About the illustration:
The illustration depicts an indigenous child observing a field of remembrance in the Australian desert, drawing attention to the scale of suffering endured by the indigenous communities killed during the Australian Frontier Wars. The headline ‘Lest We Forget’ is used in an ironic sense, highlighting how these victims of war have been all but erased from our memory. These first Australians fought and died for their land, however there are no statues, parades, or any tangible recognition of their feats.
Some food for thought:
As any westerner will know, paying respects to those who lost their lives in war occupies a large part of the cultural landscape. Whether it’s a statue, military parade, a documentary or a national day of mourning, the importance of remembering is instilled in citizens from primary school. But what about the indigenous Australians who fought for their country? Unable to thwart the invasion, they were killed en masse, eventually losing the land on which they’d thrived for at least 50,000 years. Surely this is a catastrophic tragedy worthy of remembrance and recognition? A minute’s silence, at least?
Here’s where it gets awkward. We, the European Australians, have benefited pretty handsomely from this tragedy. And we don’t like being reminded about it. Just leave the past in the past (except when it’s ‘our’ past). We inherited a European system of governance and trade that’s served us pretty well. And no one wants to be an unpatriotic, self-hating stick in the mud, so it’s best to just ignore that little glitch in ‘our’ story. That’s why we have a modified version of history that’s taught in schools, much like they teach in states like China. Australia was ‘settled’. It was an amicable handover which was mutually beneficial to the indigenous population as well as the settlers who sought to exploit them. If you believe that, you should probably check your sources.
I know I’m now delving into risky territory here, because in Australia, there’s 4 crucial rules you need to abide by:
1) Don’t question our military history
2) Don’t humanise refugees or asylum seekers
3) Don’t question Australia Day
4) And for fucks sake, don’t harp on too much about the abbos! (FYI, Abbos is a still widely-used word. The politically correct term is ‘Aboriginals’).
Rule 4? Check. Now rules 1-3:
The whitewashing of history is a little odd, especially when you consider the people whose history we’re whitewashing are actually still with us. Yet it tends to be European Australians who are most sensitive about it all. It gets a lot weirder when you learn that our national holiday – Australia Day, is the same day that the British Empire invaded. This is an empire that carved up most of the world in its own interests, creating catastrophic legacies from the British mandate in Israel/Palestine, to the arbitrary borders imposed on countries like Iraq to continents like Africa. This is an empire that sent thousands of young Australians to their deaths in world war 1, in an imperial war that created more problems than it solved. But none of this means we shouldn’t have a national holiday to celebrate all that’s great about our country, it just seems a little backward to have it on the same day as a mass slaughter.
‘Ah FFS, get over it, cunt!’
This is when the flag waving patriots start to hark up. Because of all the rules about being Australian, perhaps rule 3 is most crucial: never, ever question Australia Day. So by breaking both rules 3 and 4 in one hit, this article is probably now subject to sighing, tutting, lamentations of how political correctness has gone mad, how the Greens hate Australia and how Sharia Law is now being taught in Australian schools. Or something. What? Not sure. I just know that European Australians have a low tolerance threshold, and are very, very sensitive.
There’s a lot more I could say. Like why do so many Australians believe WW1 was about freedom, democracy and values? It wasn’t. Why do we hate families fleeing war and persecution so much? Why do I always get penalised for daring to question the cultural landscape in which I was raised? Am I not allowed to love and be grateful for my country, and question its blind spots at the same time? Apparently not. From this point, if the debate goes any further, I’m likely to get death threats and be done for treason. I’ll be told to go and live in Sharia Law if I love it so much. I’ve broken all 4 rules in one hit – I’m dangerous. Or I’m a peace-loving, feel good hippy. Not sure which one yet, Andrew Bolt generally decides.