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13 February 2008 @ 11:06 am
Sorry  
The history of this nation is one that I'll readily tell you I'm not proud of.
The treatment of this country's first inhabitants has been and, in so many ways, continues to be nothing short of horrendous.
Today is one of those rare moments in the history of Australian indigenous affairs that I can feel proud of.

Much is made about whether an apology should be made by those not directly responsible.
The Australian Government is an ongoing entity, separate from the John Howards, Kevin Rudds and Brendan Nelsons that only occupy it for a brief moment in time.
The Australian Government was culpable at the time these atrocities were committed, and so it still bears that responsibility now.
Kevin Rudd is merely the spokesperson of the government, and he recognises his responsibility to make amends for the mistakes that government has made in the past.

And the government represents the people.
So, however indirectly, the Australian people, as a whole, are responsible for the crimes committed against indigenous Australians.

I personally didn't invade this country in a tall ship, nor wrench a baby from its mother for the crime of being half black.
But, just as I inherited my place in this glorious nation, I also inherited responsibility for the crimes committed by my forebears in the paving of that nation.

So, as a non-indigenous Australian, I'm a truly, deeply sorry, not just for the Stolen Generations, but for all the injustices wrought upon the original inhabitants and true owners of this great land.
 
 
 
(no subject) - shehasathree on February 13th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
chifleychifley on February 13th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
When did it become the Stolen Generations? I know that all through primary school and high school, all I can remember hearing about was the Stolen Generation, so I'm wondering when it became a plural.
Jacobyak_boy on February 13th, 2008 01:14 am (UTC)
Considering it was a policy for about 100 years, it's plural. I seem to remember that when I was at school, education on indigenous issues was skeletal at best.
chifleychifley on February 13th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
I'm not doubting that the plural is correct, I'm just wondering when somebody noticed and changed it.
Jacobyak_boy on February 13th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Hey, they have all sorts of committees for that kind of thing.
(Deleted comment)
Jacobyak_boy on February 13th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC)
I'm sorry when someone's dog dies, whether I killed the dog or not.

Yes, but that's a different kind of sorry - an outpouring of empathy and sympathy.

Which is why it's important that Kevin Rudd actually said the words "we apologise".
(Deleted comment)
Stefanblinvisible on February 13th, 2008 07:26 am (UTC)
A few things:

nor wrench a baby from its mother for the crime of being half black

This is a very simplistic way of putting things. You know how you think that, as a whole, people are horrible racist etc.. well just consider the possibility that Indigenous Australians (also people) might also be? Since you seem to be of the sort that looks at the causes of things a great deal I'll frame it to you this way. You can see that, however misguided it was, it was designed as a way of protecting the children. This sort of simplification has a lot to do with why it has taken so long for an apology to happen. Happily, I am a person who looks more at what happened than what was intended. In this view, there is no question.

true owners

I would make an analogy which you would refute as being entirely unrelated, but the fact is that ownership can and has been transferred.

So, however indirectly, the Australian people, as a whole, are responsible for the crimes committed against indigenous Australians.

Except the Indigenous Australians?
Jacobyak_boy on February 14th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
You can see that, however misguided it was, it was designed as a way of protecting the children.

I'm so sick of hearing about these so-called good intentions. Hitler and Stalin probably believed they had good intentions. One's intentions are not, and never have been, relevant in the judging of one's actions. But, that's a point you apparently concede, so I'll give you that.

However, I'm not so naive as to swallow that all the people involved did what they did solely "for the sake of the children". There are all sorts of reasons why a quick-and-easy adoption of a half-black baby would be appealing to plenty of white folks. And don't get me started on what I think of the church and its true motives.

I would make an analogy which you would refute as being entirely unrelated, but the fact is that ownership can and has been transferred.

Well, I'd love to see the bill of sale.

Except the Indigenous Australians?

I don't really want to get bogged down in semantics, lest I start to sound like Brendan Nelson.

Stefanblinvisible on February 14th, 2008 07:08 am (UTC)
However, I'm not so naive as to swallow that all the people involved did what they did solely "for the sake of the children". There are all sorts of reasons why a quick-and-easy adoption of a half-black baby would be appealing to plenty of white folks. And don't get me started on what I think of the church and its true motives.

You really are a hate filled person, aren't you?
Jacobyak_boy on February 14th, 2008 07:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, because I don't blindly believe someone when they tell me they committed an evil act out of the purest of motives.

I have such a black heart.
Stefanblinvisible on February 14th, 2008 08:12 am (UTC)
Then what is your explanation for what was done?
Jacobyak_boy on February 14th, 2008 08:42 am (UTC)
Well, you yourself said that my way of phrasing what happened was overly simplistic, because the motives were altruistic.

I concede that, I used overly emotive language, but this is an emotive issue.

And, certainly, I do concede that there were some altruistic motives involved.

But, I think that the whole "they had the best of motives" argument is overly simplistic in the other direction.

If it really was about giving indigenous children the best possible upbringing, then all indigenous children would have been given the same treatment. But, for the most part, it was those of mixed race that were singled out. If there isn't some sort of racist motive behind that, I don't know what racism is.

And, as I say, it's not that hard to see that adoptive parents certainly had something to gain - the adoption of children from disadvantaged societies has a long and controversial history. Obviously it's a different scenario, because it was with full consent, but do you really think that Madonna adopted an African child purely out of altruism for the child, or do you think perhaps the fact that she may have been unable to have another biological child might have factored into the decision?

Obviously, I'm not saying that the want for children is some evil motivator and that the adoptive parents were heartless predators, but the point is that you can't just claim it was all for the good of the children, when there are so many vested interests. For that matter, in many respects, adoptive families were themselves victims of these unjust laws.

And that's just it, it's not really about pointing the finger and saying "you are bad people for committing this evil act", it's really about compassion for the victims. We are all culpable and, at the same time, we are all victims of this dark period in our history. The erosion of indigenous cultures that has resulted from this policy makes us all the poorer.

And, if you want to ponder a truly dark possibility, some people claim that these policies were a deliberate attempt at genocide, hoping that aboriginal communities would die out as a result.

I don't think I'm willing to buy that argument, but the point is that there is enough doubt that I really do believe that claiming it was all the result of pure altruism is terribly naive.
Stefanblinvisible on February 14th, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC)
If it really was about giving indigenous children the best possible upbringing, then all indigenous children would have been given the same treatment. But, for the most part, it was those of mixed race that were singled out. If there isn't some sort of racist motive behind that, I don't know what racism is.

While having lunch with ephant today, we discussed this very topic; in one of her subjects they studied this and, in particular, the opposition to this policy.

I am not entirely sure how it all went but from what I gathered, good science at the time spoke of how the extinction of the black man was all but assured. There were some who hoped to save the little half-black children but integrating them into white culture. (This would explain why only half-caste children were chosen). You would have to speak to her about it for any further details(or at least get the subject name from her.. maybe they still offer it?).

I find it sad that, in general, people have an easy time accepting other cultures' darker aspects but are not nearly as accepting of their own history's. I would even go so far to say that this is a subtle form of racism.