Those of us who are aged over sixty can still remember when Australia was happily ensconced in the Anglosphere.
For good or bad, and depending on your point of view, the face of Australia has certainly changed since then. The trouble is that, more often than not, the new face of Australia is not a happy one.
Indeed, if recent events in Melbourne and Sydney are any indication, the Anglosphere has been replaced with an angersphere, a place where the permanently outraged gather to vent their rage.
With a couple of notable exceptions, angry women don’t seem to command headlines in the way that angry men do. However, who can forget the angry women who rallied in 2021 outside Parliament House in Canberra protesting about violence against women?
They DID make headlines, but with a lot of help from an incendiary remark made by then Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who reminded the protestors how lucky they were because “not far from here such marches, even now, are being met with bullets.” That made women angrier but sadly, it did nothing to abate violence against them.
Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe is a headliner, too. Thorpe seems to be angry about everything, everywhere, all at once (with apologies to the movie of the same name), especially when there are cameras around to document her being angry.
Even angry about having to endure the process of being sworn into office as a Senator, an honour few if any of us will ever have the privilege of experiencing, Thorpe’s fist-pumping outrage commanded headlines and was the lead story on news coverage across the nation. She may be the angriest woman in Australia – or even the world!
The Canberra rally and Ms Thorpe aside, however, if recent events in Sydney and Melbourne are any indication, then it’s angry men who are now dominating Australia’s angersphere.
In Melbourne recently, a contingent of angry men, black-clad members of the National Socialist Network, paraded through the city. Their identities obscured by wearing masks, these angry men brazenly performed the reviled Nazi salute, a gesture guaranteed to disgust onlookers and alarm those marching to support transgender rights.
A few days later in Sydney, police officers had to protect a handful of rainbow rights activists from another gathering of black-clad, angry men, this time from an organisation called Christian Lives Matter.
The ensuing fracas happened outside a church where One Nation politician, Mark Latham, was stoking resentment and fear about sex education in Australian classrooms. Yes – I kid you not! These so-called soldiers of God were angry at the prospect of their children finding out that gender identity can be a complicated matter.
You have to wonder, surely, why any father (no mothers were seen protesting) could think that a lifetime of conditioning within the family and church would be instantly turned upside down by a lesson or two from an approved and mandated curriculum – but I digress.
In both Melbourne and Sydney, angry black-clad men were out to intimidate and drive away those whose views did not align with theirs.
Angry men and women are nothing new. Anger, after all, is the engine of revolution. However, while revolutionary anger has united people to fight for a better life against a common foe, the anger raising its head in Australia only serves to divide us. The irony is that a considerable proportion of the population has good reason to be angry.
People have been left behind in advanced economies. The wealth gap is ever-widening. Poverty and disadvantage beset struggling communities and men, in particular, have lost their firm grip on the traditional roles of breadwinner and head of the household.
So, yes, I can understand why people are angry. What I cannot understand is how easily their anger is mined by a provocateur, such as Mark Latham, and weaponised (don’t you love that word?) against what some may call first-world problems.
I don’t see Mark Latham expressing anger about hunger, homelessness, poverty, insecure employment, elder abuse or unequal access to health care. Those are issues to get angry about. Instead, Mark Latham whips his followers into a fury about teachers not sharing his mindset, and about who is or is not, singing the national anthem.
Mind you, we are still relatively lucky here in Oz. Things could get worse. In the USA, for example, when Donald Trump, masquerading as a champion of democracy, was unable to accept electoral defeat, he simply mobilised an angry army of outraged followers to storm Capitol Hill – and for what?
Forget about Making America Great Again (M.A.G.A.). The insurrection was all about making Donald Trump great again, although whether he was ever great is a moot point.
French philosopher, Voltaire famously wrote, I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. In practice that just means that we should live and let live. In a free society like ours that is exactly what we should be doing.
Why are we wasting time sweating the small stuff and where to next?