Late autumn has arrived! It’s a lovely time of year here in Hervey Bay, with calm, warm days with maximums in the low to mid-twenties and cool to cold nights. The temperatures dip to ten degrees or less, time to pull out a light doona (duvet) for a few weeks, along with jeans and sweaters, at least until mid-morning. I might even, on rare occasions, put on a pair of shoes. Footwear in these parts is bare feet indoors and thongs (flip flops) outside. It’s quite a trial having to get used to wearing proper shoes if we’re going overseas. On the other hand, I’m actually quite looking forward to that trial😊.
One of the biggest items in the news of late has been a draft new curriculum for schools. Much has been said about it already by people with more knowledge of these things than me. I’d like to see schools teach the basic building blocks of knowledge – reading, writing, arithmetic – and then encourage kids to learn. I believe kids should learn much more about aboriginal people than I did, and much more honestly, including their appalling treatment by some white settlers. But NOT at the exclusion of our Christian, European roots, from which our modern Australian society was formed. That’s part of the so-called ‘cancel culture’ where Winston Churchill is condemned as a racist and Captain Cook’s statue is defaced because his exploration led to the invasion of Australia.
Most of you (like me) would not have taken note that 5th May 2021 was the two-hundredth anniversary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon came to prominence as a general in 1796, bearing in mind that by this time the fledgling French Republic, formed after the 1789 revolution, had been fighting for its life against neighbours like the Austro-Hungarian Empire since 1792. The revolutionary wars segued into the Napoleonic Wars, as Napoleon’s armies won battle after battle until they had conquered most of Europe from Spain to Russia. Back in France, he formed the foundations of that country’s bureaucracy, legal and education system, and spread those ideas throughout Europe through his relatives, who were given control of countries on his behalf.
In modern day France Napoleon has become a controversial figure. For many, his Empire was a time of French grandeur, to be looked back to with pride, but in recent years leaders have distanced themselves from his legacy. Not so much because of a war that left Europe depleted and exhausted but because he wound back some of the improvements in women’s rights introduced by the new Republic, and reintroduced slavery in the Caribbean.
In this environment on 5th May President Emmanuel Macron chose to lay a wreath at Napoleon’s tomb in Paris and give a speech.
‘Macron began his remarks by saying he would “concede nothing to those who want to erase the past on the basis that it does not correspond with their idea of the present.”‘ [source]
And that is the basis of ‘cancel culture’.
Mister Macron, I salute you.