Wednesday 15 February 2017

Australia and New Zealand back on the map, please

This morning I had a notification from Etsy that they are about to launch a new selling platform called “Etsy Studio”. Its designed specifically for sellers of craft supplies and tutorials. As a seller of patterns I had a look at the 23 minute promotional video.

This blog post isn’t about my opinions of Etsy Studio. I want to make a more expansive point about how political leadership of a nation can set a tone within international relations that is so resonant it trickles right down to the grassroots of radicalising the little insignificant blog of a female artist in Australia.

About 3.30 seconds into the video Etsy showed a map of the world, presumably to underline how inclusive and world wide their platform is. I had to do a double take and call my husband to confirm I wasn’t (not) seeing things. The whole continent of Australia doesn’t appear on the map, including New Zealand. I was born in New Zealand and lived there till I was 26, my son was born there and I still have a lot of family there, including my father. New Zealand is a small country with a population of barely 4 million.

Australia is an island continent. I find it astounding how a huge organisation like Etsy can present this “map of the world” and nobody notices Australia/NZ are missing. How can I have confidence in an organisation like that? How can I have confidence that America likes and respects Australia when President Trump had a phone call with our Prime Minister in which he responded in ways that were crass, impatient, dismissive and cut short the conversation which was supposed to be an hour after 20 minutes. To his advisors (Bannon and somebody else) across the other side of the presidential desk he described this as the “worst” phone call he’d had with a world leader. A few days later White House spokesman Sean Spicer was trying to justify things and referred to our Prime Minister as Mr Trumble, twice….It is Mr Turnbull. It makes for a very unconvincing apology when you can’t remember the right name of the person you are trying to be sorry to.

President Trump wants to ban people of 7 countries to be able to enter the USA. I live in a very small community of less than 1000 people where we have a fantastic doctor who is Syrian. His sister lives in the USA and is married to an American. I met her when she visited her brother here in Murrurundi last year. She wouldn’t be able to leave America now for fear of the possibility of not being able to get back in again. Nor can her brother visit America because despite being a permanent resident of Australia, and an important and respected member of our town, he has a Syrian passport. He and his sister were born in Syria and their parents still lived in Aleppo until a couple of years ago (our doctor moved them to safety in another middle eastern country as they are aged in their 70s. They did not want to leave to live in either Australia or America)

So this is a story about how the attitudes and decisions of the people at the pinnacle of political power ripple down to effect all citizens of the global village. I think a month ago I would have interpreted Etsys blunder as just the dumb mistake of some underling…..but with the climate in international relations going all topsy turvy and with the way President Trump is playing out his declaration “America First”, you really have to wonder if that implies the rest of the nations the world are going to be allocated, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc, etc……according to how President Trump and his cronies rate them.

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