Aboriginal Sovereignty: Liberals must reject it in principle

Aboriginal Sovereignty: Liberals must reject it in principle, by Greg Sheridan.

Over the past 1½ centuries, nationalism, and the associated issue of sovereignty, has been the most important dynamic in international life, while in recent years the wholly destructive movement of identity politics has become the chief obsession of cultural progressives.

Australia is in grave danger of provoking internal divisions that would unleash the forces of nationalism and identity politics in profoundly destructive ways. …

Part of the task for a civilised, mature democracy is to sustain decent nationalism and reject its exaggeration or its repudiation by ex­tremist or misguided political forces.

Aboriginal leadership, egged on by the PC crew, has made a mistake:

The Aboriginal leadership over the past 10 years has taken a terrible wrong turn in seeing continued political and constitutional change as the main engine for advancement of indigenous people. It has been encouraged in this grievous, historical error by both sides of politics, though the culpability rests more with the Coalition than with Labor because the Coalition’s political tradition, with its emphasis on the exclusive rights and obligations of a universal citizenship, should help it to more strenuously resist this mistake.

Many members of the government, frontbench and back, are ­extremely unhappy with the proposals for constitutional change but for many reasons have kept ­silent. That silence is now damaging Australia, as the expectation of radical change will ultimately become self-fulfilling if there is never an in-principle counterargument. …

The process of constitutional change will never end if Aboriginal demands are met:

Tony Abbott promoted the preamble recognition idea as “completing the Constitution”. This meant it was a one-off symbolic gesture. But it’s clear that this process will never end. Not only has the Aboriginal leadership rejected such recognition, it has repudiated the idea that the Constitution can ever be completed. Instead there is an endless series of demands, all of which compromise national sovereignty and create different classes of Australian citizens. …

The point of constitutions and symbols is that they should be stable and mostly not front of mind. You get your symbols right partly so that you can forget about them and get on with life. …

An interesting change of heart:

Five years ago I would have supported recognition in a constitutional preamble, so long as it was inclusive and non-divisive, of the Aboriginal presence in Australia before European settlement. But as I have reflected on the matter more deeply, I see now that any departure from the single treatment of all Australians as citizens is bad in principle and would be damaging in the real world. …

The consequences of Aboriginal sovereignty would be bad for Australia, including provoking white identity politics:

It is no longer paranoid to conclude that the drift of Aboriginal politics over the past decade has gone into the very dangerous waters of a challenge to the normal understanding of Australian sovereignty, has embraced illiberal ideas of distinguishing citizens from each other on the basis of membership of a race or ethnic group, and would have devastating consequences for our society, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike, if implemented.

Why might the consequences be devastating? Here’s one example. The rise of Donald Trump indicates that if you have enough fixation on identity politics of racial subgroups, you will ultimately provoke a movement of identity politics among whites. …

For the past 10 or 15 years, the US Democratic Party strategists thought they were heading for success because of their support among African-Americans and Hispanics. But the more exaggerated their rhetoric and claims became, the more they demeaned and alienated the white working class — the people who join the police and military, who hate it if they have to live off welfare and whose patriotism has been least ­affected by the postmodern fashions of academe. …

Will a future Labor government aim for a treaty without a referendum, and would the Liberals be capable of resisting such a move?

A nation forever fighting over its past is seldom happy. Mainstream political leaders owe it to Aborigines, and to all Australians, to repudiate this dreadful wrong turn.

Andrew Bolt:

The last time we had a semi-official Aboriginal “parliament”, known then as ATSIC, it was ruined by cronyism, bullying, carpetbagging and worse. It had to be shut down by the Government.

Under the Uluru proposal, a new such body — formalised in the constitution — could never be scrapped, no matter how corrupt or useless it became.

hat-tip Stephen Neil