‘Can the criminal forgive his victim?’

“It would not be quite fair to apply the aphorism ‘The criminal cannot forgive the victim he has defiled’ to those who deny what they call the ‘black armband’ view of Australia’s history. Why someone who cannot claim any ancestors who ‘cleared’ the land so vehemently rejects an honest view of a black history, makes sense only if one accepts that such people have strong tribal affinities, ie their people could not have behaved so brutally; or that, because that was normal colonial behaviour then, the perpetrators cannot be judged by current criteria for morality.

I have had similar statements made to me when I occasionally refer to my exposure to Aussie racists. Some of these defenders of past brutality, however, confuse guilt with responsibility. That is, they cannot accept that today’s generation has a moral responsibility to compensate, but without any sense of guilt, for the damage done by earlier generations.

Then there is the worrying issue of compensating an inferior species for something that is denied. Compensation which could result in land being returned to the blacks which might contain valuable minerals that could be flogged, in traditional Aussie style, to foreign corporations is a real concern. Then there is the financial cost of compensation. Worse still, that the blacks might end up being very wealthy, is a further worry for some whites.”

(Hopefully, the attitudes depicted in the above paragraphs from ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ – chapter 3 – are dwindling. Inherited cultural values are, however, difficult to shift. For instance, a bank manager (a dinner guest in my home) said to me ‘I don’t believe it,’ as I was recounting some of my exposure to racist behaviour. All that I said was that, even in the mid-1990s, I had been subject to insulting gestures. Why so? Because a politician had protested that there were too many Asians in Australia! My guest made it clear that ‘his’ people could not have behaved so badly.

Will the situation improve? Of course, when the racists in the current generation die.The teachers of the next generation have undermined racism quite successfully, leaving the odd yobbo toothless. My offspring and their children will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour. Our media are also doing their bit to highlight racism in public spaces.)