My absolute adoration of Robert Manne was rekindled when I watched Q and A on Monday night (13 February 2012). You can watch the program, or read a summary or full transcript here: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3424245.htm I thought I'd blog about him because nothing else interesting is happening in my life, and might inspire you readers to learn something.
My love affair with this man's brain was ignited when I read his Essay "In Denial: the Stolen Generations and the Right", which explored how the Right Wing Australian Media, and the Howard Government, covertly yet actively waged a war against Aboriginal Rights by undermining the inquiry "Bringing Them Home", tabled in Parliament in May 1997. This is the report that famously brough Kim Beazley to weep openly in Parliament. For those who are not familiar, a five second summary:
- The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission was granted $2 million by the Keating Govt to look into the idea of the "Stolen Generation", the incident of wide spread removal of Aboriginals of mixed descent from traditional Aboriginal settlements, and place them into institutionalised care, between 1901 and 1970's.
- The inquiry found documented evident in Government archives that identified that the reason for this removal was largely to "breed out the colour". By taking Aboriginals of mixed descent, and placing them in environments where they could only associate with whites, they would dilute the Aboriginal blood lines, with the ultimate outcome of the extinction of the Aboriginal race.
- The inquiry interviewed upwards of 500 Aboriginals who identified as being of the Stolen Generation, who overwhelmingly had ongoing emotional and psychological issues because of their removal.
- The inquiry found that the blanket excuse for the removal of children, that removal was for their wellbeing, was largely false. The inquiry concluded that the majority of those removed from their families were either no better off, or worse off, than those children who were not removed.
Well, that took a little longer than five seconds. Phew. Now, Robert "The Man" Manne documented how "journalists" (I'm using the loosest version of the term here) such as Piers Akerman, Frank Devine, and the worst of the worst, who we all love to hate, the dreaded Andrew Bolt, among others, reacted to this report. The Right Wing media convinced the public that this report was an exaggeration; poorly handled; and UnAustralian.
Luckily, since Manne's concise and intelligent deconstruction of these events, the Commonwealth has said Sorry. Watching it still gives me shivers up my spine...
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I would have loved to stand beside Manne and other outspoken intellectuals and advocates when this Apology was given. I wish I could have been there more and done more on a personal level.
I've since seen Robert Manne on Q and A a couple of times, and whilst he holds my heart on an intellectual level, the poor man doesn't seem to have an ounce of humour in him. Plus he's old. What a shame.