Washing Howard’s racism away

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Finally Howard’s whitewash on our history is starting to leach away. The murky dark patches and deep rich ochres are gradually starting to show through. Long gone are the lawyer’s semantic tricks and weasel words that he used to disguise his true motives. No more of the “can’t say sorry because it implies guilt? nonsense. No more using desperate refugees as political pawns to whip up race hatred weeks before an election. No more ‘coincidentally’ announcing tough new citizenship tests for those wanting to become proud new Australians on the anniversary of the Cronulla riots. No Howard wasn’t an apologist, except for the those to whose prejudice he constantly pandered. But that’s all over now. Well Almost…

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31 Responses to “Washing Howard’s racism away”

  1. random Says:

    Dude there’s a major difference between racism and understanding cultural differences.. Plucking refugees from worn torn areas, throwing them into Australian suburbs with some cash and telling them to be on their merry way doesn’t solve anything, it brings overseas problems to our shores and increases crime rates and violence..
    Likewise apologizing to the stolen generation isn’t a good idea, an apology is an acceptance of responsibility, our current Government shouldn’t have to apologize for a previous generations actions. This in itself is a form of racism towards white people by the indigenous community and nothing but a plot to claim compensation from current tax payers who have nothing to do with the atrocities of the past.
    I’m a left wing and am strongly against racism, but that doesn’t mean one should be a reverse racist and be overly apologetic to minority groups when logic doesn’t fit with the action.


  2. Tim Says:

    Interesting comments…really. Glad to chat.

  3. Tim Says:

    We could talk for hours about this…a few thoughts…i’m not sure what refugees from war torn areas you speak of – the greeks and italians in the 50’s seemed to go ok.

  4. Tim Says:

    I think the apology was absolutely necessary – the compensation debate is irrelevant – we’re talking about our nations soul.

  5. Tim Says:

    The fact is kids were taken away from their homes because they were black. Let me just say that again…children were stolen from the homes by whites because they were black.

  6. Tim Says:

    It really is as simple as that…it wouldn’t happen today…it was absolutely terrible it did happen…there’s no doubt the plight of our indigenous peoples is vexing and difficult to solve…but splitting up families is no solution.

  7. Tim Says:

    As I said in my article…unfortunately Howard’s actions were carefully calibrated to appeal to the darker side of our nation.

  8. Tim Says:

    And I outlined a number of examples.

  9. Tim Says:

    Now despite what the time code is it’s 12.15am and i’ve had it – would love to yak more…please let me know what you think of my late night musings…till soon…

  10. random Says:

    I was referring to the current Sudanese influx with regards to war torn nations, and it’s a perfect example why we should have a harder policy on letting refugee’s into the country. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that what is happening in the Sudan is horrible, but that’s largely thanks to America with both the Arms and Diamond trade..
    As for the apology, I don’t think it has anything to do with the nations soul, most of the nation multi-cultural, and the whites who are here have no connection to the past generation who committed the atrocities to the Aboriginals, but even with regards to the stolen generation alot them recieved good care from the church (I’m not a Christian BTW) and were educated by the nuns, they wern’t say, hussled into death camps and gassed then burnt like another particular group of people..
    I think Howards hesitation to apologize was good, the Aboriginals need to understand the Zeitgeist of society has moved on, we no longer tolerate miss treatment of minority groups and there are millions of other people in the world who aren’t taken care of so well by the first world nations.. The Aboriginals have it pretty damn good in our current system, and forcing us to apologize after we’ve already righted the wrongs of the past generation is an insult.


  11. Amy Says:

    Tim, 71 comments, huh? See what I mean? It’s a good piece though, shows an optimism I never saw in any journalist-types when Rudd was elected (well, except maybe McKew).

    Random, I’m not sure I understand how the Sudanese refugees are a perfect example of needing tougher refugee policies. Have you been to any Sudanese communities?

    You comments on the apology are interesting, well thought out but I disagree. Firstly, some of “the whites who are are related to those who did commit crimes against the Aborigines, and I think everyone’s heritage is important in defining who we are – whether we agree with what our ancestors have done or not. The Aborigines taken may not have been burned or gassed, but they were taken away from their families and alienated from society.

    The zeitgeist of then may be different now, but for people to move forward catharsis is often an essential element. Tip-toeing around an actual apology by using policies is not catharsis. Saying sorry is.

    And sorry to give you a bit of a grammar lecture, but the plural is “Aborigines” and the Australian/UK way of spelling “apologise” is with an “s” not a “z”.

  12. Mica Says:

    Tim, I’m just amazed that so many refuse to see the good the Howard government did. Ok, he is right wing – which is probably the biggest issue – and he was a hard liner on some subjects that even I questioned. But let me give you a few examples of why I thought they were a good government.

    I bought and paid off my house under the Libs. It was a huge undertaking but interest rates for the term of under 6% made it manageable. That $225,000 is now worth in excess of $1 million. I compare that to a friend who bought his house in the early 90s. He watched interest rates rise so far under Labor he eventually lost his house two years later and ultimately $90,000.

    Then there is Justine – a girl I know through my freelance work. Justine is an amazingly hard worker but her age – 19 years old – dictated the pittance she could earn. That girl had the guts, using work choices, to walk into her boss’s office and say hey! If you want to keep me, I want another $10,000 a year. She got it, you know, and it was thanks only to aboloishing those archaic age-based award rates. Her employer? The other print media in Melbourne that is not owned by Rupert.

    I read the things journalists say about John Howard and one would almost think we had been living under a brutal dictatorship for the past 11 years and we’re only now discovering our liberty. This is so not true.

    I’ve had the freedom to buy my home and still contribute to the economy through spending. Justine was given the freedom to march in and ask for more money so she can buy HER home. We were both given the opportunity to contribute to our super without massive taxes and fees so we do not rely so much on government assistance later in life.

    Symbolic gestures like signing Kyoto and making the apology are good things and yes, they do bring the rich ochre back. But the warm, fuzzy feeling from feel-good fixits only last so long and do not make a government make. Rudd still has a lot to prove.

    And I will add, I am an immigrant to this country. Possibly even a refugee as I was caught living here illegally. Two years later I sat my citizenship test under Labor and believe me, it was gruelling! Give me multiple choice and Don Bradman any day!

  13. Tim Says:

    Yeah random, I think we come from a pretty different viewpoint on this. Many aboriginal peoples simply have no frame of reference historically with our society. They are wedged between two worlds – their traditional practices and lifestyle and a modern one. Which should they choose?

  14. Tim Says:

    Random – i think it’s fair to say many of our aboriginal brothers and sisters are stuck in a cycle of poverty and welfare dependence. But what are the antecedents to this? Well it’s european settlers theft of their land and their systematic extermination (initially), death from new diseases, and racist practices like taking them away from their parents and not even giving them they vote until 1967. In fact can i say they weren’t even counted in the census until 1967 – they were literally treated like animals.

  15. Tim Says:

    So I think it’s not as simple as saying ‘they should pull their socks up’. That attitude will do no help. there needs to be resources and programs put in place to deal with the issues…

  16. Tim Says:

    Amy always so good to hear from you…no matter what you’re saying really…we really do have every reason to be optimistic now the adults are in government – not the intellectual infants from the liberal party, with minds shut as tightly as a swiss bank vault.

  17. Tim Says:

    Mica you raise alot of stuff. I suppose i’d on WorkChoices that i have never really had any great concern that young professionals like me and your Melb friend would be worse off. It’s the people in low skilled and unglamorous jobs who have zero bargaining power that were in the most danger. And young people. Mushroom pickers, cleaners, factory workers…the list goes on. They were all being ripped off…and have all the conditions they have fought 100 years to get taken away by a rabidly pro business government. And look what the people did to that government…sort of speaks for itself.

  18. Tim Says:

    As for interest rates – it was the Labor party government form 1983 to 1996 which did all the painful economic reform (deregulating capital, bringing in enterprise bargaining, pulling down tariff barriers) which underpinned the prosperity of the last decade. Unfortunately it takes years and years for economic changes to manifest – like a when a snake swallows a mouse and you watch it move through!

  19. Tim Says:

    And the Howard government over stoked the economy with first home buyers grants an the like…and have kept stoking it until thrown out…when the reserve bank was desperately trying to put the economic brakes on to curb inflation. Not the labor party will have to come and clean up – and will get the blame.

  20. Tim Says:

    Also on interest rates – they might have been lower under howard but – YOU HAD TO BORROW MORE – because the property market was booming. This means you are in virtually the same situation…

  21. Tim Says:

    During the Howard years the world economy has been booming…so everyone has been doing well…and in any case our economic prosperity is driven by mining..in WA and Q’land. We are still pulling ore out of the soil…while China, India et al are doing stuff with it and selling it back to us – Mica do you have any idea how much we are spending on consumer durables all on credit?

  22. Tim Says:

    Also Howard underinvested in skills training and infrastructure – something the Rudd government will have to fix up.

  23. Tim Says:

    And i don’t think Kyoto is just symbolism – we need to do something about global warming. the only countries not to sign it were us and the the US. Anyway my wrists are hurting…can’t type any more…look forward to your response.

  24. Amy Says:

    So what you’re saying is I could write utter spin and it would still be good? Not sure if that’s a compliment Tim, really.

    Hmm, Mica to be honest I think and have thought for a long time that there probably isn’t that much difference between Howard and Rudd. Otherwise why would so many people be screaming “copycat” every time Rudd does something?
    But (now to dispel the possible inference of my own cynicism), I also think there are a few differences, like signing Kyoto (although I’m not so convinced this will do much) and making a formal apology to the Indigenous Australians, which will be the things that distinguish this government from Howard’s. And as you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, perhaps you can’t judge a Prime Minister by his/her party.

  25. random Says:

    Amy – To start with I know my grammar, I just don’t go over things on these sort of websites and have a habbit of using American spelling..
    As for the Sudanese topic, I live near Dandenong and have seen plenty of their community, I’m also well aware of the crime increase in the areas they move into and the studies conducted on crime surrounding them.. I understand completely that what happens in the Sudan is horrible, but we should fix the problem at it’s source not simply spread it into new areas.. I’m all for liberty and helping, but logic should come before apologetic behaviour.
    With the Aboriginal thing, when I said connection, I did not mean genetically, I meant socially we are not connected to the past generations actions.
    I’m not denying what happened to the “Aborigines” ( =) ) was terrible, I’m simply stating that what happened to the past generation by the past generation shouldn’t be a cloud over this generation. Do I really need to start pulling out the large figures going to the Aboriginal people by the current tax payers? Who themselves aren’t exactly living like kings.. They should be thanking this generation for the amount of support they have gotten instead of demanding apologies out of us.
    That’s how the zeitgeist has moved, they say actions speak louder than words and I believe this is true, instead of being ungrateful they need to start accepting that things change, do they even know what the Crusades were and how much culture and lifestyle went out the window?
    I find it sad that they still hold resentment to current society, I also find it quite offensive that these people get 14,000 dollars towards University while I have to pay everything myself and they expect a Government who represents me to apologise for this.

  26. random Says:

    Tim: We all live in a melting pot, I personally have little knowledge of my family line nor their original lifestyles and philosophy.. I’m what you might call a communist pantheist living in (for the most part) a christian capitalist society.. I tell you this because my entire belief system contradicts the system I live under, should I begin to cry out because my beliefs are oppressed by the Governments system? That I’ve lost touch of my family tree and have these beliefs I should some how be compensated? Ofcourse not, it’s obsurd to even think a minority group, whether 1 or 100,000 should have laws bent around to suit their beliefs.
    Colonialism happened all over the world throughout our entire history, it’s hardely unique to the Aboriginal people and despite the bad it’s also given birth to millions of people.
    Rome spread it’s wings and conquered lands, Persia did the same, the French still have colonies in New Caledonia, England (not us) were among many to do this.
    Living in resentment with a refusal to move on will do even less help, we shouldn’t even tolerate aboriginal people fighting drink driving offences in court on the grounds they don’t agree with our laws. This may be only one example, but there comes a time they need to accept there is an establishment in place trying to help them, and despite the atrocities of the past they actually have it VERY good here compared to other people in third world countries.

  27. Tim Says:

    Oh Random…just before i get started i saw this on a website….According to the latest Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian at the weekend, 69 per cent of voters said they supported the apology, including 46 per cent of Coalition supporters.

  28. Tim Says:

    And it goes on…’Since Mr Rudd steered the apology through parliament, voter satisfaction with him has reached a new high of 68 per cent, allowing him to open the biggest lead over an Opposition leader in the history of Newspoll.’

  29. random Says:

    Polls aren’t generally accurate simply due to the nature of them, you can poll 20,000 people out of our population and have 19,000 agree with eachother, but that still won’t be reflective of popular opinion if another 19,000 who were unpolled don’t agree.
    At any rate I fail to see how that negates any of my points, universal truth isn’t measured by mass appeal Tim, the pathetic show you were a contestant on is proof of that. (no hate on you)

  30. Tim Says:

    The reason we subsidise Aboriginal people is because as a group they are massively disadvantaged. It’s simply a fact. I don’t know why you have a such a beef with them when there are people who are taking much bigger advantage of our societal largese but are harder to spot because they drive flash cars and live in clean nice houses. Surely your communist analysis of society makes you see things in socio-economic terms. It makes you see how the super structure of society only makes the rich richer and the poor poor – while the poor only point fingers at each other – ‘oh, the aboriginals get it so good, they’re the problem’? Isn’t that what it teaches you……

  31. random Says:

    I don’t blame them for the flaws in the Capitalist system, my point was to illustrate that they get quite alot while continue to complain.

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