I read Adele Horin’s column in yesterday’s SMH and thought that it was a nice summary of the idea that many people are quite reasonable in their political views and that it’s wrong to stereotype citizens of a country by referring to the policies of their government. A facile example of this kind of stereotyping is when people disparage Americans for re-electing President Bush in 2004 given his apparently disasterous war in Iraq.
It’s nice to read opinion pieces suggesting that most people are in general quite reasonable – the first few paras of Adele Horin’s piece are as follows:
We’ve just been led astray
An old friend is returning soon to live in Australia after 15 years in France and I find myself preparing a defence of Australians against her inevitable criticisms. Like most expatriates she is ambivalent about the return. The view from Paris, reinforced by home visits, is that Australians have become selfish, bigoted and short-sighted.
The main evidence for this view is Australia’s uniquely brutal border protection regime, including the incarceration of refugee children, the enthusiasm for the Iraq war, the stubborn denial of climate change and the callous treatment of David Hicks.
To my friend Australians have become synonymous with Australian Government policy – uncaring, self-interested and ultimately wrong-headed on the defining moral issues of the decade. Given that John Howard is credited with special powers to tap and articulate the inner fears, hopes and aspirations of the silent majority, it is easy to believe these harsh policies are a true reflection of the Australian character. The sophisticated French, on the other hand, as embodied by their Government, got it right about George Bush, the Iraq war and global warming years ago.
I intend to launch my defence of Australians in a cafe where my favourite barista makes a latte to die for. With my friend’s views, she might as well become a cadre of the latte sippers’ club immediately. Many members of this reviled cultural elite in turn revile ordinary Australians for having made Howard their hero. But I don’t feel that way….
Click here for the whole piece.