I sometimes think that if we did not have Aboriginals in Australia, we would have had to invent them. They have taken on such totemic significance that no issue can be discussed and no aspect of national progress examined without adding that, of course, there is an Aboriginal perspective, the Aboriginals are opposed to this project, or this other development is on ancient Aboriginal ground and of course it must be stopped. Regrettably, the Aboriginal cause is now used to prop up and justify every otherwise hopeless left-wing cause. I have noticed, also, the increasingly symbolic and wildly overdone idea that at virtually every event these days we have to acknowledge that we are not really here by right, but by the indulgence of an Aboriginal tribe that is or was the ‘custodian’ of the land on which the event is taking place. I have never said those words at any such event and never will, I hope, but it seems that everyone in public life now relies on it as some sort of pious justification for living in Australia and doing anything that would be otherwise lawful and legitimate. Instead of going to church and asking for forgiveness, the modern day equivalent seems to be that we have to watch Q&A or read the Age and apologise for being European and for being here at all. I was forced to concentrate on this notion and how overblown it has become when I listened to the president and former president of my trade union, the Law Council of Australia, speaking at the National Press Club the other day. They both got into the full guilt-swing by making obeisance to the elders of the local tribe, ‘past, present and future’. Just before focussing on those precise words, I notice in passing that neither of them got around to saying that the legal profession will henceforth work up a scheme for returning any land to the Aboriginals. So we can relax, no action will be taken to put their pious words into action. But what really irritated me was that we now not only have to make supplications to the past and present custodians of the land but to the ‘future’ ones as well. I took this up with a friend of mine who makes a study of these things and he informed me that I was behind the times, because the approved form of words is now ‘past, present and emerging’. I was glad to be corrected, but the correction makes it worse. As no-one outside the Darebin branch of the Greens believes that any land will be assigned to the Aboriginals or anyone else in the future free, gratis and for nothing, it is a monstrous hypocrisy to suggest that there will be any ‘future’ or ‘emerging’ custodians who will have any such entitlement. Not only that, but it is a cruel hoax on the Aboriginal people, particularly by lawyers, to build up false hopes that any such entitlement will ever be created. If the office-bearers of my union want to do anything constructive to help Aboriginals, the first and best thing they can do is to stop using this totemistic ritual which does absolutely nothing of a practical nature other than to assuage their own guilt.
We saw another vivid example of the same hypocrisy the other day in the upshot of the terrible news that a two (two!) year-old Aboriginal girl had been raped in a town camp in the Northern Territory and that the latest statistics had shown an alarming increase in sexually transmitted diseases among Aboriginals. Neither of these events is unique or exceptional but, regrettably, both are part of a persistent tally of hideous crimes continually being committed against Aboriginal women and children; crimes that the black and white lobby that is supposed to have Indigenous welfare as its cause have utterly failed to stop. The news led to the federal minister, David Gillespie, suggesting that there should be more adoptions of Aboriginal children by white families, to try to save some of the children, a suggestion followed up and supported by Channel 7’s Sunrise show. The usual opponents to such reforms, black and white, rose up like one, condemning this suggestion as racist, patronising and opening up new horrors to be inflicted on the so-called Stolen Generations. I saw it somewhat differently. Here, presented before them all was the true horror of rape and disease and the continuing failure of every health and social policy we have tried for our Indigenous population at the cost of billions of dollars; innocent people, above all, innocent children, are being sacrificed and the most hideous crimes committed against them. But the suggestion of white adoption which might – just might – alleviate some of this horror is rejected with a torrent of abuse and absurd claims of racism. It is as if the do-gooders would rather see continuing suffering than a possible cure; that all Aboriginals children should continue in their insanitary squalor, rather than be given a chance to escape from it. And all because the left-wing cause of European denigration has to be kept going and needs fodder to keep it alive. If there was any racism on show in this latest incident, it came not from the minister or Channel 7, but from those who seem happy to use one race, the Aboriginals, as fuel for their cause.
My generation grew up loving the Aboriginals and we studied with respect their rituals and folklore. I knew a white family who adopted an Aboriginal girl and I often reflect on what terrible experiences they may have saved her from. It grieves me therefore, and I hope many others, to see what we have now come to, where white-skinned advocates, urged on by misguided governments and their accolytes, will brand as racism any attempt to help Aboriginals in a practical way.
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