Here are some facts about Australia’s epidemic.
In 2019, Australia had 300,00 proven cases of influenza. The true number of cases was probably in excess of 900,000. (The numbers of cases exceeds the number of tests, because most doctors recognised the flu without sending off swabs for laboratory confirmation. Further, not all flu sufferers saw a doctor.)
Since the start of 2020, there have been 12,713 PROVEN cases of influenza in Australia.
8000 Australians died of influenza in 2019.
In the course of the Vietnam War we lost 521 soldiers killed.
Those are the facts of our true epidemic. In 2019 despite the epidemic, despite the death toll, you could buy toilet paper, you could buy pasta and rice.In 2019 no-one panicked.In 2019 no-one thought of boycotting Chinese restaurants.
In 2019 we had no panic and we had no recession.This year we have a limited outbreak of a viral infection which is less contagious than influenza. Xenophobia comes into full flower.In our formerly happy country we now have an outbreak of racism. Chinese restaurants stand empty.
The swastika flies in Wagga.
There has been hysteria and irrationality. Its good to pause and think.
However, the government has a responsibility to protect people. It took steps to protect the people, steps that damaged Australia, and many companies, individuals, financially. Saudi Arabia abandoning the pilgrimage to Mecca was extraordinary, but prudent. Better to be prudent. The media has played a negative role. I’m a media professional, worked all my life in media, but I think the ability for media to accurately, consistently and fairly report almost anything in the public interest has gone. Its a free for all.
Please – one nut job raises a flag in Wagga. Don’t tarnish all of us.
You always make me think
On the matter of ‘tarnishing’ I have mixed thoughts, mixed feelings, strong feelings
Born in this country , the fifth generation of my family here, I’m now raising the seventh generation of Australians, aware since the 1840’s of how fortunate it is to live here in freedom and equality
In my childhood that feeling of joy and pride was unalloyed
In our country town and district 10,000 people knew our family , knew my parents as leading citizens, knew us to be Jewish and honoured us
We left in 1954
Around 2010 that town became a One Nation stronghold
I have learned that our Australian goodness is in fact an alloy
In teaching my medical students sensitivity to the plight of the patient who is a newcomer to Oz, I remark: ‘ Australia is the nicest racist country in the world’
The student from the Angloceltic mainstream recoils at the remark; all other ethnicities nod the head in vigorous recognition of both parts of the remark-the niceness and the opposite
I don’t think I tarnish my country and my compatriots by acknowledging both
I hate the way Chinese today, Muslims during 9/11 are singled out for abuse.
I trembled when Indian students were assaulted, I’m nauseated when the swastika flies
I’m thrilled when the people of Biloela stand up for their Sri Lankan townsfolk
The townsfolk of Nhill embrace the hundreds of Koren people in their midst
As you drive into my old home town you are greeted by a sign reading, ‘Leeton Welcomes Refugees’
I work in scores of outback communities that had never met an Egyptian who greeted Dr Ahmed/ Dr Fatima with suspicion, quickly embrace the doctor and weep when, after ten years the doctor departs to educate the children in the city
We are mixed
The picture is mixed
The admirable picture includes elements that tarnish it
This writer does not create the tarnish
I refer to it in hope of erasing it
Thank you for responding, John
Great post, Howard. I hope Rachel will put it on Facebook so I can share it there. Thanks for all this.
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I’m always gladdened by your attentive response to my little pieces
I’ll ask Rachel to do as you suggest with fb
The racism preceded the virus. We have a much more unhappy country with less trust in government – and probably less reason to trust our government. We know influenza and there is a vaccine. The media (including our ABC) has called this ‘the deadly Coronavirus’. There is no vaccine for it. We have seen lots of footage of disasters in China. The govt has encouraged suspicion of China. Historically, We have always been racist about Chinese. The film clips show the most awful responses to the ppl suffering from the illness. You are right about the rate of deaths but there has been a drumbeat of fear that’s drowned out the calm voice of medical reason.
I’ve paused and pondered before replying to your later remarks, Ron
I need , we all should, the media absolutely should distinguish between China the totalitarian regime and Chinese, our fellow citizens of Australia and the world
Who cannot honour and prize Chinese contributions to human wisdom and culture?
Who cannot remember how the Chinese minorities are the scapegoats throughout Asia?
Who remembers earlier Australian behaviour on the goldfields and at Lambing Flat?
Who cannot recoil at the images of Tien an Minh Square?
Who can accept the treatment of the Uighur People?
And the persecution of the Falung Gong?
We must distinguish between a ruthless government and the people they rule
We’d be foolish and naive to ignore that government’s reach into Australia, its misbehaviour towards Chinese Australians, our absolute economic vulnerability to decisions of that government
And we need to be ever alert for the dog whistle of racism
Shabbat shalom, Ron
A great part of me thinks that Jews should be leading the charge against the detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang. But I haven;t heard a dickey bird. On the other hand, the response to China is so alternately harsh and muted that I am in six or seven minds about what to say or do.
Nice and racist can so easily co-exist. It’s a sign of the brutally unaware nastiness that can lie under suburban niceness. And heaven forfend that you should call it racist, because everyone knows its so much worse to call someone racist than it is for them to be casually racist. I remember my parents’ view that the Australians would smile at you as they knifed you in the back. It’s the prejudice of the “new Australian” that i grew up with.