…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
Recently I had the occasion to attend the graduation ceremony at one of the local universities and whilst it was highly satisfactory from a personal and parentally selfish viewpoint, the general impression I was leaving with was poor.
I start at the end. The ceremony over, the graduates, parents, spouses and friends milled out of the hall to get to the free drinks and to what used to be called hors d’oeuvres, but now are egalitarian nibbles. (Foreign expressions only confuse people, and after all, we are Aussies. Oi,oi,oi.* ) There was a number of double doors allowing exit, but alas, somebody opened only one side of each. Potential rate of egress was thus halved. I was approximately sixth or seventh behind in the crowd and I was wondering whether any of the future captains of finance, industry and leaders of the nation would show enough initiative or plain common sense before I would have an opportunity to exhibit mine. A pretty young woman, not in an academic gown, just in front of me, got the idea and acted first. Afterwards I congratulated her and we had a brief palaver about the benefits or otherwise of higher education.
The future hope of Australia can’t open the door to get to the trough, I mean to the tipple.
The officiating academic read out a stream of Asian names and CCTV screen showed that even some solid Anglo-Saxon names had very Asian faces. My guess was that about 70 % of the graduates were Asians. It was an expectable and altogether very pleasing sight. Our tertiary education is still in demand, right up there with iron ore and coal. Of course, whilst university bean counters are rubbing their hands with glee, some Australians may consider the predominance of foreign students to be an indictment of our primary and secondary educational system.
Later another senior academic (white) had homily to the graduates, about his and his wife’s graduation in the sixties of the last century, and how they agonised over the most existential question of their time – go to Africa to help the wretched of the earth, or to devote themselves to lucrative careers and sermonise to others later? My, and other people’s impression was that that was his standard speech to the graduates ever since he was first allowed to make it. The gentleman obviously saw no incongruity or piquancy in his moralising to the group of people, majority of whom almost certainly came from various poor or poorer countries, where living standards are far bellow his of sixty years ago. The people I talked to afterwards could not agree if it was senility or a twisted sense of humour.
Practically every speaker considered it her or his duty to genuflect to the current politically correct myth of Aboriginal custody of the land upon which the university was built. According to some politically correct anthropologists the Aborigines have been here for 60 000 years or at least 40 000 years. In that time some other groups of people in other parts of the world starting from the same base learned how to put a man on the moon. When the white men arrived here some tribes had not learnt how to make a fire. Their connection with a place of higher learning would seem to be somewhat tenuous.
It reminded me of how back in the Communist Europe just about every speech had to start or end with genuflection to the power – “Thanks to the wise guidance of the Communist party and government”, “thanks to the party leadership”, “thanks to the Soviet Union”. It was pathetic there then and it is pathetic here now. Today obeisance is paid to some socio-anthropological construct of a nomadic tribe which may or may not have passed through the area in question and which is thus credited with its “custodianship”.
I subsequently noticed that even SBS** at the end of the News shows the appropriate “Aboriginal land” slogan. Hypocrisy is contagious. Property developers and perhaps used car dealerships will join the farce. No, not likely. Used car salesmen are far too honest for that. The Commissars of Political Correctness follow the same old proven script and repeat a lie often enough so that it enters our subconsciousness. Our intellectual “elite” sees nothing wrong in that. Cowardice is also contagious.
I am unlikely ever again to have the chance to attend such a ceremony for one of my more remote, i.e. third generation off-springs. However, assuming that they would be allowed to study and further assuming I would be released from the re-education camp for the event, I would have to wear the hammer and sickle, or perhaps the fist crushing a rose***, badge and I would have to raise my right hand every time the Great Leader’s name, whoever she might be, would be mentioned. And the academics would be watching if I am sufficiently sincere.
*/ Yiddish expression of despair
**/ for foreign readers – Australian Special Broadcasting Service, not yet renamed Socialist Broadcasting Service
***/ the symbol of Socialist International