Meanwhile, back in the authoritarian hellhole of Australia . . .
According to American libertarians, the dangers of covid authoritarianism are clearly on display in Australia. We’ve looked at some of these claims before. Here is some additional context from Van Badham, writing in today’s New York Times:
Last week, the myth of our enslavement propelled aspirational allies into the streets. In the United States, Poland and Britain, distinctly non-Australian protesters assembled outside Australian diplomatic missions, denouncing the country’s decline into thuggish autocracy. A #SaveAustralia hashtag trended.
If Australians on Twitter were confused about what they required saving from — the sunshine? free health care? low Covid deaths? — it was perhaps because they weren’t visiting the dark corners of the internet where the myth has taken form. There, propaganda that depicts Australia as a blasted hellscape is being generated and shared.
. . .
Confected for an American audience, it seems to be part of an international right-wing campaign to recruit those frustrated by lockdowns, unsure of vaccines and animated by appeals to personal liberty. Australians, trying to get their kids to bed before bingeing on “Ted Lasso,” have been enlisted as unwitting props in an American culture war.
. . .
In the Facebook groups I monitor, it’s the same thing. Right-wing American influencers with millions of followers share videos in which Australian anti-maskers stage disruptions in shops or start fights with the police. Craftily edited, the videos are made to tell stories of innocent citizens brutalized by violent state overreach.
That’s bad enough. But the malign spread of foreign influence goes beyond the internet. In July, anti-lockdown protests took place across Australia, attracting crowds in Sydney and Melbourne. Yet this was no homegrown uprising: Data analysts found the protests had been coordinated by a central group of organizers based in Germany and Britain.
We live in Perth and other than an inital countrywide lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic last year and two or three short lockdowns, precautions like a QR code check in to facilities you visit, social distancing as best as possible, our lives have been ‘normal’. No masks, eating out, going to the cinema, beach, etc. wherever we want. Being the resident ex-American on the tech college campus where I work, I got asked by everyone what as going on because everyone was so puzzled at first by the protests. Of course, everyone quickly figured out they weren’t being supported by 99% of Australians, had outside influence and if they weren’t so dangerous, could be ignored. Many of us feel the increase in covid case numbers in Victoria is a direct result of these rallies led by overseas influencers. Shame.
I know nothing about Australia but I do know a bit about Canada and I must say I am hard pressed to find Canadians as concerned about their horrible health care system as some of my Republican friends—getting to be fewer and fewer as some friends desert what the GOP has become and those that have not are increasingly not my pals anymore. I am constantly reminded of the Geico commercial where the young people are scared and the young woman who says “ let’s get in the running car” and the response is “ Are you crazy? We should hide behind the chainsaws” Funny in a commercial, not so funny when it is a sizable segment of the population.
Last time I remember Americans being concerned about Australia, it was in a movie called “On the Beach.” 1959 or so.