The Nightmare Time
John Howard announced a radical plan to prevent the social collapse of Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territories, including rampant child abuse, by proposing bans on alcohol, pornography and sequestering welfare payments where necessary. Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson has been sounding the alarm and wants the Aborigines to learn from the Jews, get off welfare and save themselves. Because nobody else will.
Aboriginal Australia is burdened by the politics that we developed in the '70s, which on the one hand was defiant, and it achieved a lot of political progress, but at the same time we also compounded a view of Aboriginal people as hopeless, marginalised victims. And the more we could play that up, the more attractive that was for us politically.
Yes, we've been victimised, and terribly victimised, but to tell our people that we're victims is a terribly irresponsible thing to perpetuate, I think, because we just create a mentality of defeat and resignation rather than struggle and defiance.
We suffer a lot of victimisation still, and I know our peoples find it very hard walking around the streets of Australia, because racism's a very evil thing. And we've got to stop making racism our burden. Really, we should make it the racist's problem. Racism should be the problem of the racist, not our problem.
My insight into this - I've really taken it from the Jewish example, because they are the most vigilant defenders against racism. They never let people forget about history, the truth of history. And they ensure that there is proper acknowledgement and people aren't allowed to be obscurantist about the truth. History is not a burden to them either, you know? They're striving for the future, they're engaging in the future.
The debate about Aborigines is not never quite about Aborigines in the same way that the debate over the Iraq isn't really about Iraq either. "Palestine" is one of those types of issues too. It is about the political conflict between liberal and conservative ideologies for whom the issue is Ground Zero. What happens to the Aborigines, the Iraqis and the Palestinians will largely be a matter of luck.