Not an Australian poem, but an Australian poet, and I suppose that counts for something...
(Poem #572) Mort aux Chats
There will be no more cats. Cats spread infection, Cats pollute the air, Cats consume seven times their own weight in food a week, Cats were worshipped in decadent societies (Egypt and Ancient Rome); the Greeks had no use for cats. Cats sit down to pee (our scientists have proved it). The copulation of cats is harrowing; they are unbearably fond of the moon. Perhaps they are all right in their own country but their traditions are alien to ours. Cats smell, they can't help it, you notice it going upstairs. Cats watch too much television, they can sleep through storms, they stabbed us in the back last time. There have never been any great artists who were cats. They don't deserve a capital C except at the beginning of a sentence. I blame my headaches and my plants dying on cats. Our district is full of them, property values are falling. When I dream of God I see a Massacre of Cats. Why should they insist on their own language and religion, who needs to purr to make his point? Death to all cats! The Rule of Dogs shall last a thousand years!
As George MacBeth puts it, "only a confirmed cat-lover could write such a charming indictment of the species"... That said, this is as good a putdown of racist propaganda as any I've seen. It's the tone of voice that does it, I think - the same mix of populist rhetoric and vile innuendo, the same blend of twisted logic and warped facts... Porter takes the caricature to extremes ("I blame my headaches and my plants dying on cats"), but let's not forget that people have been taken in by far less rational arguments in the past; the vicious anti-cat demagoguery may be sidesplittingly funny in its particulars, but it's no less powerful for that. And of course, the last sentence (which I did _not_ expect, the first time I read this poem) puts the whole poem into context - when we finally find out who the speaker is, we know _precisely_ how much trust to put into his words. thomas. PS. "they stabbed us in the back / last time" is a reference to a phrase used by Hitler during his ascent to power: "Hitler considered the German politicians who prematurely ended World War One and established the German democratic republic to be traitors (the 'November criminals', he called them); their actions were akin to a 'stab in the back'. In Hitler's mind and among many Germans, the Army had not been defeated on the battlefield but had been undermined by political treachery at home." -- http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/riseofhitler/trial.htm PPS. I'm also reminded of Snoopy's Kitten Kaboodle stories - equally 'speciesist', and aimed at an equally specific target audience ("PlayBeagle has bought the entire series" <grin>).