That will seem an odd combination! But bear with me.
The Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07 archive
This was in fact my first WordPress blog, now “replaced” by the Floating Life/Ninglun’s Specials pair. Top all-time individual visits there are as follows:
- Friday Australian poem #17: Bruce Dawe, 3,539 views
- Two Australian poems of World War II 2,680
- Assimilation, Integration, Multiculturalism policy and Practice in Australia since 1966 2,637
- On the awkwardness (and fatuity?) of discussing religion 2,506
- John Howard: bullying expert extraordinaire 2,055
- Bill Heffernan! 1,929
- Book and DVD backlog 1,907
- 3 — Indigenous Australians 1,764
- Does Tim Blair still do global warming jokes? 1,611
- Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in Macbeth and segue into Mardi Gras 1,468
TV lately, Australian Indigenous history
Note the two entries I have highlighted; I refer you to them rather than mount a detailed argument about last night’s episode of SBS’s The First Australians which took Pastor Doug Nicholls as its biographical focus and extended to the assimilationist policies which prevailed for much of the 20th century and the rise of an Aboriginal identity/reform movement. There were more issues raised than you could poke a stick at, and the presentation – especially from Marcia Langton – was sometimes confronting, even bitter. However, balance against that the fact the inspirational Pastor Doug was brought to the attention of a new generation who may well not have known about him. There is a critical paradox here too: the somewhat conservative Christian Aboriginal man as culture hero and champion – and that’s where I would leave it, as a paradox we all need to contemplate. He remains a great humanitarian and a hero of his people, and he is not the only one. The singer Jimmy Little comes to mind. Go back too to Episode 3.
It is a fact that assimilation as a policy tended to be a one-way street: THEY should assimilate; WE don’t have to. That was one of its great flaws. It is also a fact that we had more in common with South African policy than we currently find comfortable – except in South Africa the “Native Question” was even more pressing. “We” were no longer a minority here.
It is right to counter some of the thrust of some elements of last night’s program with counter-examples, no doubt. On the other hand those darker elements – no sad race pun intended – must be included in any honest portrayal of Australia in the 20th century. That is where I had no patience with the prevailing orthodoxy of the Howard years. I found it tendentious and dishonest. The whole “black armband”/”white blindfold” thing is a waste of space, I believe. A full picture includes both.
So provocative as some may have found last night’s First Australians, I welcome it for, in fact, being provocative.
A much more recent part of the ongoing history of Indigenous – indeed all – Australia is aired in a coming ABC program: Tom Zubrycki’s The Intervention is sure to attract praise and flack both, but should be worth seeing. It’s on Thursday night on ABC1 at 9.30.
TV lately: other
It has been a good season for Australian history, with the series The Prime Ministers going for a couple of weeks now. We have already had Harold Holt (and the unspeakable Billy McMahon) and now we have Menzies and Churchill, and next week Chifley. They are Thursdays at 8.30, despite what the linked page says!
Then there was last Monday’s Four Corners: Good Cop, Bad Cop on the Australian Federal Police, noteworthy for further revelations about the Dr Haneef travesty. Surely it was no accident that this was an election year…
Finally, coming up on Monday 17 November is The Howard Years. I will be watching, but not out of nostalgia I assure you, imperfect in many respects as the current Rudd government may be. Howard never made me feel relaxed or comfortable – more often the reverse of both!