The story of Bookshelves and Yassmin Abdel Magied’s demise.

Image result for yassmin abdel-magied


Apart from Dad’s struggling with the Victa lawnmower and keeping the kerosene-heater’s wick trimmed, he also bravely accepted the lack of books. He once asked in his usual contemplative tone; ‘Gerard, have you seen any books about in our neighbourhood?’ I must admit that at the age of enjoying my first hormonal drives at sixteen, I hadn’t thought much about books. I was a keen admirer of Jules Verne in Holland, but he slipped away after arrival in Sunny Australia. I had to make and work over-time, save money for the future. My Father followed his previous remark up by his observation that, at Mrs Murphy next door, he hadn’t seen any books at all. ‘Mind you, we have only seen the kitchen so far,’ he added optimistically.

It was mainly through my Mother’s persistent and holtz-hammer method that we had even achieved this penetration into neighbour’s next door’s kitchen. It were those minor achievements that made life bearable after our arrival. My parents keenly trying to make a home in what turned out for me to be a most dismal suburban few years. If ever a far flung Sydney suburb shone in neatness and pride with its occupants soaked up in total fenced-off privacy it was Revesby’s McGirr Street in 1957.

We had involuntary chosen to live in the epicentre of  lives , that can only be described, as being agonisingly slow, lived in extreme political ‘niceness.’ It was out of ignorance more than choice. One had to settle down and own home was a fever that still sweeps through Australia as I write.

It was painfully normal and desirable but I could not understand its bleakness. The struggle after arrival was to quickly buy a home, and if possible this home had to be close to a railway-station.

The lack of book issues that Dad grappled with did not really get resolved. I suppose it must have faded in his memory after their return to Holland in 1974. Like salmons flopping upstream to return to their spawning grounds, Mum found again the familiarity of her Dutch neighbourly cosiness and Dad his bespectacled friends peopled by books while questioning Dostoevsky or the bitter Holland weather. In his old age, he once reflected that it just wasn’t the lack of books but that the available book-shelving that he finally spotted in the New Country were used to store garden herbicides or rat poison, with tools for keeping the grass short , all ready for the next assault on unruly weeds which were kept for the ready on the back-veranda.

And now in 2017, decades later, has Australia  grown wiser more inclusive and accepting of differences? Have the kitchens of ‘give and take’ opened up? No one certainly needs to feel deprived of garlic, and the kebab has taken a strong hold at country fairs, even as far away as Coonabarabran. The meat pie however is under threat and in our town of Bowral it was felt by the Municipal Council to hold a week in which to praise and celebrate the meat pie in order to re-invigorate its proper culinary position at the head of the dinky-dye Australian dining table. Time will tell, but some fear the worst and are nervous.

Our PM certainly tells us we are the most tolerant and most culturally diverse nation in the world. Most of us have foreign blood surging through our veins, but, he does also direct us to not go all funny and foreign after arrival. We do need to genuflect and hold to the True and long held Australian values. We must not allow too much foreignness. Foreign blood ought to be directed and channelled to follow well proven roads and he urges us maintain certain ‘values.’ One of those values that must not be tangled with is the Anzac Value. The value of war and battle fought during the world wars. The battle that defines us most as a people and a country must never be forgotten. This is the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey.

History tells us coldly, this battle was a disaster and Churchill should never have given this order. Today it would most likely be seen as a war-crime. Australians were massacred by the thousands… and it was totally avoidable. Of course, it is argued that those thousands that died on those salty Turkish beaches should never be forgotten, hence, ‘Lest we forget.’ One of our true Australians, Yassmin Abdel Magied agreed, but  thought as a considerate and passionate believer in justice for all, that we should also include in remembering the plight of those in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and  Manus and Nauru. This was seen as a breach of being good and true ‘Australian’. It was heresy. You don’t muck about with Anzac day, it seems.

After weeks of bullying and pestering, with posters being plastered about for her to be ‘taken-out’  and that she should be deported or at least sacked, her address, phone and Facebook taken away, she finally had enough and plans to go and live in England. She claims that Australia is only tolerant if one ‘toes the line.’ It seems that the extreme semi- literate racists Pauline Hansons,  and Jacqui Lambie are the really nice Australians.

Yassmin is a trained engineer, female, a Muslim Australian, well educated and speaks better English than the previously mentioned racist politicians. She is an asset to Australia and a beacon for tolerance and inclusiveness.

What a great pity and loss for Australia.

The question is; Where does this hatred come from?

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19 Responses to “The story of Bookshelves and Yassmin Abdel Magied’s demise.”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    You ask, Gerard, where does this hatred come from, Well, isn’t it just fear, namely fear that all this ‘foreignness’ might diminish the prized Australian values. They fear that in the end there wont be anything left of the old values. Oddly enough, people always have a tremendous fear of change, especially change that comes too quickly. Australians are not the only ones who have fears like this.

    I looked up the above. As far as I can see, Yassmin only told the truth, yet this offended some people. Even though she apologized for that article on Anzac Day and deleted it, people kept sending her death threats.

    I wonder, are people allowed to send death threats like this without consequences? How come? Is this a free society? Abusers are allowed to have a free go, but the abused get no support? Something is definitely not right here, so it seems. Do authorities care at all?

    Here is some of what the ABC published:

    ” . . . .
    Yassmin Abdel-Magied talks to ABC podcast It’s Not A Race about life inside the media storm.

    She later deleted the post and issued an apology, but the comment sparked a severe backlash on social media and drew criticism from conservative politicians.

    Abdel-Magied wrote in the Guardian last week that after Anzac Day she received death threats “on a daily basis” and that she was “now the most publicly hated Muslim in Australia”.
    . . . . “

    Liked by 3 people

  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thank you, Uta, for your considerate response.
    Acceptance of the foreign has always been a difficult issue in a country that has no other countries directly bordering it.

    While we have a large foreign born population, this has not always resulted in accepting change by the influx of those other nationalities. I feel Australia is still staunchly Anglo-Celtic. Our adherence to a foreign monarchy thousands of miles away is proof of that.

    Representation in Government of foreign born Australian citizens is scant and so are the number of females in Government and amongst corporations. In the previous government we had Tony Abbott as minister for women! What does that say?

    It seems very hard for change to come about. Australia likes the maintenance of the status quo. Change is looked upon with much suspicion. Look at the SSM issue.

    Yassmin’s Anzac post was nothing to be frightened off, a storm in a tea-cup. Compare that with the inane utterings of A. Bolt or A. Jones, Hanson, Lambie, almost on a daily basis! But the anti Muslim hyenas were waiting to pounce on her, including some of our politicians.

    This is why so many seek opportunities elsewhere, including Yassmin. Why put up with that level of bullying?

    And that is a great pity.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    😦 I don’t know where this hatred comes from, Gerard. I wonder if it is passed down from parent to child. ???

    People can be such bullies. 😦 And on the internet they can be so horrible. 😦 I wonder if they knew about another person’s life, struggles, problems, etc…could they still be that mean when looking into their eyes, face to face. Would they still say such cruel words. ???

    The things we as human beings have in common far outweigh our differences…we all want to be respected, heard, considered, loved, cared about…we all want our families to be safe and happy…we all want the world to be a better, safer place…we feel the same emotions like fear, sadness, worry, etc.,…so why can’t people band together and stop the bullying and violence. ???


    Liked by 2 people

  4. gerard oosterman Says:

    Many people fear the unknown, Carolyn.

    The majority of attacks on Islamic people are perpetrated on women. The main identifying common issue seems to be the wearing of scarves or headdress. The xenophobe wants all to toe the line. Differences are scary for them.

    We are not at all afraid of nuns wearing their wimples, habits ,veils etc., but somehow the Islamic woman dressing in their headdress is still too unknown and strange to accept. Finally, I am sure and hope, it will be accepted as just a way of dressing. It is the person not the dressing-up that should count.

    Our young people wear hoodies and that seems to be alright.

    Bullying does go from generation to generation. We give back what was given to us!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. DisandDat Says:

    Once again a great blog. Hatred, fear, dislike etc., whatever you want to call it is bred by ignorance. The kings and queens of ignorance are the Jones, Hanson etc. it’s so sad that polititions of most ilk feel the need to suck up to them ! Get into power and stay in power at all costs. The punters come last.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. vivienne29 Says:

    Well on a lighter note I think things are changing as far as this intolerance muck goes. Anyone under say about 30 will have gone to school with many different people, i.e. not all of anglo-saxon/pommy lineage. It’s taken too long for this to be on the horizon because of our nasty male white politicians – including the current government which says one thing and does another. The sooner we are rid of this lot the better so just don’t vote Lib/Nat please.
    As for lack of books and bookshelves – well observed. When I was 12 I had to get my dad to put a shelf up in my bedroom for my collection – mostly bought with my pocket money and gradually added to over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It’s odd that bookshelves had to be made by a carpenter in the early days, Vivienne. Some houses now do provide bookshelves. Our farm-house had bookshelves everywhere and it is not unusual to now see people reading a book on the train.

      It is still an anomaly though to see our politicians in front of books or even in an art gallery. They perhaps think it might upset voters and the sport lovers.

      In the fifties, men with a fondness of reading books were judged to perhaps have homosexual tendencies. Many readers would go to England to read books.

      Women reading was alright because they had to be able to work out recipes from Margaret Fulton’s cookbooks. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • vivienne29 Says:

        I built many bookshelves in my own house and we have three cupboards in the garage storing lesser needed stuff. We’ve more books than furniture! Many of those books are for English, Ancient History, Modern History etc as well as classic old and new novels. Not sure I appreciate your dig that women only read cookbooks – naughty boy Gerard. People did know how to use libraries as there wasn’t the spare cash to amass one’s own home library – though there was a fondness to subscribe to Readers Digest.

        Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        No digging at women, Viv. Just skirting around the edges.( I quickly put a smiley.) Sorry !The reader’s digest is what dad subscribed to.
        The growth of libraries have been phenomenal. I used to go to Fisher’s library somewhere around Bathurst Street, Sydney.


      • vivienne29 Says:

        Just keeping you on your toes Gerard.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Be gentle, Viv.


      • vivienne29 Says:

        I am – you know I love you Gerard. I was a big fan way before the Pigs Arms.

        Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Me too, Viv. I am so pleasantly…flummoxed!


  7. Robert Parker Teel Says:

    We are having our own xenophobic wave in the U.S., a lot of it generated by economic uncertainty. Changing over an economic system can be a wrenching experience, and not everybody is having a fun time with the transition to a post-industrial society, so they lash out. The practice of resettling immigrants in shrinking cities, so that they’re concentrated in declining cities, gives an exaggerated impression of their numbers. The visa program that brings in engineers, programmers, etc. is logical, but can create resentment, and the press delights in broadcasting stories of off-shoring jobs. So a lot of folks have built up a head of steam, of unease and resentment, and then look for any difference of opinion to pick a fight.
    My dad would mention a co-worker from years ago, where he stopped over to give him a book, about a type of car he loved, and his friend looked around the apartment, at a loss for a place to put it. There wasn’t so much as a magazine or record album there, just televisions. On the other hand, my dad’s books are stacked everywhere in the way, and he will only part with the ones he disliked, so eventually he’ll be trapped and die of starvation, or maybe be crushed in a landslide.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, Robert. A landslide of books is also threatening our household. No sooner do we give a milk crate of books away we are buying more books. Mostly second-hand. My wife especially can’t go anywhere without ferreting out books somewhere.
    I worked in a house of a philosophy professor back in the early sixties. He worked as a lecturer at Sydney university. Not a single book to be seen. On his coffee table was a horse race guide on which he had pencilled in the horses that he must have fancied in winning a bet.
    I did not go in their bedroom, so … who knows?

    Our next door neighbour keeps his books in his garage together with his lawnmower and Datsun. So, perhaps the professor too kept his books hidden in the garage.

    Years ago, the dark skinned Italians and Greeks were the objects of derision and xenophobia. It seems that migrants from Islamic countries are copping it now. It will pass.

    As for the US. Each day we are given Trump news that leave many agape. We will get used to that as well. We live in a charnel house.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Curt Mekemson Says:

    I couldn’t help but think of the parallel between the lack of books and the narrow-minded bigotry, Gerard. The two go hand in hand. God forbid a stray thought or a challenging opinion. We are seeing so much of this in America where education and science are now being challenged. It’s like people want to make a trip back into the dark ages. I only hope that we can move forward and get beyond such small, narrow minded thinking. –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The drought in books has been quenched, Curt. Perhaps, those earlier days were spent on hard work, subdividing land, overcoming fire, drought and floods. There have been some very good Australian writers and poets. There still are as well.
      But, I also fear that many in Australia are loath to accept change and many wallow in the past.


      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        I’ve read in stories on the early west in the US about what a precious commodity books were, Gerard. I grew up loving to read and always had a book nearby. Our house growing up wasn’t filled with books, however, unlike my present house, which resembles a mini-library. –Curt


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