Let's not celebrate the 'rape of the soul' of Aboriginal Australia

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Australia's oppression of Indigenous Australians continues under the guise of national pride, writes John Passant.

A SPECTRE is haunting Australia — the spectre of genocide, or as Raymond Evans and Bill Thorpe more appropriately call it, "indigenocide".

Indigenocide is a combination of genocide, ecocide and ethnocide of native peoples by the invading settler colony. It is destruction in toto.

This destruction is not some distant, past event. It continues today.

First, as author Kevin Gilbert puts it:

‘ … Aboriginal Australia underwent a rape of the soul so profound that the blight continues in the minds of blacks to today.’

Second, the consequences of the destruction are the society we have today, and the deprivation and despair Aboriginal and Torres Strait people suffer as a consequence. These include very high rates of suicide, criminalisation, detention, poverty, unemployment and a ten year life expectancy gap, among others.

Third, recent and current policies continue the indigenocide. The racist Northern Territory Intervention is one example, as is the continuing theft of Indigenous children, and the abuses highlighted in media reports in Northern Territory remand centres like Don Dale and the current Royal Commission.

All are symptomatic of a deeper malaise, of an economic system built on, and dependent on, indigenocide and its consequences. The oppression of the survivors of the indigenocide continues, to ensure that the current economic arrangements continue and cannot be challenged. It is why official Australia "forgets" its history. This forgetting is a conscious policy, driven from the top.

Australia Day, for example, is a relatively recently hyped up celebration to erase the truth of the indigenocide. It is an attempt to unite "us" all with the ruling class, wrapping us in the false flags of nationalism and national pride.

It is a Santa Claus reality. We hear much about the First Fleet, about Admiral Phillip and the police state he set up but we hear nothing about the 228 years of suffering this unleashed.

The indigenocide and the extent of its destruction has become clearer in more recent times, thanks to the courageous work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, historians and others in reclaiming the truth.

According to economic historian Noel Butlin, between 1788 and 1850 the Aboriginal population halved. So effective was the process of extermination, says historian A. Dirk Moses, that the Indigenous population declined from approximately 750,000 in 1788 to 31,000 in 1911.

No amount of recognising Aboriginal people in the Constitution, no multitude of apologies for the stolen generations past and present, no number of Redfern speeches, not even native title – a sop to property – is going to redress the crimes of the past and the indigenocidal society that arose out of them and lives today.

Last week, Fremantle Council took one small symbolic step to challenging the dominant "we are all Australians" narrative about Australia Day. They decided to move the celebrations for the day from 26 January to 28 January, to be inclusive. They have called it "One Day", in Fremantle.

It was only after extensive consultation with Indigenous people that the Council made the decision. They recognised the hurt to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in celebrating what many call "Invasion Day".

The reason is pretty clear as to why the day causes so much pain.  

As New Matilda editor Chris Graham says:

To understand why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people find Australia Day so offensive, you only need to ask yourself this one, simple question.

If your ancestors were dispossessed, slaughtered and had their land and their children stolen, would you celebrate the date on which that all began?

Obviously, you wouldn’t. It’s simply insane that anyone could expect Aboriginal people to embrace January 26 as the national day, given what it means to them.

The reactionaries, conservatives and some liberals have gone berserk. Some conservative Indigenous people have joined them in condemning the decision.

The problem with changing the date is that while it might remove the immediate pain, it still expects "Australian" unity, only on another day. It also does nothing to recognise let alone address the indigenocide.

We are not all in this together. The same people stealing Aboriginal land are attacking our public services. The same people stealing Aboriginal kids are undermining Medicare. The same people torturing Aboriginal children in remand centres are also cutting legal aid. They are cutting funding for schools, health care and public transport.

The people sacking workers are the same ones demonising refugees, and second and third generation immigrants. Those waging war overseas are waging war against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Our fight against these government attacks is the fight for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. The fight of and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for justice is the fight for justice for all.

What then is the solution? Mere words at Redfern, or in apology after apology, or in the preamble to the Constitution won’t change or challenge the systemic and ongoing indigenocide.

Indigenous people have put forward various solutions. They involve a treaty, recognition of prior sovereignty, paying the rent and other practical measures. A first step would be asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples what they want rather than telling them what they can or cannot have.

Such a move won’t come about overnight. It challenges the very order of capital built on the bones of the dead that is Australia’s history. That means we need a real fight, a united fight, against all the manifestations of capitalism gone and going wrong, including a united fight against the ongoing indigenocide.

Read more by John Passant on his website En PassantYou can also follow John on Twitter @JohnPassant.

Signed copies of John Passant’s first book of poetry, Songs for the Band Unformed (Ginninderra Press 2016) is available for purchase from the IA store HERE.

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