By Cally Jetta
Andrew Bolt’s sheer idiocy and unabashed loathing of Aboriginal people never ceases to amaze me. There is nothing particularly special and unique about a bigoted nitwit with archaic views and a big mouth; the only standout difference here is that somehow this man has been given a platform to spew his hate rhetoric from. Just how is it, that a man with a painfully obvious agenda of ‘lefty’ bashing and racial prejudice comes to hold a position commenting publicly on Aboriginal issues? It completely undermines the fact that we have a great many educated and informed Aboriginal people out there quite capable of speaking for themselves and expressing their opinion. Likely in a far more succinct and objective manner, also.
So please allow me now to express my opinions in regards to Australia Day celebrations and Bolt’s disgraceful spin on the whole thing. For a start the whole ‘Australia Day ban’ heading is sensationalistic and misleading. Aboriginal people are not demanding that there be no national celebration whatsoever – simply that it is not held on a date that for many of our people, holds sad and mixed emotions. Is that really such a hard concept to process? That we do not wish to drink and party on a date that reminds us of the pain and hurt our ancestors endured? Would it be such an enormous travesty to do these exact same things and enjoy all the same perks of a public national holiday but on a date that has no negative connotations for any Australians? I have put myself in other people’s shoes on this one; and nope, still don’t see the big issue here. The outcome can be a win-win.
Bolt in his recent article referred to Aboriginal people as a ‘dysfunctional race’. I wonder how he defines this? I consider myself to function quite well, my family also. What racial group in Australia is fully functional, I wonder? Without crime; drugs; bullying and harassment; corruption and violence; greed and cruelty? Personally, I don’t think causing devastating and irreversible damage to a unique and pristine environment in just a mere 200 years is a symptom of a ‘functional’ people or way of life.
Also, how can he genuinely be surprised or judgemental that after 200 years of genocide, segregation, forced removal, assimilation just to name a few, that Aboriginal communities are still in a state of healing, grief and repair? He fails to understand that until the full truth of the atrocities and mistreatment are laid bare, the grief and anger will continue. We have many still today searching for identities and families stolen from them, Bolt disregards their suffering and the ongoing trauma that such racism and denial causes and the fact that the problems he references as ‘dysfunctional’ are not unique to Aboriginal Australians but issues echoed in other dispossessed cultural and racial minorities around the globe also in a state of repair and healing.
Bolt then implies that to reject Australia Day is for Aboriginal people to denounce any European ancestry they may have. Wow, what a low blow that ridiculous argument is. I have Aboriginal and Scottish descendency, as do my children. Preferring not to celebrate on a day our family holds for mourning and reflection is not an act of hate, ignorance or rejection at all. It is not a stance against European people but a refusal to accept the lie of ‘terra nullius’ that was announced on arrival, dismissing Aboriginal occupancy and ownership completely and paved the way for the huge losses to life, land, culture and more that the First Peoples of Australia have endured. Australians seem to understand the need to pay respects to those who lived and lost fighting to protect their freedom and home; except it would seem, when it comes to Aboriginal lives lost.
I am not bitter. I am not some unwashed, leftist hipster, bleeding heart. I do not have a victim mentality or any issue with embracing the full diversity of my ethnic and cultural origins and I refuse to allow some strange man to label me as such because I argue a different case. That is the definition of a bully as far as I’m concerned and the need to separate and distinguish people on the basis of whether they’re left or right, conservative or hipster is completely juvenile and misplaced. Bolt argues that it is extreme leftists pushing for a change of date that maintains division and creates hate. This is an unfounded argument that’s been used for decades now to brush Aboriginal history aside and avoid upsetting the status quo. Of course there will be some resistance and backlash to truth and change when many have built a life on denial and ignorance and in no way want to lose any of the power and control they have enjoyed for so long.
When our local people wanted a monument erected to acknowledge the site of a massacre in which Aboriginal men, women and children were shot down, the local council (direct descendants of some of the perpetrators) refused stating it would lead to division, unrest and conflict. Well I’m sorry, but I believe that if something is true and right – then damn the consequences. Shout it from the rooftops because good change never comes easy, those being held down and being spoken down to and about have always had to fight to have their perspective included. This is no different. Just another case of shut up and put up, or else we will paint you as the ungrateful, racist, whiney Aborigine you are.
The division in this country comes not from confronting the truth, but avoiding and denying a very painful and recent past and the impacts this still has today. The division comes from a lack of rigor and consistency in our schools when it comes to accurate Australian history and Aboriginal studies. The division comes from individual guilt, ignorance and fear. Fear that if they dare see our point of view and agree they will somehow lose or forfeit something. The division comes from a highly controlled media owned by few rich people with conservative views and lacking the integrity to hire real journalists. The division comes from bitter, hate filled individuals such as Andrew Bolt who speak out of place on matters they have very limited understanding of and with the pitiful agenda of validating and garnering the support of other ignorant racists.
So long as ugly hearted men like this speak for Aboriginal people, rather than Aboriginal people themselves, we still have much work to do and disadvantage to overcome. But together we can do it. You don’t have to be leftist or a hippy to know what is true, right and just. You just have to be a human with a soul, some empathy and the courage to hear a perspective other than your own.