From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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God is my getaway driver, I shall not want

17 March 1999

Saturday morning dawned mean, humid and streaky-grey. A weak shaft of light struggled in through the big skylight I'd installed years ago -- part of the renovations I never finished. Joadja went down to pick up the papers, but I rolled over and went back to sleep. When I opened my eyes about an hour later, Jo was propped up reading the Herald..

"Terrible business this, on Ambon. Christians and Moslems hacking each other to death with machetes in the name of God. Only the army and the ruling families can feel happy about this." she muttered.

"That's the funny thing about God", I said, "For someone that's supposed to be all-powerful and all-knowing, he regularly fails to clear up misunderstandings arising in his name."

I drifted off again and beheld a pale horse. And his name that sat on him was religious and ethnic hatred. They ruled over about a quarter of the world at last count and Hell followed and only the Dow Jones index laughed. There was also the wormwood problem. About a third part of the waters had been polluted with the stuff and many died of the waters, because they were made bitter ...

"Hey, wake up. You're gibbering stuff from the Book of Revelations again. Speaking of God, guess who's running on the Liberal ticket for the Upper House?" Jo said excitedly.

"I Dunno. Saint Augustine? L. Ron Hubbard? The Reverend Samuel Marsden?"

"They're dead."

"Wouldn't make a difference, so are half the people in the Upper House."

"Do you remember young Tony Dennison?"

No, that couldn't be right. She must be kidding.

"You're kidding? You don't mean the Koori armed holdup man. Did time twice. Five years of a 13 year sentence the first time, five years of a 12 year sentence the next?"

I sat bolt upright and focussed on the photo she thrust under my whiskers. There was Tony on the happy side of the chain link fence at Long Bay, looking fat and prosperous and holding a big black Bible or maybe his Filofax.

"Yeah, he's found God", Joadja said. "Says he literally saw the light. He was lying injured in the bullrushes as the cops closed in. Now he's a Pentecostal Christian and he owns a security company in Moree. Tough on Aboriginal crime. Says here he reckons Labor has fostered an Aboriginal welfare industry riddled with corruption, cronyism, nepotism and incompetence. That sounds like the way the major parties pick their candidates."

"And it's the line on Aboriginal organisations that John Howard's white trash intelligentsia have been running for years ... not to mention One Nation. The irony is, if the Liberals' current law and order policy had applied back then, Tony Dennison would still be pumping iron in the exercise yard and he wouldn't be running for the Liberals or badmouthing a bunch of other Koories who spent their time more productively", I replied, sliding down and pulling the blanket over my head.

"And you know the whole setup is pretty racist anyway", Jo said. "The Coalition can say they've got a black on their team, but he's 12th on a 15-member ticket, so there's almost no chance he could get a guernsey. Just the ticket: a black, god-bothering, reformed criminal who won't embarrass you by actually getting in."

"Great story. Who wrote it anyway?" I muttered.

"Paul Sheehan."

I sat bolt upright. Jo was giggling.

"You bastard ... you are joking this time, aren't you?"

She shook her head and pushed the paper towards me again. It was Paul Sheehan. Paul Among the Barbarians Sheehan -- the doyen of the anti-political correctness mafia.

"Did he get time off for good behaviour too?" I asked.

See also Among the barbarians (Nick Possum and the Victims of Political Correctness Inc.)

• • •

INCLUDED in Whispers from the mean streets -- Best of 1999

FREE downloadable PDF booklet.