Friday, February 22, 2013

The pond speaks with a strong Australian accent about foreign voices ...

Stone the flaming crows and those pesky bloody lizards, it goes without saying that the pond only speaks with a bloody strong Australian accent.

You won't find any of that English-Spanish muck, but you'll find plenty of brine.

Gor blimey, there's no limeys here, or furriners, or dangerous imports like rabbits or abbotts or sparrows, always farting at the crack of dawn.

That's why the pond was so inspired by Tony Abbott's splendid remark:

We believe in a strong, home-grown policy. We believe in strong local candidates. That’s what you’ll always see from the Coalition under my leadership. We will always speak with a strong Australian accent.

Yep, you can catch it here, where even the News Ltd hack couldn't resist pointing out in a dot point that Abbott was born in the UK.

The remarks attracted the ire of one Aidan Wilson, who purported to be a linguist, and who bemoaned the notion that a person's accent might be considered in any relevant to their ability to govern (Abbott voices his opinion on accents and politics).

Clearly Mr Wilson utterly fails to understand the crucial role that infantile, childish, puerile, immature, petulant, contemptuous, contemptible flag-waving jingoism of the most parochial kind can play in federal politics in Australia.  (We would have thrown in adolescent, but frankly tween talk is a little too old for this kind of discourse ...)

It's the sort of peevish, capricious, incoherent cheap shot that reveals the essence of Abbott's bigotry, and naturally it won't be mentioned by anyone in the commentariat.

Still, it was inspirational, because the pond immediately realised that Andrew Bolt spoke with a Nederlands accent, while simpering along to his favourite operas and sipping on cheeky reds which amuse him with their presumption.

And the Murdoch press is run and owned by a man who speaks with a strong American accent, who wouldn't stand for a moment all this blather about home-grown policies, not when you can exchange your Australian citizenship for a bundle of cash.

But since the pond is now in full flight Abbottian xenophobia and paranoia mode, it has to be said that it's remarkable how full The Australian is of foreign - and even worse, British - voices.

Take Brendan O'Neill - come on ladies and gentlemen, someone must want him, he is for sale at hammer fall, and we'll accept any bids, will someone start me at sixpence - and his latest outburst in the lizard Oz, Catholic-bashers cavalier about facts (tucked behind the paywall so you can start saving your sixpences)

The pond has always looked at Brendan O'Neill with passing astonishment. Depending on the forum, he presents as a Marxist - as you can discover if you can be bothered reading Why it's now safe to say I love Marx.

But it's a most peculiar love, the love that really shouldn't bother scribbling its name:

As a Marxist, I should be delighted by Karl’s coming back to life, right? Actually, the frenzied fad for all things Marxist makes me uncomfortable. Because what it really points to is the hollowing out of Marxism, the transformation of Marxism from a genuinely revolutionary, rattling ideology which enthused millions of angry, often armed people into something so safe that the chattering classes can muse over it as they consume their muesli and their morning paper. The reason Marxism can become mainstream, the reason it can be tweeted about and turned into a t-shirt for middle-class yoof to wear, is because the thing which once made it so terrifying to the rulers of society and to all “decent” people has now disappeared: that is, the organised proletariat and the prospect of their carrying out a revolution.

Yes, he really is a tortured and confused and incoherent lad, with a serious case of envy (usually of people who can afford muesli).

When he's not presenting as a muesli-hating Marxist, scribbling furiously in morning papers about the readers of morning papers, he likes to present as an atheistic libertarian.

Except he spends an unseemly amount of time defending religion, and the Catholic church in particular,  writing such tosh as The Secular Inquisition. Again the holy texts are infused, saturated, with nostalgia for a never-was golden age:

The contemporary pope-hunting springs from a secularist movement which feels incapable of asserting a sense of purpose or meaning in any positive, human-centred way – as the great atheists of old such as Marx or Darwin might have done – and which instead can only assert itself negatively, in contrast to the ‘evil’ of religion, by posturing against the alleged wickedness of institutionalised faith. It is the inner emptiness, directionless and soullessness of contemporary secularism – in contrast to earlier, Enlightened and more positive secular movements – which has given birth to the bizarre clamour for the pope’s head.

This is, in the case of Darwin, meaningless gibberish of an ahistorical kind, and as for Marx, the pond has never felt much nostalgia for the outcome in the real world of his thought bubbles.

As for O'Neill himself, his rants are of course perversity for the sake of perversity, disagreeableness for the sake of being disagreeable, splenetic because O'Neill clearly has a troublesome spleen.

The pond takes a simpler view, which is that when you hear conservative thoughts expressed in a conservative way by a conservative voice which delights and enthrals conservatives, chances are you've come across a conservative. Or a duck. Or a conservative duck. Or Brendan O'Neill.

O"Neill specialises in what the pond loves to think of as "yes, but" arguments. In his latest outing, here's how it works - happily we get the opening par free as a hook:

This week, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny apologised to women who had been institutionalised in Magdalene laundries. He described these Catholic, nun-run institutions, in which 10,000 girls and women did unpaid labour between 1922 and 1996, as "a dark part of our history". 
 There's no doubt the laundries were unpleasant, filled with "fallen women" or petty criminals, who were made to wash sheets and do other laborious tasks for local businesses.

So there's the yes. Okay fallen dissolute corrupt criminal women were used as slave labour by the Catholic church ...

The billy goat "but" routine fills up the rest of the column. But it wasn't so bad, but it's been misrepresented, but the muesli-eaters are just out to abuse the church.

Because it turns out in O'Neill's world, the women were astonishingly happy.

Where once there was much talk of the Magdalene girls being slaves, the report found 35 per cent of women stayed in the laundries for less than three months and 60 per cent stayed less than a year. Many entered voluntarily.

Does this sound like a Marxist getting agitated about the exploitation of the proletariat?

Or more like a southern plantation owner remarking on how happy his slaves were working for board and bread?

Maybe the women were just lumpenproletariat, incapable of reaching the sublime level of class consciousness O'Neill routinely and miraculously reaches.

O'Neill next turns his attention to downplaying the level of child abuse in the church - lowering the statistics, or saying reliable statistics don't exist, before turning out this rousing conclusion:

Catholicism's shrill critics care little for trifling things such as "reliable statistics". 
They're more interested in painting as horrendous a picture of the church as possible, however impressionistic their daubing may be. 
We can only hope that the royal commission into Catholic child abuse in Australia will drum up some reliable statistics - though if the Irish, British and American experiences are anything to go by, even that probably won't quash the metropolitan elite's view of the Catholic Church as the most foul institution on earth. 
 If you point any of this out, as I did to The Independent about the "10,000 rapes", you risk being accused of apologism. 
 Objectivity and cool-headedness are frowned on by those who are really interested only in shrilly depicting the Catholic Church as a sordid rape factory. 
Which is ironic because Catholic-bashers frequently accuse the Catholic religion of promoting a childish narrative of good and evil that is immune to factual evidence, yet they do precisely the same.

Which is more than ironic because anyone interested in objectivity and cool-headedness wouldn't shrilly fling around words like shrilly, or "the metropolitan elite" or talk of a childish narrative of good and evil, when in fact O'Neill is always childishly posing a singular narrative - brave-hearted bold good and decent Brendan O'Neill risking charges to apologism to tackle deviant corrupt shrill metropolitan elites.

It's the most childish narrative of all, so tired and repeated so lamely and so often, without a hint of introspection or self-understanding, and O'Neill trots it out all the time, polishing and embellishing it, and in the process, becoming one of the ABC's pet conservatives, as well as The Australian's, and nobody much cares, because really it's just another shrill squawking conservative voice saying all the usual conservative things, pretending to diss religious institutions, and capitalist institutions, while spending an inordinate amount of time and space defending them.

If the Vatican ever goes looking for an English correspondent, surely they should consider O'Neill.

Meanwhile, speaking of confused Marxists, the pond caught an item by Guy Rundle about a crisis in the SWP in Britain, The End Of An Era For The Left?, and then spent an amazed, bemused and astonished couple of hours trawling through all the material that's been put up on the intertubes in the last few months.

You can easily gather it together by googling, but How Not to Handle a Rape Allegation: the Case of the SWP will give you plenty of links to key materials, and the story is still festering and bubbling along.

It's not just scientology that's a cult, and despite, or perhaps because of the seriousness of the subject, the pond was reminded of all the talk of splitters and schismatics in Life of Brian, but more importantly, the way that women are expected to make the revolutionary coffee while the revolutionary comrades go about their revolutionary business. And if physical or mental abuse comes with the coffee, why that's just part of breaking a few eggs in the cause of the revolution.

But hey, our subject today is foreign voices, so let's instead end with this fine spray by Guy Rundle at Geert Wilders.

The pond oscillates between a desire to ignore Wilders altogether - in the way that the mainstream media has taken to ignoring Lord Monckton, ten years too lat - or embarking on a rant.

No need now, not after Rundle's rant. It came by way of email, and it might be behind the Crikey paywall, but you should be able to find it here, and it's a ripper:

Our land isn’t Geert by sea. 
Every day in every way, Geert Wilders’ essential stupidity comes more clearly into view. Is it possible that News Limited is regretting its shameless boosterism of the man? His latest brilliant wheeze to convince us that Australia will be ‘Islamised’ by its 2% Muslim population is to call on the Anzac spirit.
“I believe Islam and freedom are incompatible, and I think we should be awake to this terrible ideology … and we lost track of what we really are and what we should be and what our grandparents, also in Australia with the Anzacs, what they fought and died for, to liberate Europe.”  Great choice. Take an event that most Australians see as meaningful because it expresses the futility and waste of war and the perfidy of the British, and try and sell it as a defensive attack in Islam. Forget the fact that the Ottoman empire was fighting on the side of Europe, i.e. Austria-Hungary and Germany, where some of your great-grandparents are from. Ignore the general Australian consensus that the Turks had never done anything to us, that the day symbolises the moment at which we stopped thinking of ourselves as an appendage of Europe, to be deployed at the behest of the English, and instead assume we could see no higher purpose worth dying for. 
Disregard the way in which Gallipoli has drawn us closer to Turkey and enhanced our understanding of the role it played in Turkish history. Don’t mention that the Turkish commander who kicked our arses was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the great secular moderniser of Turkey. Or that thousands of Australians meet and commemorate together with Turks every year at Gallipoli cove. Or that Anzac Parade in Canberra hosts the Ataturk memorial, with his extraordinary words of reconciliation: 
 “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours … Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

And Rundle's only just getting warmed up!

Throw in some bonus abuse of the Bolter'sand Wilders' heritage, and then an invitation to appear on Sterren Dansen, and there's one foreign voice sent packing.

Now to conclude, the pond must alert Mr. Abbott of a serious problem in relation to Australian accents. There are foreign deviants at work, attempting to undermine everything he stands for.

Double agents, involved in tricky business and passing off, industrial secrets and our precious voices seized, imitated and turned against us. Possibly in call centres, possibly in people you might meet on the street.

It undermines the whole Abbott project!

Yes, people are being trained to speak like the Tasmanian Devil, like a Warner Bros cartoon voiced by Mel Blanc and others, and if that isn't to your taste, why you can be trained to sound like Kylie, or Steve, or Thorpey or Mad Mel, or Tina or Natalie or Eric.

How will we know who to trust?

Is an Australian accent a genuine Australian accent? Is it safe? Oh for the love of the long absent lord, has the Liberal party been infiltrated by foreigners pretending to speak with an Australian accent? Is it safe?

Are actual native speakers betraying us at this very moment? And for very reasonable rates ...

Is this where Pommy bastards, like the ever so nice Mr. Abbott, learn their Australian accent?


  1. The great Jackson Browne wrote that fine song ,The Pretender,just for the likes of the Brendan O'Neill's of the the junk man who pounds his fender then lays his weary body down,just to get up and do it again.It's an objective and cool-headed living for Brendan,I guess.

  2. Had a little snigger at the thought of bolt tucked up in his smoking jacket in recline, having a little chat with a cheeky red.

  3. “We will always speak with a strong Australian accent”.

    That’s true and there is no better example than Eric Abetz.

  4. He's speaking Bogun.

    Flagwaving, Labeling, Transfer, Slogan and Stereotyping. Five out the list of thirty two propaganda techniques.

  5. Love our PM Julian Gillard.


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