Historical grievance politics imperils Australia’s future

Historical grievance politics imperils Australia’s future, by Paul Kelly (editor-at-large of The Australian newspaper).

The debate is not really about statues or political correctness. The statues row is a bizarre event revealing of something larger: how European Australia and indigenous Australia are going to recon­cile on this continent given their competing cultures and histories.

Rubbish — it just happens to coincide to the week with ripping down statues of white men in the US? The Australian-aboriginal question is important, but this is a much broader phenomenon.

The new left’s identity politics have come to fruition. In order to boost other identity groups, white men are being demoted. In the process, much off the underpinning of our current society is being delegitimized, which gives space and legitimacy for the brave new SJWs to create their world.

Within his restricted view, however, Paul Kelly has some interesting points:

There are two tough principles at the heart of this. First, there can be no full justice or restitution for the enormous crimes and sins committed against the indigenous peoples, though this cannot gainsay efforts to address injustice against them; and, second, this is a dialogue between two different cultures, both of which have legitimate claims on this continent, with such legitimacy needing to be recognised by the other. Without acceptance of these harsh realities, we are collectively doomed. …

Not surprisingly, the left party, the Australian Labor Party, is fully on board with identity politics:

The Labor Party is now seized with the idea of historical falsehoods. Tony Burke has denounced on ABC’s Q&A the idea that James Cook discovered Australia. Bill Shorten opposes tearing down statues but backs the indigenous proposal for an extra plaque on Captain Cook’s Hyde Park statue. Indigenous Labor frontbencher Linda Burney encourages local councils to check out their areas for historical inaccuracies to be corrected.

This gives Labor sanction to the revisionist movement. The politics of these movements is well known. One demand follows another. Given Australia’s racist past is assumed, does this mean thousands of statues, plaques and place names across the country need to be reviewed or adjusted? That would seem to be the inevitable logic. How could it not be? Shorten cannot believe his “correction” applies to just one statue.

This runs in parallel with the campaign to move Australia Day, which is denounced as racist. Once that brand is put on Australia Day it becomes a moral imperative to abandon it. This tactic is obvious and gains traction as one local council after another examines the issue. Burney said on Sky News that it is not a “unifying day” while conceding it “needs to be respected”. In short, the current situation is untenable.

Labor’s deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, says her party has no plans to change it “at the moment” but adds that it is a “difficult day” for many. That is an unmistakeable pointer to what is coming. Imagine the future demands from the Labor rank and file. How Labor treats Australia Day is, in effect, up for review. …

The battle for history is really over today’s power struggle:

This raises the pivotal question: is the latest push for indigenous recognition in symbols, statues and history a zero-sum game in which European symbols, statues and history are to be dismantled in the cause of so-called “truth telling”? …

The merits and demerits of Captain Cook has nothing to do with this. He was a white male, important in establishment of today’s society, and nothing else is relevant. Further discussion of Cook is just fluff to distract the conservatives and waste their time and energy — while the real process, the cultural dispossession of white men, continues apace.

Telling the Australian people they must surrender their national day, their statues, their commemorations, their history while expecting the same people to vote for indigenous constitutional recognition and a treaty is a failed strategy that will only deepen grievance without repair.

True, but as Kelly notes this ostensible strategy is ridiculous. So it’s not what is going on, and you need not waste your time defending against it. The aim is to discredit white men and delegitimize today’s society in order that it may be remade.

hat-tip Stephen Neil