Bolt’s Utopia is our Dystopia

As loathed as I am to give Australia’s most circulated opinion blower Andrew Bolt any additional wind, his latest loathsome articles, The Foreign Invasion, which appeared in print yesterday, and his online article from earlier in the weekWatering Down Australia,  do require was some examination, no matter how tiresome.

The opus to intolerance, division and a smattering of good old left/right divide subterfuge, is little more than an ode to how things might have been if we had kept the White Australia policy enacted. In his deep yearning for ‘the good old days’, Bolt earnestly declares, ‘there is no “us” anymore – or soon won’t be.”

I could speculate as to whom Bolt is referring when he refers to “us”, however anyone that is even slightly familiar with his work would know that “us” is the Anglo-Australian, the ‘true Aussie’, you know, the ones that in the main celebrate Australia Day. Where everyone gets a fair go, and have nothing to fear if they have nothing to hide.

Well when we say “everyone” gets a fair go, we really mean those that are like “us”. Those that are nice will get a fair go and those that aren’t, like certain clusters of immigrants, the poverty struck etc, will not get a look in.

His response to such an assertion might well be, “no that’s not what I meant, you typical leftist, latte sipping, pinko wearing , Marxist, greeny, socialist. What I meant was, isn’t it a shame that all these migrants that come in from overseas retain their own culture without assimilating in to the true blue way of life. They’re creating ghettos!! Why can’t we all be just one nation?”

To some extent I know what he means, last time I was bayside in Melbourne there were ghettos full of middle-class, Audi driving people clad in active wear.

In his rant, AB laments the influx of Chinese and Indian born immigrants that have invaded Australia since 1996. Hate to break it to you Andrew, but the Chinese are just as much part of dinky-di Australia as the rest of us, as anyone with a Year 7 level understanding of Australian history would know.

But as Bolt stereotypically points out, this most recent batch have brought with them culture, their names and penchant for science, maths, accounting etc. But most disturbingly of all in the Indian’s case, Bolt cries, “check the crowd at the MCG when Australia plays India at cricket. Who are most of the many Indians there barracking for?”

Shit. When you put it like that Andrew, you’re right! Things have gone too far. This is no longer a joke, things have gotten out of hand. People are far more likely to cheer louder for Virat Kholi than they are for Dave Warner or Steve Smith!

I must have missed the memo where it’s unethical or perhaps illegal to support any team you want in this great big brown land of ours.

Let’s imagine things from a different perspective, a trait which is not one of Bolt’s greatest strengths. Imagine you’re a member of the Wathaurong, it’s circa 1852, your people have lived for over 25,000 years on and around the plains and foothills about to be known as Ballarat.

You too might lament as Bolt does, “in fact, this kind of colonising (invasion) will increasingly be our future as we gain a critical mass of born-overseas migrants…it’s clear that immigration is now colonisation.”

However, If any group in Australia understand the difference between immigration and colonisation it’s Indigenous people, so let me share a few things with you, Andrew.

As Luke Pearson wrote on this very website, “immigrants who come to a new country are expected to assimilate into the status-quo of that country. They may retain something of their original cultural identity through foods, religion, stories, clothes (to some degree), language (to an even lesser degree), etc…

Settler-colonials on the other hand, bring their culture and institutions with them and aim to disrupt and replace whatever Indigenous populations were there before them, usually through violent means justified through the establishment of legal institutions.”

I might add that immigrants generally don’t poison watering holes, drive Aboriginal men and women over cliffs, commit dozens of massacres, enact cultural genocide and herd those that remain into onshore detention centres colloquially known as missions.

The likes of Bolt get their backs up and their teeth gnashing when Aboriginal people describe colonisation as “invasion” and its impacts as “cultural genocide”, but that’s what it was.

He even hates the fact that the Aboriginal flag is now one of three flags that hang over Victorian Government buildings. Poor Andrew, the horror of it all.

As Paul Keating so succinctly explained European colonisation in the mea culpa that was the landmark Redfern speech.

“We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life.

We brought the diseases. The alcohol.

We committed the murders. 

We took the children from their mothers.

We practised discrimination and exclusion.

It was our ignorance and our prejudice.

And our failure to imagine these things being done to us.

With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.

We failed to ask – how would I feel if this were done to me?”

That is indeed what happened. It is still happening.

The impacts of which are still being felt by and dealt with every day by Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal people have never been part of the “us” that Bolt includes himself as a member of.

The “us” he describes is a utopian land of white privilege, a society that only benefits people from the right background, race and class. A land that at best, and only in recent times, conditionally tolerates people from different ethnicities and religions.

Such a land does not exist and never has existed in the land known as Australia. Modern Australia is a nation built on white privilege, intolerance and xenophobia. It is only in the recent past when Australian governments of all persuasions have started to embrace multiculturalism for its economic and societal benefits.

Bolt would take us back to the days where everyone is running under sprinkler out the back of the quarter acre block were white and sunburnt, where the notion of the “fair go” in reality is only a “fair go for some”.

If we try hard enough, we could actually have a truly cosmopolitan, multicultural and modern Australia. That’s if we don’t allow ourselves to devolve into the faux Australia bouncing around in Bolt’s head and smearing itself onto the tabloid pages of newspapers across the country.

The truth is, Australia belongs to no one segment of society. Any nation is a mental construct and its national identity a social construct. For any one group to pretend to own that construct is erroneous.

Australia as a nation is evolving and will continue to evolve and let’s hope it continues down the path of inclusivity and plurality, where we embrace various cultures and where the people of the first nations are meaningfully included and celebrated as the most successful ongoing culture the human race has ever known.

Because no matter your construct, one thing is undeniable, this land always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

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