If we want to ban Islam in Australia or stop buying Vegemite, shouldn’t we stop being customers of the OPEC cartels?

Boycott your cheap holiday to Bali too while you’re there. Although the majority of Balinese people are Hindu, they are part of Indonesia; the world’s largest Muslim nation. So when you pay a sales tax in Bali, you’re giving a portion of it to a nation that’s 85 per cent Muslim.

And lastly, if you believe that Islam clashes with Australian values then boycott all ANZAC Day services pilgrimages to Gallipoli in Turkey. Turkey’s is a Muslim nation who have respected and honoured our war dead for 100 years despite being fierce enemies at the time. They have preserved Gallipoli as a sacred site and despite the anti-Islamic sentiment, Turkey continues to respect and keep a close friendship with Australia that rose from the horror of April 25, 1915. Have a read of Kamal Attaturks dedication to the ANZACs. 

Of course all of these suggestions are outrageous. They are as outrageous as Sharia Law taking over Australian Federal and State laws, changing Australia Day and abolishing Christmas.

Australians need to accept that Islam and the Muslim community who practise it have been part of the Australian multicultural mix for at least 200 years. Australia has lucrative business interests with state owned and private companies owned by Muslims locally and abroad.

Some Australians are committing a double standard by attacking the Muslim community and its faith on one hand and accepting the partnerships with business and iconic cultural events by interests run and operated by Muslims on the other.

You can’t have it both way’s people.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

SANITISATION OF WAR BREEDS A LACK OF COMPASSION

napalm-girl-88f02cbaad205d1edf5f19e683c39e6cb4df9c3c-s6-c30 I was only in primary school in the late 1960s but I have vivid memories of hearing and watching news reports on the Vietnam War on radio and TV. We would tune into the news at half past six and watch front line footage from war correspondents embedded with Australian or American platoons out in the field with the occasional glimpse of North Vietnamese troops firing back.

We’d see footage of burnt out villages and Hueys coming into land to evacuate wounded troops. We would hear crackling telephone lines on the radio as journalists filed their pieces and we’d see the photos in our newspapers.

In those days our access to the media was limited to the radio, four channels on a black and white TV and the newspapers. It was the coverage of that first television war that raised awareness and questioned the government’s reasoning for taking part in the first place.

The TV footage, the sound bites, the newspaper photos gave us a much clearer understanding of the horror of war. This was the first electronic media war and unlike the edited and censored newsreels of World War 2, Vietnam was brought into our homes and we saw it right there in black and white both literally and figuratively speaking.

This led to a groundswell of opposition to the war and sadly, a nasty backlash against those who were involuntarily enlisted and sent there to fight. Nonetheless the media coverage played a very big part in the peace movement’s ultimate success in troops being pulled out in the early 70’s.

Let’s now fast forward to 1982 and the dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina which led to the Falklands War. This saw the return of heavy censorship by the government, limited access to the media and a major lack of still or moving images from the field. News reports on TV were nothing more than “radiovision” with a map and the photo of a journalist. A total of 907 people were killed in that 75 day conflict and we saw nothing of it. This is despite major improvements in satellite communications.

The only major difference in 1982 was that our TV sets were now in colour. The Falklands War was regarded as the war with the least amount of pictures. The only footage we saw was that released by the british government. For most people, this was a war short-lived. Quick and dirty. But the casualty rates were high. The lack of reporting was not an accident. Margaret Thatcher saw to it that the media must be controlled to avoid any public backlash. Governments saw what happened in Vietnam and never wanted to make the same mistakes again.

It only got worse from there…

In 1990, Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. This led to the first Gulf War. Looking back on it, one could be forgiven for thinking they were taking part in one huge computer game. The reporting of this war was so sanitised it bordered on surreal. There were no field reporters on the ground embedded with front line troops and all we saw were daily briefings from US Command in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with a few maps and video footage of smart bombs blowing things up. Oh and there were the burning oil wells. The last footage we saw was a trail of burnt out trucks on a road and that was it.

Then came 9/11 and the Iraq invasion and Afghanistan. For the last twelve years there has been very little in terms of on the spot news coverage from these wars especially by Western news outlets. Tune into any news broadcast and you see nothing. Any footage that has been released has been handpicked by the military media managers. We have seen more real coverage of the Vietnam war with a black and white TV than we have of the Afghanistan war with the information technology we have at our fingertips 24/7. There is nothing wrong with the method of distribution. The issue is the way the content is managed.

So what does this all have to do with compassion?

Australia has always had a proud history of accepting refugees. Post World War 2 refugees from Eastern Europe started the migration boom in the 1950s. In the late 70’s Australia began to take in refugees from Vietnam. “Boat People” arrived in Darwin Harbour and apart from the banshee-like screeches from Bruce Ruxton and the RSL, most people accepted their reasons for seeking asylum because they saw what was happening on TV. Australians were also conscripted to fight there and of course many of our sons, brothers, fathers were getting killed and injured. We accepted the Vietnamese and processed their applications on shore. They were allowed to work and lived in migrant hostels in suburban Australia.

Pauline Hansen’s One Nation won a seat in Parliament in 1996. Her maiden speech to the House of Representatives displayed her nationalist ideologies which struck a chord with a large number of  Australians. Most of whom would have normally voted Liberal or National and to a lesser extent Labor. One Nation ran the immigration and race card and spooked the Liberal National coalition who were losing a share of their traditional voter base especially in Queensland.

Both major parties were quick to condemn Hanson as a racist. Rightly so! However, there reasons were more political than moral.

John Howard acted swiftly to regain his voter base which included Tony Abbott’s establishment of a slush fund,  “Australians for Honest Politics Trust”  to help bankroll the civil cases against One Nation Party and Pauline Hanson.

In August 2003, Hansen was jailed and released in November of that year after the case was quashed. It was enough to end her political career. 

And then came 9/11 during an election year in 2001. John Howard’s political spin doctors couldn’t believe their luck.

Howard’s polls were flagging and he quickly jumped on the fear and hysteria surrounding the 9/11 attacks. From there came the fear of Iraqi boat people fleeing the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The ludicrous theory that terrorists could be coming in by boat. Fridge magnets with a national security hotline number, the Tampa incident and the “children overboard” lie.

So…

We have boat people arriving from places like Iraq. We know who Saddam Hussein was, we knew that there was a war in Iraq but the coverage gave us very little in terms of what was happening on the ground. We saw no footage of the kind of destruction and carnage that happens in a war. We’re told by our leaders that the Al Qaeda led by Osama Bin Laden caused 9/11 and as a result, a backlash against Muslims built up to fever pitch.

Under John Howard’s watch we had the Cronulla riots where people who “looked Muslim” were beaten up by paranoid racist flag waving bogans whose anger was fuelled by the rantings of shock jocks like Alan Jones.

Australian troops were fighting in Afghanistan. Unlike Vietnam, our troops are volunteer career soldiers not conscripts like so many were in the 60’s. So none of us are threatened with a call up via a lottery.

The reasons justifying the war changed each week from finding Osama Bin Laden, finding weapons of mass destruction , saving Iraq from Saddam Hussein and saving Afghanistan from the Taliban. All under the so-called War On Terror. And still no footage.

Australia has lost 40 troops in the line of duty in Afghanistan so far. No one knows what the battlefield looks like. We haven’t seen footage of wounded troops being airlifted or villages destroyed and the Afghani people grieving over their dead loved ones.

Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed and we’re told that out of respect for Islam that we don’t see any proof. Yet you can easily access pictures of Muammar Gadafi’s dead body when he was killed in 2011.

 

The truth is the first casualty of any war and it’s no accident. Without media coverage to inform us we cannot be educated, outraged, informed and have any empathy towards those who are fleeing tyranny.

It makes it so much easier for our political leaders to tell us that boat people are illegally entering Australia when in fact they are not. It makes it easier for our leaders and media commentators to demonise asylum seekers because we can’t see what they are running away from like we have in the past.

Despite the efforts of many hardworking foreign correspondents, the heavily controlled media coverage of war, the xenophobia generated by our political leaders to gain votes has turned us into an ignorant, insular and cruel society that selfishly refuses to share the riches this country has to offer and has ruined Australia’s reputation as an open tolerant society.

This will come back to haunt us.

COMMERCIAL RADIO IS MUSICALLY REDUNDANT

I was having lunch with a dear friend of mine recently. She is also a musician but spends most of her time writing articles for music websites in Australia and abroad. We were having a long overdue catch up. We talked about life, the kids and then went on to music. As musicians do.

We got on to talking about why we write music and in part of that conversation I said, “I don’t care one way or another if any of my tunes get commercial airplay or not”.

She instantly went from musician mode to interviewer mode and remarked on how interesting that comment was for a recording artist to make. After I reminded her that as a middle aged independent artist, no commercial station would give a shit but if by some weird chain of events it did happen that was great.  The thing is, I don’t write or record music for the sole purpose of getting airplay. I do it because its what I love to do and if I get to hear it beaming off a transmitter then its a bonus.

She then threw another hook and asked me if I thought commercial radio helps promote new music. To which after I stopped laughing, I replied “nuh”! It just swallows what Sony gives it and spits it out.

To back up my point, I asked her which commercial radio station is she aware of that plays music by Gurrumul for example. What commercial radio stations play new music by artists like Paul Kelly, Deborah Conway or Russell Morris? The latter three only get airplay of their back catalogue which were released in an era when commercial radio actually promoted local artists. That’s how they became classics. The figures for local content on commercial radio today are a joke. Commercial radio is irrelevant when it comes to promoting music.

Now I was on a roll… And I asked her to make sure the batteries on her i-pad were full because I couldn’t guarantee how long this rant will go for.

Commercial radio is merely a collection of ex-football players, very bad comedians, B-grade celebrities and loud mouthed self opinionated arse holes. You can count the number of contrived laughing fits “the crew” have to keep people believing that the shit they’re talking is actually funny. It’s formula driven mind numbing rabble.

I was asked if I was being a bit harsh and I gave her one of those swashbuckling laughs.. “haHAAA” I’m not finished yet!

To prove just how low the talent pool is, stations resort to stunts to keep ratings up. Putting 14 year old little girls on lie detectors and admit to having sex (all for the offer of concert tickets), or being really really clever and pretending to be the Queen and calling hospitals. Really fucking clever! It’s a competition for media notoriety. The music is an afterthought.  Anyone who puts “Commercial Radio Music Programmer” down as their occupation is lying. The music on commercial radio is filler between ads and to allow “the crew” to recoup some undeserved oxygen before starting on another brainless dumbing down of the masses.

Commercial radio was not always like this. Yes you did have your madness, the competitions, secret sounds, who can burp the longest. But you also had shows that featured artists, there were album shows, live concert broadcasts, music jocks who earned the title of Disc Jockey who knew their music and interviewed artists about their music and not who they shagged recently. Commercial radio simply does not do that anymore.

Commercial radio is desperate. Just like newspapers and magazines. In order to keep their flagging sales up, they resort to the low denominator tabloid stunts because some people get off on other people’s misfortunes.

Maybe the reason they don’t do music well anymore is because they realise that real music fans don’t actually need them. I didn’t know about Gurrumul’s music or Russell Morris’ new album listening to Triple M, Fox or 2DayFM. I didn’t hear about Deborah Conway’s latest work by tuning into Eddie Maguire or Kyle and Jackie O.

People are getting their music fixes from other sources. To which at this point in the interview I said, “I find it very flattering when a broadcaster on a community, public or internet radio station plays my music”.

 These guys have picked up where commercial radio dropped the ball. Many former commercial DJs now run or work for these organisations and using them as the training ground in the hope that the next generation of broadcasters will restore credibility to the industry.

As a Melburnian, I think I’m blessed to have access to so many non-commercial stations. Yes we do have the ABC of course and they still do a great job promoting local music of many genres but we also have stations that are unique to Melbourne such as Triple R, PBS, MBS, 3CR and 3KND.

I have driven around the country and avoided commercial radio by finding a local community station that’s got something different and interesting to listen to from baroque to hard core punk to country to blues, soul, jazz, metal, indigenous Australian music to Cambodian and Hindi music. Even when there’s no music you get to learn a bit about the region you’re driving through rather than listen to some networked syndication from Sydney or Melbourne.

There is a huge family of community radio broadcasters out there. Some have more exposure than others but all share a love and knowledge of the genres of music they put to air and to be included in their playlists is a real treat. This is where music is played for the love of it. This is where you get asked questions about your music and get a word in to answer it.

In addition to that, there are other public and internet radio stations around the world who play our music and it’s through them we get our music out there. It’s really cool receiving an email from a radio station in Aberdeen, Scotland or a listener in Denmark who loves your music and purchased your album.

There’s Channel 31 who feature music from all over the place. Wrok Down, Tone Control, Melbourne Muso’s etc. All by people with a passion for local music.

The real champions of radio are out there working on small to non-existent budgets, relying on faithful subscribers and fundraisers etc. They deserve all the kudos and support they get. Local and independent artists owe a lot of their successes to community and public radio and those who have moved on to bigger and better things should never forget the role non-commercial radio played in their rise to success.

Video didn’t kill the radio star. They just found a new place to groove.  More is the pity that those who advertise on commercial radio cannot see the growing potential of the alternative. Then again that might not be such a bad thing after all.