Musical Dispatch from the Front -Ad hominem- December 2017
I recall English lessons in first year High School (year 7) in Hilversum. The teacher used to spend school holidays in England so as to enable him to better teach English to us Dutch kids.
He valiantly tried to teach us to correctly pronounce the English language’s only definite article, the word ‘the’.
“Je steekt je tong tussen je tanden” which we did with great gusto. “Repeat after me- ‘The’….” Despite our tongues being firmly placed between our teeth, in unison we blurted out “Duh”
It used to drive our teacher up the wall when after repeated attempts he never got us to produce a convincing English sounding “The”.
My dad used to tell us with great glee about the time he overheard a German grandmother in an Australian supermarket calling out to Jason, her grandson… “Scheißen, Scheißen”
The irony when he subsequently couldn’t pronounce his own great-grandson’s name ‘Jethro’ wasn’t lost on him (my mother used to call him “Yet-roe”). For some inexplicable reason my dad had no difficulty in pronouncing ‘Heathrow’ which is what he ended up calling Jethro.
So when a friend sent me this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pZa6R3rmRQ to a Ted Talk ‘Teaching English without Teaching English’, I had little doubt the talk would be up my alley, and indeed it was. For those who don’t press the delete button, I can assure you that spending 19 minutes listening to Professor Roberto Guzman is really worthwhile.
Mr. Lesley taught us Matriculation English (year 12). He used to bring newspapers to class, purchased out of his own pocket, a copy for each student.
We’d discuss the front page, question it, apply our BS detectors to it, analyse the stories for verifiable truths or the lack thereof and so on. Mr. Lesley made a significant contribution to the lessening of ovine and asinine tendencies in society. It is obvious from the current socio-political landscape, there are not enough Mr. Lesley’s.
These Dispatches have been railing against the Intervention and the assimilationist imperative driving it for as long as I can remember. Reference has often been made to the semantic attack on Indigenous Australia. In one Dispatch, then Minister of Indigenous affairs Jenny Macklin was described as the undisputed Australian Queen of the ‘non sequitur’. The use of straw-men, euphemisms, metaphors, stigmatization, propaganda and lies have all been invoked in what I call my modest effort at ‘counter propaganda’.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLYOOezs3DA Bob Marley – Get Up Stand Up (for your rights)
No sooner did the Ted Talk teach me the meaning of ‘ad hominem’ than I witnessed a prime example of it on the ABC’s Q&A programme featuring our PM.
An Aboriginal lady tackled Malcolm Turnbull on his rejection of the Uluru Statement. When Turnbull started losing the argument he resorted to that nasty technique of speaking over the top of the other person and not let them finish. He eventually invoked the two Indigenous members of parliament (Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney) as his justification for the rejection- a non-sequitur if ever there was one. This was then followed by the PM getting on his high horse and making an ad hominem attack on the lady by accusing her of being disrespectful to the two Indigenous members of Parliament.
As Roberto Guzman said in his TED talk, “….ad hominems are terrible but are very useful in the hands of people who have no scruples….”
The Staple Singers Respect Yourself Live Filmed Performance 1972
Meanwhile, all of you have a wonderful Christmas
Aretha Franklin (The Queen of Soul)