Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The arrogance of ignorance

There are far too many people in the world making adamant statements based on a complete ignorance of the facts. So sure that they're right, they confidently jump on their soapbox and spout their nonsense. No attempt to check the facts.

They annoy the hell out of me.

There's a classic example in Gulf News today, in a report on the new Australian Prime Minister's apology for past injustices done to aboriginals. The main emphasis was on the 'stolen generations' of children removed, generally forcibly, from their families and institutionalised or fostered out to white families.

"One female Australian expatriate said: "It's hundreds of years ago, and is there anybody in this world actually alive today who was personally affected by it? No."

Hundreds of years ago? I thought every Australian knew that the country wasn't 'discovered' by Capt. Cook until 1770 and white settlement/colonisation only began in 1788, just two hundred and twenty years ago, with the arrival of the First Fleet.

I'm astonished that any Australian wouldn't know the practice of removing children only ended about thirty years ago in the early nineteen-seventies, given the huge media coverage the 'stolen generations' issue has had for many years.

But here's an Australian telling the world that there's no-one alive who was personally affected by it.

The fact is that somebody taken as a child in 1970 would only be around forty now.

Our 'female Australian expatriate' continues:

"I don't see why Australian tax payers are now wasting money and time on formalising this apology. It distracts from the real issues in Australia today."

Tax payers wasting money? It's simply a statement from the Prime Minister, no money is involved.

The 'real issues in Australia' she's talking about look to me to be education - we obviously need to improve our history and current affairs education when we have Australians talking such nonsense.

The Gulf News story is here.

The Official Report

For anyone interested in history, in the relationship between colonisers and indiginous people, in social issues, the official report of the national enquiry is an astonishing document. Much of it is personal testimony from the children and families affected by the programme. That to me is the essence of any historical event. It's the little individual experiences that together make the big event and it's those that turn it from something intangible into something with colour and feeling and emotion.

Here's an example:

"When I first met my mother - when I was 14 - she wasn't what they said she was. They made her sound like she was stupid, you know, they made her sound so bad. And when I saw her she was so beautiful. Mum said, `My baby's been crying' and she walked into the room and she stood there and I walked into my - I walked into my mother and we hugged and this hot, hot rush just from the tip of my toes up to my head filled every part of my body - so hot. That was my first feeling of love and it only could come from my mum."

The report is called Bringing them Home.


Anonymous said...

As an aussie I Love your article and agree 100% that their are still many many people alive that have been effected by what occurred. A lot of these people (in their 40's) were actually being interviewed on BBC World early this morning.
Just one minor thing thought, unless I read it wrong, Capt Cook did not sail with the first fleet, it was Capt Phillip. Cook's claim to fame was the so-called "first discovery" despite the unrecognised fact that the Dutch landed on the west cost some 150 years earlier.

Seabee said...

Sorry, I was so steamed up about the nonsense that I didn't write that bit very well. I've corrected it - thank you for pointing it out.

LDU said...

Gday Seabee,

It's about time the apology got through. I only learn about the stolen generations in my first year of uni when I had to do an assignment on the Bringing Them Home report.

There are still a large number of people complaining about the apology in newspaper columns and on radio.

One caller asked along the lines of: "If Kevin Rudd wasn't involved in any of this, what exactly is he apologising for?"

Some people just dont get it.

nzm said...

Seabee: it was a hugely moving day in Oz yesterday, that's for sure. Even I teared up! Fed Square was full to the brim with people watching and listening to Kevin speak - and what a great job he did. Lots of people turned their backs when Nelson spoke - he started out alright and then disintegrated - what a twat.

People just don't get that saying sorry is simply an acknowledgment that something wrong was done. It's not allocating blame or pointing the finger.

Unfortunately there have also been some ugly moments. A few bigots and some people saying that the Stolen generation didn't happen or that it was for their own good. Bit like the Holocaust denial really.

Onwards and upwards, Australia - the hard work has now begun.

nzm said...

I don't know if you're able to see this outside Oz, (or if Etasalad will give you a connection that's good enough!) but here's a video of Kevin's speech from The Age website.

Rose in Dubai said...

>>Cook's claim to fame was the so-called "first discovery" despite the unrecognised fact that the Dutch landed on the west cost some 150 years earlier<<

To say nothing of the Aborigines who "discovered" it many thousands of years before that!

Seabee said...

Yes Rose, about 50,000 years before!

nzm, I've been reading the transcripts and I agree with your comments. Especially about Nelson - Bloody Howard destroyed his party in the pursuit of personal ambitions, then instead of trying to repair the damage the fools elected Nelson! I assume he was having an each way bet, trying to appeal to everyone including the bigots.

Itisalot didn't interfere with the link, it came through loud & clear.

LDU, not only don't get it but a lot of them don't want to get it because it clashes with their bigotry.

caz said...

Although Cook was "Captain" of the ship, his rank, if I am correct was Lieutenant. I'm sure someone will.
The stolen generation started in around 1950, I will be corrected if I am wrong.

A chap named Trevorrow, a member of the stolen generation. has, in South Australia, successfully sued for compensation.
More cases will follow. Why?. because you can't have half the country paying compensation, [inc WA I believe], and not the other half.

Furfther, as I have previ\iouslywritten. If yu are damaged by one or more persons, whether physically, emotionally or psychologically you are entitled to seek redress in our courts of law, you may also apply for compensation for pain and suffering.

This is the law of the land, like it or not, and it applies to all who live in Australia, no matter their background.

Sooner or later thee will be a larage number of kcompensation cases and we, the taxpayers will have to, through the courts deal with them.

caz said...

Apologies for the typos in my notes. I tried to find the edit button, and couldn't.

However, the notes still make sense.!!


Seabee said...

caz, yes your observations need correcting.

* Cook was promoted to Captain after his second major voyage and was of that rank when killed in Hawaii.

* The practice of removing children from their families did not start in 1950. It was happening informally in the late 1800s, being administered differently in each colony (it was before federation of course). For example, the 'Bringing them Home' report says: At a Royal Commission in South Australia in 1913 `experts' disagreed whether children should be removed at birth or about two years old.

* The apology statements in Federal Parliament don't change the laws regarding compensation. Cases have been brought previously, well before the apology statements, against State governments and I'm sure will continue. The claim that the apologies are 'wasting taxpayers money' is simply not true.

caz said...

Corrections accepted.

The PM has said that compensation will not be paid. This obviously is wrong. Compensaation will be paid, and more claims will follow.
One can only wonder if there are Barristers out there who are considering taking on such cases on a 'no win no payment' basis. It will happen. Cynic. Of course!

It only nmeeds one or two such claims to be successful and the flood gates will open.

Only a matter of time;.


Silver said...

"There are far too many people in the world making adamant statements based on a complete ignorance of the facts. So sure that they're right, they confidently jump on their soapbox and spout their nonsense. No attempt to check the facts.

They annoy the hell out of me."

Me, too. The question is how to adequately counteract them. I agree that people ought to be better educated -- in schools *and* outside them.

I wonder about the most effective way of forcing people to think and to pay attention to the world. I used to say I wanted to be a film star, because at least then, if I behaved intelligently, I had a chance of starting a fashion trend...

Seabee said...

caz, the PM is saying that he is not linking any new compensation promises with the apology. The existing laws on compensation will obviously still stand and people will continue to use them. The apology doesn't change the existing laws one way or the other.

Silver, if only there was a way of making people check facts and then base their opinions on them. It's not going to happen I'm afraid.

There never was an excuse in my opinion, but even more so now that a few seconds googling will provide the answers.

Cynical as I am about people I'm constantly amazed that the majority are not in the least bit curious about things. And all too often they don't want to know the facts because they would shoot their prejudices down.

Tys on Ice said...

it takes guts to admit that you have made a mistake and then apologize for it...

but it takes more courage to forgive

that last part of the post had me in tears...