Monday, 25 January 2010
Nations built on genocide have bloody feet
Here in my place of residence, where they were kind enough to allow me citizenship a year or so ago, the nation has just embarked on its annual frenzy of self-congratulation and denial.
If you were to risk a stroll down the main street of any Australian town on this fine Tuesday you are likely to be assaulted by the sight of cars zooming past bearing Australian flags; driven by Australian flag cap, shorts and t-shirt wearing persons; possibly with an Australian flag bikini wearing person of the opposite gender beside them. There will be flags hanging out of windows, draped around the shoulders of intoxicated youths and being worn as decoration on the obligatory thongs - and here I do mean footwear - though more intimate apparel can also come with the Australian flag design.
January 26 is Australia Day - but more properly it is Invasion day - when the first fleet arrived from mother England and the land, having been declared terra nullis, was taken over for the British Crown.
For those of you whose Latin isn't quite up to scratch terra nullis is a simple enough concept - empty earth. Despite the fact that they knew very well that people were living here, this was treated as an inconvenient but minor issue that could easily be fixed with a policy of open genocide.
All of which makes the celebration of such an event seem a little...well...racist.
Ah, the nasty 'R' word. Shane Warne - that great example of Australian manhood is off to India to help improve relations with the Indian people - who seem to be getting a disproportionate number of beatings on Melbourne's streets - not that the police think there is any racial motivation for such attacks. Warney's plan is simple - "We all like our cricket don't we? Well, there you go...". Now I know that I'm not in the same league of intellectual genius as our great international sportspeople...but there seems to be a few steps of logic that have been missed out here.
The constant denial of racism in a nation clearly constructed on it would be funny if it didn't have such serious consequences. This is after all the country that had to have Harry Connick Jr. remind it that blackface performances on national television, for laughs, were just not very funny.
So when I came across the two gnomes whose picture grace this post I had to think several times about how they should be considered. Yes, they are blacked up garden gnomes, but they also have the only representations of the aboriginal flag that I think I saw anywhere in Western Australia. Who put them there? I'd very much like to know...bad taste joke; well-meaning pcness or activists making a point - you be the judge.