Thursday, March 13, 2014

Andrew Bolt pulls a sickie – SCOOP!

I usually don’t bother reading Andrew Bolt’s opinion columns in the Herald Sun.  They are predictable and, in any event, not at all what I am seeking on the Herald Sun website – which is colourful snapshots of an exotic Other (viz, a Melbourne that I nominally live in, but actually have little or no cultural affinity with).  The Hun is, then, an armchair “holiday” for me, one that will usually produce a wry chuckle or to.  It is necessarily a brief holiday, though, due to the strictures of the News Ltd paywalls.  This morning, however, I accidentally clicked on an Andrew Bolt opinion column (“I swear, M’lud, I thought from the headline that it was genuine, colourful news article, about a suburban battler wronged, or some such”).  And rather surprisingly, the Darth Vader-omniscient paywall then let me through past the headline teaser, despite my full quota of freebie clicks being well and truly spent for the week, by my count.

But anyway, who’s actually counting, out there in Bolt-world?  His is a time and place of what I’ll call the “Dreaming”, for want of a better term.  I suspect that a therapist could actually locate it in Bolt’s childhood, as an Australian-born child of Dutch immigrants, growing up in the backblocks/outback of SA, c. 1970 (Bolt was born in 1959). 

The unresolved issue?  Little Andrew, I suspect, could and did pass for “ordinary” (meaning Anglo-Celtic) white Australian, in places where the colour bar, at the time of his birth at least, was a rigid as any, ever, in the American South.  Of course, young Andrew was always going to be on the right’n’white side of this colour bar, but his home life (and school life, to a lesser degree) must have caused some angst. 

On one hand, he and, especially, his parents were so different from the others (in my experience of Dutch-born people - not so much their Australian-born children, though - they are, and I use this phrase with affection, the “woggiest wogs” of all).  Yet on the other, in outback SA, young Andrew would have been remorselessly assimilated, without any choice in the matter, into the Anglo-Celtic cultural bloc.  No doubt this culture-denial sometimes hurt, and especially so when young Andrew would have felt – with some justification, I should say – that he actually had a fair bit in common with the black kids in this regard (but that said, there was no practical possibility of a consequent Bolt/black-kids alliance, under the mores of that time).  Both were outsiders to the smug dominant culture, but only Andrew Bolt could pass for one of them.  And pass he did – but yet he had to.

His column today you can read for yourself (paywall permitting, of course):  “It feels like I have lost; do I run or resist?”. And sorry, my “sickie” headline is – I hate to admit this, but anyway – a trick of the trade; a teaser.  What Bolt actually details is that he was so upset by comments made about him on ABC’s “Q & A” on Monday evening, by Marcia Langton and others, that he was unable to go to work on Tuesday.  I don’t doubt that he was genuinely unwell when he woke up that morning.  My evidence for this is indeed the very fact that he mentions it at all, when he knows (presumably) that his readership will mostly snicker “diddums” (so meaning that he was still apparently a bit “sick” when he wrote the column, but good on him for soldiering on, like a true Aussie).  And equally, Bolt forgot to mention whether or not he got the medical certificate that is a fact of life these days for many Australians taking a single day’s sick leave (but snarky me for bringing this up, like I was the Herald Sun’s HR-and-payroll killjoy!). 

But you’re OK, Mr Bolt.  It no doubt has been a source of lifelong annoyance to you that “Dutch” is an adjective used in a diverse array of phrases, but with an insulting, if not downright racist thread connecting them.  But I didn’t invent the “Dutch X”.  And by coming up with a new coinage of “Dutch X”, I am not trying to add fuel to the fire (“I swear, M’lud”), but hoping to help you to reconnect with your presumably painful childhood, in which your Dutchness was stolen – yes, stolen – by a xenophobic, steam-rolling Anglo-Celtic outback mainstream, painfully aware that they were outnumbered by their taciturn Indigenous neighbours on the fringe (a stark demographic fault-line that the Bolts no doubt waltzed into, unawares).  So here it is:  “Dutch sickie” – the sick day you spend mulling over the newspaper column you will write about your sick day. 

On a more healing note, to make it better for all concerned, one bright day I am hoping that an Anglo-Celtic (or Indigenous, for that matter) PM will make a brave speech, one that will have tears streaming down many a cheek, containing this historic – and dare I say, overdue – line:  “WE took your Dutchness . . .”

Getting past the Hun paywall is easy. Just put your browser in invisible/incognito mode, and you can surf the Hun page as much as you like without walls.
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