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Wright, Clare: Who will be Australia’s future folk heroes?

Wright, Clare

Who will be Australia’s future folk heroes?The Conversation, 19 May 2016

Riffs off the capture of five Australian citizens attempting to leave the country without passports, allegedly to fight in Syria. Compares Ned Kelly with Man Haron Monis.

Poetic genius/Robin Hood warrior [she says of Kelly] or dangerous criminal/lone wolf/whackjob? Historians and punters still argue the toss. What is certain is that other renegades and mavericks, keen to distinguish their own nonconformist bona fides, have channelled Kelly’s self-declared primacy over the laws of the state.

Monis had collected 15 000 ‘likes’ on Facebook. Wright makes other comparisons and concludes:

Certainly, any analogies between Ned Kelly and Man Haron Monis, or the Laura Five and [escaped convict of the 1970s] Mary Bryant, won’t line up in perfect parallel. History is rarely that neat. And in comparing Monis to Kelly I am certainly not seeking to minimise the tragic impact of his actions – which led to three deaths, including his own. Nor am I suggesting that Kelly was a radical fundamentalist, in any modern sense of the term.

But there is sufficient purchase in these varied stories to suggest that outlaws and outliers are apt to become folk heroes given enough cultural oxygen.

Clare Wright is one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters.