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Ordained genocide

Our article this morning by Kathy Stavrou: ‘Caught in the Act‘ and her subsequent Facebook comment that her article summarised “how successive NSW Governments used legislation as social engineering to extinguish Aboriginal property ownership rights” had me scurrying to an article I wrote many years ago. There was an agenda in both the colonial and early federal governments; that being the extermination of Aborigines. Not only was it the will of ‘man’ that Aborigines be exterminated, but also the will of God. Or so they believed.

I wrote:

Was the total extermination of Australia’s Indigenous people deliberately intended? Of course it was. It was OK to shoot Aborigines. God had no problems with good white Christians killing Aborigines as it was the white man’s belief that God had condemned Aborigines to extinction and the white man was simply hurrying things along for Him. It had His stamp of approval. It was ordained genocide.

But the massacre of Aborigines was frowned upon by latter Colonial and Federal Governments, however, it did not mean that they were not considered a doomed race. These governments had a sinister role to play in that consideration; that of the evolutionary masters. That of God.

Let us trace this.

The nineteenth European scientific discourse of the Great Chain of Being arranged all living things in a hierarchy, beginning with the simplest creatures, ascending through the primates and to humans. It was also practice to distinguish between different types of humans. Through the hierarchical chain the various human types could be ranked in order of intellect and active powers. The Europeans – being God-fearing and intelligent – were invariably placed on the top, whilst the Aborigines – as perceived savages – occupied the lowest scale of humanity, slightly above the position held by the apes. Such ideas were carried to and widely circulated in the Australian colonies and helped shape attitudes towards the Aborigines. So dominant was the concept that it helped develop the fate of Aboriginal people, even before Australia’s colonisation. The image of the Aborigine simply confirmed prejudices based on this doctrine of evolutionary difference and intellectual inferiority.

In harmony with the Great Chain of Being, the theory of evolution in the social sciences (known as Social Darwinism), was accepted by nineteenth and early twentieth century Australians as further justification for their treatment of the Aborigines. Central to the theory of Social Darwinism was the ideology that the Aborigines, who were considered to be less evolved, faced extinction under the impact of European colonisation and nothing could, or should, be done about it. Government policies reflected these ideologies and provided the validation of oppressive practices towards the Aborigines, founded on the perceptions of racial superiority.

Four of the major policies are those relating to protection; segregation; assimilation; and the integration of Aboriginal people into the wider community.

Protection was influenced by the evolutionary theory that Aborigines would die out as a result of European contact. Subsequently, all that could be done was to feed and protect them until their unavoidable demise. The policy thus took on short term palliative measures that saw enforced concentration of Aborigines in reserves and missions – protected from European contact and abuse (such as hunting parties) to await their closing hour.

This policy was a humane one based on its presumptions, however, nature had not selected Aborigines for extinction. Only the colonisers had. Subsequently, governments eventually and willingly used protection policies as a mechanism for social engineering. The policies of protection changed its fundamental goal to segregation. Their differences are difficult to identify although their purposes are not: Aborigines were a dying race so they were protected from the wider community; the Aboriginal race had failed to die off, so they were segregated from the wider community.

The social theories that legitimised and institutionalised racism were never more evident than in the practices of segregation. Segregation created two social and political worlds in Australia: one white and one black. Whilst the Aboriginal race had ignored extinction, Government policies reflected the attitude that, nonetheless, by the 1940s they had still failed to progress since European contact. Sentiment thus ruled that continued segregation of the Aborigines from the wider community would ensure white racial purity.

Segregation was pervasive in all aspects of public or political life. Church or social organisations discouraged Aboriginal participation, and access to community facilities such as swimming pools or theatres were severely restricted, if not refused altogether. Custom in many business establishments was also refused for fear of offending the white clientele. Perhaps the most damning indicator of this racism, however, was the neglect of medical treatment and health services by white practitioners. Policies of segregation were to degenerate into practises of apartheid when, in South Australia for example, association between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people became a criminal offence under Section 14 of the Police Offences Act 1953.

The policies of protection and segregation were continued even though the Aborigines had not faced their final hour. ‘Full-bloods’ remained on reserves until their demise, yet the problem for the government came in the form of the ‘half-caste’. These people looked increasingly like white people but behaved like ‘Black’ people. The only was this could be countered was to assimilate them into the general population.

Assimilation of the lighter-caste population was still an endeavour to destroy Aboriginality: by absorbing them into the wider community – the breeding out of the colour, the process of genetic change – it was hoped that they would eventually disappear. A radical suggestion that selective mating would breed out the colour was also proposed.

Of the endless record of horrors associated with colonisation and racial supremacy, some of the assimilation policies adopted in the 1950s equal the worst. In particular the taking of children away from their families by the Protection Board – as their legal guardians – and disposing of them as they saw fit. As a prelude to the Reconciliation Convention, the Government reflected on this practice:

Children were taken away under government policies of protection and assimilation aimed at having indigenous people adopt European culture and behaviour to the exclusion of their family and background. The assimilation policy presumed that, over time, indigenous people would die out or be so mixed with the European population they became indistinguishable (The Path to Reconciliation, 1997, p 24).

Yes, I would argue that the total extermination of Australia’s Indigenous people was deliberately intended. If not by the bullet, then by the policies of those governments that saw them as a stain on white purity. God favoured the white man and they set out to do His work.



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  1. kerri

    Mmmmm. Similar philosophy to that of our foremost mining magnate, whose daughter still reigns supreme over right wing governments?
    And nothing! Nothing! Gives you greater authority to bump off the competition than to claim the fairy man in the sky told you so! Just look at extremist christians in the USA?
    One of my pet peeves regarding religion is that how is the whole Jesus/God story any more relevant than any other confected BS from those needing to excuse their self beefitting, actions with belief?

  2. roma guerin

    It is a pity that your essay is not in the curriculum of state schools so my grandchildren’s children can learn the truth while they are young enough to have ideals. I will be keeping a copy, just in case an opportunity presents itself. Thank you Michael.

  3. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, roma. I appreciate that.

    It was from my honours thesis: I just trimmed 24,000 words off it.

  4. diannaart

    Label something, anything, the “will of god” and any atrocity is justified.

  5. LOVO

    Migs, ..OMG…thats from you honours thesis 😯 …..and you yoused to be an Lib voterer 😯 … (is it any wonder that you go for Port ?) , anyhoo..seriously… What a wonderful piece, thank you,.. my nana was ‘caste’, yet I’m a white fella, ..just sayin’, cheers.

  6. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, LOVO. Woz awfully generous of ya.

  7. paul walter

    They were inconvenient. As we become more inconvenient we will be shoved aside also, starting with folk on welfare.

  8. wam

    My dad sat on the verandah with me and Bernard, a teaching colleague from Kormilda, and blurted out ‘You were once white like us’.
    My mother’s family:
    about my teaching ‘it is horrible to think of the black hand touching you'(South Africa)
    on wearing a sarong in their home: ‘it is disgusting to see a white man go native'(England)

    Colourless 4 year olds become colouraware 7 year olds and prejudiced adults..
    Deliberate or taught?
    Amoral or immoral?
    Deliberate or consequential?
    Permanent or changeable?

    Whites are treated as individuals until grouped but blacks are grouped and may be treated as exceptional. (same as the rabbott’s understanding of equality of women.

    Until public servants (especially ‘ministers’, teachers and politicians) and journalists are introduced to their prejudiced beliefs, the racism towards the Australian Aborigine will be, as one of your contributors mused about the shiny black African Australians that in his youth he never saw black people, unseen.
    Once seen like miming at the footie, there is a massive reaction and didn’t Australians give him what for??? .

    ps I was so lucky”
    I went to ethelton primary,
    fell in love with dorothy dandridge in carmen jones
    met gordon frank bernard who dragged the newly weds from adelaide to his home town
    the darwin buffaloes, kormilda kids kept the family here.

  9. Kyran

    “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’
    We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”
    Desmond Tutu
    “Yes, I would argue that the total extermination of Australia’s Indigenous people was deliberately intended. If not by the bullet, then by the policies of those governments that saw them as a stain on white purity. God favoured the white man and they set out to do His work.”
    Michael Taylor
    There were recent articles about a store owner in South Australia.
    “A MINTABIE store drained almost a million dollars from the bank accounts of local Aboriginal people, the Federal Court has found, labelling the practice “unconscionable”.”…store…mintabie…/4481193f1bc398154408ea93db76b036

    Hmmm. What would you possibly do to someone who did something so despicable, so unconscionable?
    “A store owner in South Australia’s remote APY Lands has been fined $167,500 for withdrawing almost $1 million from the accounts of local residents.”

    “The Federal Court found him guilty late last year of unconscionable and unlicensed conduct, finding Kobelt was indifferent and defiant to his obligations under the National Consumer Protection Act.
    It heard he described a fact sheet ASIC provided about his obligations as “bullshit” after reading the first few lines.
    Penalty could have had ‘crushing effect’
    In his judgment, Justice White (ironic or what. My addition) said he would reduce the total penalty from $230,000 so it did not have a “crushing effect” on the store owner.
    “It is particularly pertinent that he is a 73-year-old sole trader and will bear personally the burden of the court’s penalties,” he said.
    “There is the prospect that the penalties outlined above will have a crushing effect, taking into account his financial situation.””…/8443410

    Just to put that in context, he stole nearly $1mil from vulnerable people and got fined $230k, which was reduced to $167.5K due to the ‘crushing effect’ it would have on him. There is no reference in any article I have read as to a ‘restitution order’, ie he has to pay back the money he stole.

    Compare that with the Don Dale hearings, or any other enquiry into detention of our First People. For the most minor of misdemeanours, our First People are incarcerated. Ironically, if one of his customers stole from him, regardless of their age or circumstance, they would have likely been jailed. His customers are mostly black. It would be interesting if the SA Police could produce any statistics as to whether any of his customers were ever jailed, for the misdemeanour of stealing from him.

    “Last week, Marshall Wallace, 48, was sentenced to prison for 15 months for a number of driving offences.
    The problem is, he only has six to nine months to live. The sentence by a Mount Isa court has a non-parole period of five months.”

    Mr Wallace is black. There appears to be little reporting of the nature of the driving offences, but none of the reporting suggests they were serious offences. From the same article;

    “Ironically, a Gold Coast paedophile, convicted just days ago of sexually abusing a nine-year-old girl, will not spend one day in jail because he has terminal cancer.”…man-with-six-months-to-live-sentenced…months…prison…/6...

    The article doesn’t say what ‘colour’ the paedophile is, no more than the articles about Kobelt said what ‘colour’ he is. If I had money to wager, I’d put the lot on white.
    From today’s news, a pre-budget announcement was made of a ‘Gold Card’ for diggers exposed to radiation. Bearing in mind this is 50 to 60 years after the fact, at least they got a gold card. 50 to 60 years after the fact. The announcement was made by Hasty.
    “The Gold Card, which covers health costs, had not been available to those sent to Hiroshima in the 1940s and those who were at British test sites in Western Australia and South Australia.”
    Whilst I have the highest regard for the diggers, I have little but contempt for their military or political overlords. That’s another story. However, 50 to 60 years after the fact, they got something. It was another line in the article that got my attention;
    “Others were involved in later nuclear tests at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.”

    Our First People were used as guinea pigs for those tests, being stood at various distances from the detonation point. If it has taken 50 to 60 years to recognise the damage to those remaining of our diggers, it will likely be 50 to 60 years hence before we recognize the damage to our First People.
    We currently have our First People being incarcerated at unprecedented rates for trivial matters. We are removing children from their parents at unprecedented rates. For those abusing our First People, there is leniency. Whether it be private enterprise (Kobelt, Twiggy, whatever), or a caring government (Scullion, tiny, whatever), there is leniency. For our First People?
    Thank you Mr Taylor and commenters. Take care

  10. Kyran

    By way of correction;
    “Aboriginal people who were near British nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s will finally receive improved health care, the Federal Government has revealed.”

    “Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan last night said those people would now receive improved health care from the Commonwealth.
    “Subject to the passage of legislation, the measure will provide Gold Cards to Indigenous people present at or near Maralinga, Emu Fields or the Monte Bello Islands at the time of the British nuclear tests in the 1950s or 1960s,” Mr Tehan said.”

    By way of explanation, this information was not available when I posted the post.
    Notwithstanding that, like any announcement made by this government (particularly pre-budget), I will await specific details as to eligibility and selection criteria. I wonder if they will address other areas of inequity. A bridge too far, I suspect.
    Thanks again, with apologies for my haste. Take care

  11. Michael Taylor

    Thanks for that, Kyran. That’s something they’ve been pushing for since as long as I can remember.

    I met a man who was left blind for life because of those tests. Now I’m wracking my brain trying to think of his name. Dr Archie somebody. (Honorary doctorate).

  12. Kyran

    “Dr Archie Barton, a senior member of the Tjarutja people, is a fine man of few words. Twenty years ago, he helped found a new and viable community called Oak Valley, 110 kilometres north-west of ground zero, as close as his people want to be. Ten years ago, he was part of a delegation that travelled to London to seek compensation from the government of John Major, and to pop a carefully wrapped gift from Maralinga upon the table of a parliamentary committee: a little bag of plutonium soil.

    Barton was taken from Maralinga and from his parents 60 years ago. Recently, he met John Howard. “What are you after?” the Prime Minister asked. “Not much,” replied Barton. “I just want back my mother. I want back my land, too. Clean.” ”

    The rest of the article is worth a read too. › Home › Features › National

    Take care

  13. Michael Taylor

    Thanks Kyran. I knew it was something like ‘Boston’, but couldn’t quite get there.

    I had a lot to do with him when I was in ATSIC Adelaide. Such a kind, gentle man without – despite what happened to him and why – a drop of anger in his body.

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