Indigenous Australia Opinion

Colonial myth pushing government right-wing agenda

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Having political leaders such as Scott Morrison upholding the colonial myth is hindering social progress (Image by Dan Jensen)

Perpetuation of the myth that White settlers are the superior people of Western nations is inspiring racism and right-wing extremism, writes Bilal Cleland.

COLONIAL SETTLEMENTS in North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as the slave colonies of South America, were dominated for many decades, at the expense of the original inhabitants, by confident, well-armed invaders with their religious and political ideologies.

Genocide, called “colonial wars”, was part of the established pattern.

Since the Second World War, colonialism has retreated but could still be seen most starkly into the 1990s in apartheid South Africa and today in the colonial settler movement in Palestine.

Nowadays, the high priests of the image of Western Civilisation, funded by such sources of enlightenment as minerals and fossil fuel companies, tirelessly promote the myth of adherence to human rights, freedom of speech and democracy as markers of the high point of human social evolution, which they claim to monopolise.

Various vehicles of this school of thought declare the superiority of their way of life over “the other” of primitive lifestyles and ethnicities found amongst the indigenous people of their own communities or in the “Third World”.

No longer can they openly claim to be defending Western civilisation from “cosmopolitanism” or racial miscegenation.

Since the exposure of the Holocaust, that is no longer acceptable to civilised human beings.

One of the most lauded ideological weapons of recent years was the Huntington Thesis. This was a useful ideological tool for White Protestant America against Islamic and Confucian bogey-men, but then it slanted against Christian Hispanics, exposing its real racist and bigoted nature.

In the divided USA, the reality is hitting the White colonists:

‘Since 1980, the share of the non-Hispanic white population has declined from 80% to 58%.’

The colonial settler assumption that the colonists are the real people who should decide the fate of their nations is a misconception that still has great tenacity.

In Australia, our Prime Minister once declared that the greatest event in our past was the arrival of the First Fleet, the day we celebrate still as our national day — 26 January.

Even our school children know that this marked the beginning of First Nations dispossession, based on the lie that Australia was an empty land, devoid of people.

That they know it was the beginning of decades of frontier wars and genocide, right down to the modern day of the Stolen Generation, has horrified upholders of the colonial myth.

There have even been ministerial assaults upon the academic curriculum which allows reality to be investigated rather than repetitions of the old story told to generations of our children.

Adherence to the colonial myths of White supremacy seems to be what fuels the resurgence of the reactionary right-wing, now making up some 50% of the workload of ASIO.

Trying to use the anti-vaxxer movement as a recruiting ground, which is also being exploited by the conservative parties, the servants of the colonial myth are on the path to oblivion as surely as the dinosaurs.

The tide of public opinion is turning against the celebration of the arrival of our convict slave fleet in Sydney Cove:

More than two-thirds of respondents aged 26 and under say they won’t be celebrating on 26 January 26, with just over 30% saying they will.


But more than 80% of them support moving the date for the sake of improving relations with the Indigenous population, as do more than 70% of those aged 27 to 41.

The “black armband view of history” so deplored by PM John Howard of Tampa fame and his L-NP colleagues is in fact the history bequeathed to us by our forebears with which we have yet to come to terms.

Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. You can follow Bilal on Twitter @BilalCleland.

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