On the day that the US/UK/Australian “Coalition of the Willing” started its unauthorized attack on Iraq, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard opened a Palestinian art exhibition, named “Treasures of Palestine” in Canberra, the capital of Australia. It seemed the mother of all ironies. High art and cultural appreciation of depleted Palestine, by our leader while he plays Deputy Sheriff to Bush in Asia, and actively authorizes the demolition of Iraq this minute. It was a pre-arranged exhibition appointment, but little in this jigsaw puzzle of war and terror seems coincidental. Only a month ago, Australian households were issued with government sponsored terror kits, to hype up pre-war anxieties. Now, after the government has commenced its war, it is denying that there are increased terror concerns. It is reluctant to upgrade security, for fear of the Australian people pulling out their 30% support for a war on Iraq without UN backing, even though the US and a government minister has said that we are more of a target for terror now, than before. Suddenly, at the start of a war, we are supposedly safer than a month ago, when we were not at war. We are supposed to be “relaxed and comfortable”, the theme emotions which the P.M. was first elected into office on, 3 terms ago, over six years ago.
One trifecta (or hat-trick) in activism on March 18 was the scaling of Joern Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, by 2 young men–one an English doctor, the other an Australian painter. Before the police could stop them, the guys had climbed the tallest white sail of the harbourside Opera House, and with blood red paint and long paint rollers, they wrote “NO WAR” (http://www9.sbs.com.au/theworldnews/articles/1/55121.html ). The text was featured on all Australian nightly news bulletins, alongside our PM’s announcement that Australian troops were going to join Uncle Sam in attacking Iraq. Bush had called Howard that morning, and our yes boy PM promptly delivered his acceptance speech of war mongering, just an hour before Bush himself addressed his God blessed nation. Such perfect timing.
The “NO WAR” painters, via their text, represented the feelings and thoughts of 70% of Australians. The same blood red paint affects were used powerfully on the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Rasmussen, who has offerred military and humanitarian contributions to the coalition of the willing God Squad. A protester on March 18 tipped blood red paint on PM Rasmussen’s head and over his suit, to brilliant tele-visual affects. (http://david.blangstrup.dk/). In this Internet and “smart” bomb age, a humble tin of paint can go a long way around the world. Given the Aryan-supremacist, Muslim-phobic theme of Rasmussen’s previous, victorious Danish election, this anti-Iraq maneuver will come as no surprise.
I suppose the third amazing “blood red” feat in the last 2 days was my Dad’s capacity to survive a triple heart by-pass operation, when he needed to be resuscitated after the first operation, and then wheeled back frantically into the operating theatre for a re-do of the initial operation. After copious amounts of morphine, adrenaline, oxygen, a tube down his throat and a balloon pump in his heart, he has survived, and recovers slowly in his drug dazed, surreal state.
Over the next days and weeks, I hope Baghdad and its people can survive a colonial-imperialist, imposed, multiple heart bypass/ blow up of their city and their lives–in a country that symbolizes humanity’s “cradle of civilization”, and hopefully not humanity’s demise. The Tigris and the Euphrates are its veins and arteries, its history its heart.
VANESSA JONES lives in Australia with chooks, ducks and ducklings in the garden, galahs, rosellas and cockatoos flying around the gum trees, and an internet on the sitting room table. Her own billboard efforts in visual painted graffiti can be read about at: (http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/1993/93/93p10aiw.htm) and the ensuing historic court speech by Magistrate Pat O’Shane can be read at: (http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/1993/86/86p10aiw.htm ). Thanks to www.greenleft.org. for archiving this humble yet historic political effort. Vanessa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org