This Dispatch was originally distributed 25 January 2013. The post has been edited.
In David Hill’s book ‘The Great Race’ (The Race Between the English and the French to Complete the Map of Australia), the French explorer Baudin is quoted in a letter to his friend Governor Phillip (who apparently was fluent in French) as follows:
“…I have never been able to conceive that there was justice or even fairness on the part of Europeans in seizing, in the name of their governments, a land seen for the first time, when it is inhabited by men who have not always deserved the title of savages or cannibals that has freely been given them; whereas they were still only children of nature and just as your Scotch Highlanders or our Breton peasants, etc. who, if they do not eat their fellow men, are just as objectionable.
From this it appears to me that it would be infinitely more glorious for your nation, as for mine, to mould for society the inhabitants of its own country over whom it has rights, rather than wishing to occupy itself with the improvement of those who are far removed from it (my emphasis) by beginning with seizing the soil which belongs to them and which saw their birth…” (Nov. 1802)
Two hundred and ten years later Dr. Gary Johns, former president of the now defunct Bennelong Society (a right wing assimilationist think tank) wrote an article in which he seeks to occupy himself with the improvement of those who are far removed from him.
Things can only get better….
Dr. Johns’ article reviews Stephanie Jarrett’s soon to be released book ‘Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence’. Some shocking statistics are presented which lead Ms. Jarrett to the conclusion that the best option for Australian Aborigines to avoid or reduce violence is to move to the metropolitan areas and join the mainstream.
Living in the mainstream…..
Using the same logic … non sequitur cause and effect… I conclude from the statistics presented in the article that non Indigenous Australians would also improve their safety by returning to the cities. Remote Australia would once again become ‘Terra Nullius’.
I furthermore conclude that an even better option for Indigenous Australians is to all move to Afghanistan where to the best of my knowledge not a single Australian Aborigine has been hospitalised as a result of violence.
All of this of course is nonsense. I don’t know what Gary Johns’ doctorate is in (basket weaving?) but statistics and logic certainly seem to have been lacking in his education. Both Gary & Stephanie appear to have a poor grasp of the principles of… cause and effect… and of justice and fairness.
Blind eyes of justice,
Deaf ears of power
Dumb moves of money
Left us in a desperate hour
Is this the final solution?
Revolution by Dr. John….
Oops wrong Doctor!
European ‘culture’ in fairly recent times gave us the Holocaust, two world wars and many other calamities. It will be a sad day when the multi-faceted European Culture that gave us so many wonders, is judged solely by its abominations.
Equally sad is the day when remote Aboriginal Australia is judged solely on stereotypes and stigmatisation derived from politically opportunistic spin and the dishonest or incompetent use of statistics and from general ignorance.
That day is already here.
As observed by us in Yuendumu, most of the lateral violence, hospitalisations, homicides etc. occur in places like Alice Springs. Attention is focused on the violence per se; not enough serious effort goes into researching the causes of violence. I suspect that disempowerment and dispossession has a fair bit to do with it. Pushing people away from the bush is definitely not the answer, the reverse is probably true. Blaming all anti-social behaviour to alleged inherent violence in an unchanging 40,000 year old culture is simplistic and false. As Baudin said all that time ago “…I have never been able to conceive that there was justice or even fairness on the part Europeans…” about the then land grab. His words are applicable to the treatment of Aborigines today. We are seeing the final stages of the land grab.
As Rosalie Kunoth-Monks said: “There is no Aboriginal Problem in Australia, only a ‘white-fellow’ problem”
A good friend of mine sends me books by Eduardo Galeano, who has become my favourite Latin-American writer. He specializes in vignettes.
One such has a small list of graffiti:
The words of the prophets are written on the subway wall…
“ ¡ Basta de hechos! … ¡ Queremos promesas ! “
(No more deeds!, we want promises!)