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Book Review of Ruby Hamad's White Tears Brown Scars, MUP, 2019.

This book aims to talk truth to power, using intersectionalist feminist concepts, within the strange paradigm of the corporate newsmedia [1] and US-NATO foreign policy. Power is identified as whiteness. White women are enjoined to stand with women of colour against male whiteness, which they are charged with propping up for their own benefit.

Whiteness is defined as non-brown and non-blackness. But brown-ness can include whites who are not the ‘right kind of pale’.

“Whiteness is more than skin colour. It is, as race scholar Paul Kivel describes, ‘a constantly shifting boundary separating those who are entitled to have certain privileges from those whose exploitation and vulnerability to violence [are] justified by their not being white.’” [2]

Hamad accuses white women in Australia today of endorsing non-white slavery and colonialism now and through the ages because they benefited and benefit from it. She writes as if the accused white women are conscious that their attitudes condone such slavery. I would say, however, that the class that endorses these things that are decided by their ‘betters’ does so because its members believe the government and corporate media spin that justifies war, colonialism and exploitation of peoples far away. The women (and men) in the classes the system still works for, or who believe it still works for them, are obedient and unquestioning of authorities anointed by these. Such people erupt in defence of media-anointed authorities they believe to be pillars of virtue. They will also hotly defend the ideas and values they receive from these classes.

Of course, various forms of psychopathic entitlement underlie the public rationales of our leaders for colonialism and wars. These include xenophobic assumptions or just contempt for anyone standing against what empire builders and weapons lobbies want. You would think that anyone could see through these, but they don’t. Obedient Australians respond viscerally to their masters, on whom they depend, like good dogs conditioned by rewards and punishments. Hence they easily fall for the suspicious perpetual recurrence of ‘mad and brutal dictators’ in the Middle East, whom the west must get rid of through regime change. As Dr Jeremy Salt, Middle-East scholar says to cartoonist Bruce Petty (who visited Syria in 2011) in the video below (which I made), "There always has to be a madman in the Middle East" [so that the west can have an excuse to invade.]

The greater basis for their credulity is apparently the idea that the Middle East has not ‘developed’ sufficiently to achieve lawful societies, in part because it is religiously divided and lacks the separation of church and state. No relevant history is provided by the newsmedia as to how these things came about in formerly very stable societies.

Additionally, the newsmedia seems to report on overseas 'interventions' in the most confusing manner possible, as it also does with Australian politics. This leaves the Australian classes that rely for information on the newsmedia with the idea that domestic and foreign politics are incredibly complicated and hard to follow. Bored and helpless, they see no choice but to place their faith in the imagined greater intellects of the journalists and politicians involved in producing this atrocious spin.

I find it difficult, however, to agree with the assumption in Hamad’s argument that all white women (and men) in Australia accept the doctrine of the newsmedia. There seem to be plenty of men and women in Australia who question war, invasion, mass population movements, Julian Assange's imprisonment for exposing war-criminals, and think that sovereignty should be respected, but they don't find any clear echo in the newsmedia, except sometimes in masses of negative comments on line, especially on articles promoting population growth. Those commenters cannot, however, get in touch with each other to organise. Constant demographic, employment, and land-use changes have also interrupted traditional family and neighbourhood networks, and big business has taken over the universities, as the newsmedia has taken over the public talking stick. So, if you believe that the newsmedia represents the opinions of most Australians, as Hamad seems to, I think you would be wrong.

There is still an anti-war movement, but it is very disorganised, almost certainly because the mainstream media ceased to report its point of view leading up to and after the invasion of Iraq. [3] The anti-war movement exists in the alternative media, both Australian and overseas. (See IPAN (and here) for instance.) Unfortunately, spontaneous voluntary movements using independent and big tech media resources still do not have nearly the same publicity reach of the newsmedia nor the power to authoritatively self-anoint. The Facebook tech-machine geographically limits Australians to Australia when using its promotion system (ads) for criticism of corporate newsmedia talking points and government policies (especially those of the US). They thus continue to be drowned out by the internationally syndicated newsmedia. The greater public, whose smart screens and phones are still commercially tuned to the corporate newsmedia are thus not aware of these other views. They are only aware of them if they use independent search engines, since smart phones and screens have licence restrictions on what they can show. Whilst it is easy to simply put a URL in a browser, most people don’t know this and children are not even taught it. They might use search engines to look for alternative reports, but they are not aware that the license restrictions of the commercial software associated with their ‘smart’ electronic hardware, keep their information sources nearly as narrow as the pre-internet era.

But Hamad is a professional newsmedia journalist. Not only is she a newsmedia journalist, but she refers to what passes for Australian cultural belief and 'leftist' values in the newsmedia as if these were actual reflections of most of Australian society, rather than a sort of echo-chamber for the classes that read and write in them. Does she really believe in the cultural matrix that she refers to, or is she merely using its own language to question it?


Of particular interest to me was Hamad's experience in questioning Australia's support for US-NATO military intervention in Syria. If you weren't already aware of the shocking wrongness of our policy towards Syria, then you might wonder what Hamad is talking about here.

Hamad, who comes from a Lebanese and Syrian background (Greater Syria), and who still has relatives in Syria, describes how she was rebuffed when she tried to express her disapproval of a US intervention in Syria to her feminist white colleagues.

"[Syria] is such a fraught issue that genuine discussion is impossible while smears and misplaced outrage are the norm. On this occasion in early 2018, I felt compelled to say something as it was the day after US president Donald Trump launched strikes on Damascus following an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town. Anna [her Anglo-Australian friend] expressed support for the strikes in a post, which I found jarring, and I told her - calmly - that I was confused given that the United States' act signalled a possible escalation of the conflict and further suffering. I was rebuffed as an aggressor who was hurting her and had to be publicly humiliated for it: the damsel requires her retribution. Merely by letting Anna know that although I understood she cared for Syrian civilians, her stance was disappointing to me, I inadvertently unleashed a demonstration of strategic White Womanhood that brushed aside the actual issue - the air strikes - and turned it into a supposed attack by me on her 'just for being white'. The result was a torrent of abuse hurled at me on a Facebook thread." (Pp105.)

Hamad’s analysis of this exchange is that, rather than deal with the political issue of bombing Syria and the atrocious consequences of war, [Anglo-Australian] Anna seemed to interpret the questioning of Hamad’s views on foreign policy as an attack on Anna for being 'white'.

Hamad sees this as a way of avoiding the issue. She thinks that the motive for avoiding the issue is to preserve the status quo from which White Womanhood benefits.

I think this analysis would work better if we substituted the word 'consequence' for motive, because it is hard for me to believe that most Australians who defend US-NATO policy towards Syria do this with a conscious understanding of the issues. Unless they are actually heads of government/ selling weapons, of course.

Where would they acquire such an understanding? Only by venturing beyond the Anglosphere and Eurosphere mainstream, but they have been repeatedly and explicitly conditioned to avoid alternative perspectives like RT and Presstv Iran, and the many independent blogs, in various languages, as ‘fake news’ by that very mainstream. It’s effective wedge politics; middle class Australians hardly dare look over at the other side of the fence on any issues. And, as mentioned, their smart screens have licensing issues.

It is true, however, that by blindly defending official policies, the obedient classes defend that tiny power-elite that pursues those policies consciously and pollutes our public messaging system with false reasons for war.

But, you see, I have encountered just the same kind of reaction when I have criticised military intervention in Syria. My friend’s father expostulated that we were ‘extremists’ and accused his son of falling for ‘fake news’. Mainstream journalists regard you with horror and abhorrence. On-line such views are treated as highly eccentric and laughed at, except when sympathisers find them. Most people you meet have no idea whatsoever about what you are referring to.

Politicians claim not to know anything about foreign affairs or they ignore you. I would have liked it if Hamad had gone to the role of Australia's then foreign policy minister, a [white] woman - Julie Bishop - in officially supporting US policy in Syria. Along with others, I wrote to Bishop about this, but received absolutely no response. And I wrote an article about the absurdity of it all: "Can Trump dodge his deep state destiny by acting absurdly?" Now it is quite possible that Julie Bishop had no idea of the consequences of what she was supporting, but she had direct responsibility, and a duty to inform herself. The reason I would like Hamad to address the role of a successful white female politician on Syria is because such people are elected and propped up via the false rhetoric of the newsmedia. That is how the normalisation of aggression against Syria takes place.

I know also that Syrians who hold the same attitude as me often don’t dare express it in public, and sometimes among Syrian acquaintances. Why is this? One reason is that refugees from Syria are more likely to receive encouragement from the Australian government if they say that the Syrian Government is a brutal dictatorship, even if they don’t really think so, since that is the official opinion of the Australian Government. And I have been told that quite a few Syrians in Australia actually do sympathise with the so-called Rebel armies in Syria, and so you might think twice about denouncing them or even disagreeing with them. New Zealand, our close neighbour, has settled some members of what many believe is a fake Syrian rescue group, with ISIS sympathies,the White Helmets. [4] Whilst I agree with Hamad that bombing Syria was a terrible idea, note that I am not saying that Hamad holds the same views on Syria as me. She does not actually disclose her views in her book.

It also sounds as if ‘Anglo-Australian’ Anna was out of her depth and was responding to a loss of ‘face’ on Facebook. That Anna then accused Hamad of being racist towards her is for me a symptom of Australia’s contamination with US race-baggage, not surprisingly, because of massive syndication of Australian newsmedia with US newsmedia, which virtually blots out Australia itself.

Whilst it is true that Australia was founded on the dispossession and genocide of non-white hunter gatherers, with some enslaved, others religiously indoctrinated, its initial principle labour source was convicts from the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English lower classes. Most of these people would, however, meet Hamad’s definition of non-white, because land-tenure and inheritance law disqualified them from white power. They came from a country of severe class division. People there stole in order not to starve. As an example, the numbers of Irish transported soared with the Irish potato famine, due to crimes committed from hunger. [5]

Numerous convicts were charged with sedition and similar crimes and sent here as punishment for agitating for democratic government. [6] Many Irish were transported for insurrection due to their participation in revolts against the English. Convicts had no rights and could die in brutal conditions. [7]

Transportation of revolutionaries and protesters to the ends of the earth was an extreme form of demographic and political atomisation in Britain. Australia was Britain’s gulag and she sent a lot of people there who might otherwise have made a greater difference to British politics. Many recent Australians and mainstream journalists seem to have no knowledge of this or of the biophysical limitations of this continent. [8]

We do Australia a disservice if we fail to remember that people in this country initiated the Eight Hour Day, and stopped the beginnings of a slave-trade in Pacific Islanders and outlawed that of other ‘non-white’ peoples.

Australian workers at the turn of the 19th century, having ended transportation of forced ‘white’ labour, noting the kidnapping of Pacific Islanders, also rejected ‘non-white’ slavery through the White Australia policy, which was a trade-off for allowing manufacturers to import foreign goods. [9] Worker reasons for this would have been economic, since unpaid work presents unfair competition to free people. Unsurprisingly, just as today, we have little record of what ordinary people had to say on the matter, however. The rhetoric that we retain from the time is, of course, only from elites. Even among the elites, there was a fair amount of abolitionism, especially regarding the cessation of convict labour. The lack of contemporary documentation has made it easy to promote a view of the White Australia policy as a kind of Nazi doctrine, but it is dishonest to omit the anti-slavery and industrial relations aspects.

Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch of 1970, galvanised the Australian and international feminist movements, completely redefining how women saw themselves. Yet today Greer is hardly mentioned in the revisiting of feminism. Between 1972 and 1975 the Whitlam Government promoted multiculturalism, birth control, and feminism in the general population. These values were widely adopted in the generation now called ‘baby boomers’. Bizarrely and unfairly, recent anti-racist and mainstream feminist promotions fail to recognise, let alone build, on these well-established Australian values.

It might achieve more if articulate people like Hamad would look, beyond the mainstream representation of Australia, for similarities, rather than differences with their fellow citizens. She writes of the battle for land-rights (p.216). We need her help, because the colonisation is ongoing here. The fight for land-rights is being lost in Australia to the ultra-rich. Other Australians are fighting many different battles to resist our leaders’ addiction to war and growthism, and to preserve this beautiful country and its beleaguered ecology against land-speculation, overdevelopment and overpopulation. But they are being drowned out by the massive volume of the mainstream corporate media, which assails us all with growthist propaganda day and night, and also accuses us of racism, with the effect of shutting up criticism of absurdly high rates of immigration. As well, by appearing to champion or demonise refugees and asylum-seekers, it takes the public debate away from the regime-change wars that generate these.

Hamad argues within what I see as an anthropocentric, black-white, pseudo-‘progressive’ paradigm, without biophysical reference points. Although, at the end, she questions the idea of chronological progress, she still seems to accept the paradigm that we are all ‘going forward’, although no “progress is ever assured”. The points of reference in her universe are largely human-notional, generalised and global, whereas I look at how humans interact with their biophysical environments within specific land-tenure and inheritance systems. Along the same lines as Walter Youngquist’s paradigm in Geodestinies, I see material wealth, war, and colonisation, as a reflection of geology and geography.

I have a land-tenure and inheritance system explanation for the British class system and its production of great quantities of landless labour, which fed into a fossil-fueled coal and iron industrial revolution that permitted Britain’s industrial-scale exploitation of other countries. (See Sheila Newman, Demography Territory Law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2014.)

In Europe one tribe enslaved another. The Romans enslaved the British. Six hundred years later, the Normans reduced much of the British population to serfdom. They imposed almost universal male primogeniture in England, which meant that English women relied on men due to their inability to inherit land, and the bulk of children were effectively disinherited.

The British practised colonisation, mass migration, and genocide of Catholic whites in Ireland, and despoiled that land, with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I egging on the removal of nearly every tree for wood. Cromwell awarded Irish land to his English soldiers.

Many times the Irish Catholics tried to free themselves from the English, finally rising in revolt in 1798, causing civil war.

The civil war was dogged by savage sectarian differences which added their own violence to the government’s ghastly atrocities. Many Irish Ulster Protestants sided with the British. [10]

Irish Revolutionary leader, Wolfe Tone, described a landscape “on fire every night” (from burning houses), echoing with ‘shrieks of torture’, where neither sex nor age were spared, and men, women, and children, were herded naked before the points of bayonets to ‘starve in bogs and fastnesses’. He said that dragoons slaughtered those who attempted to give themselves up as they put down their weapons, and, finally, he talked about the spies who had brought the Irish Revolution down.

“And no citizen, no matter how innocent and inoffensive, could deem himself secure from informers.” [11]

I think that Hamad’s lack of recognition of inter-white racism/classism prevents her from realising that Australia is being recolonised, with ‘diversity’ as the excuse and induced racial schisms as the mechanism to alienate the ‘diverse’ from the incumbent population, the better to over-rule democracy. Australians, despite multicultural policy from Whitlam's time, are stigmatised as white and racist. There is a token nod to Aborigines, whose defining culture can in no way benefit from mass immigration or the 'developed' economy.[12] Hamad is not alone in this complacency because the mass-media constantly massages high immigration and renormalises terra nullius. Hamad has some recognition of this ‘irony’, however.

“I’d be lying if I said I knew how to reconcile all of this. I’m well aware that whatever our own experiences of colonisation and racism-induced intergenerational trauma, non-Indigenous people of colour in Australia are also the beneficiaries of indigenous dispossession. We too live on and appropriate stolen land.” (p.195)

Much of the foreign intervention in Syria has been in order to force it to accept globalisation, privatisation, and leaders sympathetic to these. The same thing is being forced on Australia, but without the need for overt violence so far because, unlike Syria, Australian leaders have not resisted this. And the newsmedia has given no voice to those who are trying to resist it, so they appear invisible.

Frizzy hair

On a more personal note, I sympathise with Hamad’s experience dealing with frizzy hair during her teenage years (p.180). I had the same problem. I had a different method, which did the same job. I didn’t brush my hair dry for hours, I wound it round my head tightly and fixed it painfully with bobby pins and other clamps, waiting hours for it to dry. I gave up swimming for years, although prior to becoming aware of my appearance, I had swum daily. This was a great sacrifice. Although I was also trying to meet the prevailing standards, which seemed to me to be straight hair, unlike Hamad, I did not identify straight hair with being ‘white’. I was ‘white’ if you like, although descended from Irish, Scottish, and Welsh stock, just not in the ‘in’-crowd as regards hair – or many other things.

A theme in Hamad’s book is that White Women get cross if you challenge their cultural ideas. They shut you out. Hamad has shown that some of these cultural ideas are probably immoral, and she wonders why she is shut out for exposing them. The thing is that all cultures want to control their ideas from the inside and they reject outside challenges. That’s poesis. Basically, to be one of them, you have to embrace their ideology.

Then, within that culture, there are sub-cultures, and cliques. In Australia’s hard new society where seniority and local labour have been dropped and ‘meritocracy’ prevails in an increasingly precarious employment market, women tend to form groups led by the woman closest to power – often a male boss. One of the ways for the dominant women to keep order and stay at the top is to punish anyone who looks like getting close to power by pretending to have been victimised. Another way is to harp on differences, of which ‘race’, ethnicity, religion, hair-type, weight, dress, and opinion, etc are all signs that can be used to define their possessor as a member of the out-group.

This kind of behaviour is also called ‘bullying’. And it is getting worse, unfortunately. Maybe it is a reflection of the way our leaders behave and the economic rationalist anti-society they have forced on us. There is competition out there for food and power. And we are apes.


[1] Newsmedia is my name for the dominant ‘mainstream’ public/corporate media.

[2] Ruby Hamad in her Author’s note, p.xiii.

[3] “After the enormous demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the anti-war movement disappeared almost as suddenly as it began, with some even openly declaring it dead. Critics noted the long-term absence of significant protests against those wars, a lack of political will in Congress to deal with them, and ultimately, apathy on matters of war and peace when compared to issues like health care, gun control, or recently even climate change.” Source: Harpootlian, Allegra, US Wars and military action: The New Anti-War Movement,

“Criticism of the news media’s performance in the months before the 2003 Iraq War has been profuse. Scholars, commentators, and journalists themselves have argued that the media aided the Bush administration in its march to war by failing to air a wide-ranging debate that offered analysis and commentary from diverse perspectives. As a result, critics say, the public was denied the opportunity to weigh the claims of those arguing both for and against military action in Iraq. We report the results of a systematic analysis of every ABC, CBS, and NBC Iraq-related evening news story—1,434 in all—in the 8 months before the invasion (August 1, 2002, through March 19, 2003). We find that news coverage conformed in some ways to the conventional wisdom: Bush administration officials were the most frequently quoted sources, the voices of anti-war
groups and opposition Democrats were barely audible, and the overall thrust of coverage favored a pro-war perspective. But while domestic dissent on the war was minimal, opposition from abroad—in particular, from Iraq and officials from countries such as France, who argued for a diplomatic solution to the standoff—was commonly reported on the networks. Our findings suggest that media researchers should further examine the inclusion of non-U.S. views on high-profile foreign policy debates, and they also raise important questions about how the news filters the communications of political actors and refracts—rather than merely reflects—the contours of debate.” Source: Hayes, Danny and Guardino, Matt, Whose Views Made the News? Media Coverage and the March to War in Iraq, Political Communication, Vol. 27, No. 1, Dec 2009, p59.
“As the [Iraq] war dragged on, and as reporting got better and better, the real problem with news from Iraq would turn out to be how little of it most Americans ever saw or heard. Across the board, as documented by Pew and others, the percentage of the news hole devoted to the war declined steeply.” Source: Murphy, Cullen, The Press at War, From Vietnam to Iraq, Atlantic Monthly, March 20, 2018.

[4] Independent journalists who have criticised this US and UK-funded and Hollywood-iconified group have been vilified by the mainstream, but the evidence is out there. See, for instance, Rick Sterling, “The ‘White Helmets’ Controversy,” Consortium News,
July 22, 2018”

[5] Lohan, Rena, Archivist, ‘Sources in the National Archives for research into the
transportation of Irish convicts to Australia (1791–1853)’ National Archives, Journal of the Irish Society for Archives, Spring 1996

[6] Convict Records, British Convict transportation register made available by the State Library of Queensland, Various crimes were assigned to revolutionaries, including sedition and insurrection which included many Irish who participated in rebellions. I08 are listed in the Convict Records simply as ‘Irish Rebels’:

[7] “During the first 80 years of white settlement, from 1788 to 1868, 165,000 convicts were transported from England to Australia. Convict discipline was invariably harsh and often quite arbitrary. One of the main forms of punishment was a thrashing with the cat o’ nine tails, a multi-tailed whip that often also contained lead weights. Fifty lashes was a standard punishment, which was enough to strip the skin from someone’s back, but this could be increased to more than 100. Just as dreadful as the cat o' nine tails was a long stint on a chain gang, where convicts were employed to build roads in the colony. The work was backbreaking, and was made difficult and painful as convicts were shackled together around their ankles with irons or chains weighing 4.5kg or more. During the day, the prisoners were supervised by a military guard assisted by brutal convict overseers , convicts who were given the task of disciplining their fellows. At night, they were locked up in small wooden huts behind stockades. Worse than the cat or chain gangs was transportation to harsher and more remote penal settlements in Norfolk Island, Port Macquarie and Moreton Bay.” Source: State Library New South Wales,

[8] Recently an Australian Review journalist, Laura Tingle, suggested that convicts seemed almost more inclined to die of starvation than to try to feed themselves by farming. She obviously knew nothing of the difficulties experienced by the early settlers, even with the help of convicts, in producing food in this country, well-documented by Watkin Tench, (e.g. Ed Tim Flannery), Watkin Tench, 1788, 2012. Tingle, in Laura Tingle, "Great Expectations" in Quarterly Essay, Issue 46, June 2012, opines that Australian government began by administering a dependent population in a patronising way. Australians became passive recipients of government benefits - to the extent, Tingle believes, that convicts seemed almost more inclined to die of starvation than to try to feed themselves by farming. Moreover, after the gold rush, Australian men got the vote and could run for parliament whether or not they had property and the quality of politicians declined compared to that when only people with property could vote. In these circumstances, politicians with poor manners came to dominate parliament and Australians therefore lost respect for their politicians. See Sheila Newman, “Tingle shoots blanks despite Great Expectations - review of Quarterly Essay,” 8 July 2012,

[9] An ammendment to the Masters and Servants Act August 1847 forbade the transportation of ‘Natives of any Savage or uncivilized tribe inhabiting any Island or Country in the Pacific Ocean’. Masters and Servants Act 1847 (NSW) No 9a. No.IX., 16 August 1847. Six weeks later a Legislative Council motion disapproved the prospect of introducing Pacific Island workers into the colony, because it “May, if not checked, degenerate into a traffic in slaves.”
[10] Wilkes, Sue. Regency Spies: Secret Histories of Britain's Rebels & Revolutionaries . Pen and Sword. Kindle Edition. Location 1014.
[11] Theobald Wolfe Tone, The Writings of Theobald Wolfe Tone 1763-98, Volume 3: France, the Rhine, Lough Swilly and death of Tone, Janurary 1797 to November 1798, Eds. T.W. Moody, R.B. McDowell and C.J. Woods, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2007, p516.
[12] I have mixed with Australian Aborigines from most parts of Australia and can tell you that those I got to know well have expressed strong resentment of mass immigration (black or white), for obvious reasons. Yet, again, the newsmedia conflates mass immigration with multiculturalism and creates the impression that Australian Aborigines have nothing to say against being made an ever smaller part of Australia's demography and land-tenure. This is particularly evident with the Australian ABC. It was demonstrated in the Q&A ABC program of 9 July 2018 on Immigration which included the Indigenous lawyer, Teela Reid. Unusually, The Guardian actually noticed this: ‘Reed, a Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, appeared to find the whole discussion baffling. “Don’t get me started, the whole bloody country has immigrated or invaded,” she said. “It’s crazy to sit and watch the conversation unfold.” ’ How confusing to be forced to use the rhetoric of multiculturalism as a counter to discrimination against Aborigines, while aware that all these Anglo and multicultural groups are uninvited invaders, not necessarily colonising, but moving relentlessly, and as if by right, onto once-Aboriginal lands and resources.

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