Racism fed by fear of virus
Bravo to Mike Seccombe (“COVID-19: Racism, economics and the aftermath”, February 22-28) for his timely revelation of the race-based abandonment of Chinese–Australian business incited by contagion fears. This prism of anti-China inflammation is also evident in Henry Olsen’s call to abandon a weakened China, published in The Australian Financial Review. Olsen seeks to cannibalise the grinding to a halt of China’s prosperity to benefit the West. If we heed his demand, our moral barometer descends into rational but ugly opportunism. His exhortations bear the hallmarks of rats abandoning a sinking ship, as does Australian consumers electing to not patronise local Chinese businesses. I’d urge co-operation to build channels of trust, communication and information-sharing to slow COVID-19’s rapid global permeation.
– Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld
“Car trouble” (Royce Kurmelovs, February 22-28) left me thinking what might have been in the new age of hydrogen, batteries and that other source of power. If General Motors had read yesterday’s tea-leaves they would have fuelled the car market with a proposition guaranteeing billion-dollar subsidies beyond 2050 with a willing partner in government. We don’t know what we missed: the thrill of owning a Coalden.
– Warren Tindall, Bellingen, NSW
Private schools and closed minds
Following the recent Four Corners report into a culture of secrecy, toxic masculinity and sexual abuse at St Kevin’s College, former student Luke Macaronas insightfully pushes for a conversation about the forces at play in our elite schools (“We need to talk about St Kevin’s”, February 22-28). I grew up in Melbourne’s leafy green eastern suburbs, surrounded by some of our nation’s most prestigious schools. As many of my friends were being initiated into the world of private school privilege, I was down the road attending a so-called alternative school, receiving an education of sorts and being exposed to an ideology born of a subculture of the times. While my secondary school education had many shortcomings, it did promote self-analysis, acceptance of diversity and cultural critique. I was, and still am, shocked by rigid attitudes and mocking of difference expressed by many of my privately educated friends, family members and professional colleagues. The old school tie has strengths, but what about its weaknesses? I agree with Luke: let’s talk.
– Paul Lambeth, Ballarat, Vic
The behaviour of men
Thanks, Luke Macaronas, for your insight into problematic systems and cultural mores within institutions such as St Kevin’s. The power and privilege the article highlights are at the rotten core of the problem of toxic masculinity. It is heartbreaking to also try to comprehend the devastating deaths of Hannah Clarke and her children this week. The editorial (“Telling the true story”, February 22-28) took the time to reflect on toxic masculinity’s sphere of influence. Perhaps we all should. Men who are perpetrators of domestic violence often acknowledge that their behaviour is regrettable but, in their eyes, if their partner changed their behaviour then none of this would ever need to happen. They are steeped in victimhood and view their behaviour as unavoidable. Picture the perpetrator as a small boy. Was he encouraged to show empathy and did he experience appropriate consequences for harmful behaviour? Was he in survival mode the whole time and now carries only tools for endurance and showing strength in conflict? Was he allowed to be himself? To cry or be gentle or nurturing? Encouraged to be restrained and thoughtful? Let’s make sure the babies and boys and young men we know learn how to take responsibility for their actions, and to care for others. Even if they don’t stand to gain from it.
– Kylie Mulcahy, Eugenana, Vic
Changing the language
Luke Macaronas shows commendable bravery in his efforts to achieve better public understanding and rectification of the institutionalised culture of child sexual abuse. Although he speaks as a member of the St Kevin’s school community, his words deserve much wider attention and respect. What concerns me is that, in cases such as St Kevin’s, it seems as if the royal commission never happened. No matter how many perpetrators of abuse are charged and convicted, we hear the same language, the same excuses and evasions for their shameful behaviour. “It’s a storm in a teacup”? The victims are “naive and gullible”? That’s part of being young and vulnerable; that’s why those responsible for their care are supposed to be setting a better example. Unless and until this language changes, it’s beginning to look as though there’s little hope of the community moving forward and translating words into meaningful action.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
Labor’s climate contradiction
Paul Bongiorno’s article “Morrison’s slow burn” (February 22-28) prompts me to point out that in the same week Anthony Albanese committed a Labor government to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, he also confirmed his support for Adani’s Carmichael mine. These two positions are incompatible. Phasing out thermal coal is the most important action the world must take to have any chance of meeting the 1.5-degree target. If you are serious about tackling the climate crisis, you can’t support new thermal coalmines, any more than you can support new coal-fired power stations.
– Ken Russell, Redcliffe, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 29, 2020.
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