I started to write an essay about why I hated Howard, the crux of which was that I never hated him, but that I was angered by what my nation had become during his tenure. The things we thought about, and the things we didn't think about. The self-interested but unintrospective malaise that descended upon us.
I was a thousand words deep into the essay when this image came to mind:
Howard is not in that photograph, and he didn't send the text messages that lead to a mass mobilisation of xenophobia on our most famous shore. We should be realistic about his agency in it. He swung no bottle, mouthed no abuse. But for several years he acted, or avoided opportunities to act, in a way that created the essential preconditions for that protest. And he failed to condemn it the way a leader of people should.
I wrote the somewhat florid Patriot Act in response to that event. The domain falls due in a few weeks, two years since it happened. No-one has signed up for over a year. For a moment I wondered whether it was really still relevant. But of course it is, to me anyway, as a sad artefact of Howard's Australia, and a reminder to be vigilant with all his successors. I don't think we're out of the woods yet.
Joseph | 26 Nov 2007