What is remarkable about Australian right wingers is their simultaneous ignorance of Australia history and their enthusiasm for opining on it.
The issue becomes significant every year on January 26 but causes problems all year round as, when in political trouble, they dig deep into the kitbag of wedge politics.
Probably no-one in the Morrison Government would repeat John Howard’s ‘black armband’ claims and even Howard has weaselled his way into a new framing – now terming the problem the ‘blemishes’ in Australian history – as if some Kora Organic Turmeric Glow Moisturiser or Crème de La Mer might fix the problem. Although given John Howard’s suburban bloke persona something more modest would probably be his recommendation.
However, the new ploy is yes, but. For instance, Alan Tudge, has used the yes, but ‘additionally’ ploy when attacking the proposed new national curriculum. He discussed (very briefly) the importance of learning Indigenous history and culture but said “it should not come at the expense of the teaching of classical and western civilisations and how Australia came to be a free, liberal democracy”.
So much for our Asian and Middle Eastern neighbours who were civilised before the Romans invented their origin myths. Although admittedly studying Nero and other Caesars might be a useful way to understand current politics as the Brits often thought throughout the 19th century and beyond.
“We live in one of the most prosperous egalitarian societies in the world and children should develop an understanding of how this came about,” Tudge said.
“If we diminish this understanding, we are less likely to protect and defend it.” Can’t let a bit of potential war-mongering go past with an election which might need a bit of khaki flavour even if our diggers no longer wear khaki.
“Ultimately, students should leave school with a love of country and a sense of optimism and hope that we live in the greatest country on earth and that the future is bright,” he said. The reality, as indices from Transparency International’s corruption index to inequality issues demonstrate, we are now a world laggard rather than a leader.
One also wonders how US officials might react if our Ambassador was instructed to inform them we were the greatest country on earth. Thankfully our current US Ambassador, Arthur Sinodinos, would be unable to keep a straight face if asked to do so.
Tudge saw no problem in echoing US rhetoric – another indication of how Australian right wingers are slavishly following US rhetoric and obsessions – despite all the evidence that the US is becoming a failed state. Which raises the question: if it degenerates into civil war which side will Morrison & Co take?
If Tudge is an historical illiterate Morrison is not much better. Morrison of course imagined that not only had Cook ‘discovered’ Australia – in his electorate of course and with Morrison’s help – but that he had circumnavigated the country. The pandemic thankfully killed off his bid to re-enact this wonderful feat.
But fortunately, when you come back from a morning Invasion Day rally in person or online and fire up the barbie, you can do a number of things in the soporific aftermath to forget all this nonsense.
If you want more visual stimulation visit the Hope Vale community arts website to see artworks about Cook’s ‘visit’ to what is now Cooktown and how his crew grabbed all the turtles.
Or you could pick up a copy of the National Museum of Australia exhibition catalogue for its magnificent exhibition, Endeavour Voyage, which would probably never have been mounted in John Howard’s time given how he had stacked the NMA Council. That exhibition included a number of Hope Vale artworks including some wonderful pieces by Wanda Gibson.
If you would rather just sit in the shade and read, Claire G. Coleman’s Lies Damned Lies, is recommended.
As she said in the book it is not secret knowledge (although not part of Morrison secret whitefella knowledge) that lots of Europeans ‘found’ Australia. Willem Janszoon was about in 1606; de Torres in the same year (the Strait is named after him); Dirk Hartog in 1616; Frederik de Houtman (1619); John Brooke (1620) and his crew were the first Europeans to spend time on the continent and the first Brits to sight Australia; Jan Casternszoon (1623) after whom the Gulf of Carpentaria is named; Francois Thijsseen who mapped the south east of the continent; and, Abel Janszoon Tasman who visited twice (1642 and 1644) who was the first European to visit Tasmania.
Just think – if the Dutch had stayed and Johan Cruyff had emigrated – we might have won the World Cup by now.
Meanwhile, Morrison’s Pentacostalist mate, Stuart Robert, has vetoed university research projects simply because he didn’t like them and didn’t fit this imaginary view of Australia in which students need to understand our Christian heritage.
Although, considering the similarity between Christian persecution and murder of its ‘enemies’ over a couple of millennia and Australia’s record on atrocities against Indigenous people perhaps he has a point.