Write on: Letters to the editor

March 2, 2005


I have spent a lot of time with adoptees and am familiar with their rite of passage in regard to finding their biological parents. Many adoptees project a lot of identifiers onto their blood relatives — wishes and hopes in regard to idealised notions of their kin — but to discover late in life that your long lost parent was none other than Tony Abbott is the stuff of nightmare.

You have to feel sorry for the adoptee, Daniel, for being "outed" on the front page of every major newspaper in the country.

Of course Abbott is wallowing in his moral standards and the ease with which his mortally sinful youthful activities — egads! sex outside marriage — did not also lead to the most grievous and heinous sin of all — a state-sanctioned abortion. But before we get all indulgent and mawkish over the moral attributes of this most truly Christian of federal health ministers, 27 years ago wasn't a very good time for women's' choice in Australia. The reality is that this "absolutely gorgeous story from whoa to go" — as Daniel's biological mother now describes it to the media in hindsight — is very rarely so sacharine.

Adoption and the consequent lying games inherent in the practice is a brutal imposition on any child. Indeed, it has only been in the last decade in Australia that adoptees have been given limited access to their birth records. The standard familial practice is such that most adopting couples pass off the child as their own and ask neighbours, friends and relatives to be complicit in the lie. While this approach is now rejected, the same network of deceit and denial is being standardly replicated under banner of various donor conception programs.

Dave Riley
Brisbane [Abridged]

ABC board

The appointment of Janet Albrechtsen, a right-wing columnist for the Australian newspaper, to the ABC board is the latest example of a government appointing a person whose views it finds ideologically agreeable to an important position with a public body. Such nominations are an abuse of power.

An independent tribunal should make judgements about who should be awarded a seat on the ABC board, the High Court, and so on. Tribunal members should be widely respected, obliged to draw on specialist advice, and approved by the main opposition party as well as by the government.

An additional safeguard would be a requirement for bipartisan endorsement of each individual appointment proposed by the tribunal.

Brent Howard
Rydalmere, NSW


If the coordinators of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras are truly against homophobia, why is it that they only ever attack Christians? Each year there are floats of nuns dancing in bikinis, and images of Fred Nile and other prominent Christians who speak out against homosexuality, yet many in the Muslim community have said dangerously intolerant things about homosexuals yet go unnoticed. This is cowardly behaviour from the homosexual lobby, and it sends a confusing message.

At the University of Western Sydney in 2002, prominent Muslims gave speeches about homosexuality and Islam, with one Sheik Shadi calling for sharia law courts to be set up here in Australia so Muslims could execute homosexuals. Muslim leader Keysar Trad also spoke, urging Muslims to ignore anti-discrimination laws against homosexuals because Islam does. Gay activists in the crowd left shocked and in fear, and the lecturer who organised the event, Hannan Dover, was sacked over it.

So why hasn't there been a float mocking Muslims about these homophobic, and even inhumane attitudes, say of lesbians in burqas naked from the neck down, on leashes held by gays dressed as Islamic clerics?

Until the homosexual community is against homophobia in principle, regardless of the race or religion of the perpetrators, the homosexual community's fight against homophobia won't be taken seriously.

Benjamin Burns
via email


Contrary to Peter Anestos's complaint (Write On, GLW #615), Chris Slee did not write that Che Guevara intended to "initiate a guerrilla war in Bolivia in 1966-67" without "win[ing] popular support and build[ing] a strong party or movement capable of leading a successful struggle". He wrote: "Che attempted to initiate a guerrilla war in Bolivia in 1966-7 with a small force of guerrilla fighters, without carrying out prior political work in Bolivia to win popular support and build a strong party or movement capable of leading a successful struggle." This is true.

As Anestos correctly pointed out (and Slee neglected to mention), it was the treachery of the Bolivian Communist Party (PCB) which put Che and the ELN in their deadly predicament. But clearly the level of agreement reached between the PCB and Che was of such poor quality that it risked the whole operation. Che made some headstrong decisions during the campaign, but most of these would now be deemed correct decisions, if only the ELN had had a base outside of the PCB. The problem was, they didn't. When that lifeline was severed, they became isolated, as a reading of the Bolivian Diaries shows.

The fact that the whole expedition depended upon the whims of the PCB leadership alone indicates the lack of "prior political work" that needed to be done to make the revolution succeed.

A reading of Che's works suggests something of an underestimation of the role (and importance) of the urban movement in the struggle (and arguments he had with members of the Llano in Cuba reflect this), but no-one is suggesting that he ignored it out of hand.

While I may disagree with Che's characterisation of the reasons for the failure of the April 1958 general strike in Cuba, Slee's article makes it clear that Che regarded the urban struggle as still central to the revolution's success.

It is also worth reading more widely than Che on the Cuban Revolution, as many participants have different views and perspectives to those he did. One I would particularly recommend is Armando Hart's Aldabonazo: En la Clandestinidad Revolucionaria Cubana 1952-58 (published in English and Spanish by Pathfinder Press).

Duroyan Fertl
Sydney [Abridged]

From Green Left Weekly, March 2, 2005.
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