It doesn’t surprise me when I see this stuff — it’s not like Howard’s Australia was going to go away overnight, but of course, it had always been there anyway. Maybe it’s partially about the UK media as well (this stuff almost never gets reported in the US), but they seem to like these stories that show Australia in a particularly bad light:
Authorities in an Australian town have rejected proposals to allow an Islamic school to be built there.
Now, there’s a lot of sides to this story, and I strongly suspect the school was rejected for completely valid reasons by the council, but damn, there’s still a lot of really ugly racism associated with this situation anyway. The flag waiving gits, the religious fundie paranoids like Fred Nile and the just damn bigoted scum managed to drown out any local voices that may have had more legitimate reasons to oppose the school anyway. And reported worldwide — “Australia: look at what a bunch of backward rednecks that lot are (again).”
Cate Blanchett has defended an artist whose portraits of nude children has sparked a censorship row in Australia.
Now again, there’s several sides to this. It seems perfectly reasonable to say you’re not impressed by these works, don’t like them, don’t support them, but do we really want police shutting down art galleries and hauling artists off to jail? What kind of country does that sound like? This guy has produced art roughly of this kind for a long time now, and while I’m sure its merits vary, I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that any kids are being abused, or are under threat in any way.
Yet the police are giving this a “major crime” treatment, which I can’t help but thinking is a pretty poor use of resources (you mean there aren’t any real pedophiles left to catch?) And again, we just look fairly rubbish to a large sector of the world.
So … it doesn’t necessarily matter what others in the world think of us, but it is interesting to see what kind of image we’re projecting. And today, I don’t think it’s the best one.