Silly pictures represent one method of hammering the point: that there is a million miles between rich and poor, white and black, in Australia. The Class Ceiling is alive and well in Howardland.Whenever I hear reports by other Whites about how they’re succeeding at ‘fixing’ Black communities, my cultural alarm bells clang loudly. Dangerous, but also demeaning for Aboriginal and Islander communities. This kind of intervention is potentially riddled with White-fella assumptions and racist misunderstandings - and has been ever since 1788.
Back then, Tasmanian aboriginals paid the heaviest possible price, and we’re all morally diminished by the genocide. Today, John Ducklips Howard’s racist ethnic-cleansing program in the NT also runs huge risks of killing Culture if not Lives. But culture and lives are intimately intertwined - consider the increasing rate of Aboriginal imprisonment despite promises to the contrary, high suicide rates, and deaths in custody. Why is Aboriginal life expectancy still 20 years less than White's in a so-called rich country? Listening between the lines of today’s ABC “PM” program report “Progress in the Indigenous Intervention Plan”, I as a ‘whitey’ could hear spooky philosophical resonances echoing from the historical past. Howard specializes in the Past, but is doggedly opposed to respecting the lessons of History.
First observation: the social conditions which prompted this kind of intervention could only have been made possible by years of abuse by [all] governments. This type of abuse is usually called NEGLECT. If the white community in Adelaide’s Toorak Gardens had been equally seriously under-serviced, the sky would have fallen by now, not to mention political seats. This discrepancy can only begin to be addressed when the next PM says the S---Y word. Before a Sin can be atoned, it must be confessed (the deliberate allusion to religion is for the benefit of Howard’s Minister of Catholic Dogma, the ever-smarmy Tony Abbott, MP, (photo above) recently observed loitering in a Canberra park near a men’s toilet).
Second observation: Putting the Army and Police in charge of leading the intervention [read: invasion] of the NT sends an odd message not only to Aboriginal communities but to other Australians – and to the world community. Army and police personnel aren’t the most culturally aware folks to deal with sensitive issues like this. They are trained, with respect, [a] to kill people and [b] to enforce the law. Non-Australians with whom I’ve spoken here in Thailand think it’s all rather “on the nose".
Howard’s invasion of Australia triggers a memory of how the US military leapt enthusiastically to the aid of Blacks after Hurricane Katrina.Here’s a transcript of part of another ABC radio report on the Howard intervention. (Dave Chalmers is a major-general in the Army):
REPORTER: Today the Operations Commander of the Federal Government's taskforce, Major General Dave Chalmers, was in Alice Springs to provide a progress report.
DAVE CHALMERS: There are two issues. The first is the law order issues, the need to provide a break in the cycle of violence. That's a shorter-term problem. Longer term there are deep societal changes that need to be made in education and employment, in housing. [my emphasis].
What does an Army commander know about “deep societal changes”? Education? Employment? Especially the sensitive issues concerning Aboriginal Housing. He's assuming the initial military action is somehow going to be hermetically sealed off and forgotten once these deep societal changes are enforced [ouch!]. There was no mention of any ‘anthropologists’ advising the major-general. You can hear the entire 2-minute report here. Besides (to momentarily reverse the roles), what ghastly abuses might Black anthropologists unearth if they similarly invaded the White community? Why couldn’t the Army intervene in marginal seats such as, um, Bennelong? The next question is to ask why this sort of role inversion seems faintly ridiculous to us, even comical. The satirical-tragic film “Barbequearea” addressed this very point.
The prime minister’s little humpy on prime waterfront at Kirribilli, Sydney Harbour.
I cringe in shame when I hear all this Australian racist propaganda, and can understand why the Black community feels so downwardly mobile, demoralised, humiliated, shunted around like cattle. There’s even talk of forcibly sending Black children to boarding school.
Hells Bells, what’s THAT if it isn’t Stolen Children2?
But Racism lurks everywhere. Here in Thailand there is a regular flow of redneck foreigners’ letters to the two English-language newspapers. These xenophobic writers often express annoyance with issues like “not being able to understand why road-signs are all in Thai”, or “why shop assistants can’t talk to you in English”. The reason, of course, is that Thailand (believe it or not) is full of Thai people, and they mostly speak (wait for it) the Thai language. Have Australians learned any words from at least one Aboriginal language? Be honest - can you even name one of the Aboriginal languages?
Finally, the highly-selective positive spin-and-gloss being given to the NT Intervention is only too obvious. Smiling female soldiers sitting on green grass, playing with small black kids. Could it be a set-up by the spin-makers, do you think? And does anyone know how to pronounce the word S-E-X-I-S-T? The authors of the report which prompted the invasion are disappointed that none of their recommendations has been followed. In effect, their report (which had required communities' permission before any intervention, has been [ab]used as a Trojan Horse.
There’s going to be a tidal wave of lost Coalition seats. But Kevin Rudd needs to differentiate his stance more if the Black vote is to be anything more than a backlash against Howard.
Besides finding a different humpy to occupy in 2008, Howard Ducklips might have to line up at his local Centrelink - but somehow I have my doubts.
[Leunig's caption reads: "...and another loser has-been fades into obscurity..."]
...... ...honest, people still ask us why we prefer to live in Thailand. At least Thailand had an honest and open coup.