Daily Archives: February 28, 2008

Well now, that’s my Mardi Gras event for this year

courthouse After coaching tonight I caught the slow bus from Chinatown to arrive on a cold and wet Sydney night at Newtown’s rather wonderful Courthouse Hotel for the blogger meetup. That’s not our group in the picture on the right. I was late, so I missed Marcellous.

Even before I had settled into the group for an hour I met of all people someone I had taught English with at Dapto back in 1970, one of the Spender sisters, Dale and Lynn, the former a rather well-known feminist writer, the other no slouch either. It was Lynn I saw, though initially I thought it was Dale. We both contemplated the years that had flown since then with some amazement, though I have to say I am a minnow compared with what those two have done with that time. (See also When I was a twenty-something conservative in transition…)

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Posted by on February 28, 2008 in Australia, blogging, events, Gay and Lesbian, gay issues, memory, personal


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Dangerous ground, this…

… but it is my belief that Michael Mansell’s views on Jenny Macklin’s handling of the Indigenous Affairs portfolio are no more worthy of consideration than my own. Objectively speaking, that is, and for a number of reasons aside from the fact my own degree of Aboriginal descent is probably much the same as his — and I am well aware what a minefield that is.

The fact is that there are no Aboriginal communities in Tasmania analogous to the communities in the remote parts of mainland Australia. There are none with the same issues.  In 2002 Richard Flanagan published an article that incurred Mansell’s ire:

Tension in Tasmania over who is an Aborigine

On an island of ironies, where leading Aboriginal activists can have fair skin and blue eyes, the question becomes more perplexing. Even to Tasmanian Aborigines, some of whom are predicting bloodshed, the answer is divisive. To the rest of the world it is just baffling, for Tasmania is still frequently – and wrongly – cited as the site of the only successful genocide in history.

On that strange, sorry island, it was said a race of indigenous people had, within 80 years of the English invasion, disappeared from the face of the earth. Glosses on their fate varied, but no doubt was had as to the fate itself. With the death of Truganini in 1876, the last of the Tasmanians was thought gone.

The dominant early view was that they had been wiped out by the colonisers. This, at least, had the honesty of acknowledging the horror of the English invasion. The Aborigines had fought back in a long war, and some, if not all, early colonists recognised their right to do so.

“Whatever the future historian of Tasmania may have to say,” wrote the 19th-century historian J.E. Calder, “he will do them an injustice if he fails to record that, as a body, they held their ground bravely for 30 years against the invaders of their beautiful domains.”

But this view dimmed as a new idea took hold in the late 19th century, backed with the ballast of the most advanced scientific thought. Nothing seemed to offer more striking proof to the late Victorian mind of the infernal truth of social Darwinism than the supposed demise of the Tasmanian Aborigines. They were an inferior race, a meek and primitive people doomed to die out, and the coming of the English, with their diseases and guns, had merely hastened the inevitable. Read the rest of this entry »