Australian life | The Spectator Australia
Last Saturday australian weekend, Professor Peter Sutton, an internationally renowned anthropologist and linguist, has written: “Indigenous identity has become such an attractive option that false claims about it now abound”. If you are unfamiliar with the considerable body of his work, research it and then ask yourself why Bruce Pascoe needs no introduction when you were unaware of Peter Sutton’s accomplishments.
Also in the Australian this weekend was an article by Jacinta Price in which she asserted, ‘…true voices of native suffering are drowned out by calls of virtue signaling ‘voice’ and ‘acknowledgment’. What characterizes Sutton’s and Price’s comments are the impeccable references they bring to a debate that will dominate the political arena for the life of the new parliament.
Unfortunately, their arguments will probably get lost in the torrent of comments from the wokerati and their fellow travelers that will inundate us in the months to come. Take that creepy bit of Greenspeak that comes from the Greens policy statement that says we must “recognize, learn and seek consent for the spiritual, cultural and physical relationships of First Nations peoples…the environment, as well as their rights and obligations”. I guess that means something for the Greens.
On a more practical level, there is Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation, which aims to achieve “parity with and for Indigenous Australians within a generation”. Since the extensive efforts of the private and public sectors over the past half century have not had much success, we wish the Minderoo project the best of luck. The CEO of the team tasked with achieving this goal is Ms Shelley Cable, a young woman who describes herself as ‘a Wilman-Nyoongar woman from Perth’ and therein lies a problem. The numerous photographs of Mrs. Cable on the Minderoo Foundation website show that she is a neat and attractive person, of what appears to be of Caucasian heritage.
I don’t mean for a moment to imply that Ms. Cable doesn’t have a strong connection to the “Wilman-Noongar” culture. Nor do I wish to argue that his belief in this connection is not genuine. What I find embarrassing is that she just describes herself in a way that, to someone who doesn’t know anything about her, would seem to overlook much of her genetic heritage. She is of course not the only one to make such an assertion. The vast majority of people of aboriginal origin who attain important positions and who are of Métis descent never recognize the complexity of their ethnic origins. The women, in particular, are still “proud Yolngu” or “proud Wiradjuri” women when it is clear that a substantial part of their ancestry must have been the terrible racist whites who stole the land and then stole the children.
It’s worth asking why so many “indigenous” public figures choose to avoid an honest discussion of their genetic heritage. In this, they oppose politicians who are keen to bring out the complexities of their heritage. Your average pollie will be proud to point out that he or she has a multicultural background, but will still identify as Australian first and foremost. Indigenous community leaders, and particularly those who frequent the self-delusion halls of the ABC Ultimo centre, almost never identify as Australian. Instead, they identify as part of the oppressed minority who are the descendants of people who have suffered dispossession and two centuries of discrimination.
The problem with this approach is that it ignores the complex history of black-white relations in this country. Of course, over the past two centuries there has been tremendous cruelty and injustice. But there were also examples of genuine attempts to work together to develop outback Australia and there were and are hundreds of thousands of children born of interracial relationships.
Yes, it must be recognized that not all relationships were based on equality of partners and in the past white men frequently used their economic power to obtain sexual favors from native women. But the days when, as Stanner put it bluntly, “any woman could be bought for a fingernail of (tobacco) or a spoonful of (tea)” are long gone. The shame of being the product of such relationships is also gone. But every day we see intelligent and articulate mixed-race women appear on television telling us how proud they are of their indigenous heritage while glossing over the indisputable fact that a substantial part of their genetic and cultural heritage is European.
The current emphasis on ‘telling the truth’ grew out of the ‘declaration of the heart’ produced five years ago to provide ‘a voice in Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, offering a practical route to…resolving the issues that governments alone have not been able to solve. An essential part of this will be “a truth revealing our history”, but many Yorta Yorta, Djabwurrung, Gunnai Gunditjamara et al., women simply do not tell the truth about their own ancestors. The “telling the truth much-vaunted focuses on a selective view of the past. It’s not so much concerned with the truth about the present or the vast gap between the lives of the ABC/Canberra “first nations” mob and the people who ‘they claim to represent and who live in remote hinterland settlements And, with the full support of the Labor Party, our new Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Linda Burney, will ensure that very soon we are inundated of good-humored statements designed to stage a referendum on a constitutional amendment. There’s going to be a torrent of “truths” from privileged, middle-class indigenous women telling us all about the hardships q they met at school and how difficult it was to access free university education.
My own guess is that the majority of Australians have little sympathy for the ideas contained in the Voice Treaty Truth rhetoric. Warren Mundine said: “The Uluru Declaration made two propositions. One is a “top-down” approach by lawyers that is sure to fail. The other is a grassroots proposal with overwhelming indigenous support that could be implemented without requiring a referendum. I put an end to ten years of discussion on constitutional recognition. We don’t need it”. Unfortunately, Mr. Mundine’s position of honest pragmatism is likely to be crushed by the woke steamroller.