Watson showed the way
Chris Wallace (“Turnbull fizzles while Rome burns”, January 28-February 3) deployed the f-word in relation to the Trump administration last week. Many commentators have thus far been unwilling to describe Donald Trump’s disposition as fascist, probably due to the differences between today’s right-wing populism and 1930s fascism, and the fact that President Trump is not Adolf Hitler. But history doesn’t repeat; it rhymes. It is for writers and historians to identify these rhymes and resonances, and to call them out. Don Watson led by example with September’s Quarterly Essay, Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump, which painted Trumpism as a contemporary standard-bearer of fascism. Moreover, by documenting “the dark forces now feeding on the country’s malaise” it presented a Trump presidency as distinctly possible and largely fathomable. Had more heed been taken of this essay, which followed Don’s trek around an America he so evidently reveres, our collective shock at President Trump’s election would have been much diminished.
– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
Balm for what ails us
Martin McKenzie-Murray’s beautifully written article on Trump (“The legal case against Trump”, January 28-February 3) was like a fast-acting antibiotic against the superbug infecting the world. Here’s hoping for the full recovery only impeachment would bring.
– Darleen Bungey, Point Piper, NSW
Walls don’t work
President Trump’s wall between Mexico and the United States is a futile waste of money. Throughout history, defensive walls have failed to stop people. The series of Chinese Great Walls built at emperors’ orders, over thousands of years, did not stop Mongol invaders or others. Hadrian’s Wall built by the ancient Roman army right across Britain could not hold back Scots and Pictish invaders. The vast triple walls of Constantinople, modern Istanbul, stood for 1000 years but eventually fell to Turkish besiegers. The Maginot Line to prevent German invasion of France could not stop Hitler’s 1940 Blitzkrieg. Courageous East Germans escaped past Khrushchev’s Berlin Wall. The most heavily militarised border wall of current times, between North and South Korea, has failed to contain those fleeing to freedom, despite thousands of troops, tanks, machineguns, motion detectors and night-vision goggles. Desperate people will always risk their lives to seek a better life, free from fear. Trump’s wall will fail to stop illegal immigrants despite all of those who will die seeking escape past his wall.
– Rod Olsen, Flynn, ACT
Freo wasn’t the first
False claims are being made that Fremantle City Council is the first in Australia to modify Australia Day celebrations. Flinders Council, as in Flinders Island, Bass Strait, first achieved this in January 2014. Since then they have, in association with the Flinders Island Aboriginal Association, endorsed and funded an alternative in the form of the Furneaux Islands Festival. This is held near but deliberately not on Australia Day. This year it was held on January 20-22. In recent years the issue of Australia Day observance has become a burning and somewhat divisive issue on the Furneaux Islands where many people of Aboriginal descent or identification mourn the tragedy of the Wybalenna incarceration in the 1830s.
– Ian Bayly, Upwey, Vic
Brandis’s London option
In her article (“Brandis bound for London, Porter to take A-G”, January 28-February 3), Karen Middleton makes reference to the joke apparently doing the rounds in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that the purpose of George Brandis’s recent visit to London was to measure the curtains. I suggest that the real reason was to check out the bookshelf situation and to see if they will fit all that research into his family tree. The attorney-general will be pleased to know that there are five Ikea stores in London from which he can purchase flat-pack bookshelves. From a distance they look as if they are made from real timber and the cheaper price will mean he is doing his bit to help with the “debt and deficit disaster”. A win-win all around.
– Tony Healy, Balwyn North, Vic
PM makes the right choice
I was delighted to read Karen Middleton’s informed, and I hope authoritative, report that George Brandis is (relatively) soon going to take his swallow dive out of parliament. And may I congratulate Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on having found the ideal – the only possible – successor to Alexander Downer? Since Britain has increasingly disappeared into its own immense vacuity, George is surely the only past-his-use-by-date politician who can possibly rival Alexander Downer as the embodiment of what our High Commissioner to London really needs – unctuous pomposity.
– Jim Young, Warburton, Vic
Back on form
Looks like four weeks off has done you good; a great collection of article headings in the latest edition. My favourite would be “Porter’s stake” (page 4, January 28-February 3).
– Ross Tolhurst, Flynn, ACT
Welcome back! God, I’ve missed you.
– Louise Fenley, Chiswick, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 4, 2017. Subscribe here.