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The Past | The Previous

Sorry Day

Yesterday, I wasn't sure that I'd have much to say after the apology. Oh, I figured that I would have opinions: I always have opinions. I just wasn't necessarily sure that they were opinions I'd have any particular interest in writing about.

Firstly, it needs to said that I was very pleased with the apology itself, and with Rudd's delivery and performance of it. I doubt anyone will consider the moment when he and others turned to the carefully selected representatives of the Stolen Generation behind him to applaud them as anything but a performance, but considering the nature of the day, performance was inevitable. Politics are a performance. The audience itself got to register its disgust with Brendan Nelson after in turning their backs and drowning out his voice, it in itself a performance. Of Nelson himself, I have to admit feeling sympathy for him, though not a lot. Asked to take the party line to the moment, to stand on the podium and deliver a speech that said, while slightly more intelligent than Rudd's, was nothing more than the sacrifice of a career for the sake of a party's ego. My sympathy stems from the fact that he will be the villain, not John Howard, not Peter Costello, not any of the now gone prominent figures from the previous leading regime; but it is not that Nelson is a virgin in politics, and not part of that regime.

What struck me, however, was as I skated through the TV channels of the event afterward, was just how white everything was in response to the day. The morning show hosts in their casual, but formal clothes, with their carefully organised hair and makeup, sitting on their couches with their cups of coffee, or in their faux news outlet, lacking ties and jackets like their counter parts in the evening. The way they spoke about how good it was, how important. How they bought up John Howard's absence--as if, shockingly, they expected him to take part--and then, afterward, moved the topic onto their usual topics of savings, family, and whatever. It was mainstream Australia, mainstream white Australia, taking a moment out of their day to acknowledge the occasion and it drove home to me not that the apology was not an end piece, nor was it a solution to the racial divides within the country, and neither did it signal that something had come to a close, as some suggested.

There was closure, but that closure was for a specific group of people, and I tend to think that the apology itself signaled a beginning, and that it's televised response indicated that divide that still exists not just between mainstream Australia and Aboriginal culture, but between white Australia and Multicultural Australia.

Or so it seemed to me, afterward.

But still, the most important thing was that, for the first time in over a decade, the right step towards bridging these divides was taken. It was a pleasure to see.

Comments

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kathrynlinge
Feb. 14th, 2008 06:12 am (UTC)
which, apparently, is also very white :-)

(compared to myspace)
benpeek
Feb. 14th, 2008 08:21 am (UTC)
doesn't every vaguely social conscience thing have a facebook page?
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Feb. 15th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
thank you :)

i hope you had a good v-day, too. serenades and all.
shadowsandice
Feb. 14th, 2008 07:26 am (UTC)
I did twitch when Rudd spoke of "indigenous and white Australians". I ain't chopped liver.
benpeek
Feb. 14th, 2008 08:21 am (UTC)
damn straight--you be a whole liver!
detritus2099
Feb. 14th, 2008 09:21 am (UTC)
I thought that for such an important speech that Rudd could have at least learnt it without having to read the text constantly. And I lost count of the amount of times he got to the end of a line and paused as if it was the end of the sentence.

However the sentiment was bang on the money.

I don't think it really matters what Nelson said or did not say. The Libs are not going to be back in power any time soon, and they know it.
benpeek
Feb. 15th, 2008 01:18 am (UTC)
yeah, in australia i never notice the fact that they're reading. but yes, i suppose you are right--but imagine how much worse it would have been if he'd learnt it, then stumbled?

the libs won't be back with nelson leading, that's for sure.
nballingrud
Feb. 15th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
I'm ignorant of Australian politics: I gather Nelson leads the opposition party, but what did he say (or what was he compelled to say) that casts him as the villain? I mean, clearly he and his party opposed the apology: but is this because they feel they shouldn't be apologising for previous generations' crimes, or for uglier reasons?
benpeek
Feb. 15th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
here's an article on the reaction:

http://news.theage.com.au/nelsons-sorry-speech-sparks-anger/20080213-1rx7.html

the problem for nelson is that he's only recently become the opposition leader, after some twelve or so years of his party being lead by john howard. back in 96, i think, there was a report into the stolen generation (commisioned by the previous prime minster, paul keating) that said that the number one thing that members of the stolen generation wanted was an apology, which he refused to give. that lead to over a decade of this hanging round, and with the liberal party refusing to do this--so when nelson got up, his speech had to make the opposition party's standpoint, argue that they did some good, and so on.

it wasn't well recieved.

(also, as an aside, in australia, the liberal party is the conservative party. though honestly, the difference isn't very big.)
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