A Letter To The Aboriginese People

A Letter To The Aboriginese People

Dear Aboriginals,

We need to talk. We have a problem. I know, I know – I thought everything was cool between us. I thought we’d reached an understanding: you would provide us with entertaining dance routines and skilled footballers, and we would provide you with military incursions into your communities and helpful suggestions on how to spend your money, like the suggestion “You can only spend your money how we tell you to”. There was a healthy give and take between you Aboriginals and we “normals”, and you’d been nice and quiet for a while, which frankly I found extremely commendable. I really thought we were making progress.

But then.

Then came Australia Day, and the most shameful episode in our country’s history since Manning Clark ate Weary Dunlop live on the Graham Kennedy Show. Now look, Aboriginals, I have nothing against peaceful protests, as long as they don’t actually happen, but no matter what your political proclivities, it is absolutely disgraceful that the prime minister, our sort-of-elected leader, should be subjected to the indignity of having angry people stand near her. Why can’t Aboriginals have some respect for the office of prime minister? Is it because there were no prime ministers 40,000 years ago? You have to stop living in the past, Aboriginals. Today we have prime ministers, and they deserve respect. They don’t deserve to be tucked under the arm of a bodyguard like a Steeden under the arm of Sam Backo (he was a famous Aboriginal footballer, you see – don’t tell me I don’t know how to speak to you on your own terms, Aboriginals).

What’s more, to do this on Australia Day is just bad taste, Aboriginals. It is disgusting that you saw fit to sully this great day which commemorates the liberation of Aborigine Australians. Now I know what you will say – you will say “liberation from what?” Which is understandable – I know you people sometimes have trouble with English. It’s easy for you, in your simple native way, to not recognise what a great day for your race the first Australia Day was. But consider this: if the British had not landed that day and claimed Australia for the King, it might have been the French! Or the Spanish! Or, I don’t know, Filipinos or something weird like that. Would you prefer that? Do you know how hard Filipino is to learn? Especially for people like you who never get into the good schools. I think we can safely say that Arthur Phillip in 1788 saved you from many generations of Eurasian tyranny and difficult verb forms. And it’s not that we expect thanks for it – we just expect a bit of peace and quiet while we are busy celebrating that glorious day. We don’t even mention the fact that a couple of years later you people STABBED Arthur Phillip. With a SPEAR, no less, which frankly is a bit on the nose. And yet we overlook that. We don’t demand a Sorry For Stabbing That Guy Day. We’ve got CLASS, Aboriginals. Maybe you could learn a bit from that.

The thing is, Aboriginals, there is only so long you can go on ignoring our generosity before we start to kick back a little bit. The white man is a proud and noble fellow, who can be pushed only so far. Don’t let the history of the European race fool you: we’re not all sweetness and light. And we’re pretty sick of giving and giving and not getting anything in return.

We came to this country in a spirit of cooperation and friendliness, wanting only to build a great new nation and hopefully escape from prison and live in the bush as cannibals. We built cities, and we let you live in them, even though they did in fact belong to us and building materials are not cheap. We gave you civilisation, and clothes, and an array of interesting new germs to learn about, expanding your experience and making you more cosmopolitan. We even gave you more downtime by providing free babysitting services, often permanently. It is difficult to think of a way in which we white dudes did not improve the Aboriginal lot, and I’ve gotta say, we were pretty shocked when you responded with nothing but whining and carping and dying of the flu. It made us wonder why we bothered.

Really, the whole history of the relationship between Indigenouses and real people has been one long tale of distrust and petty quibbling and ingratitude on an epic scale. And look, we can sit around playing the blame game all day long, but it would achieve nothing. Because we already know it’s your fault. Aboriginals, if you put half as much effort into buying fast food franchises and starting massive multinational mining corporations as you did into protesting and living in squalid conditions, you would all be extremely wealthy like us. But I guess that’s too much to ask, eh? Even after all we’ve done for you.

And it’s like you’re never pleased. We didn’t give you the vote, because we thought it’d be too much pressure for you, given ballot papers often have more than six candidates on them and ancient Aboriginal culture was pretty skimpy on maths. But you didn’t like that, so we let you vote, and then you go find something else to complain and/or die prematurely about. We give you alcohol, and you complain about alcoholism. We take away your alcohol, and you complain about not having any alcohol. We give you the gift of law and order, and then you complain that we keep arresting you without “reasons”. Seriously, when are you going to be satisfied? We even agreed to stop calling you “Abos”, even though that was a real timesaver and everything takes twice as long now.

I mean, look at Cathy Freeman. We didn’t have to let her on that Olympic team. There’s a little white girl somewhere who cried her eyes out because her place got taken by Cathy. We gave her that place out of the goodness of our hearts. And then, even more generously, we gave her a gold medal – we didn’t even ask her to give it to us when she got back or anything. Didn’t that prove that we were perfectly willing to let Aboriginals do stuff and be on TV and everything? But still you don’t seem happy, whining about land rights and infant mortality rates and basic human living standards and frankly, it’s starting to get us down. It makes us wonder if you were really ready to participate in society after all. We let you, because you’d been fairly well-behaved and we thought it’d be a nice treat for you, but if you’re going to repay us by protesting and stealing shoes, maybe we should reconsider. Maybe it was all too much, too soon. You’ve got to walk before you can run, even when you’re black, I suppose.

The point is, Aboriginals, if you want to keep getting favours from us Australians, you’re going to have to stop acting like such dicks about it. A little grace wouldn’t go astray, you know? A little decency. A little team spirit. I mean, we’re all in this together, aren’t we? Some of us more than others, obviously, but that’s only to be expected because we’re a bit more presentable. You can’t blame us for that – God just made us this way. And he made you that way, and I don’t think we can ignore the implications, right?

You need to chill out, Aboriginals. We’re not asking you to like us – although if you don’t it just shows how mean you are. All we’re asking is that you go about your business quietly and peacefully, and let us go about our business quietly and peacefully, and stop yelling at our prime minister, and maybe, you know, go out to the desert and talk to the birds or something. That’s the sort of thing you guys like, isn’t it?

We just want a little bit of respect and to not have to be reminded of your existence very often. Then I’m sure we can all get along, Aboriginals and civilised humans alike.

Yours tolerantly,

Ben Pobjie (White)

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36 thoughts on “A Letter To The Aboriginese People

  1. Does that feel better, now that you’ve got all that wailing and breast-beating and gnashing of teeth out of the way? Talk about using a sledgehammer to kill a gnat. The essence of your limp satire seems to be that we should applaud pointless hysteria, threatening mob behaviour, misdirected aggro and plain bloody bad manners because the mob was Aboriginal? We should make allowances for the poor downtrodden innocents because they don’t know any better and we non-Aboriginals have to wear our penance like a hair shirt? EPIC FAIL, Ben.

      • Hey, I’m old enough and hardened enough to save my heart-bleeds for where they’re needed. The activists who indulged themselves on 26 January were engaged in a hard-boiled political stunt. They count on soft-headed twerps like Ben (who also has a vested interest in catching the public’s attention) to play the victim card for them. The stunt worked, in a way. They got plenty of attention, but the majority of observers (Aboriginal or not) were neither impressed nor persuaded. BFD.

        • You think that’s a whinge?

          Are you a very young person, zulu?

          That was not a whinge, that was a venting of spleen. A denunciation of limp dilettante-ish liberal tongue-poking. A contemptuous fly-swatting. A fart in Benjie’s general direction. The snorted harumph of a genuine harumphodite.

        • Whatever. By the way, did you have a point to make, or did you just want to whinge? Perhaps exercise your vocabulary beyond baby talk?

        • You didn’t break out your thesaurus this time? Pity.

          Point? I already made my point. My point was that all you did was bitch and moan that you didn’t like the “limp satire” and wrote a whole paragraph about how much you didn’t like it. Or did that fly above your head a tad?

        • Compared to Benjie’s ten tedious paragraphs to make a single point (badly), I thought I was a model of brevity.

  2. what nationality are your ancestors gastapo its okay for white australian to have there pow wows that gets every other nationality involved ,but the minute black people standup for there rights its blown out of propotion you have just as much white people on the dole as you have black ,as well as this same that are tax payers hoe dare you make out that aboriginal people are ;osers you dickhead you live on blackmans land show some respect i have no sympathy for julie gillard she has made low income earners lives hell and shuffed kevin rudd feathered her own nest she deserves what she gets as for you piss off back to the country your ancestor came from

  3. I think the point Vicki is trying to make is that aggressive or violent protests are not welcome in Australia no matter who performs them, and I agree. This website is very quick and willing to denounce the protests of hate groups and bigots but if you agree with the message of the protester then it seems ok to act any which way you like. I can just imagine what would of been on here if this protest was performed by the ADL or the APP against asylum. You would been all over it like a rash.
    In no way do i think that the treatment Aboriginal people have suffered throughout the short history of English settlement in this country has been fair or just, but to threaten any politician’s saftey is unacceptable.

  4. @Gama- i think the problem is that no-one can agree on just how aggressive the Aus Day protest was. The only violence i saw on tv was perpetrated by the police shoving protesters out of the way- which i think… okay, overreaction, but i think we all understand that their number one priority was to ensure the Prime Minister’s safety.

    Burning the flag was a bad idea. Protests exist to sway the courts of public opinion. While i don’t think the protest was aggressive, it was absolutely hostile, but unfortunately many people aren’t compassionate enough to understand why, and therefore the movement is set back.

    Did anyone else think the shoe bit was kinda Monty Python-ish?

    • Agreed… I haven’t seen any evidence that any politician’s safety was actually threatened.

      And it has been interesting to see how all of a sudden the bogots have jumped on the fact that people were being nasty to Our Prime Minister… when some of the things I’ve seen them say and suggest about her have been far more abhorrent.

      I don’t think Ben’s article is actually taking aim at the events of Australia Day, but the reaction that has come out of it. The way it has dug up every platitude ever trotted out by politicians and the media, and even the general public, about Aboriginal people. Every one of which is basically a wafer thin, politically correct coating for the kinds of attitudes Ben has satirised above. People don’t often directly and outrightly *say* the things that are written above, but the meaning is there between the lines. And it’s a disgraceful way to speak to people and about people, specifically people who have been so royally effed-over, time and time again.

      In another thread on this site, a guy posted a few comments that could easily have been pulled for that article and polished so as not to *sound* derogatory or discriminatory. He wasn’t a raving loony bogot, he wasn’t being an outwardly racist pr*ck like many of the people featured on this site, but he was trotting out stereotypes and attitudes that have come to be an accepted response to issues that most Australians don’t even have the courtesy to really endeavour to understand. Most people don’t see Aboriginal people on a daily basis, or really honestly think how they would feel if the tables were turned.

      I think Ben’s article is brilliant because it challenges those stereotypes and platitudes. We are hearing a lot of reactions to the protests at this time that are coming from the very type of thinking he’s satirising. And as a nation, it would be nice if we could stop and think about what he’s saying, and then stop and think about what we’re about to say, and whether it really has anything to do with the events of Australia Day, or whether it’s just a programmed response to anything to do with Aboriginal people.

  5. Unfortunately what was shown on news broadcats both here and overseas did nothing to help or highlight the true plight of our Aboriginal people. I had friends in England asking if our Prime Minister had been caught in a riot! In fact the the only fair commentary I saw was of Aboriginal Elders at the tent embassy denouncing the aggressive behaviour of those involved. Like all groups there are bad apples in the barrel and they seem to be the ones that get the limelight. The whole thing was a ridiculous political stunt and as the Elder in the interview said, “they were used and set up to be the bad guys. (or words to that effect anyway)”. My point was that violence has no place when protesting in Australia. That’s my opinion anyway.

    • Actually now Australia has scrutiny from the international community, we can no longer tell the world how it is by lying, Australia must deal with it or no country will consider us a great nation of great people like Australians like to say, isolation is no longer our friend, with all the internation attention I have seen has portrayed aussies as backwards racists, continually flooding the net with racism, with many internationals learning Australias history while the majority here still dont know just how bad it was and is still, the world are shocked a rich nation like ours hasnt settled their past yet, we are the only first world english speaking nation without a treaty, we may never be considered a modern world leading nation until the past is dealt with, why doesnt Australia talk about a treaty? what bad can come from it, i see a lot of people against any real settlement without reasoning, fooled by the murdoch propaganda machine thats ruining our nation playing the fear card

  6. @VikiPS “The essence of your limp satire seems to be that we should applaud pointless hysteria threatening mob behaviour, misdirected aggro and plain bloody bad manners”

    I’m sorry but the only hysteria I saw came mostly from the media and the police. The ‘threatening mob behaviour’ is nothing compared to some of the journalists I have seen harrassing people of the public because they ‘only want answers’. Look at those crappy journalists from ACA/TT who hound people in a threatening manner (forcing their way into doorways/ cars etc) with the camera crews with them. Nothing is said about their behaviour but because this manner was used towards our PM then it is somehow unacceptable? Misdirected aggro? The aboriginals have been trying to talk to the respective governmental powers about the date of Australia Day since it came to be. Their first protest to the date took place in 1938 and to this day the government STILL will not debate the matter, instead choosing to ignore them. Now that’s what I call “bloody bad manners”!

    I’m not condoning violent actions, but people like you VikiPS are perpetuating the idea that these people were violent, and worse still, that people like Ben condone it. No arrests were made, nobody broke the law, no one was hurt. In fact the worst thing that happened was that the PM tripped and lost her shoe due to the hysteria of the police which the media quickly sensationalised. And the truth of the matter is,YOU are perpetuating this sentiment.

    http://www.australiaday.com.au/studentresources/history.aspx

    Well done Ben. An excellent article.

    • Thanks for a well-considered comment, Elysse.

      If I can clear up some misapprehensions:

      – I made no comment at all to suggest that there was violence, or that people were endangered. What I did say was precisely what you repeated in your reply.

      – Was there pointless hysteria? Yes. The crowd at the Tent Embassy reacted to a distorted and misinterpreted version of a comment made by Tony Abbott, which apparently none of the crowd actually heard themselves. The merits or otherwise of what Abbott *actually* said didn’t seem to enter into it.

      – Was there threatening mob behaviour? Yes. Numbers of people proceeded to surround the Lobby restaurant (which is glass walled), yelling in an angry manner and slapping loudly on the glass. I imagine anyone inside would have felt threatened.

      – Was there misdirected aggro? I would suggest there was. I say this because there didn’t seem to be a particular point the crowd were trying to make, or a specific outcome they were trying to achieve. This wasn’t a demonstration, or a planned campaign tactic, it was completely reactive and uncontrolled (but not out of control, I hasten to add).

      – Bloody bad manners? Yes indeed! Fair enough that the aboriginal people gathered at the Tent Embassy feel they have no reason to celebrate: fair enough they should protest. Fair enough that they didn’t feel they owed Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott any courtesies. But what about the community volunteers, whose recognition ceremony they shanghai’d? That was gross discourtesy to people who deserve the respect of the whole country.

      In relation to points you raised:

      – I made no comment on the behaviour of the press or security staff, simply because that wasn’t addressed in Ben’s monologue. In point of fact, I thought the security staff overreacted to an absurd degree and handled what was a fairly uncomplicated situation very poorly indeed. And were the press pushy and bad mannered? Probably, but that’s hardly news is it?

      – I don’t think it advances matters to argue that the government has displayed worse manners by “refusing to debate” the date of Australia Day (I’m not sure what you mean by that). Trying to excuse bad behaviour by claiming “they did it first” is just a bit childish. (Personally, I doubt that it matters much to the average white Australian on which day Australia Day is celebrated. Nevertheless, the Tent Embassy folks and other campaigners seem to be getting behind holding on to 26 January as Invasion Day, Survival Day and now Sovereignty Day. Fair enough).

      I thought Ben’s monologue WAS belaboured, too long and not particularly original. The man’s a professional comic: I’m sure he can deal with honest audience reaction. Come to that, if I’d heard him do a (MUCH shorter) version of his diatribe on stage I’d probably laugh and clap like a loon. But preaching to the converted is always annoying to the converts, as well as being misplaced and wasted effort. Was it published anywhere else but here? Why not put it in front of the people it’s aimed at, and see if it changes any hearts and minds?

      I repeat that I think the crowd’s outburst was a fairly deliberately and cynically manipulated by a few, in order to grab the public’s attention: and that it should be judged as such, namely political grandstanding. I don’t see why straight-out publicity stunts should be judged against different standards because the participants are aboriginal. (And, no, I am NOT making a judgement about the merits of their cause/s, merely the quality of the campaign strategy).

      You obviously disagree with me, Elysse, but please don’t put words in my mouth, or impute motives or attitudes that I don’t lay claim to.

      • Hi VikiPS,

        There were a few things that I had not considered in your reply that I would like to comment on.

        1) “Fair enough that they didn’t feel they owed Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott any courtesies. But what about the community volunteers, whose recognition ceremony they shanghai’d?That was gross discourtesy to people who deserve the respect of the whole country.”

        To be honest I hadn’t even considered this point and in all fairness, it’s a shame that they were the ‘casualties’ of what happened. But to hold a demonstration on any other day would have broken with aboriginal tradtion in protesting to the date of Australia Day (Abbott’s comments were not the only reason they were there). In addition, the government must be held responsible for their part of what happened. They have let things deteriorate to this level and whilst the protestors severely mismanaged this particular protest, the government’s refusal for discourse over the past decades is both irresponsible and cowardly and has resulted in much resentment and growing anger towards them. This is also what I see as “gross discourtesy to people who deserve the respect of the whole country.”

        2) “Trying to excuse bad behaviour by claiming “they did it first” is just a bit childish.”

        This isn’t what I was implying. My point was that by ignoring the problem only serves to exacerbate the issue. The government are our elected leaders and they should be the ones taking charge and addressing the problem at hand. And it’s frustrating that after years of peaceful protests since 1938 the one that gets the attention is the one made up of chaos, fear, anger and hysteria. For a country that prides itself on it’s inclusivity, why then choose to celebrate the joys of our nation on a day which is so wholly unconnected to the joys of our Indigenous populations. This date is divisive and exclusive only to certain populations of Australians.This issue is not going to go away and I’m at a loss as to why nothing has been done about it after decades of it being ‘an issue’.

        3) “I thought Ben’s monologue WAS belaboured, too long and not particularly original”

        I’m not disputing this. This is your opinion and I accept that. I just didn’t agree with your interpretation that the essence of his monologue was that he was applauding the “pointless hysteria threatening mob behaviour, misdirected aggro and plain bloody bad manners”. To me he exposed the raw sentiments that are prevalent in the mentality of many Australians today regarding aboriginals.

        4) “I made no comment at all to suggest that there was violence…please don’t put words in my mouth, or impute motives or attitudes that I don’t lay claim to.”

        Agreed and apologies for inferring that you had said that this.

        Right, time for my Cocoa Pops.

        • Im thirty and have seen no forward movement for Aboriginals, 75% of the Aboriginal population are under 25, how relevant are abbotts comments to them, all they have seen is the removal of human rights, deaths in custody, forced aqusition of their land, loss of CDEP programs (the only current means of income), Aboriginal services removed, thats an atempt at causing a riot, did he mean the respect shown by aussies because anyone with a internet connection (as he does) knows what level of respect is out there, is that what the majority of Aboriginals are to be happy about, ononly the racist would try to justify his carefully constructed words as non offensive, we will see repeats while the lies continue

  7. I loved Ben’s writing I even had a laugh at the irony,
    By what I saw there wasn’t any violence at the Australia day protest by Aboriginal people only by the police, especially one which seemed to be shoving and swearing a lot.
    I also don’t understand why burning the flag is such an issue after all it has the union jack and its color is Brittish which represents the people who not only did horrendous things to Aboriginal people but also to all Australians. They sent our troops in to be slaughtered just for a start, don’t people know our real history, I think if we had a flag which was truly Australian no one would want to burn it. We ALL love our country.
    I don’t think that Julia was ever in a dangerous situation but as usual racist attitudes assumes that she was based on their own anger issues.
    I think that people should be more concerned about the messages of violent which our government displays at each sitting should be of greater concern, OMG they act like spoilt children and no body guards race them out of there.
    The real issue is that the government doesn’t actually want minorities to get along or maybe there could be a revolution as long as we all hate each other, there is no chance that we will stand up and actually fight for the rights of ALL the people of our country, governments will get to spend as much as they like to sell a pool table and get paid ridiculous salaries as well as a million other crimes if we did them, and we will entertain them by taking their baits, which keep us away from REAL issues of concern.
    By the way I am aboriginal and in the last couple of years my children have been stabbed, knocked out by drug addicts, had chainsaws pulled on them all witnessed by white people as well, and guess what these people don’t even end up in court. Thats the REAL law for you, if we had done any of these things we would be thrown in goal and asked questions later.

    Tracey.

  8. The 7.30 Report today aired video taken by a person present at the Tent Embassy 40th Anniversary rally on 26 January. The video quite conclusively showed Embassy member Barbara Shaw being given a false version of Tony Abbott’s earlier response to a journalist’s question about the Embassy. ACT union secretary Kim Sattler can clearly be heard telling Ms Shaw that Tony Abbott was at The Lobby restaurant with the PM, and that “Abbott’s just made a statement to the press that the tent embassy should be pulled down”. Ms Shaw repeated this to the audience, then encouraged everyone present to “go over there”.

    This confirms that the ruckus that followed was a reactive display brought about by the deliberate machinations of a few people, namely Tony Hodges, Kim Sattler and Barbara Shaw. Perhaps Barbara Shaw is satisfied that she garnered the media attention she sought. God knows what Hodges and Sattler thought they would achieve. Personally, I don’t think the publicity would anywhere near make up for the strength of the public backlash. I’m afraid the heyday of red ragging is well and truly over.

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