Vegemite, Australian Troops and Crocodile Hunters…

28 06 2014

Australians are in the consciousness of other people around the world far more than we ought to be in terms of our (relatively) tiny population. Comparing us with many countries such as Belgium, Portugal and Chile, more people know about Kangaroos, didgeridoos and turbo-charged loos than much at all about these aforementioned countries. In part, this may be due to our exotic location, politely referred to as the “arse-end of the world” by one Paul John Keating, who also happened to be our Prime Minister at the time.

So there is a fair degree of mythology about our nation, some which causes a pain in the arse in the arse end of the world, some of which is distinctly to our advantage, allow me to explain. In the 1980s with the rise of the box office dole bludger (as opposed to ‘blockbuster’ in terms of net receipts) “Crocodile Dundee”, Australia became flavour of the decade, at least in the western world. Yes, now we were apparently putting shrimps on the barbie (not the humble ‘sausage’ which still tends to dominate all but inner city ‘not-dog’ vegan soirees) and all wrestling crocodiles outback. Actually, it was not until he 1980s that many Australians even knew we HAD an outback, let alone what was even there, apparently there is some big rock somewhere that is pret-ty darn cool, by the sounds of it.

You see the truth is that over 94% of Australians live in or around cities. Of those, more than 80% solely on the thin eastern coast hemmed in by that bloody big bunch of mountains called, somewhat appropriately “the great dividing range”.Few of us have even seen a crocodile live, let alone wrestled one, but most men in Australia, given a bottle of ‘dutch courage”, duct tape, a hessian bag and a ute full of coaxing mates would be only too pleased to give it a go! In fact, I feel like wrestling a crocodile right now. 🙂

angry crocodile

Steve Irwin certainly helped this cause by appearing to be a typical ‘real-life crocodile hunter’ and gaining worldwide attention for our crocodile hunting (and perhaps taking some of the heat away from a far more popular past-time now deemed politically incorrect of ‘dwarf tossing’ in some of our less-respectable bars). To add to the mythology, he was from Beerwah, yep, EAST of the divide, the Green not the Red. Of course, Aussie males were khaki-clad, Crocodile-wrestlers with a penchant for adventure and the substitution of vulgar vernacular with the relatively benign, “crikey”. Now this only added to the mystique around the sheer courage of such men… if you are ever confronted with a reptile hurtling towards you at full speed who is the weight of a ladened refrigerator and with more teeth than a tardy dentist’s waiting room, I dare you to limit your vocabulary to “crikey”!!!

Which brings us to the real topic of today’s article: Why hasn’t Australia ever been successfully invaded?

Ok, well, in that concession I will rule out the obvious issues of being mostly barely-inhabitable desert, having more flies than is statistically possible to sustain on planet Earth and the fact that Paul John Keating is still alive. You see, we have, literally an abundance of the world’s mineral resources, some spectacular countryside, more beautiful beaches that all the beaches in the rest of the world combined and some of the best food and wine… Well, kinda…I’ll get to that later.

Yet, aside from a few ambitious, or possibly lost,  Japanese submarines in World War II that arguably were here to scout out good real estate deals or sites for successful sushi bars, really, no one has even bothered to have a red-hot go. It is hardly because of our amazing fleet of naval vessels constantly guarding our coastlines. No, there is significantly more chance of seeking the famous white whale, Migaloo, patrolling our coast than any white-uniformed military personnel.

Of course, the secret is spectacularly simple: Vegemite.

Not many people have seriously considered this in understanding the profound lack of interest of nations for invading this land which abounds in nature’s gifts and has some kind of ‘skirt’ of sea (or somesuch!). It lies in this most curious, and in some minds, vile, condiment that has pride of place in most Australian pantries… a jar of black sludge known as VEGEMITE.

Vegemite Jar

Vegemite was famously named out of a hat in a competition in 1923 by sisters Hilda and Laurel Armstrong but fewer people know that Cyril P Callister, commissioned by Fred Walker (the father of food giant, Kraft) actually developed the product in 1922. A scant few of my faithful File:13 readers would be aware, however, that this product is actually made from the yeast products in the sludge at the bottom of brewer’s vats.

Let us just pause and meditate on this for a moment. We are considering the people of a nation who see it as an important cause to employ someone to develop a food source from microorganisms having a (presumably wonderful) party at the bottom of a brewer’s vat and to promote said food to the populace. Well, there is a more fantastic tale than this droll anecdote.. the people of Australia BLOODY LOVE THE STUFF!!!

Just to make entirely sure that you understand the ramifications of this development in our nation’s history, I add, for the sake of a more complete history of the matter, that other nations have indulged in similar dark, salty and  odorous spreads from similar origins. Most famously (and earlier), Marmite from the United Kingdom, enjoyed pride of place in this rather small section of the “gross condiments category” worldwide and some have even labelled it more inedible than Vegemite. New Zealand still has a hankering for Marmite, though they load it with sugar in much the same way that Methadone is administered with Orange Juice, in a vain effort to disguise the gravity of what you are doing to your body. However, here’s the rub: a majority of people in both nations consider the consumption of such condiments abnormal and wouldn’t feed it to their enemies.

Here are some fairly typical reactions of apparently everyday Americans sampling our national treasure:

 

In contrast, Vegemite is LOVED by the majority of Australians! Now, for those reading this who did not grow up on the stuff and are, perhaps, from overseas, you may have had the opportunity to taste the stuff. If you have, I guarantee that you remember precisely where and when you did and, not only that, but the string of expletives you uttered spitting the stuff out, the exact quantity (and colour) of the vomit that ensued and how many used toilet brushes you went through scouring your tongue for hours to get rid of the vile taste.

Now, think about it. We routinely give this food to our troops. Our troops flippin’ LOVE the stuff. They’ll get those little packets and, in the absence of a nice Vita-Weet, Salada, or even a piece of bread to break up those vile particles of long-dead sozzled micro-organisms, they will LICK THE STUFF STRAIGHT OUT OF THE LITTLE PLASTIC RATION PACKS. Imagine that you are an enemy scout and you see this event, in broad daylight with your binoculars. Imagine that you have also tasted this food in a mad evening of drunken frivolity and ludicrous dares. What impression would you have of these men whom you have the audacity to engage in battle. Yes, that is right. There is NOTHING you could do to these troops that would be worse than they choose to do to themselves. So you turn around and slouch down the wall of your trench, looking heavenward and wondering what the hell you were thinking taking on Australian soldiers.

Indeed, your mind would race with fearsome images of past formidable armies. The horned and winged helmets of the ancient vikings (that mostly only existed in Asterix and the Vikings, but humour me here), the precision and clinical execution of the Roman Army, Hannibal’s famous elephants or perhaps the bright blue woad stained faces (or more fearsome pasty white exposed bottoms) of Celtic hoardes might come to mind. However, nothing would strike fear into the heart of an opposing soldier than seeing an Australian soldier who, presumably, lived off the land in a desert full of flies, wrestling crocodiles in his spare time, able to consume the carbonated cat-piss that is Foster’s Lager and, to make matters worse, revels in the delight of licking vegemite. Yes, young man, you’d better bloody run.

Troops vegemite

Yes, our female soldiers also eat it with gusto. This photo above shows a happy snap taken just prior to this typical consumer of vegemite administering a small portion to an ALLIED soldier. He is in a stable condition in intensive care and is expecting to be discharged in a month or two. Thanks for your prayers and support folks.

So there it is. The US, NATO and possibly China could all learn a few things about defence if they would concentrate their resources and efforts more economically. You see massive economic spending on technology, aircraft and a formidable fleet is all really a waste of time if you’d just get your troops used to eating disgusting stuff (on this count, I’d have my money on the Chinese as the front runners in any particular race to the culinary bottom on this one, particularly with egg-based dishes!).

The benefits to the Australian way of life is quite obvious. None of us has to go anywhere near anything as dangerous as a crocodile, flies aren’t a problem in most places we live and we can continue munching our morning toast with a fine film of black sludge content that we live in the luckiest country on the planet and there is not a damn thing any other nation is going to do about it any time soon! 🙂

Mickovich.. the GenericOracle.

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Why Lorde really appeals to middle-aged men…

22 06 2014

Admittedly I sometimes have reservations about writing articles on this blog. It happens about as much as Rolex tends to come out with a new model watch, yeah, not very often. I also have a confession to make, I kind of like cinnamon donuts. AHA! caught you out didn’t I? You fell right into my trap! Though yes, I admit that I very much enjoy the music of young New Zealand born prodigy, ‘Lorde’ (born Ella Marija Lani Yellich-O’Connor). Actually, her proper name sounds a little like the entire team of a private school cross-cultural debating team, so a monosyllabic and cryptic moniker was obviously a shrewd marketing choice. Having said that, I suspect that her song-crafting and style had quite a lot more to do with her success than a cool name.

 

Yep, I get the tension that is already palpably evident in your head at present.. “Where the hell is he going with this article?” and “Why is a middle aged man listening to, let alone writing about, a pop sensation not even finished high school yet?” or possibly “Why do I never get sick of tacos, no matter how many times I eat them, when I get sick of every other meal that I eat a lot?”. Ok, maybe YOU weren’t thinking that but I was and man, I am gonna have to write me an article about THAT very, very soon, but not now.

 

The reason I like Lorde is very simple. Her music is characterised craftsmanship, intelligence and genuine talent, not sex. I think it is no accident that fathers across the world find themselves listening to Lorde, even when their daughters or sons are NOT in the car. Her age puts her right at the age at which many forty years old men conceivably have daughters. Therefore, Lorde’s parents are similar in age and, allowing for some quirky variations in musical taste, Lorde may well have grown up in a milieu of music in a garden which might not necessarily be sound nor savage (couldn’t resist a bandy pun or two there!) but certainly not unlike that of most men listening to her music. There is the ambient grooves and basslines reminiscent of the heady days of early trance and house, lyrics that tend to be provocative and cryptic like the work of the Smiths, U2 or coldplay but not derivative of them and the melodies are pared back and haunting, almost a little like Robert Smith, of the Cure (who possibly seems to be giving make up advice to young Kiwi songwriters as well, these days!).

 

 

One of the hallmarks of a truly good musical artist is the ability to sell more than the ’empty carbs of the pop world’ which is sex wrapped up in the plastic of riffs better left in advertising jingles. Instead, despite her modest years and relatively limited experience in what is fast becoming the most competitive era ever for the sale of popular music, she is carving up the pie with some genuinely good material in a manner that established artists like Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Beyonce are finding increasingly hard to emulate. Lorde-RS So middle aged-men get Lorde because the musical style is eclectic, whilst reminiscent of a lot of things they half remember from their youth, which they half-remember wasn’t half-bad, back in the day. So about 12.5% association with something vaguely good in the past. What is great is that Lorde has so much more to offer than the shell that we all walk around in. Not so for artists such as Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga who each left nothing to the imagination when strutting out of highschool into packed arenas in their late teens/early twenties. There is, most certainly, something a little ‘pedo’ in a middle-aged man’s interest in the ‘music’ of any of these artists when the product being sold is both so young and so obvious.

 

Typically, such artists are “unit puppets”, just flogging their latest cheap, tacky fads to plump ailing record sales for a little girl who has grown up and lost core fans distracted by the musical equivalent of Sizzler Salad Bars as such fans have also grown up. Not so with artists like Lorde. It is perhaps a little naive to suggest that she, and artists like her, thrive because of authenticity and free reign to write precisely what they like, wear what they like and have control over how that ‘brand’ is developed. What she does have is, however, genuine product which is not dependent on her age, her body and her gender. Instead, along with other successful artists like Alannis Morisette, Avril LaVigne and Alicia Keys, she is a song-writer not just a singer. Sure the content does involve the usual pop themes of love and love lost, but not a whole lot. Instead, we get lyrical poetry (perhaps an unsurprising observation given that her mother is an acclaimed New Zealand poet but kids don’t always follow their parent’s day jobs!). Nevertheless, we hear class contrast, generational angst, concerns about superficiality in social interactions and the influence of mammon on man. Intelligent, philosophical, thoughtful writing and ambient, trancy and layered vocals with pitch-perfect harmonies (possibly worked on in the mixing and editing but still beautifully done) and, the hallmark of successful female artists: a different voice.

 

So why the appeal to middle-aged men, specifically and why should this be important in any way to those who direct this juggernaut of a musical phenomenon? Primarily because it represents generational change. We have the first glimpse of our millenial/Gen Z music, almost like a time trip into the near future. Arguably, the music reaching our ears through whatever media we choose to consume is the last flickers of Gen Y artists, that are sounding tired, stretched, over-evolved, like some actress that has been poorly advised to pay too much for cosmetic surgery that  creates more beasts than beauties.Typically, the generation consuming the music has it delivered by the generation above, but here we see a wonderful window into what could be the future of millenial artist pop. That’s exciting.

 

 

Generation X is characterised by its cynicism, search for authenticity and obsession with relational depth (as opposed to Boomer/Gen Y focus of relational breadth). Likewise, their children seem to have inherited these values. Millenials question superficiality, generally have drive, focus and ambition that is tempered with acceptance of honest feedback about their ability to achieve such goals. Unlike Boomers, whose suspicion of ‘the establishment’ was near universal, which often led to “plugging in and dropping out” in search of a new utopia (almost universally disappointed with the outcome..when human nature is involved), Millenials see the inevitability of the establishment and work within it, breaking and shaping it when needed (and allowed to). In an almost Frankl-esque dedication, these Millenials understand that the ‘Matrix’ is something that we need to work with but we choose how much it changes our sense of self. Digital natives yes, but not the mindless slaves we thought they’d be. Using technology to find relational depth, make their brains more alive, more creative, more rich not less rich. The games they play tune their brains, build creativity within boundaries like lifting weights at the gym, using their networks to study seriously and faster than their older natives, now in employment.

Lorde at Madame Jojo's, London Lorde seems emblematic of a generation that their parents can’t help but get excited about. True, many Gen Ys don’t know what to make of these younger ‘upstarts’. This is not, however, die to the fact that Millenials are so enigmatic but more a function of the fact that Gen Y tend to be so self-absorbed or, now, running around on minimal sleep now they are breeding, that they simply don’t have the time to care. Of course music artists, particularly female artists trying to share this consumer-space with artists like Lorde are not happy in the slightest, and the knives are out. This guest is, in their opinion, unfashionably early and they are not happy about the way the party might change.

 

Now the fathers of Millenials who listen to the haunting melodies ringing through their homes in wireless convenience also find tracks on their own devices feeding these melodies they find themselves humming. Daughters going to Lorde concerts may find their Dads not only footing the bill but offering to come along. In doing so, these involved ‘Neo-Dads’ far from experiencing the derision common in earlier generations at this kind of cultural invasion or cringeworthy example of an uninvolved Dad trying to ‘get hip and be cool’ to be-friend his distant daughter, is often greeted compassionately by such gestures. Dads and daughters these days have a lot more to do with each other than they once did. Dad is not trying to be a friend, he will always be the ‘daggy old dad’.. but he is there and that is, for the meantime at least, cool. From the Dad’s point of view, this is a damn-sight more tolerable to sit through for $100 a pop than, say Britney Spears or Taylor Swift or even Pink, for that matter.

 

The music is cool, accessible and it is about the talent, intelligence and concert atmosphere of an artist and work, not a piece of female flesh teasing the men and causing the women to covet mimicry of that blatant sexuality to get the same attention from men. Again, there is more than enough evidence that marketers are way ahead of the curve on this one (money is that most powerful motivator!). Even the clips selected for this blog post contained advertisements for Joe Satriani concerts (1989 Surfing with the Alien, anyone??) and Rolling stone arguably bought into this phenomenon with Lorde in a Cramps shirt and a nod to early Gen X punk with both their cover and headline.

 

Yep, this young lady is for youth and their dads (with a possibility that more than a few Mums might also want to ride this train!!). Economically, nothing could be smarter for Lorde than continuing to push boundaries of music and stage performance whilst remaining decently (if esoterically) dressed and not dipping her feet into the superficiality of carnal hedonism as she ages. In an age where profitability from music sales is bottoming out and album sales contribute paltry revenue for even the most popular artists, sales of concert tickets are a coveted stream of income. Having on board the fathers of fans as benevolent benefactors of entertainment coin is very, very savvy. Deep pockets and an appreciation for the art is driving a medium which simply can’t be pirated: the live experience. Much like the glory days of stadium rock and pop concerts that were the staple of bands in the 1980s, such fathers are keen to support this once again. A format long in decline to the chagrin of performers as music became diverse and democratised in the age of the internet, good concerts are slowly, but surely experiencing a resurgence with artists such as Lorde and, just like a feudal system that young Ella Y-O is often enamoured with in her lyrics, we are seeing a new generation of Pop royalty rise among the ashes of a cacophony of peasants. Long live the Queen, then eh? Mickovich





Fundamentally… different.

17 06 2014

The rise of social media is great. Every man, woman and child has an opinion on every meme, photo, funny dolphin video or clickbait propaganda that hits the digital world. I am not, however, naive enough to think that I am in the minority that sees a trend towards both bland and blind acceptance of some idealistic middle ground in terms of holding belief. Some ‘like’ everything, even when they don’t or when they have ‘liked’ polar opposite statements you might have (ok, somewhat-sneakily-in-purely-a-sociological-ethnographic-research-kind-of-way) posted weeks apart.. So what am I getting at?

It seems that one evil we are all keen to agree on is that of ‘Fundamentalism’.

Now, I know that those that know me will shudder with the hypocrisy of leaving that hanging sentence above as a paragraph when I know better, right? Shocking, but it was intentional. There is this perpetuated myth that ALL fundamentalism is bad because a) it causes more wars than anything else, blah, blah, b) it lacks tolerance and why can’t we all just be brothers and c) you don’t fancy a paradigm shifting wardrobe change or the effort/embarrassment required having too much hair, too little hair or just plain silly hair.

One thing which is just plain wrong (not ‘opinion’ wrong or ‘moral’ wrong but ‘statistically’ wrong) is that all (religious) fundamentalists are the same. It simply isn’t true.

This is not to say that there are fundamentalists of most belief systems (not just religious ones, by the way) who carry out atrocious acts. Many who not only hold the view that Fundamentalism is the root of many kinds of evil and lean to the left politically are quick to drag out the chestnut of Abortion Clinic Violence as evidence of widespread fanatical violence. Actually, over the last 23 years in the USA, with a population now over 318, 000, 000 only 8 people who were employees of abortion clinics have died, in six incidents. Three of these perpetrators had any clear links at all with Christian Churches and two of these were declared to have pervasive mental illness prevalent. The last one, the notorious Eric Robert Rudolph, infamous for not just an abortion clinic murder but the tragic Atlanta games Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996 confesses that he is not really aligned much at all with the ‘Born Again Christians’ and that he ‘much prefers Nietzsche to the Bible’.

 

pro life irony

 

Now the US outstrips all other nations for this type of terrorism.

So what about other ‘fundamentalists’? Firstly, shall we get to some kind of understanding of what this means. Whilst introduced to our language from the USA, its origins were particularly grounded in Protestant Christianity, from sects that believed the literal interpretation of the Bible, particularly as it related to Genesis and Creation. Following Islamic sectarian violence and the rise of modern Islamist terrorism, it has been applied also to other religious beliefs as well.

 

islam violence

 

Of course, it is difficult to choose a time from which to start recording Islamist attacks and those specifically which may be considered terrorism, so let us just consider those attacks claimed by Islamic jihadist groups in precisely the same period of time that we considered the horrific acts of senseless violence on abortion clinics above. The total figure to date of fatalies from 1990 to 2014 is

4047.

 

Yep. 4047 deaths. 809 000 % more deaths caused by Muslim Fundamentalists compared with less than 8 which in any way may be linked to “right-wing Christian fundamentalism”. Now there are some who peddle the myth that “religious fundamentalism” has “caused most of the wars in history, or, it’s fat brother “Christianity has caused…”. The simple fact is that the term religious fundamentalism at it applies to those who believe the document of their faith in an orthodox fashion is relatively new, less than 120 years. Furthermore, the adoption of that term to those of the Islamic faith is also on the basis that those who practice “extreme Islam” actually follow what they believe to be the literal word of Allah, their God.

Now, this is quite problematic for the old chestnut trotted out above. You see, we have the following issues:

1. Not a single one of the many hundreds of wars recorded in ancient documents prior to the death of Christ were caused by ‘Christians’, nor by Islamic fundamentalists, for that matter (given that Islam is generally regarded to have taken root in 610 AD).

2. Wars between 1 AD and AD 1880 cannot have said to be ’caused’ by any kind of Christian Fundamentalism. Certainly any scholars who propose this would be in the minority, primarily because it is very hard to justify that many people at all throughout Europe (or any other continent, for that matter) held ‘fundamentalist’ beliefs, ie: they actually believed what was literally written in the text. indeed, this is particularly hard to justify, since Martin Luther in the Reformation itself based much of his opposition to the Catholic church in the 16th century on the very basis that the actions of church routinely did not reflect the instructions, doctrine and commands written in the Bible, including many of those from Jesus himself. Thus, any crusades cannot be considered to be the responsibility of ‘fundamentalist’ Christianity. At the time, populations in Europe were eclipsed by those in Asia, Africa, Asia and the Americas, most of which had never heard of Christianity and all of which have scores to hundreds of wars in recorded history, none of which were remotely related to Christianity.

3. Since 1880, we have witnessed some of the most brutal and fatal wars in the history of mankind. Indeed, the First World War, often called the ‘Great War’ alone, was responsible for over 16 000 000 deaths. It is simply not supported in any literature that any type of fundamentalism was a trigger, cause or catalyst for this or any other major war, conflict skirmish or stern words in the 20th and 21st centuries this far!


gas masks

Indeed, even ongoing terrorism between ‘Protestant ‘and ‘Catholic’ sectarian violence and terrorism, widespread in Northern Ireland from the 1960s to 1990s in particular cannot be framed in terms of fundamentalist beliefs. Rather, most commentators agree that the issue has nothing to do with the tenets of religious faith. Instead, the ‘colour’ of faith provided a convenient division of political geography: those aligned to the “Church (and country) of England” and those aligned to traditional Irish Catholicism. Tribalism at its ugliest.

 

Irish violence

 

So, ok, it seems that human beings addicted to power and the acquisition of resources has most likely led to more wars than anything, and not the belief in the literal texts of a religious faith. Maybe this is one sweeping statement that ought to be put firmly back in the cupboard of ignorance?

So, can you have ‘fundamentalism’ that is not necessarily ‘religious’? It appears so. Certainly deists have no monopoly on fanaticism. There are many organisations of people who are so one eyed to manifesto or principle that they are willing to risk life, limb, incrimination and humiliation of themselves and their targets.

Environmental Fundamentalism has been steadily on the rise since the late 1970s and organisations such as Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, Earth Liberation Front (ELF) , People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) have been responsible for over 2000 acts of ecoterrorism since 1980. Indeed, the FBI considers Ecoterrorism a real and present threat in the United States:

 

“In 2008 the Federal Bureau of Investigation said eco-terrorists represented “one of the most serious domestic terrorism threats in the U.S. today” citing the sheer volume of their crimes (over 2,000 since 1979); the huge economic impact (losses of more than $110 million since 1979); the wide range of victims (from international corporations to lumber companies to animal testing facilities to genetic research firms); and their increasingly violent rhetoric and tactics (one recent communiqué sent to a California product testing company said: “You might be able to protect your buildings, but can you protect the homes of every employee?”).”
In fact, given the sheer number of incidents which involve destruction of property, significant acts of Arson, sabotage of equipment used to log, harvest or facilities in which animal testing is carried out, you are more likely to be the victim of an ecoterrorism attack than one caused by religious extremists. There is, however, one main difference at present: Islamic terrorist attacks like those experienced in New York, Bali, Pakistan, Egypt and London are less likely but far more fatal when they do occur.
What is disturbing, however, is any manifesto which subjugates the horror of violence or death to some other goal, cause or principle. With the rise of Eco-groups described above, all of these have been in the past and continue to be dominated politically by those in the extreme left and, as the left is wont to be, dominated by uncompromising dogma. Ecoterrorists hold to tenets of “deep ecology” which espouse fundamentalist beliefs such as the importance of ‘Biocentrism”, which is a belief that man is only one of a great multitude of species on the planet. As such, the life of a human is no more or less important than any other organism and the death of a human for the cause of the planet no worse than the death of a seal, a whale or a forest. Another common motivation of “deep ecologists” is the return to a natural or ‘pre-industrialised’ state, some believe, by whatever means necessary. These are fundamentalist beliefs held by many millions of people who have shown their will to act in line with such beliefs. Is this something we ought to be worried about? Perhaps.
confessions-of-an-eco-terrorist-HI
The rise of such fundamentalism was primarily on a wave of baby boomer activism in the 1960s to 1970s which saw a collection of issues rise to prominence in western culture including (but not limited to) Anti-war Sentiment, Environmentalism, Communist sympathy and Anti-Israel sentiment (largely a reaction to staunch Republican support for the nation of Israel). All of these causes have one thing in common: reaction to ‘establishment’. In this sense, any collective organisation of people which was a political party, religious organisation, a military organisation or corporation which opposed the positions described above was automatically granted suspicion and, often, became a conveniently visible enemy from which to fight a “David and Goliath” style battle and such movements sought to occupy what appeared to be, at least in their own eyes, the moral high ground. From this position, the objective was always clear: Frustrate, Intimidate, Repudiate and, if at all possible, Annihilate.
burn-monsanto
Given this history, it is hardly surprising therefore that the modus operandi of such groups has been spectacularly successful and no matter which guise this ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ appears, the principles, as well as the practices are remarkably similar. This fundamentalism is widespread and yet is not vilified anywhere near the degree that, say, Christian Fundamentalism is slandered because such activists own the game. Social media has replaced the ‘magic marker placards’ but make no mistake, the propaganda is as deliberate and targeted as it was for communist nations in the early 20th century, they control the airwaves.
Consider the relative lack of criticism on social media of the atrocious acts of Islamists all over the world, the caution with with the British media phrase their stories, walk on egg shells in their schools and turn themselves inside out to point out that ‘very few muslims are extremists’. Media outlets online, by broadcast or by print media in English-speaking nations take great care not to malign Mohammed, let alone Allah. When the odd cartoonists do slip through the cracks and poke fun at such figures, hundreds of arson attacks, violence, death threats and the destruction of property follows. What happens when Richard Dawkins makes a mockery of the Christ whom more than a third of the planet follow? When Christian schools have the ‘audacity’ to suggest that Creationism ought to be taught alongside Evolution and face widespread scorn, where are the demonstrations and flag-burning afterwards? When atheists challenge the presence of Christian Chaplains in schools in the High Courts, where are the acts of civil disobedience amongst that ‘dangerous’ (and illusory) ‘religious right’ that apparently exists in every English-speaking nation? Hmm. Most likely at home watching telly with their slippers on or carrying out some shocking subversion such as a mid-week Bible study over a coffee and a biscuit. Yep, this is about as radical as your average fundamentalist Christian will get.
I would ever go so far as to venture that if you took a random-sample of such ‘fundamentalist Christians’ you would be several hundreds of times more likely to find a ‘Fundamentalist Christian’ who has provided a meal for a family undergoing a new pregnancy/natural disaster/cancer treatment, or having cooked a sausage at a fund-raiser, or mowed the lawn of someone who couldn’t or given large sums of money to any number of (not necessarily ‘Christian’) charities than ever holding a molotof cocktail, stone or placard in a public rally. It is simply an unsupportable myth that Christians who believe their Bibles are any more dangerous that a rabbit holding a water gun.
So why is that? How could that be? How can such uncompromising beliefs NOT be violent, aggressive or intimidating in their expression? Simple. The founder of these beliefs and the doctrinal manifesto to which such believers subscribe does not support such actions. Yes, this ‘dangerous dogma’ suggests that ‘we should love our neighbours as ourselves'(Mark 12:30-31), that ‘human life is precious'(Exodus 20:13), that ‘we should do good to those who harm us'(Luke 6:28) and that we should ‘look after the garden’ (Genesis 2:15) that we have been given.
So, I trust that it is as obvious to you as it is to me that there are many, many kinds of ‘Fundamentalism’ that exist in our (global) society at present and that not all are equally a threat to our peace, safety, well-being and economy. Not all can be tarred with the one brush and just because one might have an old (hippy) axe to grind about the ‘establishment’ as far as it relates to those who regularly attend churches. Perhaps it behooves us not to toss out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to those who believe that they ought to live out their lives as their founder did, one Christ, Jesus. Could it be that some ‘fundamentalists’ just don’t fit that stereotype about ‘smashing the world’ to achieve their cause.
It’s just worth a thought. That’s all I suggest.
😉
Mickovich.