January 26, 2004


Gary Sauer-Thompson (who emigrated here from New Zealand) denounces Australia Day:

I reckon it has to do with planting the British flag on the soil of the continent. An act that says 'this land belongs to us.' An act that signifies colonial conquest. An act that looks towards a bloody history of conflict to dispossess the indigenous people from their land.

Robert Corr (who emigrated here from Ireland) agrees:

Today marks the arrival of the second group of boat people to arrive in Australia. They stole land from the first, and now they lock up the newest boat people (who have no such heinous intent).

The various ethical issues raised by these remarks are too complex for me to deal with, so I contacted ethicist Dr. Festus Wolfenstein, head of the School of Ethics at the International Ethics University in Brussels. Here is his report:

Mr. Sauer-Thompson is plainly moved by the plight of Australia’s indigenous people, whom he sees as victims of conquest and dispossession. Australia is, he writes, ‘their land’. He also perceives that events subsequent to white settlement are part of a ‘history of conflict’. I imagine he refers here to the construction of cities and roads on Aboriginal land; which is, in his view, the whole of Australia.

Mr. Corr characterises Australia as ‘stolen’ from prior inhabitants, and sees present occupiers of Australia as the inheritors of this theft. He contrasts the thieving behaviour of the first white settlers (their crime shared, in Mr. Corr’s view, by subsequent generations) with the honest and decent motives of recent applicants for asylum.

But where, in this history of dispossession and theft, are we to place Mr. Corr and Mr. Sauer-Thompson? Both men evidently profit from the same theft that they condemn. One appreciates the moral torment both must endure as they daily tread on the rights of a disenfranchised, demoralised race. The only solution to their agony is to redress the wrongs committed by Australia’s invaders, beginning with themselves. If I may summarise:

If they don’t like it here, they should fuck off back to where they came from.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 26, 2004 10:54 PM

That Wolfenstein guy sure knows a worthless prick when he reads his worthless prick stuff. If he's ever in WA I'd like to buy the man a beer, and get a few grooming pointers.

Posted by: S Whiplash at January 26, 2004 at 11:09 PM

Well, you took the long way aound the barn, but you finally got there.

Posted by: Misanthropyst at January 26, 2004 at 11:41 PM

The point is not to worry about your own ethical dilemmas(such as living a life of wealth while complaining that taxes are not high enough to properly fund welfare programs) but to put one in the other guys eye for not only being unethical but insensitive. So much more satisfying.

I, by the way, am still waiting for the apology for having my ancestors driven from Mother Africa about 200,000 year ago and being forced to live in god-forsaken places like Norway and Sweden. (Well, god-forsaken then. Now the young ladies at least are quite worth admiring.)

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at January 26, 2004 at 11:59 PM

And, of course, I totally neglected to mention that there is scarcely a place worth noting that hasn't been overrun by another people time and time again. The exceptions would appear to be Tierra del Fuego (although it has arguably been overrun) and Iceland/Greenland, which no one except my stupid ancestors/relatives would appear to want. Both of these examples are isolated and not particularly conducive to human existence. (Read the Icelandic Sagas.)

My favorite here in the US is the Sioux oral tradition which (paraphrased) states something like, "when we got here there were being who looked like humans but weren't, so we killed them and took the land and now it is ours forever." Sounds about average to me.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at January 27, 2004 at 12:03 AM

beings, beings, darnit. Preview is my friend.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at January 27, 2004 at 12:04 AM

I call shenanigans!!!!

You got my hopes up, Tim, by thinking that someone who shares a profession with reknowned ethicist Peter Singer and works in an International Ethics University would actually have some common sense, but I cannot find any Dr Festus Wolfenstein or International Ethics University in Google...

Posted by: Sortelli at January 27, 2004 at 12:28 AM

Although in googling for the International Ethics University sans quotes I did find this gem, and it wasn't even about Singer like I assumed it would be.

I submit that killing an ethics professor is justifiable in some cases, contingent on how far they are willing to go to justify infanticide.

Posted by: Sortelli at January 27, 2004 at 12:36 AM

Everybody culture agrees on how the ownership of land is decided, namely by fighting over it until one side disappears by assimilation or otherwise. Them's the rules. It's been two hundred years. You lost. Get over it. Western values and property rights were established by it, a paradox but not a contradiction.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at January 27, 2004 at 01:18 AM

And what of the peaceful megalithic cultures displaced by these bloody barbaric Celts? Is there no end to their evil?

Posted by: Bruce at January 27, 2004 at 01:26 AM

Sorry, Tim, but I thought my post suggested that we should be more welcoming given that most of us arrived here uninvited in the first place. Oh, and an apology would be nice.

Posted by: Robert at January 27, 2004 at 01:54 AM

An apology for what, exactly?

Posted by: david at January 27, 2004 at 02:10 AM

Er, not to me, David.

Posted by: Robert at January 27, 2004 at 02:21 AM

To the people of the UK for saying that you travel on a UK passport?

Posted by: S Whiplash at January 27, 2004 at 02:24 AM

Robert thinks I’ve misinterpreted him, and wants an apology. How cute.

Posted by: tim at January 27, 2004 at 02:43 AM

Where does this apology thing come from? I hear it all the time in the States, people today apologizing for what some ass-holes did 400 years ago. You know what? Rule one of accountability -- you are 100% accountable for your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Rule #2 -- you are not accountable for anyone else's thoughts, feelings, or actions. Period. I don't don't take credit for other peoples' acomplishments, and I'm certainly not gonna apologize for something I had nothing to do with.

Posted by: Jerry at January 27, 2004 at 02:52 AM

Who said anything about apologizing to you? Geez, what an ego you have.

I was trying to make the same point that Jerry made, but I made the mistake of grossly misjudging the intelligence of the intended recipient of said point. (Translation: you're a moron.)

What are forced apologies by descendents of one group of people to descendents of another group of people supposed to change? It's the typical left-wing viewpoint: make the parties involved feel better about themselves without actually accomplishing anything.

Posted by: david at January 27, 2004 at 03:16 AM

I wouldn't think people dragged over to another country, like say, slaves, or convicts, have anything to apologize about.

But I'm not a simple-minded lefty.

I always wonder about that land-grabbing thing, anyways. If we were all true to that, we'd all, all 6 billion or whatever of us, squish into ancient Lemuria and frantically build spacecraft to return to where our alien masters hailed from before they dropped us off.

Posted by: ushie at January 27, 2004 at 03:30 AM

Hehehe. That's funny. And priceless.

Posted by: Sean at January 27, 2004 at 03:55 AM

I am not sure what Robert means when we say we were "uninvited". Most Australians were born in that country and persumably were invited by their parents.

Posted by: Mike at January 27, 2004 at 04:11 AM

"I wouldn't think people dragged over to another country, like say, slaves, or convicts, have anything to apologize about."

Of course convicts have something to apologise for, I mean isn't that the whole point of being a convict?

Posted by: Wibble at January 27, 2004 at 04:13 AM

I'm always confused by the demands that late-coming immigrants should "apologize" for coming into their new homeland. For one, how do I deal with it? Great-great-grandpa Hunter was a Cherokee; should I apologize to myself, or should I offer a 1/8th-apology to others? Does the degree of apology depend on the "fraction of blood" or do we follow a "one-drop" rule?

Or do we just say screw it and get on with life?

Posted by: Robert Crawford at January 27, 2004 at 05:58 AM

Considering my earliest ancestor arrived early 19th century as a convict, and most of the others didn't arrive till after the Gold Rush. I don't see where my apology lies, especially since I didn't have much of a choice where my ancestors decided to go.

Considering I read somewhere that something like millions of people share Genghis Khan's DNA....

I eagerly await Gary and Robert's apology for the conquest of China and the sacking of Samarkand.

Posted by: Quentin George at January 27, 2004 at 06:56 AM

I am so sick of all this Bad-Whitey-Angst, or BWA (pronounced bwaaaaaaa! like a baby's cry ).

It is time for the sooks, black and white, to accept this great nation for what it is and move on to how we can keep it great. Look for innovations and ways to progress. We, as a nation, are never going to dismantle our society and institutions just to please a minority. Ever. So accept it and move along, or leave, whatever.

I switch off as soon as the words "apology" are even mentioned in this context.

"Bad, bad, bad whitey!" - click...

Posted by: Jake D at January 27, 2004 at 09:54 AM

Letter in SMH to-day:
Mark Latham promises to say "sorry" to the indigenous Australians he will get my vote, and possibly that of many others.
George Macfarlane, Blackheath, January 26.

Please put on your psephology caps.
Would this gain or loose more votes for young Mark>

Posted by: Peggy Sue at January 27, 2004 at 11:37 AM

Peggy Sue,

Mehtinks that the SMH's correspondent would have voted for Mr Latham's party anyway. I also predict that his promise of an apology to the Aborogines will go down like a lead balloon with the aspirational voters in the constituencies he has to win if he wants to get elected.

What a complete onanist Mr Latham is turning out to be as opposition leader.

Posted by: Toryhere at January 27, 2004 at 11:45 AM

The self-hating guilt of these people is just a cover for their hidden claim of moral superiority. Behind their sneer, they're thinking, look at me, I'm so fair-minded, I want justice so much, that I'll say that I want something that I know will never happen. But it makes me superior to the rest of you greedy wogs.

As in the Men at Work song "give it baaaaaaaackkk". Just the bleating of another morality fascist.

Posted by: Jabba the Nutt at January 27, 2004 at 12:14 PM

"If they don’t like it here, they should fuck off back to where they came from."

I know quite a few "Americans" I'd love to say that to as well!!

Posted by: Chris Josephson at January 27, 2004 at 12:16 PM

Peggy Sue asked: "Would this gain or loose more votes for young Mark>"

It's not an electoral winner. But the votes Mark Latham needs to care most about are in the party room, especially after he loses the next election, and yes this sort of thing is good with the hard left.

It's not like running for American president, where essentially you win or you're a bum. In the British/Australian system, being leader of the opposition is still pretty good, and you keep that as long as you enjoy the confidence of your party. If you lose party support, you go, like Maggie Thatcher or Simon Crean, no election required. So the pressure to adapt to the public is a little less, the pressure and the incentive to go along with party insiders is a bit greater.

Posted by: David Blue at January 27, 2004 at 12:43 PM

bah. all land owned today has been stolen, either from other humans, animals, or even the local plant life. the only land that was not stolen was owned by whatever lifeform first came onto or evolved on the land...or belonged to God and given to adam and eve, if you're the creationist type. either way.

Posted by: samkit at January 27, 2004 at 01:02 PM

Will someone explain to Robert Corr (in short words and with pictures) that if there wasn't anyone wanting to give money to people smugglers there wouldn't be any people smuggling. The core (NPI) culpability lies with the lying asylum shoppers not with the service providers. No people smuggler ever forced an asylum shopper to buy their services.

That's also the point Latham and the ALP have failed to realise. All their policy will achieve is to drive up the price of asylum shopping. Stop the clients and the people smugglers disappear automatically. Latham is becoming a real disappointment.

Also, as someone devoted to social justice, how does Robert Coor justify the theft of asylum places from poor but genuine applicants in the UN system by the rich but dishonest applicants the people smugglers sometimes deliver and sometimes murder?

Coor is a fool. When I read Treachers line about luring out Saddam with a trail of candy, I thought it had to have been written with Coor in mind.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at January 27, 2004 at 02:42 PM

I can't afford to steal land, I still rent!

Posted by: Jake D at January 27, 2004 at 02:42 PM

Dickheads (Corr and Gary).
Oz Day is about celebrating the fact that Aussie is a top place to live.
It's not about philosophising about the possible secondary intentions of a bunch of poms 200-odd years ago (ie playing guessing games).
Live it, love it, stop thinking so hard, kids.

Posted by: EvilDan at January 27, 2004 at 04:01 PM

My Great Great Grand Dada came on the second fleet against his will. Why didnt the aborigines attempt to free him from his slavery? Can i sue them for not helping Dada against this great injustice?

Posted by: Drago Milovechek at January 27, 2004 at 07:21 PM

Yea: Doctor Festus has a point. No longer should lefty swamp dwellers be allowed to dish crap on this wonderful country, which in two hundred years has given 20 million of us the best living standards in the world. From now on, whenever arseholes like these two authors denigrate this country they should be told that if they believe what they write: that this county was stolen from the natives, they ought to be obliged as part of their own morality to leave, and return to whereever they or their ancestors came from.
It is only then that they could be taken seriously. Otherwise they are just fucking lying creeps.

Posted by: joe Cambria at January 27, 2004 at 09:24 PM

There is NO SUCH THING as a SMART ETHICS PROFESSOR. Tim lied! My hopes for a real Dr Festus died!

Posted by: Sortelli at January 27, 2004 at 09:56 PM

But I'd love to have his hair for a day.

Posted by: Sortelli at January 27, 2004 at 09:57 PM

Last year I dumped on R.Coor for being a classic case of the waste of my Tax dollars for his education.
I subsequently copped a spray from him and several posters for my comments.
Following with little interest his legend in his own lunchtime opinion of himself, I feel somewhat vindicated now.
Fortunately his University twisted views and opinions are in a minority here in West Oz.

Posted by: aussieoldfart at January 28, 2004 at 01:43 AM

Bring it on coor.

Posted by: aussieoldfart at January 28, 2004 at 01:50 AM