A journalist friend has been writing an advice column rather like The Speccie’s ‘Dear Mary’. He was calling it ‘Ask Auntie Merle’ but he’s run into trouble. Indigenous Voice have accused him of racism for ‘appropriating the identity of an Aboriginal female elder’ and called for him to be ‘cancelled’. So he’s decided to follow the non-Indigenous zeitgeist and now calls himself @askTheWokeBloke. People are so confused about intersectionality and other contemporary concerns, he says, that queries have been pouring in. He showed me some, with his answers in italics.
‘I have been maintaining my rage ever since the Dismissal but when I tried to explain this to my grandchildren they didn’t even know who Mr Whitlam was.’ Memories fade though you would expect the Australian History curriculum to keep our greatest prime ministers in the spotlight as a prescribed ‘learning area’ for all year levels. Sadly, for most people now he was better known as the funny Italian voiceover in the Leggo’s tomato sauce commercials of his latter years.
‘This has been the coldest summer I can remember and yet we know the planet is getting hotter and will soon be uninhabitable. Why doesn’t it feel warmer?’ Climate experts have found that traditional notions of ‘seasonal’ weather are a patriarchal social construct and must be reimagined in an era of diverse weather outcomes and variable meteorological behaviours.
‘I was brought up to open doors for ladies. Would you believe when I did this for a “differently abled” woman in a motorised trolley I was nearly flattened as she rocketed through with the force of a B-Double.’ She is evidently implementing her own reversal of oppressive power structures. You, having the privilege of unassisted ambulation, are the oppressor, but the dialectic is changing. Enrol in an unconscious bias course.
In similar vein, a male reader wrote: ‘I believe in old-fashioned courtesy and offered my seat on the train to an elderly woman. Instead of sitting down she kicked me and shrieked out “Rapist!”. The very idea! I was so embarrassed with everyone staring and filming me on their phones I had to get off at the next stop.’ Old-fashioned courtesy is an invariable indicator of white supremacist attitudes. Note how really inspirational people like our former Aussie of the Year Ms Tame or courageous Canberra road-rage survivor Chantal-Jasmin Fox avoid politeness. Follow their lead.
Two social conscience questions.
‘I have bought a house overlooking Sydney Harbour with a private beach. As a Green merchant banker I feel guilty about living on stolen land and wonder how I could pre-colonialise it.’ Follow the formula successfully pioneered by Professor Pascoe and declare yourself Indigenous. A few props like dug-out canoes parked on your beach would add verisimilitude and you could hire a dance company from the local Tomandjeri people to perform on your lawn. But really, why worry? By definition Greens and others who acknowledge that this country was illegally invaded are auto-exonerated from any guilt shared by descendants of the invaders.
‘I very much admire Black Lives Matter’s commendable demonstrations to oppose the practice of slavery wherever it occurs. I am arranging a protest against slavery in Islamic countries in north Africa. Do you think I should ask BLM to participate?’ Ask them but watch out they don’t think you’re taking the mickey and turn one of their peaceful protests on you and burn your house down.
Unsurprisingly, the non-Chinese virus, as the World Health Organisation recommends we call it, has brought its share of queries.
‘I really miss the lockdowns and staying nice and cosy inside and knowing that all sorts of undesirables are not allowed out on the streets. Is there any hope we can look forward to some more?’ The worst of the pandemic might seem to be over but happily for you the forces in favour of keeping everyone under surveillance are not going to give up that easily. You can look forward to lockdowns being repackaged and reimposed for all sorts of other emergencies – the climate crisis, opposition to the Great Reset, parental pushback against Safe Schools, ‘freedom’ convoys. You live in Victoria I see where once polls start predicting that ‘Mr Lockdown’ himself, Daniel Andrews, will lose the next election, expect a police-enforced ‘voter security’ lockdown to keep anti-government ‘populists’ at home on polling day in all marginal seats.
‘I am very disappointed to see that masks in many places are no longer obligatory. I love my mask and wear it to bed and in the shower but I’m terrified to think how many Covid spores must be floating around me wherever I go, breathed out by antisocial misfits not wearing a mask. How can I avoid this disgraceful spectacle?’ Why not wear two masks, one to cover your eyes?
All advice columns get questions on famous people.
‘We are two guys very happily married to each other and we’d like to ask our absolutely favourite TV personality Mr Waheed Aly of that amazing show The Project to be guest of honour at our fifth anniversary party because we felt that through all the hurtful abuse us and our friends had to put up with to win the marriage equality campaign so we could get married Mr Aly stood out for moderation and fairness by maintaining a tactful silence. Is there a special form of address for writing to him, Your Caliphship or something?’ The ‘Muslim Who’s Who in Australia’ should have details.
And another gender-related question.
‘I (pronouns me/it) love watching ABCQueer but I am also cis-hetero and feel that makes me boring and dull. I should like to convert to be queer but my local branch of LGBQTXI (I think I have the letters right) told me that “conversion therapy” has become illegal.’ Laws against ‘conversion therapy’ are to protect gay, trans and other diverse people, not to discourage others from joining them. It’s the direction of the change that counts. While it would be wicked and homophobic to ‘convert’ gay people from their natural gender identification, it would be a hate crime to deter someone going the other way. I’ve heard the Gay Pride Centre in Melbourne runs online classes on turning queer, try them.
A matter of governance that should interest every Australian.
‘Like all sane people I believe the earth is flat. I also identify as Napoleon. Why have I not been made King of Australia?’ You sound just the type the Australian Republican Movement is looking for as our first President. I’ve passed your query to Mr FitzSimons. He identifies as Captain Hook.
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