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Minor douchebag - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
Minor douchebag
So today is 'Sorry Day', during which the Australian government steps up and formally apologises to the Aboriginal people for the mistreatment they received when Europeans first settled Australia. The nation in general had been putting pressure on our former Prime Minister, John Howard, to do this for years. International readers with keen powers of observation and wicked memories will recall the Aussie band Midnight Oil playing a set during the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics wearing plain black shirts emblazoned with the white word: "SORRY".

Fearing that a formal apology would pave the way for legal claims from the Aboriginal community, the Howard government refused to bow to public opinion on the matter. Ultimately this may have added to the Australian people's perception of the Howard Government as being, well... past it. Old fogeys. Nonprogressive. John Howard: A Bold Vision Of Yesteryear.

Good ol' Ruddy made it one of his first priorities as Prime Minister. Most people in my age group are behind it, and if you have any Australians friended on Facebook, you'll probably notice that at least a couple of them have changed their status to "[Name] is sorry." today.

One guy on my friends list, who is in the Australian Army (I'm not saying there's necessarily a connection, but it's worth mentioning) has changed his status to "[Name] is not sorry, I didn't do anything," and a few hours later, "[Name] Aussies aren't sorry."

Bypassing the grammar-cringe induced by that sentence (I'm no grammar Nazi, as I play pretty free and loose with the English language myself, but GEEZ), I think it's a pretty piece of douchebaggery to do what he's doing on today of all days. I also wonder at the intelligence of someone who can't differentiate "sorry that I did this" from "sorry that this happened."

I respect his right to voice his opinion. I also respect my right to vocally declare him a douche. Ergo: douche, douche, douche. Ahhh, word of the day.
9 have fought ~ fight the power!
mistahbojangles From: mistahbojangles Date: February 12th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is way out of my area of cultural knowledge so I don't know the actual engagement and treatment of the Aborigines in the historical context or the general importance of this issue with the Australian people. Is their treatment a relatively recent or ongoing problem? When I first heard about the official statement I wondered if it represented a genuinely worthwhile change for the Aboriginal people or if it was just a feel good gesture in the name of politics. Since I don't know the history of the problem I had thought that there wasn't a current clash and that any problems were relegated to the history books and thusly an apology was more likely a case of children apologizing for the behavior of their parents who belonged to a different social era.

Curiosity has gotten the better of me here.
tania From: tania Date: February 12th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would be a filthy, filthy liar if I even tried to claim I knew enough on the issue to go into any more depth that what I have in my entry above. You're better off asking scoutlostthewar, who is a political science student.

I can say with confidence that there are still massive problems in the system. There is a huge gap between Aboriginal life expectancy and general/average Australian life expectancy. Higher incidence of disease, violence, education issues, poverty, alcoholism, homelessness, the list goes on. Because of a lot of this there's still a fair bit of racism in some parts of Australia, and it's difficult to stand in judgment of that when you see the kind of behaviours the people who live in those places see.

In other words: it's a grey issue like WHOA, and the problems are by no means over. They're just different. We're not stealing their babies anymore...
tania From: tania Date: February 12th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and regarding whether it's merely a gesture or the beginning of actual change: well, clearly it's a gesture. I'm hoping it can be a gesture AND the beginning of change, and that's what the government is claiming it to be, but we've heard that before.

Even if it's just a gesture, it's a start - up until now no government would officially acknowledge the Aboriginal peoples' desire for a simple apology.
scoutlostthewar From: scoutlostthewar Date: February 12th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
OH HAI!!!!!!!! I'm flattered Tania, but I've done almost next to nothing about aboriginal politics, but here are my 2 cents anyway.

The stolen generation continued until well into the 1960s/1970s. So, while its not very recent its recent enough that people are still being affected by this. Whether they were a member of the stolen generation or as a desendant or relative of someone that was stolen, which is why its such a touchy subject.

As far as it being a gesture vs start of change. Obviously, it is a gesture, but its a powerful one. In his speech, I believe that Rudd indicated that he wanted to work with Brendan Nelson to reach policy solutions to try and fix the problems that exist for indigenous Australians which Tania has highlighted above. More information could be found by searching for the Oxfam Close The Gap campaign and on getup they have a "fact sheet" on the apology which may make more sense of it.

Does that help?!?
tania From: tania Date: February 12th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Vivz, you're brill. Whoever it was who said they could listen to you bullshit about politics all day was right on the money. Man, you know what'd be hilarious? You on Good News Week. They need a chick on that show who can hold her own with the guys.
crzydemona From: crzydemona Date: February 12th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm... curious.

As a native American, I don't expect anyone to tell me "Sorry" for something someone else did hundreds of years ago to my long dead and no longer caring ancestors.

I am always perplexed and annoyed by those who seem to think the current government owes them something for what someone else did far too long ago. People use it as an excuse to underachieve. To play the victim for all this "oppression".

Everyone needs to get over it and move on. A national "Sorry" day doesn't seem to set sights on the future, it only allows to dwell in the past and feed on people's guilt.

Just my 2 cents. Please feel free to call me a douche.
tania From: tania Date: February 12th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nah, you're not a douche. You've actually thought your opinion through. One of my primary objections to Facebook Guy's opinion was the phrasing: suggesting that it's "unAustralian" to want to say sorry.

Re the Aboriginal / Native American comparison: The difference here is that Australia was settled by Europeans far more recently than the US. There's a term used a lot in these discussions (possibly over-used, as it is highly emotive): "The Stolen Generation." It refers to the generation of Aboriginal children who were stolen away from their parents and raised by European settlers "for their own good." Some of those kids are still alive today. This stuff was happening in living memory.

Additionally, there are still massive social issues and a degree of racism going on that deserve acknowledgment. There's more on that in my comment above. :)
From: ninjawookie Date: February 13th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)
(Deleted comment)
sebkha From: sebkha Date: February 13th, 2008 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
The government is sorry on your behalf. That's what we have governments, to do these difficult things!
9 have fought ~ fight the power!