…and don’t forget to apologise

otziTO: The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Italy

Dear Sir/Madam,
It has come to my attention that you are holding and displaying the remains of an ancestor — your artist’s imagining is above — whose body was found some years ago in a glacier. As my forebears once roamed the same region, a recent precedent in Australia establishes my right to reclaim his mummified corpse. Briefly, in case you haven’t heard, the bones of the 40,000-year-old Australian known as Mungo Man have been returned to the Indigenous people who now reside upon the land where those remains were found. Given that Uncle Ötzi, as I prefer to think of your exhibit, is a mere 7000 years removed from this mortal coil, my claim to ownership is, quite obviously, inviolate when judged by contemporary standards of correct and appropriately sensitive academic behaviour. After packing him up for shipment, you might also apologise for valuing science above the hurt you have inflicted on my feelings.

You may scoff at my emotional connection to Uncle Ötzi, but do realise that such cynicism is a symptom of a racist mindset and your own cultural imperialism. Here in Australia, our specialist researchers now know and understand that their careerist quest to reveal the secrets of the continent’s original inhabitants, their movements, cultural evolution and technologies, is cause not for celebration but profound and public regret. When Mungo Man’s bits and pieces were ordered “returned” last week, the head of the university where they were held captive made no bones about how wrong it had been to remove them in the first place, as mentioned in this ABC report. It is incumbent upon you to make a similar admission of guilt, as the wickedness of scientific curiosity is now widely understood by all caring and acceptable people to be yet another of the many injustices that must be eliminated in the interests of a better world. A nice ceremony, some fine words and a display of conspicuous remorse would be much appreciated. Anyone who believes such a carry-on absurd, as do some irredeemably unenlighted souls, needs to be left off the guest list.

Uncle Ötzi‘s delivery to the land of his antipodean descendants will lift the national spirit and instantly remedy many ills, just as Mungo Man’s repatriation will do for those proud to call themselves his direct heirs, as also noted by the ABC. “We knew that once we get them home and lay them back to rest, all the upheavals within our communities will run more smoothly,” predicted one of the soon-to-be recipients.

Lastly, just by way of friendly advice, I would urge you to pay much more respect to the orthodoxy of prevailing sentiment, which is what science should always be about. Some years ago on this side of the world there was much intemperate speculation about the first Australians, with some deviating from the acceptable opinion that Aborigines are genetically homogeneous and always have been, rather than representing the fused result of different migratory waves. Why, some even dared to mention the former presence of pygmies in northern Queensland, plus other unacceptable evidence of disparate DNA having gone into into the final mix!  If curious, you might learn more about such heresies from the 2002 article, “The Extinction of the Australian Pygmies” by Quadrant’s editor-in-chief Keith Windschuttle and Tim Gillin. As the authors note, this view deviates from doctrine and, to the delight of many, has been largely suppressed.

You can find that essay via the link below. But first, get Uncle Ötzi booked onto a Qantas flight. We have many pressing social problems in Australia and his immediate arrival is desperately needed.

Yours sincerely,
Roger Franklin

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