The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: Australia

Mistakes get made

by fpman

“There will be a review into the way we verify photos downloaded from Facebook.”

That is what editor-in-chief of The Age, an Australian paper, promised when it became clear that along with the Sydney Morning Herald they both printed Thursday’s front pages with the photo of an innocent man whom they presented as the perpetrator behind the 2014 Endeavour Hills incident.

Sending a lynch mob to anybody’s address is pretty bad,” of course, regardless of whether it is the “right” or the “wrong” address. It is still the more frustrating that two papers with considerable readership mistook an innocent man for a violent person who attempted to kill two policemen with a knife. Even worse, the media, somehow unable to think reasonably, keeps referreing to said violent person, the one who actually stabbed two policemen and was shot eventually, as a “terror suspect.” How they cannot tell the difference between a suspect and a dead assailant who, once shot dead, was found to be in possession of an Islamic State flag, is as puzzling as the question of how they end up printing the wrong photo from Facebook to have something to put on their front pages.

But things get worse than this.

The innocent man happens to be a certain Abu Bakar Alam, no other than the 19-year old grandson of Hakim Taniwal, the former governor of first Khost and then Paktia province in Afghanistan (he was a government minister, as Minister of Mines, in between his two stints as governor). Hakim Taniwal was a brave Afghan-Australian who returned to his country after 2001 to take a position of responsibility there and was killed along with a nephew in 2006 by a teenage suicide bomber. Even his funeral was bombed by Islamist insurgents. You can read about him here, here and here.

Abu Bakar Alam is thus exactly the kind of guy from the kind of family whom you are not interested in alienating when a considerable part of the other person’s – the dead assailant’s – community reacts to the shooting of a person who stabbed two police officers in this way.

Younger sister Minister Bishop

by fpman

Reading this short piece about current Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s older sister I was in for a few tactical surprises.

MaryLou Bishop, the older sister in question is currently pondering whether to run in local government elections (Council elections) in November, feeling she could do something for her community in Medindie (Walkerville, Adelaide, Australia).

The first surprise was this remark: “If elected, Ms Bishop said she would not copy her high-flying sister’s famous death stare.” The context, promptly investigated: younger sister Minister Bishop is apparently famous for a terrifying glance she gave to someone in the audience for a televised debate a couple of years ago. Along with a certain notoriety — and Facebook groups founded in commemoration of this — it also earned her a kind of respect…

JuliaBishop_DeathStareThe famous death stare (source)

Video of the same…

The second surprise in the article was how MaryLou Bishop responded when asked about any higher ambitions she may have in politics, beyond the as yet uncontested local government elections. She said “There is nothing about a politician’s life that I envy … It’s soul destroying.” She may be right but her sister is out there at this point doing that very thing for a living.

With regards to the death stare, MaryLou goes further in fact, and offers this analysis of it — and why she won’t need it whereas sister Julie always did:

“I was the eldest and could out manoeuvre and out smart my sisters in an argument. Julie was the youngest and needed all the weapons she could muster — this was the death stare.”

This kind of explanation may sit well with some observers who attribute Julie’s success in politics to her ability to be tough enough with the boys (so cliché, I know). In an article setting out to explain “So how did Bishop cut through the boys’ club of The Liberal Party?,” the author notes that Bishop “can hold her own in debates,” that she made the tough decision that “women can’t have it all,” and eventually goes on to mention how “Her death stare is the most famous facial expression in Australian politics and has launched Facebook groups and twitter hashtags.”

From other sources you can learn, however, that Julie Bishop has many faces to show to the world, and the simple narrative of the repressed little sister (with two older sisters and a younger brother) who fought back to grow into debating champion, corporate lawyer, and then a master of politics does not necessarily work all that neatly. In her friends’ perspective:

“Her friends struggle to understand why this colourful, energetic woman seems so prickly on television. “Julie seems to have developed this tough bitch persona, and I’m constantly saying she’s not like that,” says one. Adds another: “Julie is a party girl, she loves kicking up her heels. In the public eye you have to be careful how that manifests itself.”

MaryLou may be developing her own persona through those remarks about her sister now, with a view to the upcoming Council elections. A persona fit for size of ambition and purpose.