There was an opinion piece in the Sunday Age today written by Terry Lane. I was outraged by pretty much everything he said but in particular I was dismayed by his suggestions that "we may be as sentimental as we like about indigenous culture, but it is simply incompatible with real life and must change or be changed....Realistically there is no alternative to assimilation". I have written a response and sent it to the Age. Here's what I wrote:
The real world?
Exactly what part of the ‘real world’ does Terry Lane want Aboriginal Australians to assimilate to? The ‘real’ world where 8 people get stabbed when they go to a party? Or the ‘real’ world which is obsessed with Terrorist threats? Yes Terry, obviously the ‘practices of traditional marriage’ need to change. Better that they join the ‘real’ world where one in three marriages end in divorce. And Aboriginal parents really should join the ‘real’ world on parenting practices too. Better they get full time jobs working ridiculous hours to pay for a mortgage and lifestyle they can’t afford while their children go home to empty houses and spend their time playing computer games and injecting crystal meth.
How is it that an educated man, in the year 2007, honestly believes that ‘there is no alternative to assimilation’? I know you are trying to be controversial Terry; you’re baiting the hook. But you know what? I’m biting, because I can’t in good conscience let anyone spout such vile, poisonous statements without saying “You are wrong!” The Aboriginal people who are part of my life do not want or need to be assimilated into the ‘real’ world. They are strong, traditional people who look after their children, send them to school and think carefully about the sort of future they want. The idea that they would be better off assimilated is a lie, it is ignorance. I can’t believe The Sunday Age is giving you space to spread your ignorance as fact.
Remote Central Australia