All heil the rabbit-proof vest

All heil the rabbit-proof vest

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John Ahni Schertow
July 6, 2009
 

Two obvious truths have been at the forefront of our minds ever since the government of Australia enacted the “Northern Territory Emergency Response” legislation two years ago — and, in no uncertain terms, began molesting the inhabitants of some 73 indigenous communities: The so-called intervention is racist; and, the government is a coward for enacting it.

It is a molestation. And the government knows it; but right now they’re working overtime to alter the horrid truth and make themselves look more like champions of human rights by engaging in the consultation process they should have held before the intervention began. However, all good appearances cannot change the facts.

As for the consultation, the Rudd Labor government announced it on May 21, 2009 – just one day before the United Nations Economic and Social Council renewed its concerns over the discriminatory nature of the intervention. Among many points raised, the Committee urged the government to conduct a formal consultation.

The government officially began moving ahead with the consultation on June 15, 2009. Unfortunately most community members haven’t had the chance to participate in it… Nobody told them it was happening.

As noted by the Green Lefty Weekly, one community leader even said she didn’t learn about the consultation until some ABC journalists asked her about it. “That’s not good enough, ” she stated. “It should have been a public meeting out in the open, for the whole community, not behind closed doors. It needs to be one voice out there in the open if this is proper consultation.”

Proper indeed. The consultation appears to be little more than a vulgar attempt to manufacture indigenous consent.

This kind of government scheming is a constant these days. There was another prime example earlier today. The National Indigenous Times, who obtained leaked documents from the government, reported that Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin was advised by her department “not” to consult Indigenous People over any new land grab schemes.

“Read, agreed and noted” by Macklin on March 26, the documents also recommended against reinstating the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) because it could lead to a “significant risk” in the courts. The RDA was formally suspended in 2007 in order to legalize the intervention.

Following her pledge, Macklin announced two weeks ago that the government now plans to drag 16 more indigenous communities into the intervention — in order to “compulsorily acquire” their land for infrastructure and other development. Prior to the announcement, the Tangentyere Council, which holds the land titles for all 16 communities, rejected the government’s demand to forfeit their land titles for a total of 40 years.

Incidentally, After the government’s finished with the Alice Springs land grab, it plans to take control of even more indigenous communities in Darwin.

“All heil the rabbit-proof vest”

There are hundreds, even thousands more examples just waiting to affirm that obvious truth. But we don’t really need to go over them. At this point, it’s more important to dig even further down to get to the heart of the matter:

It takes a certain kind of person or government to infringe upon peoples lives, with or without their consent, while promoting an image of moral integrity to the world, as Australia does with such remarkable success. A sort of person who relies on a moral notwithstanding clause, which allows them to comfortably suppress any rational value and replace it with its opposite.

Professor Albert Bandura calls it “selective moral disengagement.” I’m calling it a “rabbit-proof vest.”

An off-shoot of the well-known rabbit-proof fence of the early 1900s, this “vest” provides the government with a makeshift solution to their own presence on the land — that is, to the legacy they’ve inherited and their open refusal to take responsibility for their actions and to learn from the “mistakes” of their ancestors.

Historically traumatized, the rabbit-proof vest gives them solace and comfort from an irrational fear of their own memory, their own identity, their own beliefs—and, of course, bunny rabbits.

As a result of this fear, modern Australia is doing exactly what the first and second and third wave of settlers did to the Indigenous Population.

In essence, the government’s behavior is that of the “remorseful rapist” who just keeps doing the same thing again and again and again.

The vest, of course, is an embodiment of fascism and all forms of rationalized hate, exploitation and violence – whether we’re talking about Australia’s racism, Saddam’s rape rooms, Adolf Hitler’s “final solution” or Goldcorp’s incessant dribblings of good will and prosperity while 3 year-olds cry themselves to sleep at night because their community’s water in contaminated with mine waste.

Again, there are thousands of other examples. But among them all, Australia appears to stand on its own with their claim that the intervention is ultaimtely an act of “love” for Indigenous People.

Buying into their own propaganda, so pathetic and afraid, the government will continue doing whatever they can think to justify their presence on the land, and to keep down what is so obviously buried in their own hearts and minds.

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