Sunday, 19 June 2022

Changing names in order to prevent

a few people being offended, removing statues, changing the history books and more is going too far. 

The latest of these is a rugby organisation renaming a cup they use in competition. It was once named after the explorer Captain Cook who seems to have been a basically decent sort of individual of his time. He certainly was not interested in invading territory or keeping slaves. (No, he is not the Mutiny on the Bounty man. That was Bligh.)

Now the cup is named after two people - of whom almost nobody has heard. It is all part of the "politically correct" moves that some organisations decide to take or which, more likely, are forced upon them.

Someone called in to see me yesterday. In the course of conversation I was asked, "And what do you think about this "indigenous voice to parliament?" 

I groaned inwardly. I knew he would be in favour of it, strongly in favour of it. I am opposed.

I asked him once how many indigenous Australians he actually knows. He looked a bit puzzled and then shrugged and admitted he didn't know any.

I do know some. I have known them since childhood. They have varied. There was the old (at least to us) man who lived in a very basic hut outside the tiny community we lived in for two years. He had meals at the "hotel" in the town but he had them in the kitchen there. He washed there too because there was no water at the hut. I suppose he might have helped with the cleaning or the washing up or something else. I have no idea what he actually lived on.We children knew him because, when he was in a good mood, he would tell us some of the indigenous stories of the area. Of course we had been told to stay away from him but he was harmless. Unusually he didn't drink alcohol and actually warned us about it. Knowing him was a positive experience.

We knew urban aboriginal people too. I still do. M... is one of my closest friends. His mother, R..., is someone I still miss. They are the successful hardworking sort of people you hear nothing about. 

There are others of more mixed heritage who have often been in contact with the law. They are often those we hear the most about. The demand for "an indigenous voice in the constitution" is coming largely from the advocates from and for this group. It's a poisonous political football.

"We don't need it Cat," M.... keeps telling me, "We have the same right to vote as everyone else. We have indigenous representation in parliament. The Constitution is for everyone."

Of course the idea of indigenous recognition in the Constitution is something separate from that. The problem is that it is based on the false notion that this country was one nation before white settlement. It wasn't. Even the ideas now espoused about being "caretakers" of the land rather than "owners" varied across the country. There were hundreds of languages and they were far from understood by others. There were all sorts of cultural practices which were foreign to other areas. It was not a united nation or even a small group of united nations. The idea that recognition in the Constitution with a "voice" in parliament will represent and satisfy all indigenous people is simply wishful thinking. It may end up being even more divisive. There will be people saying, "I don't want that mob representing me."

There has to be a change to the country's Constitution to get this up - a majority of people in a majority of the states. It is one change that will almost certainly get up. It has the support of both major parties. People will vote in favour for fear of being called out as "racist".  I just hope it doesn't lead to further division.

No comments: