This is an analysis of "Aborigines must face up to the hard question" written by Gary Johns and published in The Australian 24 March 2014. A transcript of the article was also posted on Sovereign Union Facebook page on the same day, titled “Murdoch Poison” - Illustration
Analysis by Megan Bliss 25/3/2015
The words of the article are highlighted in the blockquotes. The accompanying analysis/comment is given for the purposes of education and understanding, to speak up for the truth, to act, because history tells us that evil reigns while good people do nothing.
Title of the article: Aborigines must face up to the hard questions
(by) Gary Johns –The Australian March 24, 2015
Here Johns uses an old term, “Aborigine” which relates to old, patronising attitudes towards the First Peoples of this land. By using the term he conveys disrespect towards all First Nations Peoples and encourages his readers to accept the culture of disrespect.
He also implies indirectly that First Nations People in general do not “face up to hard questions” and implies that he is about to articulate the important, appropriate “hard questions” that according to him are true and fundamental and are generally too morally demanding for First Nations People to address.
Is the vision of the blackfella sitting on his “ancient land”, communing with the spirits, painting on bark (in acrylic), hunting and fishing, worth the price in young blighted lives?
Here the writer implies that people (probably First Nations People and their supporters) are holding onto an empty, inauthentic dream, a fantasy that causes a blight on young people and children, and also implies that this supposedly unrealistic dream is responsible for youth suicides. The mention of acrylic paint and the omission of the real cultural values of First Nations People are an attempt to trivialise all First Nations People’s culture, connection to land and an attack on their integrity. In this scenario it is implied that using acrylic paint to express culture is invalid. This is a common tactic; to blame and condemn for any adaptation to the colonising culture, while starving the first Nations People of the right to practise traditional ways –such as prohibiting the collection of ochres.
This is the question the Aboriginal industry must answer the long-suffering taxpayers of Australia.
Here the writer is blaming First Nations People for the jobs involving people who represent the colonising culture relating to First nations People. He is claiming that the money involved goes to First Nations People, and that it comes out of the pockets of mainstream working Australians’ pockets. There are many “working-poor” in this country who are hurting from inadequate wages. This is where their pain and anger is being encouraged to be directed to First Nations Peoples.
That is what Tony Abbott was getting at when he spoke of the bleak future of remote Aboriginal communities.
The writer is claiming that he can explain Abbott’s point of view. He says “getting at” to brush over the offensive words spoken by Abbott, implying here that Abbott’s meaning is right and his words were clumsy (“lifestyle choices”). He also implies that he and Abbott are only concerned with not having bleak futures for First Nations People, and possibly that First Nations Communities are irretrievably bleak.
These remote places witness children and their parents sitting idle, playing cards, or taking benefits for pretend work: but they die young. These remote places are forlorn.
Johns criticises, painting a picture to the unknowing public of behaviour seen as wantonly lazy, deliberately taking hard-earned money from employed people in cities, and pretending to work ?? He presents the idea of lazy undeserving people who take more than they give and don’t care for others or for dignity. Then he presents himself as a caring, compassionate, responsible person by referring to the shorter life-expectancy of First Nations People. (Life expectancy is better in Homelands-see Amnesty International Report).
He uses the word “forlorn” meaning: sad, pitiful, dejected, despondent, unhappy, hopeless, desperate, lonely, lost, abandoned, forsaken, deserted, desolate. (Interestingly he includes the land and people in this statement; “These remote places are forlorn.”)
So he presents all the hundreds of diverse communities in one word-forlorn- to say they are weak, child-like, disempowered, in need of help and guidance and protection, unable to cope, hopeless without intervention etc. This presents the option that well meaning, compassionate people can support communities closures because it is the LOVING thing to do!
Worse, Aborigines living in remote communities are less able than they were 40 years ago.
Less able? Less able in what ways? By this vague sentence the writer implies that the situation is getting worse and encourages the good people that URGENT action may be needed.....ie; the removal of First People from their Homelands.
Also embedded in this idea is the belief that any loss of ability is the fault of First Nations People’s decisions and management, implying that they have had the power to live well all along but have not had the strength of character to do so.
Why did Aborigines stop learning?
In this comment, completely unsupported by anything, the writer implies that First Nations People are stupid and ignorant and uninterested in learning or education... that they mysteriously switched off and unplugged from rational thinking, that they disengaged from the supposedly benevolent colonising society for no good reason, that they don’t want positive relationship (all of the First Nations People...maybe he did a survey??) He encourages people to give up listening to First Nations People by presenting them as an incurable problem.
Noel Pearson is rightly lauded for his direct instruction education program, but it is a program that every teacher before the 1970s swore by. The truth is, we stopped teaching.
Far from being lauded, it is generally believed that Noel Pearson only has moderate outcomes in education and employment/enterprise considering his liberty. The way this is presented, it appears that Johns did actually survey every single teacher from the 1970s and they religiously support what he is selling. Which is apparently to go back to the 1970s approach to human rights... well we haven’t really improved since then, in fact some things are far worse, such as the rate of removal of children from their families, so this is not very meaningful. Watch Utopia.
The rolling crisis in the Anangu Pitjanjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of South Australia and the looming removal of services from 150 remote outstations in Western Australia signal the beginning of the end of the link between discrete Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal Identity.
Johns is encouraging readers to give up on First Nations People, their culture and identity and whatever it means to us as Australians. Like all good land-grabbers, he wants to hurry up and break that link between the people and their traditional lands so he presents it as a foregone conclusion, inevitable- due to the implied hopelessness of the First Nations People (poor things).
Imagine you live in a community of 50 people. Who is a likely partner? If a wider search is necessary to avoid marrying your cousin, surely this new blood comes from another ‘country’. So much for the identity-land myth.
Here our knowledgeable friend Johns presents himself as an expert in genetics. Never mind the 60,000+ year traditional kinship system and its art of keeping healthy bloodlines. Thank goodness for him or all first Nations People would be riddled with birth defects!!!
He is claiming that the land-identity connection is a myth, (which he has just blown wide open!) in the sense of it being A LIE perpetuated by (implied) immoral, unethical First Nations People.
Really? Will anyone believe this? Sadly I think yes.
Aborigines move on and off their land at will.
Interesting. Whose will? And when it is their will does that make him uncomfortable? He feels entitled to make a cultural judgement on the meaning of connection to country. And he feels qualified and entitled to represent the cultural meaning to the general population in The Australian.
The last gasp of the old radicals to change the Constitution to recognise Aborigines and their connection to land is a testimony to the passing of the identity-land rights era.
Rolling up remote outstations does not solve the problem but it is a start.
Johns presents the removals as starting the process of improving the lives of First Nations Peoples. On the contrary, removing Aboriginal people from their land has been shown all over the world to be detrimental to them and in fact constitutes Genocide.
Visit larger Queensland communities- for example Cherbourg near Brisbane, Woorabinda near Rockhampton or Yarrabah near Cairns. These communities want for nothing in terms of services of equivalent size, non-Aboriginal communities. They want for everything in terms of a future.
So here he tries to prove that given (according to his opinion) equal facilities and services, First Nations Peoples are hopeless, too hopeless to survive out of the city?
It is true Aborigines were herded into these centres, but few are clambering for outstations.
Herded. Just have a look at that word.
Clambering, not enough of it.....
Aborigines in these larger communities exhibit a mindset, a lifestyle if you will, that is debilitating.
Is this where he implies that First Nations People who live in towns, after being removed from their homelands, are failing (their fault) to thrive, and that this (somehow) supports his opinion that first nations People should be removed from their Homelands in Western Australia......?
Last week, the Federal Court of Australia (Sandy on behalf of the Yugera People v State of Queensland) determined that native title did not exist in Brisbane. For more than 16 years there has been an application for a native title determination in the claim area.
So this is the wonderful Native Title option .....
Again the failure of this application (a 16 year long process....can you imagine the stamina, the heartache?) is blamed on the implied inherent hopelessness of First Nations People.
At least these Aborigines lived in a real economy- the fact that many held out hope for native title in a metropolitan area seemed forlorn, but it was their legal right.
A ‘real’ economy. Not a sustainable one, but a ‘real’ one. Being ‘forlorn’(sad, hopeless), but being generously given the legal right to hold out hope for 16 years.
Aborigines were granted land in the Northern Territory in 1976 and South Australia in 1981. Native title, in Western Australia and elsewhere, has been available for claim since 1993.
Implying that 1) Native Title has been a real solution for First Nations People, and 2) that the process of claiming has been freely accessible and achievable. On the contrary it has been far from a genuine solution and fraught with obstacles, not the least caused by previous forced removals and relocations of First Nations Peoples.
In 20 years, WA, SA, and the Territory may look like Queensland, with larger, failing, Aborigine communities.
The threat of a worsening humanitarian crisis to back up his “solution” of (you guessed it) more forced removals.
The lesson is not only that remotes are impossible to service,
Apparently at this stage of his argument he feels he has adequately shown that remote communities are “impossible to service”.
but also that solidarity based on race is a curse.
Well it would be a dang nuisance to the land-grabbers I bet, that gosh-darn loyalty thing.
(Colonisers can’t service the communities(LIE) because of the failure of the communities to be reasonable and live like the invaders, NOT because of the failure of the invaders to respect, communicate, treaty and relate.)
Last Thursday was National Close the Gap day. The campaign came with a one-liner : “Close the gap, not communities”. Gap Day joins the roll call of NAIDOC, Invasion Day, Sorry Day, Reconciliation Week, and no doubt, in time, Recognition Day, as opportunities for the Aboriginal industry to screw the taxpayer for rent.
Somehow the special days of First Nations People and those who wish to relate in healthy ways with them, are fundraisers for First Nations People and their supporters? This is just ridiculous lying contempt.
Kirsty Parker and Mick Gooda, national sponsors of Gap Day, urged the WA and Federal governments to “Respect our people’s connection with lands”.
But Parker and Gooda must be aware that the gap cannot close while Aborigines live a lifestyle that harms them.
In this sentence Johns subtly accuses First Nations Peoples of choosing to live in such a way that is self-harming. See how the blame is shifted? The incredible resilience of First Nations People as a whole in surviving the massive efforts to kill them off is evident everywhere. The mental illness that is suffered by many people is not the result of First Nations Cultural stupidity but the result of relentless, horrific trauma inflicted on a scale that is sickening even to try to understand - by the colonising society.
Australians are fools and worse to ignore this.
Poor ignorant brainwashed population don’t want to feel any more stupid after taking home their tiny pay packet and blaming themselves for not competing hard enough in the marketplace, while Gina earns $589 per second...... Now he is blaming his readership if they disagree with the genocide!
If you think it is too diabolical to be true, that a whole nation (mostly) of reasonably intelligent people can be brainwashed without drugs (forget the fluoride in the water), just by television and newspapers being owned by a wealthy few....remember Germany 70 years ago. History tells us that it can go even further than it has so far. If people do not unite and stand up and do their own research and speak up and act on behalf of their truth, ethics, trusting that they are not necessarily more stupid than the government.
An academic fellow traveller of the campaign wrote: “It’s deeply offensive for the Prime Minister to suggest that living in a remote indigenous community is simply one option among others”. If it is but one option, heaven help them.
Here the writer (knowingly or unknowingly) misinterprets the person’s comment. The person did not say “only option” but is stating that the locations of Homelands are deeply, spiritually meaningful and not interchangeable for other random locations for those who live there.
Almost every Aboriginal spokesperson has been blessed by three options: marrying out, migration and education.
Does he refer to the mission schools where children were taken after being stolen from their families? Does he refer to the rape of Aboriginal women by colonising men? Does he refer to previous removals? Or is he just talking about those who have had a “blessed” range of life choices? Is he targeting spokespeople and saying they are less able to speak for their people?
Each is the product of an Aborigine and a non-Aborigine. They have not, or not for most of their lives, lived on their “country” and they have been well educated.
So now the spokespeople are “products” –a dehumanising term.
It appears here that Johns is dismissing the spokespeople’s words because they have been through education and/or spent time off country.
He has also managed to imply that having a Non First Nations Parent and a First Nations parents invalidates one’s wisdom. Johns may also think (or claim) that he is not racist.
There are options off-country. From footballers to academics the paths are clear- get out and get on.
Those who choose football or academia are not necessarily choosing to abandon the homelands. Football and university are not available to everyone.
Don’t be the artist and sit communing with the spirits. Leave that dream to the lost souls of white man’s world who can afford to roam around Byron Bay. They can escape their fantasy and choose to earn and pay their way.
The derogatory messages here: Art is not a valuable contribution to humanity, nor is spirituality. People who live in Byron Bay are lost souls with money who roam aimlessly and are completely impractical and unrealistic and stupid. People have the power to get employment and not need unemployment benefits. (Forget about the ones who cannot for various reasons, such as 10% less jobs than employable people.)
Gary Johns is the author of Aboriginal Self-Determination: The White Man’s Dream (Connor Court).
An apt name for a publishing company associated with this man’s opinion/propaganda.
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