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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Republicans attack Australia: An Aussie responds

Australians still like America, but are a bit quizzical about some recent goings-on.

by LINDSAY FARR

HAWTHORN, Australia (CN) — In a thoroughgoing search for enemies, Republicans in the U.S. Congress and statehouses have been attacking Australia’s successful fight against Covid-19. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the Australian government as bad, or worse, than Communist China, because of its lockdowns against the pandemic. “That’s not a free country. It’s not a free country at all,” DeSantis said.

For the record, Australia, with a population of 25.7 million, has recorded 1,450 deaths from Covid. Florida, with a smaller population of 21.5 million, has recorded more than 54,000 Covid deaths: 37 times more people dead of Covid than in Australia; 44.4 times more on a per capita basis.

Fox News commentators have taken to calling the Australian government “totalitarian,” and even suggested that the United States invade the continent to “free” its people from quarantines.

After Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called Australia’s Covid policies “disgraceful and & sad. Individual liberty matters,” the chief minister of Australia’s Northern Territory tweeted back, “We don’t need your lectures, thanks mate.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner pointed out that the Northern Territory has recorded precisely zero Covid deaths. Cruz called Gunner disgraceful after the minister required workers who interact with the public, such as schoolteachers and retail workers, to be vaccinated against Covid.

In his Twitter response to Cruz, Gunner observed: “Nearly 70,000 Texans have tragically died from Covid. There have been zero deaths in the territory. Did you know that?”

He added: “We have been in lockdown for just eight days in 18 months. Our businesses and schools are all open. Did you know that?”

With the temperature rising, Courthouse News asked me, What do Aussies think of Americans?

To begin: Which Americans? The Midwest born-again Christian who makes his own bullets? The Dayton dude devoted to feeding the destitute? The Kardashians? Bill Gates? Berry Gordy Jr.? Lenny Bruce?  

When I was a kid with an interest in the USA, an old bloke told me, “America’s a big place, mate. Everything you hear about it, good and bad, it’s all true.”

Wise words, thought 15-year-old me. But that’s just me. What about your average Aussie?

And who is the average Aussie? The perception of being a white, suntanned, beer-guzzling, BBQ buddy or gal is long gone. Today, immigration has brought us a diverse, multicultural society, drawing population from every corner of the planet.

Some of these groups bring anti-American sentiments with them. This in itself is a bit of a contradiction, when you take into account that American values contributed to their ability to settle here.

Australia’s 1960’s immigration policy was termed “The White Australia Policy,” and that says it all. When we turned on our TV sets and saw the ’60’s civil right marches in the United States, it mirrored back on us. By the ’70’s The White Australia Policy, which, by the way, classified Aboriginal people among flora and fauna, was gone.

Nonetheless, I do find Australians eager to disparage America. These Aussies are not mainstream, most likely driven by religious or national bias. We love “Monty Python” Down Under. So the long-running “Trump” reality show fueled our bemusement, entertained our appetite for the absurd, and dismayed us.

There’s another group that’s almost certain to be anti-American: those who sympathize with the Palestinians. They’ve been around since long before 2016. My extensive research (talking to people at the dog park) indicates that the pro-Palestine bias may be driven by tacit anti-Semitism, and the anti-American stance by anti-fascism.

Most Aussie men would shy away from stories about their forebear going down to the wharf to meet sailors, but I’m happy to share. My great-grandfather William Farr greatly admired Americans. Back in the 1920s he went down to the wharf in Melbourne to welcome visiting American sailors. Australia and the USA had not forged a strong relationship at that time, but things were changing. I never knew him, but he was a regular writer of letters to the editor.

To the editor of the Argus,

January 15, 1926

Sir,

By the last mail I received a letter from one of the American sailors I did my little bit to make welcome on their visit here. It shows how they are “boosting” Australia. …

“Since coming home I have been engaged on several occasions to talk to various groups of people on the subject of my trip to that part of the globe, and I believe that I have helped to place the Australian situation clearly in the minds of 600 or 700 people. This is a small item, but there are several hundreds doing the same, and in time to come I believe that your great country may be assured of our national friendship.”

That was 95 years ago — but what about now? 

We still like you a lot, but we’re scared. We see ourselves as you 15 years ago, and our future beckons. We don’t get your stance on Julian Assange, though. A hero by any account, but you want to blame him for 2016. Another Aussie played a big part in that fiasco, and it wasn’t Assange — it was Rupert Murdoch.

Finally, my friends, what the hell is up with this thing about God and guns? 

Lindsay Farr, a native Aussie, attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston in the 1970s. Now retired from the music business, he runs a bonsai farm in Hawthorn, Australia, a suburb of Melbourne.

Categories / International, Politics

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