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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Captain Abbott's Team Epic Failure

Captain Abbott's Team Epic Failure




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(Photograph Joe Armao via Brisbane Times)


Though the competition is large, Abbott's 'Team Australia' is probably the most idiotic thing he’s said in a fortnight, writes Bob Ellis.



What Abbott has been attempting lately is what might be called a daily scramble to change the subject.



Operation Bringing Them Home. Threatening Putin. Denouncing an independent Scotland. Praising the cross-benchers. Denouncing Clive Palmer. Declaring there is no Budget emergency after all.



His latest wheeze is Team Australia; and how, as George W. Bush might have put it, you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.



It’s probable, though the competition is large, that this is the most idiotic thing he’s said in a fortnight.



It came a day before Melbourne was named the world’s most liveable city. It’s the world’s most liveable city because it’s — probably — the world’s most successful multiculture.



Melbourne
people think of themselves as Macedonian Australians, Greek
Australians, Italian Australians, Croatian Australians, Sudanese
Australians, Chinese Australians, Korean Australians, Japanese
Australians, Pakistani Australians, Tongan Australians, Filipino
Australians, Arabic Australians — and so on. Scottish Australians. Irish
Australians.




And none of them think of themselves as Team Australia. It’s an
insult to their nation of origin, or their parents’. He’s saying take
off your kilt, take off your hijab, you’re Australian now. Put on this
nose cream. This bikini.




It’s an American concept, of course. Team America! is an American
rallying cry. It applies to a nation more divided, more sundered, more
split, more troubled, more war-like along ethnic lines than any in
history. Various mafias crowd American history, and American miniseries.
Roots. Boardwalk Empire. The Sopranos. The Kennedys. The Molly
Maguires. Miami Vice. Hawaii Five Oh. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. The
Godfather. Chinatown.




But Australian history is not much like that. There are few gang wars that are ethnic in their borders. We’re not like that.



And Abbott, as usual, has mistaken the country he’s in.



He’s a man who believes Muslims will fry in Hell and he’s inviting
them into his team. And they, quite rightly, see this as a threatening
gesture. Abandon your culture, your national tendencies, adopt mine.
Ride bikes. Confess to Pell. Try in the priesthood, then shuck it off.




He truly doesn’t know how strange he is, how repellent some of his
beliefs. No raped woman should abort the result. No woman, not even his
sister, should marry a woman. When the vote is 70 percent against him,
he is not for turning. When it’s 90 percent against him, he is not a
team player. He’s just a little crazy.






Most migrant groups see him this way — all atheists, all agnostics and, oh yes, all Muslims. Every one of them.



And he’s inviting them into his team.



‘The Mad Monk’, he used to be called. A disaster in the making.



And, one year in we see − and see every day − how true that is.



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