Saturday, 31 January 2009
The Effects of Light by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Another library book (I lurv my local library!!!) that I picked up because it looked interesting. I have a hit rate of about 60% doing this. Meaning about 60% a readable and enjoyable and 40% leave me thinking thank goodness I didn't pay for this!!
But while I have you here, I do want to talk a bit about my previous book. I was always aware that there were things in our history that had been covered up, was always uneasy with the idea that the settlement of this country was peaceful and the indigenous population put up little or no resistance. The thing about this book is it isn't accusatory. It isn't all look at all the bad things the white man did. What it does say is why did the white, non indigenous population feel the need to cover this up? Interestingly enough, the original settlers were more than open about what was going on - they talked about warfare and the attacks from both sides. Several of the expressed the view that attacks from the indigenous population was to be expected - they acknowledged they were taking land that was not theirs, often by force. But by the 1960's, white Australia was covering this up, white washing it and saying it wasn't that bad. Why?? This passage from the book really bought it home for me:
If, as Minister Ruddock argued [in 1998] there was no war, how can we explain the bloodshed, how can we accoutn for the bodies? If Aborigines did not die in long-drawn-out, low-level, sporadic warfare, they must have been murdered...They were not executed by the state as a result of the operation of the law except in those few situations where martial law was declared. They were killed singly or in groups in every part of the country. Their killers were soldiers, police troopers, both black and white, and private settlers. If there was no war then thousands of colonists were murderers and thousands more were accessories.
Why do we find it so hard to acknowledge this. Admit the land was taken by force, that blood was shed and there was open defiance towards white settlers. Why do we cling to the idea of peaceful settlement of this country? Are we trying to pretend we are better than those societies who openly admit they took land by force? Because if we are, then we need to wake up to the fact that our blindness to what really happens blocks any real chance we have of reconciliation in this country.
As I said before, this book isn't about saying how bad the white population is, it's simply about acknowledging what actually happened.