A Long walk for justice.
December 3, 2004 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Abc Australia reports on Michael Long World Football (Soccer) Star and Australian Aborigine Michael Long meets with the Aussie PM after drawing attention by walking from Melbourne to Canberra. As a child of the Aboriginal lost generation he is seeking a voice for his people in the government. Make what you will of the issue, this is a brave, brave man.
posted by lumpenprole (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I hate to be picky about an interesting post, but Michael Long wasn't a 'soccer' player. He played a rather comical Australian 'sport' generally known as Aussie Rules.
posted by MrMustard at 7:50 AM on December 3, 2004


Oops. My bad, I was listening to bbc and just heard them say 'Footballer'. Still a really cool thing he's doing.

(Anyway, I used to like Aussie Rules when they'd put it on espn late at night)
posted by lumpenprole at 7:58 AM on December 3, 2004


Thanks for the post lumpenprole. Very touching and inspirational.
posted by yossarian1 at 8:28 AM on December 3, 2004


Great post, but as someone not up on current Australian politics, this line from your FPP caught my attention:

Make what you will of the issue...

Huh? Is there some segment of Australian society that thinks that the indigenous Australians don't deserve what the author of that first link called "a better deal"?

My only familiarity with this issue comes from the movie Rabbit Proof Fence. A fantastic film, based on the true story of three little girls who were taken from their family to be "civilized."
posted by owenville at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2004


To understand this you'd need to understand the current racial climate in Australia.

A few months ago a teenager won a darwin award by impaling himself on a fence. Naturally, since the kid was black the police sitting in their car nearby were somehow responsible, and *clearly* did whatever they did out of hate for blackfellas, despite the fact that they were on a patrol and in no way responsible for what happened. This resulted in a riot in which drunked lunatics hurled molotov cocktails at riot police all night, injuring tens.

Then, a week or two ago a man died in police custody. An autopsy revealed numerous severe injuries, which were attributed to a fight several days earlier. Naturally, since he was black, the local aboriginal population tried to kill the police and successfully burned down the police station. They then complained about the poor innocent arsonists being arrested by brutal "racist" police that came along to restore order.

And to top it off, some teenagers recently tried to steal some stuff from a farm. The owner of the farm caught them in the act and decided to teach them a lession. Naturally, because the teens were black, the injuries they sustained were because they were black- and had nothing to do with a farmer defending his property (albeat going a little overboard).

So now we have a bunch of vocal idiots claiming they are going to kill the police, politions, and pretty much everyone. Being black, this is ok, because several generations ago they were persecuted, and we have to feel sorry for them.
posted by jamesmd at 10:56 AM on December 3, 2004


Being black, this is ok, because several generations ago they were persecuted, and we have to feel sorry for them.

Several generations ago?

And, in your opinion, they now live as absolute equals, with the same opprtunities and benefits as everyone else in society?
posted by owenville at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2004


Don't know if he took the same route that I did, but that is a looooooong walk. Took an 8 hour day to drive it.

I love Australia and Aussies but the aborigine issue is a black mark against them (not a lot different than the U.S. treatment of Native Americans in the 19th Century - except that this is now the 21st century. The other main difference is that with a population of approximately only 20 million people, the Australian immigrants have thus far only needed the land around the EDGES of the continent).

For those wishing more info, see the Wikipedia entries for Austrailian Aborigine and Stolen Generation.

The movie Rabbit-Proof Fence is recommended, but don't expect a date movie. The kicker is when you get to the end and see that the practice depicted in the movie was the law of the land until 1967.
posted by spock at 1:23 PM on December 3, 2004


jamesmd - I think you should familiarise yourself with the doco "Cop it sweet" so that you can get the "racial climate" in perspective (ie the issue has a history and these aren't isolated incidents).

Place that documentary in context of the TJ Hickey death (your 14 year old Darwin award nominee) and you may question the dynamics of the situation.

Now, the man who died in custody - you say it happened in a fight several days earlier - can you verify this? This report has his injuries occurring 1 hour after being arrested: Mr Doomadgee received four broken ribs, a ruptured liver and a ruptured portal vein in a watchhouse scuffle.

The farm incident: I think the approach of dragging a 16 year old along a river bank, beating him and with a rope about his neck, could be reminiscent of KKK style lynching techniques, no?
posted by strawberryviagra at 2:43 PM on December 3, 2004


To understand this you'd need to understand the current racial climate in Australia. . . .

jamesmd: If your post reflects the views of the majority of non-native Aussies then I feel I have a much better view of the "current racial climate" already!

I'm giving Aussies more credit than that, however.
posted by spock at 2:58 PM on December 3, 2004


Spock: jamesmd's post is both near and far from what most "non-native Aussies" feel. At least, that's my opinion as a 30-something white boy living in Queensland.

There's no doubt that the white part of Australia has a lot to apologise for, even if it was being done with what were considered good intentions at the time. Think "enlightened genocide". I think a simple "sorry" would go a long way to being a good start at working on the problems, but it needs to be presented and accepted as "without prejudice". My belief is that the vast majority of non-aboriginal people here really do want to see things made better for the aboriginals, but without any favouritism - the good ol' Australian egalitarian attitude overrides all others. At the same time, everyone knows that there is something of an "aboriginal industry" (as it's sometimes referred to here by certain sections of the media and government) that wants to milk the system and stir up trouble.

We tend to revere sports "heroes" here, to the extent that in the last dozen or so years, 50% of those awarded Australian Of The Year have been sportsmen or women. Which helps explain why his walk has received a fair amount of media attention.

Oh, and a little personal anecdote. When I was at school, one of my best friends was an aboriginal / islander. His (islander) mother was the hardest working person I've ever known - 3 crappy jobs, took in washing & ironing, anything to make ends meet. His (white) father was the laziest bastard I've ever met - sat in front of the TV all day, listening to the races on the radio, except when he walked to the TAB to place his bets.

To this day, I still use those experiences as a reality check...
posted by Pinback at 4:57 PM on December 3, 2004


None of the Stolen Generation cases have made it though court because they always find the parents have consented. So much for the "Stolen" Generation.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 6:45 PM on December 3, 2004


drscroogemcduck - the government fights these cases tooth and nail so as to avoid any precedent that may force their hand into meaningful reconciliation.

$12 million being spent on one such case (Cubillo and Gunner) identifies the concern the current government has for the consequences of setting such precedents.

Dear Mefites, I apologise on behalf of my fellow Australian posters for their utter ignorance of what is a very sorry arsed state of affairs.
posted by strawberryviagra at 7:35 PM on December 3, 2004


Dear Mefites, I apologise on behalf of strawberryviagra's for their condescending tone. Whenever the Stolen Generation is brought up only half the story seems to be told. These half castes were often abused by full blooded Aboriginals in their communities. The mother would give their consent to have her child brought up elsewhere while the rest of the community wanted to punish the child. Though I guess this is wrong because only whites are racist.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 8:13 PM on December 3, 2004


If it's so obvious, it shouldn't be too hard to back up your claim - show us your missing link?
posted by strawberryviagra at 9:09 PM on December 3, 2004


I appreciate all of the posts on this topic from those who live in Australia (as certainly better sources than those of us on the "outside"). Non-P.C. posts reflect a reality that exists and are thus enlightening.

I have gained a bit of appreciation for the quality of info on Wikipedia however. drscroogemcduck seems to illustrate this quote from the Stolen Generation page:
The nature of the removals, their extent, and its effects on those removed, is a topic of considerable dispute and political debate within Australia to the point that the term "Stolen Generation" is often referred to in the media as the "so-called Stolen Generation".

Similar to the "so-called" Holocaust, I would imagine. Most of those who went to the gas chambers did not have to be carried onto the trains, so I guess they gave their consent too.

Whites certainly have no exclusive right to the label racist (and I make no excuse for racism in any form) but it would be more understandable coming from a race that had been mistreated for generations. Trying to excuse white racism by pointing to the discontent/misbehavior of the oppressed seems like a pretty sorry-ass rationalization to me.
posted by spock at 10:19 PM on December 3, 2004


Trying to excuse white racism by pointing to the discontent/misbehavior of the oppressed seems like a pretty sorry-ass rationalization to me.

Except in the case where such racism involves the abuse of children and the only way to prevent the ongoing abuse of such children is to remove them from their communities.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 1:34 AM on December 4, 2004


"And, in your opinion, they now live as absolute equals, with the same opprtunities and benefits as everyone else in society?"

Yes.
posted by jamesmd at 2:42 AM on December 4, 2004


I'm giving Aussies more credit than that, however.

You shouldn't.
posted by Prince Nez at 2:44 AM on December 4, 2004


Jamesmd, have you been to Maningrida? Wadeye? Palm Island?
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:29 PM on December 4, 2004


There's no doubt that the white part of Australia has a lot to apologise for.

Hmm...I'm white. I'm Australian. Now what did I do wrong that needs me to apologise?
posted by Jase_B at 8:27 PM on December 4, 2004


You could start by apologising for failing to tell jamesmd that he's an idiot. I'm sorry that I haven't done it sooner. Same opportunities and benefits my arse.
posted by Prince Nez at 9:41 PM on December 4, 2004


Please tell me why people don't have the same opportunities and benefits just because they are black?

There are plenty of aboriginals living in poverty, and something needs to be done to help them. There are also plenty of white people living in poverty, and something needs to be done to help them as well.

Am I an idiot because I feel that everyone should be treated equally regardless of race?
posted by jamesmd at 10:13 PM on December 4, 2004


Prince Nez got me thinking and maybe all the extra welfare for Aboriginals in this country is part of a secret conspiracy to keep the black man down by making him welfare dependent. (seriously, no sarcasm)
posted by drscroogemcduck at 10:20 PM on December 4, 2004


So when people ask me why I don't want to move to Australia I can just point them at this thread. That'll save my time. /snark
Just goes to show that there are people everywhere that have opinions that I find difficult to agree with. Although I might understand where they come from.
The aboriginal 'issue' in Australia is another example of how throwing money at a problem does not neccessarily solve it. Money is not the answer.
The massive cultural gulf between the traditional lives of the coories and the (originally) predominantly white colonists is obviously going to cause friction.
Time does not stand still, but how do we assuage the damage to both sides by the past handling of the situation?
(Having now read the interview)
I cannot see why anyone would disagree with what Michael Long is doing, unless they were trying to deny the issues that he is raising have legitimacy, which would say more about them than him.
'it's not about the money at the end of the day, it's about us recognising something and moving on forward together.'

jamesmd 'Please tell me why people don't have the same opportunities and benefits just because they are black?'

It is notoriously difficult to parse sentences on this inernet thingy, however if you are asking why someone might think that people of Coorie heritage have different oportunitues to people of European heritage in Australia, then I would answer; because that is what the evidence has shown.
Also Aussie rules is a damn site more fun to watch than soccer. ; )
posted by asok at 10:46 AM on December 5, 2004


So when people ask me why I don't want to move to Australia I can just point them at this thread. That'll save my time. /snark
Just goes to show that there are people everywhere that have opinions that I find difficult to agree with. Although I might understand where they come from.
The aboriginal 'issue' in Australia is another example of how throwing money at a problem does not neccessarily solve it. Money is not the answer.
The massive cultural gulf between the traditional lives of the coories and the (originally) predominantly white colonists is obviously going to cause friction.
Time does not stand still, but how do we assuage the damage to both sides by the past handling of the situation?
(Having now read the interview)
I cannot see why anyone would disagree with what Michael Long is doing, unless they were trying to deny the issues that he is raising have legitimacy, which would say more about them than him.
'it's not about the money at the end of the day, it's about us recognising something and moving on forward together.'

jamesmd 'Please tell me why people don't have the same opportunities and benefits just because they are black?'

It is notoriously difficult to parse sentences on this inernet thingy, however if you are asking why someone might think that people of Coorie heritage have different oportunitues to people of European heritage in Australia, then I would answer; because that is what the evidence has shown.
Also Aussie rules is a damn sight more fun to watch than soccer. ; )
posted by asok at 10:47 AM on December 5, 2004


Can you spot the difference?
posted by asok at 10:48 AM on December 5, 2004


sight/site
posted by drscroogemcduck at 5:45 AM on December 6, 2004


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