I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.
Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man
After 220 years of sustained European invasions and occupation of Aboriginal Australia we the original occupants of this land have been able to claw back our numbers from around 37,000 at Federation to about 500,000 today, yet we remain as invisible to the legislators today as we did in 1901. Why is this?
While it appears that every sod of dirt that was ever turned by the exported criminal refuse of the British Empire remains sacred to their psychologically displaced descendants, even the most remote in time and valuable of Aboriginal sites, is but refuse to be discarded to the descendants of these miscreants.
On January 5th, 2011 the Tasmanian Mercury reported in an article titled Brighton bulldozer war looms that a bridge was in the process of being built over the Jordan River levee bank which has buried within it “artefacts and remains dating back 40,000”.
In one of the most conciliatory of gestures ever to spew forth from the mouths of the descendants of the exported criminal refuse of the British Empire, State infrastructure chief for Tasmania Norm McIlfatrick is reported in The Mercury as saying:
“I don’t want to have a confrontation with the Aboriginal community until it is absolutely necessary… I know it’s going to be unavoidable in the end, but if we go on site in the next week or two, there will be no sneaking in the back door.”
Clearly in the eyes of the Tasmanian Government, the government that once boasted of being unique within the British Empire in having exterminated a whole race of people, we remain as invisible today as we did when it was thought that we had perished in the name of European progress. Sorry guys we live and continue our struggle for justice.
While I’m not noted for taking the gently, gently approach when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy, I’m still stunned by Mr McIlfatrick pugilistic stance when it comes to dealing with the valid concerns of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. “I don’t want to have a confrontation with the Aboriginal community until it is absolutely necessary” Words reminiscent of a bygone era, perhaps uttered by a British Conquistador ancestor of his during the pogroms of the 1830s.
If it were say the Catholic or perhaps Anglican communities protesting about the proposed desecration of one of their burial places do you think that Mr McIlfatrick would be adopting such a pugilistic stance, I suggest that the answer to this question is no! The Catholic and Anglican descendants of the exported criminal refuse of the British Empire are not invisible to their own eyes, a thousand mirrors reflecting the same thing, oh what a beautiful sight!
While we’re on the topic of the exported criminal refuse of the British Empire it is worth comparing what is happening in Tasmania with a similar issue, only this time the sacred site is Christian or at least European, in Ararat in Victoria.
The Ararat Advertiser reported on January 7th, 2011 in an article titled Prestige project canned reported that:
“The proposed redevelopment of the former Prestige Ltd Mill site will not proceed as originally planned, after an archaeological dig on part of the site – the former Ararat Cemetery – found what appears to be a number of burials.”
What did the archaeologists actually find in the earth under the former Prestige Ltd Mill that is considered significantly more valuable than a 40,000 year old Aboriginal ceremonial site? Well as far as I can ascertain, what they actually found were “6 well-desiccated European bodies – of whom we have no flipping idea, possibly murderers, who knows?”
Well there you have it, 6 well-desiccated European bodies are worth more to the descendants of the exported criminal refuse of the British Empire, than the remains of an entire ceremonial ground containing artefacts dating back perhaps 40,000 years.
What we seem to fail to comprehend is that all people are basically the same, we share a common biology, so why do we insist on treating ‘others’ differently? It makes no sense to me. Both of these sites are part of OUR shared history as human beings, as such, if one warrants protection, so does the other. Destroying our history weakens our culture, with the loss of culture comes a loss of our human identity, once that is gone, I guess that everything becomes permissible.
If we turn our minds back to the 1930s we confront one of the darkest chapters in human or at least European human history. During that period Europeans concentrated on their differences rather than their similarities as human beings. In so doing they destroyed a significant part of their shared culture. Are these the kinds of values we want to import into the new millennium?
If humanity wants to progress it first has to accept that one human life, one human culture is as important as another, until that happens do we deserve to call ourselves civilized?
Many thanks to Our Great Southern Land for initially bringing these two examples of the realities of racial differentiation that currently operate in Australia to our attention.