The plight of the indigene

In Australia, an indigenous people living in a precarious
balance with a predominantly harsh environment
seem to me to have been treated worse than any other
allegedly heathen non-threatening people. Why? Because
they were seen as sub-human by an advanced Western society
offering its vision of progress.

Against the background of Christian colonists generally treating
all subject people with indifferent brutality, and of the colonists
in America practising slavery, and driving away or killing the
indigenes, the British colonists in Australia destroyed a whole
people in a way that might not have a parallel elsewhere.

The attempts to camouflage this dreadful and unchristian
conduct (reflecting greed and lust) resulted in new
concepts and definitions — of peoples, law, justice, religion
and historiography. This pithy piece of graffiti may
therefore be obliquely apt: “Judas needed the money for
a sick friend”.

Australian Aborigines were seen by many of the new
colonists not only as sub-human. The indigenes had,
according to the coloniser and his judiciary, no law and
no religion. They were not seen as living in an organised
manner, with cultural values and practices derived from
concepts about their origins, and a vision about their
relationship to their environment. Official British government
edicts and a few caring state governors did little
that was effective in protecting the indigenes.

Two centuries of being treated virtually as fauna, with the women
taken as needed, and thereby contributing to a hybrid
species, resulted in a demoralised people. They had no
confidence in themselves, had few rights, and lived a marginal
and poverty stricken life. It was more an existence,
akin to the life of beggars in Asia; at least, until they were
included in the welfare state.

This was the Australia I entered in 1948. The whites
were in two broad ecclesiastical camps — the Roman
Catholics (claiming to be all-Irish) vs. the rest. The former
were referred colloquially as ‘micks’ or ‘tykes’, the significance
of which missed me for decades. The latter included
the mainstream Protestants, referred to as ‘prods’ by the
‘micks’, and a clutter of other Christian sects. There was no
place for the urban mixed-blood Aborigines, even though
they too were Christian.

The rural indigenes, whether pure of blood or mixed, could
live in river beds, or on the fringes of townships in shanties;
that is if they were free to live where and how they wished.
If not, they would live on official settlements created as holding
ponds, so that their lands could be exploited by the whites.
The pattern for this treatment had already been set in North
America.

This is why I am somewhat bemused by the official
Australian and his mentor, the US American, when they
now babble about human rights. Their houses are not yet
in order. But, they do thunder, most righteously, about
their perception of a deficit of rights in developing Asian
nations.

Good try, lads! Is there not something in the
Bible about casting the first stone?

(This is an extract from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’)