"Humor is a funny way of being serious"
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Copyright© 2001-2010, Renato Obeid
"Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.”
-Jane Perrone, The Guardian
Sunday, September 02, 2001
Just got back from a dinner party at --- and ------- and am watching The Big Shmooze on the Comedy Channel - an interview with some whore from the unfortunately successful stage show “The Vagina Monologues”.
I saw a cartoon in a recent edition of Private Eye which showed a mother with her daughter (in a pram) going past a theatre which had a sign out the front for that production.
The child is asking her mother “mummy, what’s a monologue”.
Also in that issue of Private Eye was a cartoon of two women talking over a back fence and one of the women’s children is saying “the Conservatives are going to win the election” - the mothers reply is “children say the funniest things”.
In that vein, maybe I should call these tapes “The Dickhead Monologues”.
Tonight at the dinner party I had no luck in finding people who were in agreement with me over the issue of the day – the Tampa crisis.
Of the ten people there I was the only person who was sympathetic to the “hostages” which pretty much reflects opinion polls in which over ninety percent are in favour of the tough stance taken against the hostages.
It felt like the dinner party version of “Twelve Angry Men”.
So, why are these people so hard-line?
Well, apart form the fact that they are bourgeois, they are anti-immigration because, quite ironically, they’re the product of immigration themselves!
It is ironic that it seems that the most rabidly anti-immigration people in Australia are themselves immigrants or products of immigration themselves (by that I mean recent immigration as we are all migrants in Australia)!
I was reading an interview in the paper today with a Vietnamese woman who was amongst the first wave of boat people to Australia (not including the first settlers) – the Vietnamese.
She came here in 1978 and (apparently) subsequently became a bourgeois professional Wasp wannabe and is therefore anti-immigration and doesn’t believe that these people should be allowed in!
Its absurd, it’s ludicrous!
There but for the grace of God go I and her and every Australian for that matter!
She and her ilk ought to be sent back (your wish is our command) – by her own reasoning, she shouldn’t of come and been allowed here in the first place.
My suggestion is that any Australian who is opposed to immigration should practice what they preach and go back to wherever it is they came from.
Retroactive immigration control.
We are all migrants on this orphaned island – our forebears are buried elsewhere.
These migrants who are anti-immigration are, in their own ignorance, digging their own graves without even knowing it because this “anti-immigrationism can also be retroactive.
There’s a fine and blurred line between opposed to further immigration and being plain anti-immigrant – a lot of their fellow anti-immigrationists aren’t just opposed to further immigration but to immigrants in general (including established entrenched incumbent migrants).
For example the British National Party (who have counterparts in all countries that have significant migrant populations) are obviously dead set against any further immigration but also want migrants (who have often been in the country for several years) to be sent back or, euphemistically, to be encouraged to repatriate.
“Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, the bell tolls for thee”.
So, why are so many migrants anti-immigration?
I think its “dog in the mangerism” – a lot of migrants are greedy, selfish, jealous and covetous and quite simply want to pull the ladder up after them and after they’ve used it.
They don’t want anybody else to benefit from what they’ve benefited from and no longer require.
Who knows? – it might encroach upon them, although it doesn’t (well no more than it does on the non-immigrant population).
In this area as in other areas (like racism, which is the twin and clone of this - for some paradoxical reason a lot of migrants are racist) they become hyper-Australian.
More royalist than the king.
So desperate are they to fit in and become and be perceived as Australians by white Australia that they become hyper-Australian, over-Australian, turbo-Australian and Australian Plus – “hey we’re just like you”.
This is particularly prevalent in the area of “culture” where some of the most Australian Australians, the most ockerish Australians are migrants or children of migrants.
They tend to become either one extreme, total hardcore “wogs”, or, the other extreme, total ockers – almost a parody of Australians as they’re perceived by someone who’s acting (or overacting) Australian, inadvertent caricatures of Australians.
I once answered the phone to some Australian/Lebanese women (are there any worse!) calling to speak to Aunty Mary.
She told me that I must be from Lebanon because of my accent.
That piqued me – there’s nothing wrong with having an accent of a person who learns at least three languages (English being one of them) practically from birth but I don’t have a Lebanese accent I just don’t have much of an Australian accent.
But in this lady’s narrow world, you either have an Australian accent on steroids or you’re Lebanese.
After I hung up I was pretty pissed of, muttering to Anthony‘’if you don’t sound like a dickhead then you must be Lebanese!’’.
Anthony thought it funny - ‘’settle down son – that stuff (stress) will kill you’’.
Some Australian/Lebanese girl once asked me ‘’where you born here?’’
When I replied in the affirmative she said ‘’ you don’t talk like me’’.
‘’Thank God for that’’ was my riposte.
Quite simply, these immigrants and their children are aping Anglo-Australians (or their perception of them).
And how more (stereotypical) Australian can you be than being anti-immigration and anti-immigrant.
It reminds me of a Syrian I met in Lebanon who was about to become a naturalised Lebanese who told me, jokingly, that he couldn’t wait to become a Lebanese and say “when are these bloody Syrians going to leave!"
Looking of images of that ship (the Tampa) particularly in Fridays Sydney Morning Herald where you see a photo of the vessel taken from Christmas Island - a Palm fringed vista of clear blue sea and, in the background, that stricken forlorn ship (a stranger in paradise) - you get the feeling that you’re looking at one of the defining issues and images of our time, of Australia and the world in general at the beginning of the 21st Century,
A juxtaposition of the haves and the have nots, the lucky and the unlucky, people who were in the right place at the right time and people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, people who have the right passport at the right time and people who have the wrong passport at the wrong time.
Those hostages are strangers in paradise, are in purgatory.
So close yet so far.
I think this will, should be and is a defining image of the beginning of the 21st Century.
Just like the images of the Kennedy assassination and, more relevantly, images of other hostage dramas (planes being blown up in the desserts of the Middle East, a gunman with a pistol aimed at a grimacing pilot in the cockpit of a TWA plane on the tarmac at the airport in Beirut, a balaclava clad Black September terrorist peering over the balcony of the Olympic Village in Munich) were in the 20th Century.
This is quite simply the marine equivalent of those!
The fig leaf arguments and justifications (or lies in plain language) about this all being necessary to prevent Australia being swamped by hordes of illegal, unsubstantiated queue jumpers and whatnot taking the places of other more eligible deserving immigrants who apply for it legally and through the right channels are just lies and a smokescreen!
“So spake the fiend, with necessity to disguise his devilish deeds”.
P.S: The Standoff at Sea was finally resolved when the government bribed (hundreds of millions of dollars so far) various poverty stricken Pacific neighbours (mainly Nauru) to host the refuges until they can be processed.
Some of them are still there to this day (Monday 1st December 2003).
The government called this "the Pacific solution" but I think commandos violently hijacking a vessel is hardly pacific!
In the interests of fairness I must add that dialling the wrong number in Australia is an absolute pleasure.
Australians are so nice when you accidentally call them (‘’what number where you dialling?’’ in a pleasant phone voice*) compared to Lebanese who practically interrogate you if you dial a wrong number (‘’who are, where are you from’’ etc?).
I’ve even had Lebanese interrogate me when they’ve accidentally called me.
But don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself – dial any wrong number in Australia and I can almost assure you that you’ll end it with ‘’thank you – it’s been a pleasure having a wrong number in your country’’
And you’ll almost miss them when you hang up and you’ll think to yourself ‘’that person was so nice – I wish right numbers in my country were so friendly. Maybe I won’t fly airplanes into their skyscrapers after all’’.
It’s an absolute pleasure dialling a wrong number in Australia and I really ought to do it more often.
Now where’s that phonebook.
*I notice that Westerners in general have special ‘’phone voices’’ whereas Arabs just use any old everyday voice.