How to make an Australian lose their mind
Gentle reader, this week there’s been a bit of a hubbub about our nation’s history. Actually, much less about the history itself and more about the predictably bigoted responses to what was actually a couple of not outrageous updates to a minor publication issued by the University of NSW.
But the Australian trash-media, none of who seems to employ ooh, for example, fact-checkers or proper editors or possibly even accredited journalists, runs with the allegation, "UNSW rewrites the history books to state Cook 'invaded' Australia".
One particularly fine example of the species reported “They [students] are also told it is offensive to suggest James Cook ‘discovered’ Australia.”
Now, I just read the changes and the Uni did nothing of the sort, but that doesn’t stop the likes of noted indigenous spokesman Alan Jones [wut?] popping up on breakfast television [and seriously, why is naff breakfast TV still a thing?] to employ his particular brand of lowest common denominator hysteria.
I have to ask, why is this even under debate? I learned back in primary school that European exploration/exploitation of the Pacific was a competitive sport to the people of the time, with territorial pissing rights and hopefully rich trading routes as the main prize. Mmmm nutmeg !
So yeah Cook charted the east coast of Australia in the late 1700s. But he was hardly the first white man to run into us. Um, Abel Tasman in 1642 anyone?
Yes, that’s right, maybe ask the Dutch about the first European contact?
To my mind, that’s the real tragedy here.
WE COULD HAVE BEEN A DUTCH COLONY.
We could have had this;
Instead of this;
Instead of this;
And because we’d still be a colony, just kow-towing to a different distant monarch, we’d have someone like this;
Instead of this;
In all seriousness, the proper starting point as a non-Indigenous person speaking or writing even tangentially about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is to shut up and listen. To listen to the ways stories are told by Indigenous people themselves, to understand and respect the meaning. Although born in Australia, my ancestry is not Indigenous Australian, but includes both European and Maori, and the difference between Australia and New Zealand in the respectful inclusion of their respective Indigenous cultures couldn’t be more stark. It’s such a massive waste of potential.
The increasingly hot debate around the celebration of Australia Day each January (Invasion Day to many Indigenous Australians) gives an idea just how much the argument has advanced and how much further it has to go.
So y’know, maybe next time ask the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders themselves and give ole’ Parrot Beak Misogynist Bigot a miss.
And remember, at the next election, Vote Dutch!
*Invasion, subjugation, racism, war and corruption of Indonesia, Java, Sumatra, Maluku, and the hinterlands of ports of Makassar, Manado, and Kupangas by the commercially orientated Dutch East Indies Company sold separately. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I'm so sorry Netherlands, but I couldn’t not say it ! Please still come over with your cheerful orange flags and giant Miffy rabbit and bring a biking utopia to my poor country.