Indigenous Australia

First Fleet comments define Abbott’s cynical dog-whistling

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Tony Abbott’s saying the First Fleet arrival was the defining moment in the history of the Australian continent reflects the profound ignorance of many Australians, writes Indigenous Australian Natalie Cromb.

OUR AWE INSPIRING LEADER, Tony Abbott, has once again provided his view on the history of this nation with his recent comments:

The First Fleet was the defining moment in the history of this continent.”

He said it with a sense of pride in the history of this nation, as a pat on the back to those white settlers, for bringing Australia “into the modern world.”

He is not entirely wrong — it was a defining moment in our history

But the moment was not auspicious, it was devastating.

This moment gave rise to dispersals, massacres, disease, slavery, genocidal policies and a culture of racial denigration towards Indigenous people which has continued to propagate the inequality in all areas of the European “modern world.”

It was the moment that initiated the decimation of a race of people who peacefully existed and took care of the land with such respect that flora and fauna were plentiful and not suffering the environmental devastation the land is now experiencing.

The destruction of a race of people’s peaceful existence and almost genocide, along with the environmental devastation of our beautiful landscape, is what our Prime Minister considers a defining moment for our entry into the modern world.

While the glaring stupidity of this perspective does lend itself to a bout of eye rolling and face palming, the embarrassing fact is that our leader, who holds these views, was elected by the majority populace of this nation.

This is a problem and triggers a discussion much broader than the ignorance and racism of this nation’s leader and his continual attempts to rewrite history.

Why are we such a racist nation? Why do we turn a blind eye to the black history of this nation? Why is it so difficult to acknowledge the wrongs committed against Indigenous Australians?

Australia — we need to have a discussion.

This is a discussion that might make you squirm in your seat, because confronting an uncomfortable truth is never gladly do, but do it we must — we must acknowledge that our nation, collectively, has a problem with racism, the bullying of minorities and ignorance in general.

Let’s face it: nothing brings people together faster and with more solidarity than a common hate and fear. It takes a much stronger person to stop and think things through objectively than joining the bandwagon of herd mentality.

We have a large segment of the population spreading hate and uneducated generalisations about Indigenous people, asylum seekers, migrants and people of a certain faith. One needs only to log onto social media, tune in to talk-back radio or watch the mainstream news programs to realise just how widespread and deep-seated the bigotry is.

The generalisations however, all appear to be directed at minority groups and sensationalised in such a manner that they portray the European (white) citizens as the minority that are

“… being overrun by [insert minority here] and compromising our way of life.”

The irony is glaring — the white population stating that they do not want their ‘way of life’ compromised by others.

This is a nation awash with hypocrites. A nation full of self-professed patriots spreading hate and scaremongering, and recruiting other dim-witted sheep to join them in their bullying bigotry.

They are an embarrassment to Australia and a blight on the name of those who have, throughout history, fought for equality.

Who are we to dictate the faith a person can or cannot prescribe to?

Who are we to dictate to asylum seekers and migrants that they must relinquish their culture in order to assimilate to the status quo?

Who are we to say that one race is superior to another?

I will be frank. It is the height of insult to hear an Australian of European lineage ‒regardless of whether they were born here or not ‒ uttering hate-filled comments that are, or are variations of:

If they don’t like it here, they can go back to where they came from”

Comments of this nature illustrate a complete lack of education on the history of this nation and an ignorance of the fact that what is really being said is “give up your identity and blend in”, which is ultimately the crux of the problem.

Australia was founded on a lie, the policies enacted thereafter pertaining to Indigenous people were aimed to ‘breed out’ and assimilate.

The migrants thereafter were also pushed to assimilate or face ridicule and vilification. Still now, in 2014, the pattern continues.

As a society, we find many reasons to bully, vilify and condemn groups of people on the basis of race, religion, nationality, sexuality, physical appearance.

This is not a truth easy to acknowledge. It is a truth, frankly, that makes us look as silly and fickle as we are.

We need only look back through history to see the atrocities committed in the name of hate ‒ often under the guise of concepts such as religion, purity or other ideologies) ‒ including:

The common theme is that there is a ridiculous notion that one idea/ideal/race/religion is superior to another.

The simple fact is that while there is an agenda of superiority and righteousness, there will be pain and oppression. There is no difference between the abhorrent acts of the past and the acts continuing now in Gaza, Syria, Iraq and many other places throughout the world.

The international climate of war, hate and oppression is one that breeds more hatred, racism, prejudice and scaremongering.

The mainstream media fails to factually report conflicts and fails to educate viewers, but rather presents a perspective seeking to vilify certain groups. These skewed portrayals of conflicts in the mainstream media have bred anger, apathy, ambivalence and indifference among Australians towards their fellow man.

Those in power use dog-whistle tactics to incite the prejudices of the population and herd them for their own purposes.

Why do we feel the need to perpetuate hatred by seeing the actions of an individual or small group of people belonging to a specific race or religion and presume all within that category of race/religion/nationality are the same and therefore deserve to be vilified?

When will we become a society enlightened enough to judge other individuals based on their actions rather than crude stereotypes?

Australia is not being overrun by minority groups — Australia is being overrun by vile, ignorant, closed-minded bogans who thrive on spreading hatred and fear.

And Tony Abbott, with his ignorant comments about Australian history and Indigenous culture, is sending out a dog-whistle to these people – people eager to tear our nation apart – to let them know he is on their side.

Wake up Australia. Enough is enough.

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