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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Australia Day - Changing the date will achieve nothing if nothing changes for indigenous people

Australia Day - Changing the date will achieve nothing if nothing changes for indigenous people



For many indigenous people, 26 January is seen as Invasion Day. It is the date the First Fleet landed in Botany Bay and has come to symbolise the massacres, displacement and human rights abuses of indigenous people that followed and which continues to this day.

As a result, there is a push to have Australia Day celebrated on a more appropriate date.

26 January is the anniversary of an invasion and of the establishment of a British colony, it isn't the anniversary of the establishment of Australia. That would be 1 January 1901. However, as that is already a public holiday, Aussies would lose their collective gum-nuts if New Year's Day was coupled with Aussie Day.

To compound the indignity of 26 January, it has been hijacked by white nationalists. It is the day when racists come out of the woodwork, flying and wearing Australian flags and demanding that non-white's, those from different cultural backgrounds, turn their back on their cultures and morph into some ill-defined Australian 'culture'. Whatever that may be.

Prime Racist Pauline Hanson, has long been bagging out multiculturalism, claiming it has failed. What her and the far-right forget is that Australia was built by multiple cultures, including our own first peoples, and then migrants from numerous lands, such as Asia, Middle East, Europe, the South Pacific. And of course, they were of various religions, including Islam, the religion that the bigots love to hate.

Australian culture is a potpourri of everyone else's culture, so it's a tad rude to expect people to forget those cultures.

26 January has been seen as a Day of Mourning almost as long as it's been acknowledged as Australia Day. It wasn't until 1935, that all states and territories agreed on 26 January being Australia Day. In 1938, at the 150th anniversary of the First Fleet landing, aboriginal leaders met in Sydney for a Day of Mourning and Protest. As a national holiday, Australia Day is still relatively young. It was only in 1994, that all states began holding public holidays on the same day(1).

Australian Aborigines Conference - Sesquicentenary Day of Mourning and Protest(1)


However, will changing the date of Australia Day from 26 Januaray really be anything more than a symbolic gesture? Sort of like former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations. While it was a good thing and long overdue, in the end it wasn't followed up with any other action. Yes, it acknowledged that generations of indigenous people had been stolen from their parents, which is important for those most affected by it, but in the end was it more about white people assuaging their guilt, feeling warm and fuzzy, and feeling that was all they needed to do. It wasn't followed up with any effective action to combat indigenous issues.

Changing the date of Australia Day will not change the jingoism, the racism, the ignorance that is prevalent throughout white Australia. One only has to look at the uproar and the threats from the ultra-right wing over a billboard in Melbourne showing two young Muslim girls in hijabs celebrating Australia Day. Talk about hypocrites. On one hand, the bigots bang on about Muslims having to embrace Australia and to love the nation, but when they do the same bigots get upset. The billboard was taken down as a result of this uproar. After all, we can't upset the delicate feelings of the ultra-right who take offence at anything that doesn't fit with their extremely myopic view.

Thankfully, thousands of Aussies realised this was unacceptable and a crowd-funding campaign raised more than $160,000 to put the ads back up on billboards around the country. This was a great kick in the guts of the bigots. There was an argument put forward by some on the left that while the crowd-funding was well-meaning, it just reinforced the denial of the genocide and displacement of indigenous people. This has merit, but is conflating two very important issues. Of course we shouldn't ignore the significance of 26 January as the anniversary of the invasion and subsequent brutality against indigenous people. But we also shouldn't tolerate intolerance against modern Australians. Australia Day, whether the date is moved or not, will continue to be a celebration of Australia as a nation, and as such the message needed to be sent to the white nationalists that modern Australia is a land that welcomes and is replete with people from all sorts of religions and cultures.

Following the crowd-funding campaign, billboards were put up and not surprisingly, the bigots went off their collective nuts. Once such billboard was at the Canberra Theatre, which received threats of violence and bombing(2).

Patriotism has become synonymous with racism and exclusivity, and disturbingly, this has permeated society to the point that it has become normalised. Criticising racism often results in accusations of being 'unAustralian'.

And then there was the uproar over the Meat and Livestock Association's annual advertisement for lamb. The 2017 ad drew criticism on a number of fronts, not least of which was that it failed to mention Australia Day. Some years ago the MLA decided to hijack Australia Day in order to promote lamb as the traditional food of Aussies on Aussie Day. There has never been an official food for Australia Day. This was purely a capitalist campaign at making money through sales of lamb. Nothing more. It has nothing to do with patriotism, yet the bigots condemned the MLA for being unAustralian because their adverisement didn't mention Australia Day.

The ad started out with aborigines having a barbeque on the beach and then boats arriving from all over the world with stereotypes of migrants. The ad ended with the comment, 'aren't we all boat people'. While it's not the greatest ad, the message it was trying to send is important; that Australia is a culturally diverse nation, and importantly, that refugees should not be demonised as we are all boat people. Some may feel it belittles the suffering of indigenous people or reinforces cultural stereotypes, but in the end it was a great message ... and an important one ... about tolerance, inclusion, understanding and acceptance.

Moving Australia Day will mean nothing if we don't challenge the ignorance and the intolerance that underpins it. Instead of fomenting racism and using it for political gain as Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi, George Christensen and their ilk do, both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party must do their best to expose the ignorance behind racism. Additionally, it is up to Australians generally to dispute the racist garbage that bigots spout and the right wing media often publishes.

If Australia Day is moved it is likely that the intolerant will say that the do-gooders got what we wanted and then expect us to shut up and move on, accusing us of never being happy. Will moving Australia Day affect the dialogue around the invasion, the genocide, the stolen generations, the ongoing abuse and marginalisation that indigenous people experience to this day?

Moving Australia Day will not change the fact that white settlement was a racist invasion.

But hey, this is just a 'black arm-band' view of history isn't it?

A black arm-band is a better than a white blind-fold.

The so-called 'black arm-band' history is at least truthful and ensures that history is not forgotten. It also means that we can understand the causes of today's inequality and abuse of indigenous people and take effective action to counter the inequality and abuse.

26 January is a divisive date. On the one hand, there are those who will celebrate Australia as a nation, as a land of freedom and opportunity. Some of the people will be bigots, but many are ordinary Aussies who are proud of their nation and grateful they don't live in a country that persecutes them. For that matter, many of the people celebrating Australia Day are migrants or refugees who truly do love this nation. On the other hand, there are those who commemorate 26 January as Invasion Day. Many will march at Invasion Day rallies around the country, ensuring that the suffering of indigenous people is not forgotten and calling for real action to combat the poverty, prejudice, inequality, to remember the stolen generation and the deaths in custody, to challenge the white blindfold view of history and ensure the heroism of the indigenous warriors in the Frontier Wars is remembered.

While 26 January is an offensive date on which to celebrate being Australian, will the protests against it stop if it is celebrated on another day? Will those of us who see 26 January as Invasion Day, then join in the celebrations on another day? Perhaps.

There is a lot to celebrate about Australia. We are a wealthy, peaceful nation, largely free to live out our lives and achieve our goals.  If we can ensure the wealth is sustained and shared, we have the ability to do a lot of good for people domestically and internationally. We can knock down barriers of intolerance and build a nation of harmony, regardless of the many cultures and religions that are represented here. Australia is supposed to be the land of the 'Fair Go', then everyone should be treated fairly, not forced to become clones of a myopic few who fail to recognise or understand the history of Australia.

If Australia Day is moved to another date, then celebrate Australia's diversity and beauty. However, 26 January should become a national day commemorating the invasion. There are few cenotaphs that memorialise the frontier wars, so this would be a time to remember and pay respects to the indigenous people who suffered and died in the defence of their lands.

The holiest day on the Australian calendar is Anzac Day, in which the country is awash with cenotaphs thronged by people paying their respects to those who fought and died for Australia, largely in foreign wars. Yet when in 1988 an aboriginal man laid a wreath on Anzac Day in Sydney to commemorate the indigenous people who died defending their own lands, he was stopped and taken away(3).

Australian poet, Bruce Dawe, describes the lack of remembrance in his poem, For the Other Fallen:

You fought here for your country.
Where are your monuments?
You resisted the invader as best you knew how.
Where are your songs of those days?
When you were captured you were not prisoners-of-war.
That would have been awkward.
You had the misfortune of occupying 'unoccupied land'.
You had to correct your gross error.
There was a pioneer tradition waiting to be unfolded.
Tales as resilient as ironbark.
Your share in them was minimal and negative.
You were rather slow to understand this.
The bush and the stone and the stream.
The tree. The plain.
The special green. The faded calico blue,
They were your last line of resistance.
You fought here for your country.
Where are your monuments?
The difficulties we have in belonging
- these, these are your cenotaph.
(Bruce Dawe)


Regardless of whether Australia Day is celebrated on 26 January or another, this is the challenge to all of us:
  • Never forget Australia's black history and it's human rights abuses (4)
  • Never forget the genocide, such as in Tasmania where almost every aboriginal person was murdered 
  • Never forget the killing fields in which the Native Mounted Police exterminated large numbers of aborigines(3)
  • Never forget the frontier wars and the massacres of indigenous people
  • Never forget that indigenous people were prohibited from speaking their languages and practising their culture
  • Never forget that indigenous people were once treated no better than flora and fauna.
  • Never forget that aborigines were once denied freedom in their own land, subject to curfews and having to obtain permits to travel and to marry(5)
  • Never forget that we nuked aboriginal tribes at Maralinga
  • Never forget the stolen generations, the rape and abuse of indigenous people
  • Never forget that many indigenous people worked for no wages or their wages were garnered by the government and put in trust accounts and the money was rarely given back to the people who earned it(6)
  • Never forget the deaths in custody, which continue to this day
  • Don't turn our backs on indigenous history
  • Genuinely work together for true reconciliation with the first peoples of this land
  • End the unequal treatment of indigenous people, whether it be in the justice systems, health, education, employment, housing or society.

Certificate of Exemption - Mary Rose Woods(7)

As an example, Certificates of Exemption such as the one above, were issued to a few aborigines who had displayed a character that the white people were happy with. The Exemption meant that they could 'open a bank account, receive certain Commonwealth social service benefits, own land and purchase alcohol', however, the holders of the certificates were 'not allowed to live with their families on reserves and even had to apply for permission to visit them'(8). The exemptions could be revoked at any time without warning or appeal. Aborigines were prisoners in their own lands. 

A common argument that non-indigenous people will put forward is that all of this was decades ago, that it is time for indigenous people to move on. 

Firstly, denying history denies people an ability to move on. How can there be reconciliation with indigenous people if we deny the abuse that they suffered? How can we move on from history if we fail to understand it or the reasons behind it? if we don't understand our history, we are doomed to repeat it.

Secondly, what many don't seem to understand is that the abuse didn't end decades ago. It continues to this day. Indigenous people are greatly over-represented in prisons, often being arrested and sentenced for crimes that white people are rarely if ever charged with. Indigenous people are eight times more likely to be imprisoned than non-indigenous people. Indigenous people represent 3% of the Australian population but 27% of the prison population. Many of them are imprisoned for trivial crimes, including fine default.(9) Part of the solution, is to improve education and employment opportunities and to end the racist actions of law enforcement officers who feel led to arrest indigenous people for minor crimes. 

It's been more than 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The 1989 Royal Commission investigated 99 deaths in the previous 10 years (an average of around 10 deaths per year). In the subsequent 25 years, 340 indigenous people have died in custody(10) (more than 13 deaths averaged per year). Few of the 339 recommendations have been implemented and meanwhile non-indigenous Australia is in denial about the abuse and persecution of indigenous people. Is it any wonder then that the rate of indigenous deaths in custody has increased since the Royal Commission. 

Non-indigenous Australia can't simply say that indigenous history was decades ago and to get over it. It is still happening.

It wasn't luck that made Australia the 'Lucky' Country. Australia got rich through the deliberate theft and rape of indigenous lands and resources. It was also the hard work of indigenous people and migrants from all lands and religions that made Australia what it is today.

Certainly celebrate our great nation, its diversity and its wealth, but never forget its history.

Whether Australia Day moves from 26 January or not, Australians should acknowledge and remember our brutal past, understand its discriminatory present and build a peaceful and harmonious future that benefits indigenous people and appreciates their culture. Unless this happens, changing the date will be a symbolic gesture only.

Moving Australia Day from 26 January will achieve nothing, if nothing changes for our first people.


References

1. Australia Day, History, http://www.australiaday.org.au/australia-day/history/. Accessed 26 January 2017.

2. ABC News, Ewan Gilbert, 'Australia Day billboard with girls in hijabs prompts online call to 'bomb' Canberra Theatre', 25 January 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-25/canberra-theatre-threatened-after-aus-day-displaying-billboard/8210680. Accessed 26 January 2017.

3. Pilger, J. (1992), 'A Secret County'. London: Vintage.

4. Reynolds, H. (2000). 'Why Weren't We Told? : a personal search for the truth about our history'. Ringwood, Vic. New York, N.Y. Penguin.

5. Frankland, K. Queensland Department of Communities. (1994). 'A Brief History of Government Administration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Queensland', http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/93734/Admin_History_Aboriginal_and_Torres_Strait_Islanders.pdf. Accessed 26 January 2017.

6. Kidd, R. (2000), 'Black Lives, Government Lies'. Sydney: UNSW Press.

7. National Museum Australia, From Little Things Big Things Grow: Fighting for Indigenous Rights 1920-1970, Programme to be White, Mary Terszak's story of surviving assimilation, http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/from_little_things_big_things_grow/behind_the_scenes/programmed_to_be_white. Accessed 26 January 2017.

8. Australian Human Rights Commission, 'Bringing Them Home, Chapter 8, Assimilation 1936 - 1962',  https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/bringing-them-home-chapter-8. Accessed 26 January 2017.

9. ABC News, Lauren Day, 'Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody: Grieving families lament lack of reform', 14 April 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-14/grieving-families-lament-lack-of-deaths-in-custody-reform/7327630. Accessed 26 January 2017.

10. The Guardian, Calla Wahlquist, 'Aboriginal deaths in custody: 25 years on, the vicious cycle remains', 15 April 2016,  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/15/aboriginal-deaths-in-custody-25-years-on-the-vicious-cycle-remains. Accessed 26 January 2017.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Republican Party's degenerate trajectory: from Nixon to Trump


The Republican Party's degenerate trajectory: from Nixon to Trump



The election of Trump is culmination of more than 40 years of Republican Party degeneracy.

The Republican Party has been on a downward trajectory of crime and morals since at least the 1970s. It has been a decline that has seen Republican presidents outdoing each other in criminal and ethical turpitude. So why is it portrayed as a party of family and Christian values?

It was the 2016 election that showed the true heart of the Republicans: one which idolises power, wealth, partisanship, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, and which has no respect for truth, love and respect. It is no longer a conservative party, but an ultra-right wing one.

It was this election in which the Republican Party threw off the sheep's clothing and revealed the amoral, greedy, bigoted wolf beneath. 'Trumpers' proudly showed themselves to be wolves in sheep's clothing.

However, the destruction of the Republican Party hasn't happened overnight.

It was Nixon who really kicked off the avalanche of corruption within the Republican Party. Watergate became a term that defined American politics in the 1970s, and led to Nixon being impeached and eventually resigning. Numerous Republican politicians were sentenced to jail over it.

Instead of Nixon also being jailed, his successor, President Gerald Ford, issued a full and unconditional presidential pardon for any crimes that Nixon 'committed or may have committed'(1). The presidential pardon was met with disbelief, yet there it was. One Republican pardoning another for crimes committed in the highest office in the land. Not surprisingly, Ford was a one-term president.

Nixon's crime was that during the 1972 presidential election campaign, burglars linked to Nixon broke into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) office in the Watergate Hotel, installing wiretaps on phones and stealing sensitive information which was then used to support Nixon's re-election campaign. Nixon denied knowledge of the operation and attempted to cover it up.

Fast forward to the 2016 elections and the DNC's computer servers were allegedly hacked by Russia and sensitive information released in order to discredit Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign and strengthen Republican Donald Trump's bid. Trump denied knowledge of it, but he benefited from and exploited the information that was obtained and released through Wikileaks. Trump successfully won the presidency, however numerous intelligence agencies are now investigating the links between Trump, his campaign team and Russia(2).



Here's a tip: not only will Trump be a one-term president, but he will be impeached before his term is up.

After Ford, the next Republican president was Ronald Reagan, a B-grade Hollywood actor. Reagan continued Nixon's legacy of corruption, defining the 1980s with Irangate(Iran-Contra Affair)(3), in which Reagan's administration illegally sold weapons to Iran in exchange for assistance in securing the release of hostages being held in Lebanon. The provision of arms to Iran was illegal because of trade and weapons sanctions against it. To compound the problem, funds from the sale of the weapons were then illegally channelled to the Contras who were a militant right-wing terrorist group fighting against Nicaragua's ruling Marxist Sandanista government. The Contras committed untold human rights abuses and hundreds of terrorist attacks. The United States was happy to not only fund the Contras terrorism, but to also divert funds from their War on Drugs to support the Contras large-scale drug-smuggling operations(4). But the Republicans justified it to themselves because they couldn't possibly allow a successful socialist government in Central or South America.

Like Nixon, Reagan denied knowledge and blamed rogue intelligence agencies. However, a number of these agencies, including the CIA, claim to have advised Reagan that supplying arms to Iran was 'a bad idea'(5).

In 1989, Reagan was succeeded by President George H.W. Bush, also a Republican. Bush, like Ford, then issued presidential pardons to a number of Reagan's administration who'd been implicated in the Iran-Contra affair, raising questions about what Bush was trying to cover-up(6). Bush was vice-president under Reagan during the Iran-Contra affair and had previously denied any personal involvement in the scandal, however his own diaries tell a different story in which he wrote, 'I'm one of the few people that know fully the details ...'. Bush failed to disclose the existence of the diary to officers investigating the Iran-Contra affair in the event that it would affect his 1988 presidential campaign(7).

Just like Ford, Bush served one term. There must be something about issuing presidential pardons that doesn't bode well.

The next Republican president was George H.W. Bush's son, George W. Bush. George, George, George. Just when one might think that Republicans couldn't stoop lower than Watergate and Irangate, in comes George W. Bush.

Bush was a fuck-up from start to finish ... not to put too fine a point on it.

In mid-2001, he ignored intelligence reports that said arch-terrorist Osama Bin Laden, founder of the Al Qaeda terrorist franchise, was plotting a major attack on US soil(8). Who needs to know about potential terrorist attacks, right? Surely not the President. On 11 September 2001, Bush suddenly discovered why he perhaps should have paid more attention to that little snippet of intelligence when more than 3,000 innocent people were killed when Al Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger aircraft, flying two into the World Trade Centre, one into the Pentagon and one crashing into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers managed to wrestle control from the terrorists.

As an aside, some years later, Republicans tried to blame Democrat President Obama for not stopping the terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans including the US Ambassador, and seven Libyans. So where was the Republican outrage over a President who ignored warnings of a terrorist attack on US soil that killed more than 3,000 people?

In retaliation to 9/11, Bush launched a war on Afghanistan where Bin Laden was allegedly holed up. Bin Laden evaded Bush and was eventually caught 10 years later in Pakistan during an operation directed by Democrat President Barack Obama.

Bush decided to compound his military failure by manufacturing a reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. He justified this through his puerile and completely false claim Hussein 'tried to kill my dad' - a reference to President H.W. Bush sending the troops into the First Gulf War.  His daddy (President H.W. Bush) however, had the good sense to listen to intelligence reports warning that deposing Hussein would create a power vacuum. So, as it turns out, neither Hussein or Daddy Bush tried to kill each other.

The feckless George W decided to run with a campaign of fear to justify the invasion and invented stories about Hussein having Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and was allied with Al Qaeda. He then garnered support of some western allies whom he called 'The Coalition of the Willing' and warning other nations that they were 'either for us or against us'.

A Senate Intelligence Committee found that Bush exaggerated intelligence reports about Hussein's WMD and links to Al Qaeda (which were non-existent)(9). Similarly, the Chilcot Report(10) in Great Britain also found there was no immediate threat from Hussein and that non-military options had not been exhausted, that intelligence reports were flawed and not challenged.

Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, costing hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and $2 trillion(11). It also created the power vacuum that resulted in the establishment of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which morphed into the Islamic State (or ISIS) that has been so active of late in Syria and Iraq. Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, has since admitted that the Iraq War gave rise to ISIS(12). The Chilcot Report, which investigated Britain's involvement in the Iraq War, rightly concluded that the Coalition had ignored warnings of the fall-out from an invasion and failed to adequately plan for an Iraq without Hussein leading it(13).

Thirteen years later the world is still feeling the impact from this disastrous military campaign through the presence of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and its influence in terrorist activities across the globe.

Just when the world thought that the Republicans couldn't get any worse than George W. Bush, in steps reality TV star, Donald Trump. The Republicans had previously elected a B-grade Hollywood actor, so what could possibly go wrong?

Like Nixon, Trump's campaign benefited from information stolen from the DNC; this time by Russian government hackers.

The Republicans have a habit of illegally acquiring DNC information during election campaigns.

Inexplicably, Conservative Christians continued backing Trump even with his confessions of sexual assault (who can forget him boasting about grabbing women by the pussy), when he said(14):

'I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there, and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she's now got the big phony tits and everything .... I did try and fuck her. She was married ... I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything'.

But hey, the Bible is his favourite book ... so he says.

As a businessman, Trump is a con-man, having racked up numerous bankruptcies, law suits, cheated contractors and disillusioned share-holders(15).

His campaign was riddled with populist and contradictory claims with Politifact declaring that only 4% of his claims were wholly true, compared to Hillary Clinton's 25% of claims being wholly true(16).

What does Trump stand for? Trump. He claims to put America First, but it will be Trump first, America a far second and only as it benefits him.

Most disturbingly is the apparent existence of a dossier that claims Russia has incriminating evidence against Trump(17). Then President Obama and President-elect Trump were briefed by joint intelligence chiefs of the contents. The Republican Party themselves had commissioned a former MI6 operative to investigate Trump. It was this investigation that revealed that Russia may have incriminating personal and financial information regarding the man who is now the 45th President of the United States. If these claims are true, this could leave America exposed through having a President that is being black-mailed by a foreign power. Does this explain why Trump initially denied Russian involvement in the hacking of the DNC?

As Lenin stated, 'there are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel'.

The Republicans have made use of many scoundrels over the years, with a string of immorality and criminal behaviour from Nixon to Trump.

Trump's populist rhetoric has been based on fear in order to manipulate the population, creating an imaginary enemy through racism and bigotry.

Pink Floyd founder, Roger Waters, described this phenomenon as, 'This is how you control your domestic population – by making people afraid and by identifying an enemy'.

Speaking of Waters, he performed a concert in 2015 in Mexico(18), resurrecting the classic Pink Floyd song, Pigs, in honour of Trump and his ilk:

Big man, pig man 
Ha, ha, charade you are 
You well heeled big wheel 
Ha, ha, charade you are 

Trump has used racism to invent enemies, whether it be whipping up fear of black people, Mexicans or Muslims.

Ironically, during the Civil War, it was Republicans who fought against the racism of the Democrats who who wanted to maintain slavery and were willing to break out of the Union to keep it. While there was more to the Civil War than fighting against slavery, it was a primary reason for the Civil War in order to maintain the Union. Robert Smalls, a former slave who went on to become a Republican politician once described the Republican Party as, 'the party of Lincoln … which unshackled the necks of four million human beings'.

Back then, Republicans were fighting against racism, today they are fighting for it. 

The Republican Party is decrepit. Given its history of increasingly degenerate Presidents, it would be a bold call to say that the Republicans have reached some sort of moral nadir, however, after the Trump presidency, surely the only way is up. Surely ...

The lies that Trump has told to manipulate the gullible have become known as post-truth and has become the hallmark of many right-wing politicians around the globe, including Australia's own Pauline Hanson who never lets the truth get in the way of her racist fear-mongering.

The Post-Truth Era is the new Dark Ages.

The thing about the Dark Ages was that it was the result of the ultra-religious, not unlike the Christian Right's blind backing of Trump. The Dark Ages eventually gave way to the Renaissance, which of course was led by artists and poets. It's not a coincidence that many of the people opposing Trump are in the field of the arts, whether it be actors, musicians, writers, painters or poets.

We may see a renaissance of philosophical thought based on a renewed search for now abandoned truth ... eventually.

During the election campaign, Trump felt led to defend the size of his hands and his ... er ... tackle. Following his inauguration on 20 January 2017, the braggadocious Trump was again boasting of his size; this time the size of the crowds who attended the inauguration. Not surprisingly the claims were exposed very quickly as lies. On NBC's Meet The Press, host Chuck Todd put the suggestion to Trump's senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, that the claims made by Trump's publicist, Sean Spicer, were lies. Conway wasn't going to give any quarter. These weren't lies ... they were 'alternative facts'. There you have it. Day 1 and Trump has to lie about his size. Post-truth indeed.

'Alternative Facts' is the new Trump-speak, or doublespeak, for lies(19).

Sadly though, we have now entered a new Dark Ages where politics (and even religion) is governed by feelings rather than fact, by manipulating people's behaviours through fear, greed and desire in which facts are fluid and just another commodity to trade and twist for populist politics and power over others.

The Far-Right wing ignores history at its peril. Even a cursory glance at Republican history over the last 45 years should serve as a warning of where this is going to end; war, impeachment, crimes. A look further back at history and we see the danger of demonising others and how that played out in Nazi Germany. Surely it is a concern when neo-Nazis are embracing the policies of the Republicans and welcoming Trump with open arms.

In the meantime, it is only the Republican Party who can arrest their degeneracy. Trump will lead a government in which Republicans control both the House of Representatives and the Senate. If America goes to hell in a hand-bag, then the Republicans have only themselves to blame.

A short summary of the downward spiral from Nixon to Trump



References

1. History.com, Watergate Scandal, http://www.history.com/topics/watergate. Accessed 22 January 2017.

2. The Guardian, Guardian staff, 'US intelligence investingating Russian links of leading Trump associates - report', 20 January 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/20/us-intelligence-investigating-russian-links-of-leading-trump-associates-report. Accessed 22 January 2017.

3. The National Security Archive, 'Iran Contra at 25: Reagan and Bush 'Criminal Liability' evaluations', http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB365/. Accessed 22 January 2017.

4. The National Security Archive, 'The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations', http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/index.html. Accessed 22 February 2017.

5. The New York Times, James David Barber, 'How Irangate differs from Watergate', 9 August 1987, http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/09/opinion/how-irangate-differs-from-watergate.html. Accessed 22 January 2017.

6. Brown University, 'Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs, The 1992 Pardons', https://www.brown.edu/Research/Understanding_the_Iran_Contra_Affair/thepardons.php. Accessed 22 January 2017.

7. The National Security Archive, 'The Iran-Contra Affair 20 years on - Documents Spotlight Role of Reagan, Top Aides', 24 November 2006, http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm. Accessed 22 January 2017.

8. Daily Mail, Evan Bleier, 'Bush administration ignored CIA warnings in the months before 9/11 that 'spectacular' terrorist attack on the U.S. was imminent and 'just didn't get that we were going to be struck', former top agency officials reveal', 15 November 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3318493/Cofer-Black-George-Tenet-say-Bush-administration-ignored-CIA-terrorist-warnings-two-months-9-11.html. Accessed 22 January 2017.

9. The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, 'Senate Panel Accuses Bush of Iraq Exaggerations', 5 June 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/05/washington/05cnd-intel.html. Accessed 22 January 2017.

10. BBC News, 'Chilcot Report: Findings at-a-glance', 6 July 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36721645. Accessed 22 January 2017.

11. Reuters, Daniel Trotta, 'Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion:study', 14 March 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-anniversary-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314. Accessed 22 January 2017.

12. The Guardian, Martin Chulov, 'Tony Blair is right: without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State', 26 October 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/25/tony-blair-is-right-without-the-iraq-war-there-would-be-no-isis. Accessed 22 January 2017.

13. The Iraq Inquiry, 'Sir John Chilcot's public statement, 6 July 2016', http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-inquiry/sir-john-chilcots-public-statement/. Accessed 22 January 2017.

14. Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, 'Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005', 8 October 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html. Accessed 22 January 2017.

15. Financial Times, Barney Jopson, 'Bloomberg assails Trump's business record', 28 July 2016, https://www.ft.com/content/71f18200-5465-11e6-befd-2fc0c26b3c60. Accessed 22 January 2017.

16. Politifact, 'Comparing Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump on the Truth-O-Meter', http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/lists/people/comparing-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-truth-o-met/. Accessed 22 January 2017.

17. CNN Politics, Evan Perez, Jim Sclutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein, 'Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him', 12 January 2017, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/donald-trump-intelligence-report-russia/. Accessed 22 January 2017.

18. Roger Waters, Z√≥calo Square, Mexico City, 1 October 2016, Pigs - Three Different Ones, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWLBtMz5OuY. Accessed 22 January 2017.

19. The Guardian, Jill Abramson, 'Sorry, Kellyanne Conway. 'Alternative facts' are just lies', 23 January 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/23/kellyanne-conway-alternative-facts-lies. Accessed 23 January 2017.

Updated 23 January 2017.