Sunday, May 26, 2019

I read the news today, oh boy . . . .


Princess Mary flips the bird: 

The Girl from Oz who married a prince, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and now titled Queen in Waiting, hasn’t put a foot wrong since becoming a Royal. She’s good looking, learned Danish, became a Lutheran and popped out a (an?) heir and a spare. Mary hails from Tasmania and met her Prince Charming in a very Australian way: at a pub (when Crown Prince Frederick was visiting Sydney for the 2000 Olympics). 

There’s something about Mary: she rarely puts a foot wrong. 

Not so in the week just gone when she was pictured flipping the bird: 

Nahh, that’s not the truth of the story. The Danish couple were in Korea for a three-day visit to Seoul. Whilst there Mary visited the Jongno Children Theatre, where she was photographed clicking her fingers with officials. The angle and moment made it look like she was giving the doigt d'honneur



By the way . . 

How did giving the finger become “flipping the bird”? 

“Fillip” means "a blow or gesture made by the sudden forcible straightening of a finger curled up against the thumb". This is the basis of the “flip” in flipping the bird but whence the origin of “the bird”? 

According to the Online Dictionary of Etymology: 
"middle finger held up in a rude gesture," slang derived from 1860s expression give the big bird "to hiss someone like a goose," kept alive in vaudeville slang with sense of "to greet someone with boos, hisses, and catcalls" (1922), transferred 1960s to the "up yours" hand gesture (the rigid finger representing the hypothetical object to be inserted) on notion of defiance and contempt. The gesture itself seems to be much older (the human anatomy section of a 12c. Latin bestiary in Cambridge describes the middle finger as that "by means of which the pursuit of dishonour is indicated").

Roman stone busts from Bar Hill Fort, Scotland. Silenus and bearded man with middle finger extended in the "infamis digitus" to ward off the evil eye. 

Jacinda and the Silo: 

Most people will have seen enough news footage of Jacinda Ahern to know that she is the New Zealand Prime Minister and that she is lovely, compassionate and caring. Indeed, so many people admire her in Oz think so that a recent poll placed her first in a list of the most trusted politicians … in Australia. There is an organisation called OPR which inter alia conducts a Believability Index whereby 1400 Australians are asked to rate 12 politicians on six measures related to their “believability”. This is how those measures were defined: 
• Relevance: Is in touch with the issues and things that matter to me; 
• Integrity: Has strong principles and is driven by an ethical compass; 
• Shared values: Reflects my beliefs and social/political priorities and values; 
• Commitment: Has my community’s best interests at heart; 
• Affinity: A person I can relate to and like; 
• Follow through: Delivers on their promises, does what they say they will. 

The poll was conducted prior to last week’s Federal election so the results may have altered, but this was the outcome of the poll, based on a score out of 100: 
1. Jacinda Ardern, 77 
2. Penny Wong, 53 
3. Julie Bishop, 52 
4. Tanya Plibersek, 50 
5. Anthony Albanese, 46 
6. Richard Di Natale, 45 
7. Pauline Hanson, 44 
8. Scott Morrison, 43 
9. Bill Shorten, 42 
10. Tony Abbott, 36 
11. Peter Dutton, 34 
12. Clive Palmer, 30 


Which brings me to the item the subject of this post, Jacinda and the Silo. Sounds like a kids’ book, right? Not so since it involves mass murder, bigotry and narrowmindedness. 

On March 15 a white supremacist killed 51 people in Christchurch in two mosque shootings. PM Jacinda Ardern described it as "one of New Zealand's darkest days" and, wearing a hijab, she hugged a grieving Muslim woman at a gathering or mourners.  The image was powerful and poignant, saying more than words ever could. 

The image circulated worldwide and was even projected on the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. 

Fast forward to Tinning Street in Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne. The residents living opposite a silo asked the silo owner for consent to have a mural of that hug painted onto it. The owner agreed and a crowd funding page in one day raised the $11,000 needed to pay the artist, Loretta Lizzio. Money over that amount is being donated to the Christchurch Shooting Victims’ Fund. 

Some images: 

This will give an idea of the size of the work, compare the ring to the completed image below.

However, instead of being “a beacon of tolerance, love and peace” it has iecome a source of intolerance and divisiveness. 

The mural has faced backlash from some of the burghers of Melbourne and locals, who have complained variously that: 

· it is not relevant to Australia; 

· the money would be better spent in helping the homeless; 

· the money should be spent helping the earth. 

A petition to remove the piece has received more than 15,000 signatures. 

Artist Loretta Lizzio has now responded to the critics and to the backlash. 

Her response to the complaint that she has chosen to celebrate something that is not Australian:  “It’s like, f***. What is wrong with you people?! It was an Australian man that did this”, referring to accused terrorist Brenton Tarrant who not only killed the worshippers but livestreamed it as he killed them. 

According to Lizzio: 
There’s so many people out there who treat other people like shit because they don’t understand their background, or where they come from. They should feel like they can walk down the street and not feel like they’re looked down upon. No matter who they are. People say to me, ‘What about Sri Lanka?’ Or, ‘What about the Christians? Where’s their mural.’ Well, go crowdfund for it.” 
We would do well to remember the words of the gofundme page which sought contributions towards the creation of the mural: 

“The image of Jacinda hugging a Muslim woman has become a beacon of tolerance, love and peace in these divisive times. We want this message, this moment in time, remembered. We want to learn from it, we want it to hold us up, to strengthen us. We want everyone to know we are them, that they are us and, that we are, and always will be, stronger together.” 


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