It is to be hoped Joe Biden’s presidency stabilises the US democracy and its status as a world power. As long as democratic nations remain on guard against the election of the likes of Donald Trump, there remains hope for the future.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill
The joy of living in safety in a true democracy
It was 1990 and we had three young children in tow after three months of youth hostelling in Europe and North America. On the last leg at Los Angeles Airport, the young American attendant said: ‘‘So you’re going home to paradise?’’ I smiled but did not really understand what he meant. Over the years, his words have become clear. But clearer this week as I witnessed the rampage on democracy in Washington, DC.
Lorraine Ryan, Templestowe
A disruptive rabble, not an organised coup
An ‘‘assault on democracy’’ is a grossly overstated description of the invasion of the Capitol building. There was no planned attempt to replace the government with an alternative, no leadership and no manifesto of aims. There was no attempt to bring the army or police on side. It was merely a rabble keen to make a noise, let off steam, be disruptive and disrespectful and get on the news. It was no more a threat to democracy than an egg thrower or rowdy group in the parliamentary gallery shouting slogans before being ejected.
Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West
Impossibility of making Trump see reason
Surely, Donald Trump is suffering some kind of delusional illness. What else could explain his frightening rejection of reality? When he can no longer deny that his has lost the presidency, will he order his followers to drink poison, as Jim Jones, the leader of Peoples Temple movement, did in 1978? Already, he will go down in history as the baddest of bad losers.
Danny Cole, Essendon
I believe this, therefore it must be true
People will believe exactly what they want to believe, regardless of the facts. And it is not the truth that matters most, it is what people believe. Never have these two statements been played out so accurately to reflect their inherent truths.
Joyce Butcher, Williamstown
Why are we surprised that the riot happened?
While watching the events in Washington on Wednesday, I was struck by memories of demonstrations sponsored by US governments, whether under Democratic or Republican administrations, protesting against election results and attempting to overturn them in other countries, like Georgia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Bolivia and Belarus.
In each case, the US administration declared the election fraudulent, usually in advance, and encouraged direct action. In the current situation in the US, we had the President making similar accusations both before and after the election. Why should anyone be surprised that it has now happened there?
John Hird, Ripponlea
The Prime Minister must speak out on Trump
Scott Morrison says: ‘‘It is not for me to offer commentary on world leaders’’ (The Age, 8/1). It looks like he still does not hold a fire hose. He is pointedly unwilling to douse Donald Trump’s fire or call him an arsonist.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills
Medal for true greatness
When Donald Trump awarded our Prime Minister the Legion of Merit, I thought he was in outstanding company given that my dear father, Major Martin Clemens, was awarded the same medal. His for ‘‘exceptionally meritorious conduct and showing disregard for his own safety” after having led a battalion of American soldiers against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands, July 1943.
It was a bloody battle but few American lives were lost. Sadly, 65 enemies lost theirs. Father’s citation is personally signed by Franklin Roosevelt and is highly valued by our family.
Now I see our Prime Minister refuses to condemn the violence incited by Donald Trump. I feel rather insulted that he accepted the Legion of Merit from this man. Malcolm Turnbull says it is a ‘‘pity’’ he did not refuse it. It belittles the value of it. Sad days.
Alexandra Clemens, Prahran
The US’ double standard
There was more than a touch of irony in former president George W.Bush’s reference to banana republics in his condemnation of the storming of Congress. It was often the direct and sometimes violent intervention of the US in the democratic process in those countries to protect American interests that led to their becoming banana republics.
Ross Bardin, Williamstown
Tell me it’s not true
I think I am locked into watching an improbable, bad movie about a pandemic sweeping the world and the end of democracy in America. Please can I switch off and give a review of a mountain of rotten tomatoes.
Elizabeth Howcroft, Hawthorn
Rational Trump voters
To all those many millions of Trump supporters who did not turn out in a seditious attempt to thwart the will of the people, America owes you a debt of gratitude.
Harry Kowalski, Ivanhoe
Such sensible priorities
I turned on the car radio late on Thursday afternoon to catch up on news about the American insurgency. Delightfully 774 ABC was not covering this; it was cricket time, and there was an earnest, in-depth discussion about when the rain might stop so play could restart. Prioritising non-cricket over a violent threat to American democracy makes me very happy to live in Australia.
Colin Jevons, Glen Iris
His lips are sealed
‘‘It’s not for me to offer commentary on other world leaders’’, says Scott Morrison. Let us keep this quote handy for the next time our cautious Prime Minister mentions Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani, Nicolas Maduro or Xi Jinping. Or, for that matter, Boris Johnson and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East
Terrorists and democrats
Let me see if I have this right. The protesters who stormed the US Capitol were ‘‘domestic terrorists’’ but the mobs who stormed and vandalised the Hong Kong Legislative Council, threw petrol bombs and destroyed subway stations were freedom loving democrats?
Peter Martina, Warrnambool
Power of governments
If the storming of the US Capitol building teaches us anything, it is that politicians vastly underestimate the impact and influence they have over a community – or worse perhaps, they are fully aware of it.
This highlights the importance of having a forward-thinking government. One that works towards addressing climate change, the recognition, value and respect of Indigenous people, and the benefits of improving social inequality to better the country and the world. Is Australia ready to move beyond the anti-policy agenda of the weak, narrow-sighted and impotent Coalition government? I certainly hope so.
Dave Zalstein, Dingley Village
What happened to …
When the lockdown ended, I felt very safe using public transport. Everyone wore masks and kept their distance. Now many people are brazenly flaunting the mask rules. Surely it would not be too difficult to have inspectors board the trains to enforce the rules. Containing the coronavirus is much more important than fare evasion.
Jean Shaik, South Yarra
… wearing your masks?
Congratulations to JB Hi-Fi at Forest Hill. The staff member at the door politely asks shoppers to wear their mask properly. But what of the shopping centre management, the government, the police?
There are lots of signs and posters around, and yet masks under the nose are everywhere. Are we too precious and too timid to ask people to wear their masks properly? A little publicity and a courteous request by a COVID marshal at the entrance to each shopping centre would probably be enough to make a difference.
Stephen Mills, Blackburn South
Show some empathy
I am disheartened by the vitriol displayed by Victorians towards fellow Victorians who are stuck interstate, portraying us as reckless and irresponsible.
We left Victoria on December 13. There was no COVID apart from that in hotel quarantine and no warnings on travel. We had not seen any family for 18 months. Why would we not cross the border to see them, especially as we were going to spend our time in a rural area which had had one case in total, last April?
On New Year’s Eve, we were given seven hours notice to get back to Victoria to avoid isolation or quarantine. We were at the beach, with no car and no flights, near the border to Queensland. To get back in that timeframe was impossible. The Victorian government has been unnecessarily cruel towards citizens like us who pose no risk. We do not need fellow Victorians to be cruel and judgmental also. I suggest we work on building our capacity for kindness and empathy.
Melissa Ort (in exile), Fitzroy North
Our right to be safe
I certainly sympathise with people who are experiencing difficulties returning to Victoria, but I also sympathise (to a greater extent) with those who are at risk of suffering if this virus takes off in Victoria again. They have the right not to be subjected to a deadly virus and possibly lose their job, business, health or even life as a result. Perhaps the answer is for government to look at assisting those who are struggling to return with costs and other practicalities etc, including with quarantining.
Sally Scott, Hawthorn
True, suffering refugees
I can accept that the sudden border closedown over the New Year period was disappointing for many families and inconvenienced many. But please do not tell me that you feel like ‘‘refugees in our own country’’ (The Age, 8/1) when we still disgracefully lock up genuine refugees in situations and conditions that disregard our obligations under the UN Convention on Refugees.
Denise Stevens, Healesville
Danger of a third wave
When we Victorian citizens are a couple of months into the hard lockdown brought about by the third wave of coronavirus infections introduced into the community by an international visitor to the Australian Open, will no one be responsible for that as well? Another ‘‘orphan event’’, signed off by a phantom? Corporate greed being allowed to endanger the public’s health is simply lunacy.
Phil Piesse, Kew
So, who’s to blame?
Recently I received a Christmas card (13 by 9.5 centimetres) from the UK which had been opened by ‘‘Australia Post for Inspection by ABF’’. I was incensed and rang Australia Post to find out why it was opened. They did not know. Then I rang the Australian Border Force to ascertain why such a small item was examined. I received the same answer: ‘‘We do not know’’. Why?
Sylvia Sanders, Park Orchards
The practice of batsmen (and women batters too) scratching at the crease to take guard is imprecise and needlessly destructive. It also needlessly involves the umpires. Why not paint three short lines aligning the stumps precisely?
Graeme Stubbs, Balwyn
Loss of precious trees
If Melburnians are concerned about tree clearing (The Age, 4/1), I suggest they avoid the Otway Ranges where native forests are being logged on a grand scale. You can no longer reach any of the Otway’s many beautiful waterfalls without going through the ugly wasteland left behind by loggers. Replacing native forests with pine plantations, as seems to be the case, provides no habitat for native wildlife.
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove
Inequality of our votes
Caitlin Fitzsimmons’ article (Comment, 6/1) on the risk to our otherwise robust electoral system was excellent.
But there is another blatant gerrymander in the system that needs to be rectified. The Constitution says no state shall have fewer than five seats in the House of Representatives. The outcome is that Tasmania has five seats with an average number of electors of around 75,000. Mainland states’ seats are much larger. Mine (Cooper) has more than 110,000 electors.
This means the vote of a person in Bass is worth almost 50more than mine. Any gerrymander in the House influences who forms government. It is time for a referendum on dropping this undemocratic gerrymander. Does either of the major parties have the courage to do so?
Geoff Wescott, Northcote
AND ANOTHER THING
Emperor. Stark nude. And stark raving mad.
Nina Wellington-Iser, Hawthorn
From Kennedy’s Camelot to Trump’s chaos in a lifetime. Democracy is a fragile fabric.
Bill Cleveland, Kew
Trump wanted a wall built. It’s going to be 2-metres high around Capitol Hill.
George Djoneff, Mitcham
Is there a crime in the US for inciting violence? Treason maybe?
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully
The ‘‘leader’’ of the free world has gone from a First World to a Third World country. How the mighty have fallen.
Warren Wiggins, Flemington
We haven’t heard the last of Trump. An expert grifter working a long con – and there’s still money to be made.
Laurie McCormack, Northcote
Has the American dream become a nightmare?
Stan Marks, Caulfield
The first Republican president, Lincoln, saved the union. The latest has torn it asunder.
Mike Pantzopoulos, Ashburton
The Republicans reject Trump (at last). Principle or rats deserting a sinking ship?
David Rose, Montrose
Morrison’s silence in criticising the actions of Trump is deafening.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
With its election and the handling of the pandemic, the US must be the only asylum run by the inmates.
Stan Thomson, Sandringham
Will Trump be remembered for starting the US’ second civil war?
Ross Cropley, North Ringwood
Will Morrison now return his Legion of Merit medal?
Patricia Rivett, Ferntree Gully
I assume it was bone spurs that prevented Trump from joining the mob.
Geoff Castles, Ringwood North
Should England resume control of its dysfunctional North American colonies?
Bill Pell, Emerald
If only we’d listened to Shorten when he said ‘‘Trump is barking mad’’.
Geoff Cheong, Aspendale Garden
Note from the Editor
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