Flat White

Always was, always will be a smokescreen

26 January 2022

9:00 AM

26 January 2022

9:00 AM

As Roger Scruton wrote: ‘The fictions were far more persuasive than the facts, and more persuasive than both was the longing to be caught up in a mass movement of solidarity, with the promise of emancipation at the end. My father’s grievances were real and well-founded. But his solutions were dreams.’

Always was, always will be. These words are the first clue that the fight about when Australia Day falls isn’t really at all about ‘when Australia Day falls’. It is hard-coded into the progressive narrative that there can be no solution to the problem.

Colonisation cannot be resolved. No reparations, no recognition of inter-generational trauma, no overly-verbose oratory apology can meaningfully move the needle on Indigenous outcomes.

Any good-faith analysis of the anti-Australia Day movement has no choice but to conclude there is nothing that can be done to appease the movement to the point it ‘stops’ short of a complete demolition of the entire country and mass exodus of people.

That is a feature and not a bug of those weaving the narrative. It is designed to endlessly fuel emotional responses in voters which are ordered towards political ends (namely stacking up contributions and winning elections). This isn’t entirely novel to the left but denying this reality is futile.

This isn’t to say that there are not very real and serious issues within Australia’s Indigenous communities that must be urgently addressed. This is to say that whatever cultural battleground we fight over next will be just as asinine and just as much of a smokescreen from the real issues as the fight over Australia Day has been.

Indigenous women are 34 to 80 times more likely to experience domestic and family violence. That should be the headline in the news cycle today. That is a real problem in need of urgent redress.

The infantilisation of adult people as nothing but victims of systemic oppression, teaching them they cannot be the masters of their own destiny – that is a real problem as well. Treating 3.3 per cent of the population as a monolithic entity is also a real problem.

Custodial land rights with no true ownership or freedom to generate wealth from the land entrusted to Indigenous communities, that is a very real and easily solvable problem.

To those who criticise opponents of the date change, saying symbolic changes have ‘real meaning’, please tell us what changing the date will do to address the horrific rates of family violence? Please tell us what ‘Sorry Day’ did to help these disaffected people living in poverty (apart from facilitate the Astro-turfing of the change the date movement to follow it)? The answer, as we all know deep down – or not so deep – is nothing. To paraphrase, ‘Symbolism is quick, easy, and exhilarating. Real change slow, laborious, and dull.’

You can’t put a date on the colonisation of Australia, so suggesting a date change meaningfully alters the nature of Australia Day (whenever it might be) is equally puerile. The narrative will not change: always was, always will be.

A day of celebration and recognition of Australia for all its splendour and achievement is intransigently tied to its conquering through violence. This is neither good nor bad at this point, it is just historical fact. We can, and we will, celebrate good while recognising bad, as we have throughout human history.

Until proponents are willing to come to the table for a vision of a unified Australia (one which recognises the bad but stops short of setting unachievable outcomes), they cannot be taken seriously in their ostensible objectives and Indigenous communities will continue to suffer.

The Greens celebrate calls for Amazon to write Meanjin instead of Brisbane on our frivolous online shopping while looking past the woe’s faced by Indigenous children because the data makes them uncomfortable.

Campaign money, which could be better spent pushing for actually needed reform, will be frittered away by university educated white people trying to ‘change the world’ one overshared Instagram story at a time.

It’s okay though, for anyone tired of the debate, these people will have moved on to their new pet issue by next week. Just like we have already seemingly forgotten the plight of women in Afghanistan.

Maybe the left-wing elite want to have a spell discussing the quandary of the Ukrainian people while simultaneously opposing the military industrial complex which defends them next?

Once you accept that appeasement or acquiescence on the date change would be in vain, you must merely fight the changes because it slows down the timeline before the next pet (culturally more divisive) issue is engineered into the Overton window for political ends.

The grimmest realisation is that in twelve months’ time we will have to rehash this all again, yet no meaningful changes which could actually help our Indigenous communities from the harm they suffer, will have occurred.

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