From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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True renaissance men in a modern setting

16 November 2009

I am happy to …  affirm that St Paul’s College in the University is one of the most exciting and stimulating places to live, brilliantly in the heart of the University, fully engaged with every aspect of student life, punching above its weight, moderated by wise and astute scholars who ‘react’ and is one of those rare places in which the radical possibilities of life in a modern ‘secular monastery’ can be explored by an increasingly diverse group of very able students.

Rev’d Canon Dr Ivan Head, Warden, St Paul’s College.

Thanks for that bit of spin, Ivan. I’ll forward it to Don Watson for his next book.

Rev’d Canon Dr Head has been doing a lot of ‘reacting’ since the outbreak of the St Paul’s College “pro-rape”, “anti-consent” Facebook page story.

In case you were vacationing in the wilds of Patagonia, the now-deleted page, in Facebook’s sports and recreation section, was set up by a group of male students, mostly from the elite, all-male St Paul’s College at the University of Sydney. The page had an open, public profile, and these jerks proudly displayed their membership on their personal Facebook pages.

Both the commander of the NSW Police sex crimes unit and the head of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre described the site as “grooming perpetrators of sexual violence”.

Former U of S students of both sexes lined up in the media to point out that the university’s men’s colleges, and St Paul’s in particular, had had, for half a century, a shocking reputation for sexual violence and extravagant, boorish, misogynistic behaviour.

St Paul’s College is an Anglican bastion of privilege that sprawls across the university grounds where you enter off City Road. Fees are around $15,000 a year and it caters for a mere 197 residents.

Most of these people went to the elite private schools and a lot of them were boarders. They come straight out of that narrow, cosseted, sectarian world and then they slide into another complacent, rich, white, male, Anglo-Celtic, environment.

The privilege is extraordinary. While the rest of the 47,000 U of S students either live at home, or rent a room wherever they can manage, and get casual work to make ends meet, these college blokes get to live right on campus in nice rooms with meals provided.

According to St Paul’s college website the Dining Hall, “a fine example of Edmund Blacket’s design genius in the neo-Gothic style”, seats 200 people. Dress for dinner Monday to Friday is jacket, tie and academic gown. “Occasionally men have commitments which make it necessary to miss Formal Dinner (e.g. late lectures or university sport), in which case late dinners can be provided”.

In light of the stories of drunken excess flooding the media, The Rev’d Canon Dr Head is probably regretting that Paul’s website states:

“The College is unique on campus in operating the fully licensed Salisbury Bar … a traditional centre for the convivialities of campus life.
“The Salisbury complies with all licensing regulations including the responsible service of alcohol and its licence is highly valued and protected by College members.”

No doubt, no doubt. Anyway you can always pick up some roofies or Hypnovel from that seedy lumpen up at the Marly.

And there’s a lot of conviviality. Here’s a rundown of Christian sobriety and rectitude at the Rev’d Canon Dr’s ‘secular monastery’: “… a series of outstanding social events annually.  … eight black tie dinners … exchange dinners … faculty dinners … events at The Salisbury, social sporting competitions and corridor parties.

“… a Dance Party for approximately 1400 patrons …

“ … Jazz Dinner Dance is held as the finale of the Cultural Festival … traditionally comprises of [sic] a three-course dinner, a cocktail bar and a big band playing in a silk-lined marquee …
“The College Formal is more black tie spectacular … 400 guests gather in the Quadrangle … dodgem cars, a casino, spas, hot air balloon rides, a ferris wheel and fireworks displays …

“… Mother & Sons Dinner, the Father & Sons Dinner, the Academic Dinner and the Valedictory Dinner.”

No wonder they say: “St Paul’s allows the University experience to grow beyond the purely academic routine of lectures and tutorials, and to become true renaissance men in a modern setting.” Just like the Borgias, really.

Anyway, here’s Awty and Elle for the Defence:

“This is sensationalist ... I live at College and stuff like this never happens, and trust me, if it happened everyone would know about it. I’m sure rape has happened in and around the colleges however not a[t] the level the SMH is trying to make it look like. St Pauls especially is a group of pretty level headed guys there are a few that get a little too loud at parties but we are all gentlemen. I’m sure that Facebook page was ironic and/or satirical. Oh and thanks for call us elite ;)
“Awty - St Pauls - November 09, 2009, 9:44AM”

“I was a Sancta resident for 3 years and there was a lot of binge drinking and boys but it was very much up to the individual whether they participated or not. Boys will be boys and I do not support their disgusting behaviour, but we as women also need to take responsibility for our own actions and many college girls CHOOSE to put themselves in risky situations and then wonder why bad things happen. Living in college is a wonderful experience seaped [sic] in tradition and class, it[‘]s certain individuals that are ruining things for the rest.
“Elle - November 09, 2009, 11:25AM”

Gold. From their own mouths. Some columns just write themselves.