Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Indigenous Peoples Fighting Ongoing Colonization and Genocide: Australia

Indigenous peoples all over the world are fighting valiant battles to protect what's left of their land, peoples, and cultures in the face of ongoing colonialism. While there are some small victories, the vast juggernaut of globalized corporate Capitalism simply steamrolls on. Helping this along is the paternalism of well-meaning liberals.

It is from the "white man's burden" that some of the most lasting harm has come. Apartheid in South Africa grew out of the same reserve system we have in Canada. Self-government for the natives in semi-autonomous communities - sounds almost progressive doesn't it? Well, we all know how that ended up.

Similarly, misguided but mostly benevolant people, who wanted to improve the lot of young native children through education, created Residential Schools - known as The Stolen Generation) in Australia. This was genocide dressed up as education, with devastating consequences. What happens when nearly an entire people is subject to state-sponsored physical, sexual, verbal, spiritual, and other forms of abuse - for generations? Anyone familiar with the effects of child abuse knows that it can persist through generations in complex ways.

Australia has done little to heal the damage, despite evidence of chronic social problems in Indigenous Australians communities. Instead of promoting healing, the Howard government introduced a a policy banning porn and alcohol for Aboriginals, ostensibly to protect children from abuse(even though the abuse is committed by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people). Howard's actions are reactionary, but he speaks the language of care, which unfortunately is often accepted by kind and decent people.
How does eliminating pornography teach a child to love her blood, her cells, her roots?
How does a ban on alcohol erase the desire to no longer be aboriginal?
How does controlling welfare payments teach aboriginal mothers to trust themselves and their love again? <BFP>

Not only are the Howard government's policies cruel and racist, but they are also not likely to be effective because they are targeting the consequences instead of the causes. Alcohol and pornography do not cause abuse. Rather, those with a history of abuse are far more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and to have difficulty achieving healthy sexuality, among other terrible outcomes. Even I know better than to conflate correlation with causation.

But perhaps the Howard government does not care if it will be effective. Perhaps this has to do with gaining increasing control over Aboriginal communities and lands (possibly for more nuclear waste dumps or mining): "Australia’s national Government was using its powers to seize control of the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal settlements... The proposals mean scrapping the entry-permit system under which Aboriginal people have controlled access to northern Australia’s 660,000 square kilometres of Aboriginal lands - an area about of the size of Afghanistan - in recent decades." <Times Online> The Howard government is using well-intentioned Australians to promote his atrocious policies. But such paternalism, however pure the intentions, is still racist.

Most Australians don't like to be termed as racist.

The word is supposed to be for South Africans two decades ago, or for Americans before the civil rights era, or even for our earlier colonial ancestors, about two hundred years ago.

But what other reason could there be for the fact Aboriginal people have the same mortality rate of sheep?

And what other word could be used to justify the fact that being an Aboriginal Australia is more dangerous in terms of annual excess mortality than that people in US-occupied Iraq? <National Indigenous Times via Shmohawk's Shmorg>


TomCat said...


Anonymous said...

"helping this along is the paternalism of some well meaning liberals"

Nice try trying to spin this as Liberal policy. I hardly think Howard is a Liberal. As a long time Liberal supporter, I very much doubt you will find many Canadian Liberals who would support such a policy direction.

Anonymous said...

And your right on the racist issue. It is totally racist.

Red Jenny said...

FYI, I meant small 'L' liberal, meaning centrist, supportive of moderate reforms. This is a social issue, not one that can be adequately understood in the context of party politics.