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    "The slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts" ~ George Orwell

    "An effective way to deal with predators is to taste terrible." ~ Unknown

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    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    Australian. Australian for 'good ally'

    Mark Steyn, who is possibly the most prolific political pundit(damn, that was unintentionally alliterate) around, writes with some glee about John Howard winning the presidency in Oz. The best part to me was this:

    That's the meaning of "no point in being an 80 per cent ally". Howard isn't claiming that Australia has to do everything America does, but he is saying that real alliances are primal and instinctive. After 9/11, Howard invoked the relevant clause in the ANZUS Treaty as the Continentals did in the NATO Treaty – that an attack on one member was an attack on all – but the difference was that the Prime Minister meant it and the French and Belgians didn't.

    Now this was written for an Australian paper and I'm not trying to say Belgians or French are bad allies. I'm just saying that I have friends in Australia and I have to say that their cultural imports to America barely do the people justice. Steyn seems to embody all the things about the Australians I know that I find to like about them.

    John Kerry, when pressed about being a liberal, says that labels are not useful, blah blah blah. Well I'm here to tell you that labels matter a whole bunch, and not just in politics. Brains and people all work on the premise that things can be labelled according to what they are for predictive purposes. That's why. we. have. labels. To make it easier to predict what is obscured. The label goes on the outside so we know what we will find on the inside. Right? Have I missed something? Did we change the whole system?

    I think it is better to say that mislabeling is a bad thing than to claim that labels are no good. Especially as you are trying to label your opponent as X, but that's another post on another blog. I'm not going to get in to whether my labeling of Kerry is accurate. So really what we should do is try to make sure we label things properly. That way we don't label something as one way on the outside for whatever reason and then find later that inside is contained something completely different. That's fair.

    So I think Australians are unfairly labeled. I know a little of their pain, being from Kansas. When people from other places say something about Oz to me, I know I'm the victim of a bad label. When people talk about the real Oz(no the real Oz, not the HBO place)they use a label that just doesn't fit as well as, say, the liberal label fits Kerry.

    I know several people who live there, through the magic of the internets. They are nothing like Crocodile Dundee or the Crocodile Hunter. They don't drink Foster's Beer, and if they do it is the same way you drink Budweiser in America. It's a marketing campaign, not a way of life. We need to start getting our labels right. I'm not just talking about culture here. I'm talking about not letting the few wacky cultural anomalies that escape the gravity of good taste define how we think of this country in terms of foreign policy. These people are valuable, in fact indispensible people to my country.

    I know they label us too, because thats what brains and people do. But we need to do more to get our labels right. There's hardly anything known of our closest friends in the mainstream of America save a few cheeseball and cynically Americanized reasonable facsimiles that are useless as labels. Yeah, the accent will take that stuff far. I like speaking like an Australian too, ha ha. Well let's get together and laugh at each other's accents and reassure eachother that whatever else happens, the people of the United States will support Australia. If nothing else because of how they have supported us. The fact that they re-elected John Howard goes to show that it's worth our time to make that alliance deeper, and among individuals.

    To my Australian pals: Thanks mates! Give a yell and we'll come running, right?

    posted by M@ at 2:34 AM   0 comments links to this post


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