Category Archives: Indigneous affairs
I really haven’t felt like writing lately, but I really wanted to mark on here (because it’s SOOooo widely read!) that Wednesday 13th February 2008 was the day that the Australian Government FINALLY apologised to members of the Stolen Generations.
For those of you not from Australia, or those of you from Australia who somehow still don’t know what happened, I need to ask you to look this up, to do your own research, because the last few days have been really emotional, and I’ve ended up in arguments with people I thought knew better – this is not going to become a forum in which I have to “prove” that the Stolen Generations happened, that they happened at the direction of government agencies, that there was deliberate cruelty and racism involved, or that we owe an apology. If you’re reading this website, if you want to engage with my take on things, then just be warned. My starting point is this:
This country (*as* we know it, *as* the nation of Australia) was built on a violent invasion, a theft of land, an absolutely inhumane view of and treatment of Indigenous occupants. Massacres happened and they happened often, at times at government direction. The level of cruelty and sadism directed at human beings hiding behind the ideas of “civilising” was sickening. We have criticised America and South Africa, but there was apartheid here, there was cruelty, violence and murder at the hands of the State, there were willful attempts at genocide, and later, at eradicating aboriginality by taking children with some white parentage, removing them to be “raised white”, to “assimilate” these children (ie to make them acceptably white)…we owe Indigenous Australia a lot more than one apology, a lot more than a refusal to engage with the idea of compensation, and a fucking shitload more than the backhanded bullshit romanticisation of White Australia that was the speech of the opposition leader Brendan Nelson.
I am so unbelievably angry about his speech, so embarrassed to be in any way associated with it, and so painfully ashamed that so many people apparently regarded it as a reasonable speech to make. It was a horrendously thinly vieled defence of government policy, denial of the insidious cruelty that is a huge feature of our national history since invasion, and a slap in the face to Indigenous listeners by insinuating that then, as (allegedly, and I see no proof of this in the actions staged under the “intervention”) now we do what we do to “protect” children.
For a moment, for one tiny fraction of time, I felt hope as I listened to the Prime Minister – it wasn’t perfect (it denied the idea that compensation is appropriate, and it didn’t acknowledge the extensive kinship ties that meant that cousins, aunts, uncles, and many more people were as devastated as children and parents) but it was genuine and moving, it seemed to hint at a future whereby options were opened, where an ethics of respect, empathy and humanity had a place in government – and I stood rapt, listening to the applause…and then Mr Nelson got up and shat all over it.
If you want to support Mr Nelson feel free to go do it. If you try to antagonise readers here by posting your support I will delete your message without hesitation – this is people’s lives we are talking about, you’ve had your time in the sun with a government who treated Indigenous Australians with contempt and disrespect. I don’t feel bad in not giving you space to spout your bigotry – you have mainstream newspapers, talkback radio, eleven years of Howard policy and any number of redneck arseholes…you don’t need my tiny little blog on which to be a prick as well.
So what’s my point? I dunno. I wanted to mark this, it’s a significant point in history. I have hope for the future. And I’m sick to fucking death of people shitting on about how Indigenous Australians are under achievers, just want a handout, should just get over it. If you read the history, if you heard the stories, if you listened to Indigenous activists and read Indigenous authors, if you paid some fucking attention to all the massive things Indigenous Australians have achieved in the face of such overwhelming odds, in the face of hostility from the Australian government and public, you couldn’t possibly sustain such a stance of hostility and disrespect.
I keep thinking about this blog and what it “achieves” – nothing much really. But these arseholes always bang on about free speech. They get to spout their offensive shit at parties, pubs, in newspapers, websites, blogs, university lectures and tutorials, on talkback radio, at dinner parties and they want MORE free speech – they don’t want free speech, they just don’t want anyone to ARGUE with them. Guess what knobheads? Free speech means you get to SAY that, and I get to call you on your bigotry, I get to argue, I get my website in which I get to advance my opinion (hey, the result of study and listening rather than populist soundbites from government spin) and protect it from your crap since you get the rest of the freaking WORLD in which to advance your ideas…my blog is not perfect, it’s not even great. But it’s one tiny space preserved for talking back to bigotry