Across Continents

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Little and large

E-mail from an old family friend. He’d visited northern Queensland some years ago. Birdwatching. Sharper eye than mine. Noticing a certain statue of Captain Cook had something of a dubious salute. Had it inspired Adolf Hitler, he joked? A grain of truth? Well, the swastika is based on a Buddhist symbol.

Nazi saluting black Bavarian gnome
Cook - web

Controversial? Seems Captain Cook is a bit like the proverbial yeast extract. Loved or hated in roughly equal measure. His arrival in Australia oft described by indigenous people as invasion. And the statue in Cairns? A well-known, if unofficial, landmark or any eye-sore beside the main north-south highway? The community split.

He’s been re-sited at least once. And has had a change of clothes. Used to sport a blue jacket with yellow buttons. Advised he’s also had some repairs in the trouser department.

Captain Cook and his dubious salute
Gnome - web

Cairns isn’t alone in displaying "art" some find distasteful. Even controversial. Back along the river Danube, in the small German town of Straubing, there were Nazi saluting black Bavarian gnomes. Ironic art, I hasten to add, rather than any resurgence of Fascist ideology.

[Author’s note: With especial thanks to Mike for his sharp eye and dry wit]

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