Blacktivism and the Crown

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Kevin Donnelly

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Kevin Donnelly

7 May 2023

3:00 AM

Given the coronation of King Charles III, there are differing and often conflicting opinions about the significance of the British monarchy and what the institution means to Australia.

While many celebrate the long history of ritual and ceremony surrounding the occasion, there will be some, like the ABC’s Aboriginal host of Q&A Stan Grant, who condemn the monarchy as a symbol of white supremacy, colonial exploitation, and responsible for the way Indigenous Australian’s have been, and continue to be, exploited and killed.

In his recent book The Queen Is Dead, Grant describes Australia’s history as riven with cruelty, exploitation, and genocide and argues those with Indigenous blood are always victims of racism, and cruelty.

Grant wrote the book as a result of the ABC daring to present Queen Elizabeth’s death in September last year in a measured and respectful way instead of using the occasion to reveal the monarchy’s complicity in exploiting and subjugating Grant’s Indigenous ancestors.

Because blacktivists argue society is structurally racist and Indigenous people are always oppressed, the highly successful and well-paid ABC journalist argues, ‘I felt in my own organisation … a sense of betrayal because the ABC, everyone donned black suits, everyone took on a reverential tone.’

In an extract from the book, Grant also condemns the way, as the host of Q&A, he had to allow a white person on the panel when discussing the significance of the Queen’s death.

A death, Grant argues, that led him to relive the way the British invaded the country ‘shooting defenceless people, cutting off heads, dismembering bodies’ and forcing Aborigines off cliffs, setting fire to homes, and lacing food with poison.

Such was the trauma Grant writes: ‘The night after, I am lying on my bed. My heart is racing. I am struggling for breath. I really feel like I am dying.’ Not unexpectedly, the book is described as ‘a searing, viscerally powerful, emotionally unstoppable, pull-no-punches book on the bitter legacy of colonialism for Indigenous people’.

Grant’s book and his black armband worldview explain why so many Australians are becoming fed up with the incessant claim the nation’s history is characterised by cruelty, exploitation, and genocide and, even today, those with Indigenous blood are always victims of racism and white supremacy.

Along with the loss, suffering, and dispossession that inevitably occurs when a civilised society encounters one not as advanced, it’s also true the British did all they could to establish friendly relations.

The Admiralty’s orders to Governor Phillip stated, ‘You are to endeavour by every possible means to open an Intercourse with the Natives and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all Our Subjects to live in amity and kindness with them.’

As detailed by Watkin Tench, a marine who arrived with the First Fleet, it was also the case that Governor Phillip stressed the need to deal peacefully with the local Aborigines and even after being speared himself refused to take retribution.

While there is no doubt as the fledgling colony advanced over the Blue Ranges conflicts occurred as a result of European pastoralists taking Aboriginal land, it is also true Governor Macquarie did much to help Aborigines adjust to the arrival of the British.

Ignored by Stan Grant is also the reality that thousands of Indigenous Australians have followed his footsteps and achieved prosperity and success notwithstanding the supposed structural racism. Aborigines like the magistrate Pat O’Shane, academics Marcia Langton and Anthony Dillon, plus the 11 members of the Commonwealth Parliament are evidence that Indigenous Australians have the same legal and political rights and chance to succeed in life as all other Australians.

Also ignored is the reason all Australians are treated equally is because the nation inherited a legal system based on British Common Law and a Westminster-inspired parliamentary system that includes the monarch as the nation’s sovereign.

Instead of Aboriginal activists parading their victimhood status and whinging about being oppressed, maybe it’s time to follow the example of the descendants of the Irish who arrived with the First Fleet and later during the Irish famine and the Gold Rushes.

Reading Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore and David W. Cameron’s Convict Hell: Macquarie Harbour, where Irish convicts, especially the Fenian’s fighting against British imperialism, regularly received 100 lashes and were starved and imprisoned in solitary confinement, there is cause for complaint.

Ireland suffered years of oppression with 1 million starving and dying during the great famine. Add the terror and violence perpetrated by Oliver Cromwell and much later Winston Churchill’s black and tans and there is obviously a case for truth-telling and compensation. Unlike Indigenous separatists, though, the Irish have assimilated, are proud Australians, and don’t spend all their time self-identify as victims.

While Dr Kevin Donnelly is of Irish descent he is a proud Australian and author of The Dictionary Of Woke.

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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