Must say, when I arrived here as far back as 1975 I was astonished to find Coon Cheese on sale. A North American impossibility both then and now. But then our latest pussycat turned up and it turns out that she is a Maine Coon which is a name no one seems to bat an eye at. From the letters to the editor at The Oz today.
I fail to understand why Dr Stephen Hagan would spend so much time and effort on an issue such as Coon cheese (“Era ends as Coon cheese name cut”, 25-26/7). As a person who has worked in outback NSW and Queensland as well as living and working out of Port Augusta in South Australia and travelling to site work in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, I have seen the plight of remote Aborigines first hand. There will be no Aborigines in Port Augusta doing high-fives or cartwheels over the renaming of Coon cheese.
Hagan spent the first seven years of his life in a camp outside Cunnamulla in southwest Queensland before moving to a new house in town. Being a high achiever, he attended boarding school in Brisbane and, among other things, went on to become one of Australia’s first indigenous diplomats. He then became a lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland — good on him, a great career. It would seem, though, that Hagan’s circle of fellow activists and like-minded colleagues are not in sync with the real needs of Aboriginal people in the areas I have mentioned.
Shane Porter, Elanora, Qld
Ignoring the merits of the decision by a Canadian company to change the name of a well-known Australian product, it is worth noting Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan’s ironic call not to let “conservative social commentators dictate their narrative on what is right and wrong”. Arguably, this name change is an example of another, and ascendant, brand of activists dictating their narrative on what is right and wrong.
David Finch, Forestville, SA
According to the genealogy website Ancestry, there are several origins of the name “Coon”. Anglicised Gaelic — “O’Cuana; Anglicised German – “Kuhn”; Anglicised Dutch — “Coen” or “Koen”. A whole lot of people to chase down because of perceived racist names. Then, of course, we have the 35 people listed in the Australian White Pages with the name “Coon”, plus their families.
Racism is a sad blight on civilisation and should not be accepted in any form. Sadly, I think pursuing dreamed up racism is counterproductive and aligned with the conjured up targeting of statues and monuments because someone thinks that these commemorate things that today we regret.
Peter Strauss, Mt Eliza, Vic
It’s why I think Australia is the last sane place left in the Western world. Might also mention that she is the sweetest cat I have ever lived with.