Below, you will find a brief response to BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Michael Buerk’s racists comments that: “The only really primitive societies to survive into the modern age are the tribes in the remote parts of New Guinea, and whenever they come across a stranger they kill them”.
Going back five hundred years, the Roman Catholic Church issued a
Papal Bull that de-humanized anyone who was not a Christian.
Much like the papal bulls that brought on the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials, this decree produced in Christians the “moral right” to commit any kind of atrocity…
Mass-rape, genocide, you name it. It all suddenly became “legal” because, from the moment it was released, if you were not a Christian than you were a heartless savage, indistinguishable from any other wild animal.
However, this particular decree was unique from the others, because it became a standard policy for the world’s colonial powers – which have been used time and again to justify genocide, war, land theft, and displacement of indigenous people. “Land” was in fact the primary reason for the decree, as well as the colonial polices that proceeded it.
The term “Aboriginal” illustrates this well. It is a standard government term in Canada which, according to its etymology, means “not original.” Canada, if you don’t already know, is a colonial power that justifies its claim to the land by dealing with indigenous people as “non original” people who are without land rights and human rights. They are similarly denied the right to say “NO” to government interests, which some astute observers have labeled “constitutional rape”.
Such repellent government policy is found all over the world today: in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Indonesia, Australia, Russia, China, Darfur, and India, to name a few.
And it is found, as Michael Buerk clearly reminds us, in the hearts of ignorant media personalities, as it is found in prime ministers, social workers, lawyers, and of course, in the CEOs of MOST of the world’s resource extraction companies.
It’s a disturbing fact that shows just how little we’ve changed over the past 500 years.
As for Burek: his racist and factually-inaccurate comments warrant nothing less than a formal apology which he should read on-air.
In addition, to mitigate the damage his previous comments have caused, BBC Radio 4 should produce a one-hour show dedicated to the Indigenous People of Papua New Guinea.
If this doesn’t happen, then BBC is in effect endorsing racism, and perpetuating one of the most disgusting and malignant fallacies to have ever existed.
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