Avril at Romsey

… and Lancefield and Riddells Creek and Mount Macedon

Politics on a street corner

So, today I was standing on the corner of Russell and Bourke streets, having just visited Unichurch Books.

{Incidentally, at Unichurch Books I bought:

5 baptismal certificates;

4 booklet copies of liturgies (marriage and baptism) for the parties involved;

3 copies of Dorothy McRae-McMahon’s Liturgies for High Days (ordinations coming up in the USA and UK);

2 wedding candles; and

1 baptismal candle.

Yes, UCA Corporate Credit Card getting a workout.}

As I stood on the corner the “Walk-out Against George Bush” student march passed me.  The following conversation between me and an older man then took place.

Man (snorting – truly): Disgusting!

Me (being a bit of a smart-arse): Oh, I think it’s wonderful to see young people caring about politics. They’re too young to vote so they’re making their voice heard in another way.

(I can say “young people” like that now that I’m in my mid-thirties.)

Man: They don’t even know what they’re protesting against!

Me (looking at the banners): They seem to be against the war in Iraq.

Man: We need to be in Iraq! We need the oil. If we weren’t in Iraq that car (pointing at random car) wouldn’t be on the road!

Me: Is oil really worth innocent lives …. ?

But the man had stormed off.

Now, there are arguments for being in Iraq that I’m willing to listen to. I disagree with them, but I can respect the arguments of a couple of friends and one relative that Saddam Hussein’s regime was so bad and his abuse of his own people so unacceptable that even the deaths that have followed the intervention in Iraq of the Coalition of the Willing will ultimately turn out to have been worth it. I’m willing to get into arguments about a nation’s duty to protect its own citizens and the international community’s responsibility to intervene if a nation is failing to fulfill that duty and just war theory and whether the intervention in Iraq fulfilled its criteria and so on and so forth.

But I have trouble even listening to an argument that we should be in Iraq to keep cars on the road.

And obviously the man who made it wasn’t willing to stay round and listen to any answer I might have.

Anyway, that was my experience of street corner politics for the day.

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September 5, 2007 - Posted by | Life, etc.

5 Comments »

  1. I met today with a teacher from an unnamed private school which has invited me to address its Year 9s on the subject of human rights. They’ve been studying To Kill a Mockingbird in English and developed it into a human-rights based unit with a particular focus on the US civil-rights movement, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, etc.
    The teacher said they were trying to impress upon the students their power to change the world, in spite of their youth, and could I offer inspiring stories and suggest opportunities for activism beyond mere fund-raising?
    I said I could talk about Ploughshares-type acts of nonviolent resistance to the war on Iraq as heir to the civil disobedience movements of King and Gandhi.
    She said, no we couldn’t encourage anything like truancy to attend APEC protests.
    Truancy! Um-ah! Is she in favour of civil disobedience and empowering her students to take principled stands or not?

    Comment by Olivia | September 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. P.S. We might not be “young people” any more, but I haven’t lost all my idealism!

    Comment by Olivia | September 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. I find it strange that people are protesting against APEC. Sure protest against Bush but APEC is actually a good thing, getting governments to talk is so much better than having them fight. Engaging China in discussions and trade talks is more effective than ignoring them and hoping they will go away if we protest long enough.
    But you’re right Avril, arguing for war in Iraq (which I support on humanitarian grounds) as an excuse to keep cars on the road is brainless and short-sighted. Might as well fill our petrol tanks with blood while we are at it.

    Comment by Pete | September 6, 2007 | Reply

  4. Is APEC just talk, or a criminal conspiracy against the world’s poor to keep resources from them? Other meetings of world leaders have certainly been about that.

    Talk is better if the alternative is war, what if the alternative is undermining the dictatorship in China by strengthening alternative institutions?

    The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein is perceived as worse than in China. Invade Iraq and talk to China. Both these approaches are too top down for my liking.

    Comment by Paul | September 7, 2007 | Reply

  5. Yay idealism. There’s a saying that gets up my nose that goes something like, “If you’re under thirty and aren’t a socialist, you have no heart. If you’re over thirty and still a socialist, you have no brain.” Pah. That, and being told condescendingly ‘of course you believe that now, but you’ll know better when you grow up.’

    That man reminds me of how my grandfather is, sometimes. We were watching a group of people on TV protesting logging in Tasmania, and he turns to me and splutters, “Did you know that ALL of those protesters, none of them have jobs!”

    Comment by Liah | September 11, 2007 | Reply


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