Monday, April 6, 2009

Janet Albrechtsen, Well Heeled Indigenous Activists, the UN, and the traditional Aussie sport of black bashing

Phew, for a moment there, I was worried, thinking that the problems some indigenous people face (and let's emphasise the some) might actually involve the treatment dished out to them by the Australian people over many years.

Thank the lord it's actually due to assorted Labor governments, and if not them, then out-dated activists and far-removed white university academics, and if not that, then certainly well heeled indigenous activists, and failing that unsavory bunch, it's certainly due to the UN (and maybe black helicopters, but we haven't got any confirmatory sightings just yet).

One thing's for sure, it's got nothing to do with far-removed, half-assed right wing commentariet commentators, like Murdoch flack columnist Janet Albrechtsen, spruiking the usual nonsense and bile in a column entitled A retrograde step for indigenous people.

You see, on Friday, the Rudd government officially endorsed the UN Declaration on indigenous rights. The net effect of this will be to change nothing whatsoever currently going down in Australian in relation to "the black problem" and "the white man's burden."

But Albrechtsen is determined to get her knickers in a knot. For a start, the UN Declaration speaks of the right of indigenous people to live collectively if that's their wish. Gee, guess that means we can't herd them into town camps, instead of living out in the bush? Or does it? If they prefer to live in town camps?

Worse, it suggests that the indigenous people will have the right to freely determine their political status, and have the right to autonomy or self-government.

Well enough of that idle chatter. What this will lead to is those out-dated activists and far-removed white university academics inflaming the blacks into another bout of indigenous separatism. Grievance politics! Fanning the flames of!! 

Instead of getting them into the real economy where they can live and work and play like all of us, aspiring to the same goals, such as home ownership, like other ordinary Australians (excluding losers, drop kicks, those working on a minimum wage, those who fail to pass rigorous banking tests, and those deemed far more suitable to spend their working lives in rental accommodation, or even, gasp public housing) .

You know, the kind of real economy they should be joining is just like the thriving international global economics system centered on Yuendumu, one of the largest towns in central Australia, after Alice Springs and Yulara, with a steady population of around seven hundred, unless the mob turns up for a get together.

I do wonder if Albrechtsen has ever actually landed in Yuendumu, and if so, if it ever had any impact on her big city thinking. Like what she might actually be proposing for the citizens of Yuendumu. And their real economy.

But no, it's a lot simpler to slag off empty symbolism, and UN declarations, especially if they suggest an indigenous right to establish and control educational systems and institutions, and provide education for indigenous people in their own languages in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.

It's so much easier just to suggest that black culture and language be wiped from the land, and assimilation be rigorously pursued to get rid of separatist thinking, and thereby take care of the "black problem" once and for all. Yep, cultural genocide is so much more sensible than actual genocide, and much tidier, since it only involves minds, not bodies.

Because, you see, it's all the fault of the folk in the bush, left to enjoy their customs and their language. And where's that lead them? Unemployable, and seeking release via alcohol, drugs, and sexual abuse. (Unlike whites, who never but never use alcohol or drugs to excess, or indulge in sexual abuse, allowing of course for minor exceptions, like priests in the holy roman church).

Funnily enough, Albrechtsen finds it in her heart to say that Jenny Macklin, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, had many fine things to say on Friday when delivering the statement on the UN declaration, including never revisiting the failed policies of the past which removed indigenous people from their lands.

Okay, so we allow indigenous people to live on their lands. Can Albrechtsen then explain exactly what part of the global economy involves the remote communities of central Australia, apart from cultural ones like painting (an already well mined resource), tourism (also well mined), and mining (which involves tearing up the land and removing the potential of the first two industries, and in any case falls haphazardly across the land and strangely doesn't please all indigenous communities, who have a peculiar affection and affinity for the land).

I guess we revert to plan B and ship them out, and stick them in town camps. That should fix everything. Meanwhile, let's tar all indigenous people everywhere in this great land with what's happening in remote communities.

So when we get to talking about a treaty, we can go into a full on hysterical flap about the end of the world coming (like it did in New Zealand when they signed that treaty with the Maoris so long ago, and gave the upstart actual first New Zealanders some sort of stake in the land).

And we know where a treaty will lead. It will lead to abhorrent acts of sexual abuse against young girls in the name of traditional customary law. Of course it does, of course it will, and these repugnant acts (and repugnant legal decisions dealing with these repugnant acts) will get the stamp of approval from the UN Declaration.

Why I see right there in article 24, sub-section (e) that it says "indigenous people, especially older indigenous men, shall have the right to rape, sexually abuse, molest and otherwise do over 14 year old girls, get on the turps, get royally pissed, petrol sniff to their heart's content, commit payback, even murder if the payback demands it, and otherwise indulge in their fetid stone age customs, without let or intervention by well meaning hopeless white academics or well heeled indigenous activists."

Those daft UN folk. How could they put that into a declaration? Can't they see all this jibber jabber about the rights of indigenous folk is just going to promote separatism, which of course will be used by well-heeled indigenous activists - people who have long lost touch with the real causes of suffering of indigenous people - to push out-dated agendas in courts and in wider political debates.

Speaking of out-dated agendas, being pushed by well-heeled folk (let's assume, by Albrecthsen's own testimony that she's reasonably well off), just who are these nameless, anonymous, well-heeled black folk who are so out of contact with the real causes of suffering of indigenous people?

Well no names, no pack drill when pushing forward straw dogs for arguments. And what exactly are the real causes of suffering? Are they the same for the twenty seven per cent or so living in major urban centres, or the thirty per cent or so living in rural and remote areas, or the rest, living somewhere in between. Are the problems the same for Cape York as for central Australia, as for the NT's top end, as for rural Victoria?

Is one of the major problems the capacity of white commentators to speak of indigenous people as one vast tribe of problems, as opposed to a varied, diverse grouping of communities? 

Well you know sometimes I think you can judge commentary by the quality of comments it attracts. How's this brief excerpt from a much longer thought stream underneath Janet's rave, contributed by AussieTraveller:

And one more thing, if our blackfellas want to be black, aboriginal, whatever, and not consider themselves to be Australian, give them a huge area of land, allow them to go live on it just as their black brethren did all those millenia ago, and let them at it, to gambol and frolic just like they did in the dreamtime, with no more access to anyone or anything outside that land. Let them catch their own bush tucker, dine on maggot infested kangaroo or emu, to sleep in humpies, not made out of corrugated iron, oh no sirree Bob, nothing that has to do with the modern world (modern world being at least 5000 years BC). No money, no clothing, no TV, definitely no booze, unless they can make it out of kangaroo innards, nothing at all.

Christ, they are as bad as the muslims, poor fella me, always the bloody victims. Well, I just wish that I had a bit of blackfella in me, I could have put my kids through Uni no problem, the government would have paid for it, just like it pays for pretty much everything else for our blackfellas, with very little results.

Be black in this country? Cop the perennial racism and the black bashing, from well heeled commentators like Janet Albrechtsen and from low life seething, resentful white trash racists like AussieTraveller? 

Not for quids. And certainly not for the pittance the federal government doles out to actual blacks, as opposed to all the intermediaries who get their cut along the way.

Xavier Herbert published Poor Fellow My Country in 1975. While he liked to talk racist, Herbert was also appalled by the devastation caused to this country and to indigenous communities by white settlement. If he were alive today, he'd be surprised how little things have changed, but I guess that's the point of history isn't it, that things change so that they can stay the same.

Even so, you'd be better off reading either Poor Fellow or Capricornia than a million words by Janet Albrechtsen, if you want to understand how it was, and how we've reached where we are now ... and while Herbert was a pretty rough writer, he's got a rugged authenticity, unlike Albrechtsen is as she rabbits on about the policies of separatism, and reviles anonymous well heeled indigenous activists for actually taking an interest in indigenous issues, from the eerie of her remote, ideologically sound Murdoch castle. 

She's no better than her fan AussieTraveller, especially as she purports to be rational and caring. Actually it makes her a damn sight worse, a rabble rouser, and a demagogue, and for an argumentarium, surprisingly irrational and ill-informed.

By the way, apropos of nothing, you might not have noticed, but the first actual note in The Sydney Morning Herald's television guide regarding the existence of NITV, the new black television network, came many months after the network began a trial in metropolitan area. It turned up only last week, and it came in the form of a pasting handed out by Nick Galvin to a half hour program about indigenous rugby league. Oh he's so tough and stern, that righteous Galvin, as if somehow the documentary film-makers needed to watch The Footy Show to learn how to make great television (and learn men love to watch men in frocks).

Otherwise the network's been invisible, with no listing of programs, and no attention paid to it, apart from the usual stories about funds being rorted by executives. I'm guessing it's NITV's desire to provide positive images, and positive cultural interactions with its community that's the real problem.  Currently it's way down there with community television. 

I'd have been impressed if the likes of Albrechtsen had written about it, or even mentioned that she knew the fledgling network existed, but hey, it's a prime example of separatism - giving blacks their own network, whatever were they thinking - and anyhoo, black bashing is alway so much more fun ... and it attracts such fine, noble loons in the comments section.

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