How do I become an officially recognised member of a victim group? Is there somewhere I can register? Do I send an application to the Human Rights Commission marked for the attention of the proprietress, G. Triggs (or if she’s too busy getting her hair done or posing for photo shoots like the one for the Women’s Weekly’s “Australia’s most powerful women” quest, to be sent down through the internal mail for little Tim to open)? I ask because I am feeling offended and insulted, and by prevailing social and legislative criteria that qualifies me as a victim.
It’s odd, because although there’s scarcely a moment when I’m not in some way victimised in the sense intended by Section 18C, I am not a member of one of those minorities it seeks to propitiate. I belong to a majority, being one of those millions of Australians of Anglo descent. My ancestors were English and Scottish. They came here in long journeys of peril and hardship. It used to be acknowledged that the British built this country as we know—or knew—it. The English and Scots brought their traditions of parliament and the law, their religion, their architecture, their horticulture, their commerce, their cats and dogs (exactly what the Irish brought apart from chippiness, republicanism and Catholicism is a matter for debate).
Whatever Australia was before settlement from the British Isles, it was not the place we live in now. If it was invaded, as even the Prime Minister seems now to contend, there wasn’t much to invade. No sack of Rome here, no conquest of the fabulous wealth of the Incas or the silks and spices of Ormus and Ind, just Stone Age inhabitants and the untilled soil of the sunburnt continent they subsisted on.
I think my forebears did a good job in building a nation on that soil. But to go by what the ABC and the Age say, or what you might hear in a university history lecture, no one else with any pretensions to having a brain thinks that. Instead, apparently, my Anglo ancestors trashed a complex civilisation, killed many of the inhabitants, banished the survivors to the bits of land the invaders didn’t want, stole their young and constructed in place of the Arcadian existence they had destroyed a philistine tyranny in which—until the sun of leftist enlightenment rose on it, and the current state of progressivist hegemony came to prevail—women, gays, Aborigines and anyone who was not a white Menzies-voting beer-swilling male was inferior and subject to oppression and violence, emotional or physical. Indeed, you are told, this is still the case in places and situations where “rednecks” remain in charge and would be the case everywhere if Pauline Hanson and her unhinged supporters had their way. And I, through descent, am personally responsible for this sorry record of historical inhumanity, or so the Left-progressive oligarchy that runs the country implies by issuing, in my name, “apologies”—Rudd’s first and then by implication through their abasement to the dodgy busybodies at the UN who complain from time to time about the “racism” of ordinary Australians.
I find it offensive that apologies are made on my behalf for things I should never dream of doing. I find it insulting that I am considered complicit in the oppression or ill-treatment of other people simply because of who I am. I find it absurd that I am charged by implication with crimes that not only, chronologically, I could not have had anything to do with but that I do not believe actually took place—certainly not on the scale alleged—and that I suspect have been largely invented by Gramscian ideologues with a Marxist agenda, whose propaganda, dripped into the wells of Western education in the 1960s, is now an orthodoxy disseminated by the usual useful idiots, who of course don’t see themselves as that but as an intelligentsia.
This essay appears in the June edition of Quadrant.
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In Australia the ideologues and the idiots are almost invariably themselves members of the same Anglo majority I belong to. It would appear logical that if they disapprove of me they must also disapprove of themselves.
They do, and how—above all for being who they are and not a victim of their own race. Presumably they have managed to persuade themselves that they would rather have been colonised than to have been, as their ancestors were, colonisers. Guilt-ridden because they are privileged, these myrmidons of the new orthodoxy swallow every stricture that swims into their ken from its origins in the sour criticisms of the US and the West in general emitted by the likes of Noam Chomsky and Bernie Sanders and that mutatis mutandis can somehow be applied to Australia. They particularly dislike the constitutional system we live under, and scrabble round trying to unearth instances of “racism” and “sexism” in its origins. They despise the monarchy, which they think of as “foreign”. They see “mateship” as a conspiracy to make everyone except alpha males feel “excluded”. They loathe the Anzac tradition and anything that smacks of “patriotism”. They ridicule their Christian heritage as pernicious mythology and never go to church but devoutly attend ersatz pagan rites for warding off imaginary evil spirits with gumleaf smoke.
In short, Left-progressives despise the country they inherited and despise anyone like me who doesn’t despise it too. That’s their problem, I suppose, though it is worth observing that self-hatred can be the first step to self-destruction, with societies as well as individuals. The progressives might think they want that, in the sense of destruction of a system. What they’re more likely to get, given the track record of the principal contender to destroy us, is destruction tout court, of themselves included.
In the last year or so, in addition to progressivist condemnation of my inherited guilt, which I know exists but to which I am not personally exposed, I have detected a new form of social “discrimination” against me for what I think. Conventional (that is, non-relativistic) views on fundamental questions such as right and wrong have become unacceptable in the progressives’ brave new world (which is really a sad old world of state control grafted onto contemporary self-indulgence). But there’s nothing relativistic and everything absolute when leftists impose a party line. Ignore that, express a contrary opinion, and you suffer derision and a kind of mental ostracism. You might be marked as a fascist or a nutter. Or if, as happens socially, those who don’t agree with you know you well enough to exclude at least the latter assessment, you are likely to suffer what is more offensive still, the tacit insult of incredulity.
The assumption that because you’re not demonstrably a “redneck” you couldn’t believe what you do believe is an insult to your capacity to perceive and reason. Increasingly, as a non-subscriber to the progressive “narrative”, you are outside the range of experience of well-meaning people who through their education and the media they absorb know of no other viewpoint than their own, which is the one the new orthodoxy has taught them—certainly of no other viewpoint anyone respectable would entertain. This means that subjects once open for debate are no longer so, not so much because people refuse to discuss them but because they have been brought up to believe there is nothing to discuss, that the progressive view of any social question is a given, an uncontested truth.
This is why in conversation you often hear people who would not wish to be considered impolite making one-sided assertions on controversial topics without it ever occurring to them that anyone could take exception. They assume you’ll agree, whether they’re praising the “courage” of smug little Yassmin Abdel-Magied and sneering at Cory Bernardi, talking approvingly about abortion as a right and a good or lamenting Brexit and “populism”. After all, who’s going to quarrel with any of that? Many of these same people use Christ! as an expletive with total disregard for the religious sensibilities of anyone listening (on ABC “drama”, one of the more ludicrous examples of your taxes at work, Christ!, Jesus! and variations on f**k alternate in a desperate effort to vivify a leaden script). They tell you that while Christianity is responsible for wars and misery throughout history, bombs and beheadings are a “distortion” of Islam, which if it could just have a “reformation” would be a nice civilised culture just like their own. On and on they go, never even imaging the possibility of contradiction—Whitlam was a martyr and genius, Venezuela is a model economy, Mao may have used some rough methods but was a benefactor of his people, clerical celibacy causes paedophilia (and paedophilia is the one illicit form of sexual activity, everything else is fine)—never inquiring, always taking it as a matter of course that you and they are of one mind. In other words, disagreement—my opinions if they but knew it—falls into the category of the too fanciful to contemplate from anyone but a moron. If that’s not hurtful to one’s feelings I don’t know what is.
And if you do put forward an “inappropriate” or opposing opinion you do yourself no good. Suppose you take the view that President Trump should be given a chance and that rather than damning him in advance we should wait and see how he turns out. If you say that in front of “educated” people you get looked at as if you had two heads. I know this because I was at a dinner and someone introduced the T-word (as right-on people, obsessed with Trump as they are, always introduce it, usually with a little sigh). The speaker’s tone of confident regret indicated that he expected agreement from all present that Trump was the worst fate ever to befall the United States. When an American guest murmured that he believed that no matter how unpolished Trump might be it’s still a preferable result that he was elected instead of mendacious Hillary, the reaction was blank incomprehension that anyone acceptable enough to be at that table could possibly hold that view. I’d call that discrimination, even if unintentional (I don’t think Section 18C is concerned about intentions anyway, more with effect).
So what will Gillian do when I write in and lay my distress before her? Will she go in to bat for me and say, yes, I am clearly a victim of organised discrimination, and ring up Michelle Guthrie and whoever’s editing the SMH this week and exhort them to impartiality? Will she issue an appeal for respect for the opinions of others and for the traditional rules of social courtesy? Or will she wag her perfectly manicured finger and say that I am the problem? You guess.
Christopher Akehurst, a regular contributor, lives in Melbourne.