TRUE OPINION: A racist system in this country has been killing Indigenous people and their communities while looting from the poor every day, writes Gary Johnston.
“What’s the point of these demonstrations?” asked a bloke on Twitter whose personal profile picture suggested he’d probably have a coronary if he did so much as run a bath.
“An excuse, if you ask me,” he went on, even though no one had, “for do-gooders, bleeding hearts and malcontents to get their nihilistic jollies. Demonstrations never achieved anything.”
Try telling that to the Parisians who stormed the Bastille in 1789, (though obviously you’d need a medium), the students of Tiananmen Square or the 250,000 people who massed in London in March 1989 to protest against Margaret Thatcher’s inequitable poll tax, a rising which led directly to the eventual demise of both the so called ‘community charge’ and ultimately, Thatcher herself.
Cue great joy, until it emerged that she’d be replaced by John Major, a consequence as anti-climactic as a Police Officer rapping out a midnight shave and a haircut on the door of your house party just as a Toots and the Maytals record is reaching its zenith.
A side note: as one who actively participated in the Trafalgar Square demo, I’ve never been able to hear the execrable Aussie, Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi ‘chant’ without audibly referencing the original – ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Out, Out Out!’ – which not only sounds better, but actually fucking meant something.
Anyway, so it was last weekend, when, not before time – Australia, or at any rate the Australia which actually makes the effort to get off its arse and rise up– joined in with hundreds of hundreds of thousands across the world in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
Pleasingly, the majority of participants were young, the future, a fact which can only provide hope when before there was despair and frustration and, best of all, display clear evidence that, despite the easy ride given them by the mainstream Australian media, young people today definitely have the government in the cross hairs.
There’s no accounting for taste. Incredibly, unbelievably, Morrison’s men have enjoyed a renaissance in the polls, with a majority of the country apparently satisfied with their performance – make that lack of – over the course of the last few months.
There could be reasons for this of course, not least of which is the comparative factor; Morrison, the man who put the mug in smug, is completely hopeless, but at least he’s not – we assume – as dangerously deranged as Donald Trump or as idly inert as Boris Johnson.
He’s just, well, utterly crap.
Morrison, in fact, divides opinion like no other, in the same way other words beginning with the middle letter of the alphabet do – no one is meh – it’s either like or despise.
Viz: marijuana, magic mushrooms and mutual masturbation.
That it’s taken so long for Australia to recognise that Black Lives Matter is something of a conundrum, but hey, better late than never.
Morrison and some of the empty suits who comprise his militia have done their best – not saying much – to deny, conflict and obfuscate, claiming, amongst other canards, that ‘this is not the USA’ and, in that, they’re right.
Trying to act conciliatory, Smugmo went on, ‘There’s no need to import things happening in other countries here to Australia’.
We don’t need to import racism.
It’s already here.
Australia is, after all, a country, where the Indigenous rate in the general population is 3%, but the incarceration rate is 29%.
A country, where a young Indigenous person is significantly more likely to go to prison than on to further education.
A country, where the imprisonment rate of Indigenous people has increased 12 times faster than for non-Indigenous.
A country where, since 1991, 432 Indigenous people (and possibly more) have died in custody, with no subsequent criminal convictions.
Morrison, of course with that ugly little smug smirk that makes him according, to the latest poll I’ve just invented, the most punchable man in Australia, tries continually to subvert the facts.
Fails to acknowledge the case of David Dungay” – a 26-year-old Aboriginal man who said “I can’t breathe” 12 times before he died in 2015 whilst being restrained by five prison guards.
Fails to acknowledge that most of the recommendations from the royal commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991 have either not been implemented at all or only partially.
Fails to acknowledge that the New South Wales hate laws which were introduced two years ago have so far, led to not a single charge.
Fails to acknowledge that the mortality rate of Indigenous children is twice that of non-Indigenous children and that their life expectancy is eight years less.
Fails to acknowledge that Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated people in the world.
IN THE WORLD.
Morrison and his cohort are failures. And if the demonstrations can highlight this fact, especially amongst the young, then our fat friend on Twitter will be proved wrong again.
“It’s been a long time coming’, sang the great Sam Cooke, “but I know, a change is gonna come.”
Perfect in its hope for societal transmutation, but in this context, I’d prefer to reference the lyrics of Glen Scuthorpe, an Indigenous Australian musician from Goodooga, New South Wales whose heritage is Nhunggabarra, Kooma and Muruwari.
In his song, ‘No More Whispering,’ Glenn Scuthorpe says,
“No more whispering in our minds
No more whispering in our hearts
Let’s rise up to break these chains
To stop these killing games.”
Because rising up, demonstrating, speaking out, refusing to accept the narrative, does –will – bring change.
Feature Image: Protestors at the Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney on June 6, 2020 (Photo: Serkan Ozturk)