Bolt's Grip On Reality Is Tenuous. His Grip On History Is Even Worse.

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If you’d like a side of stupidity to accompany your Sunday morning scrambled eggs, Channel Ten has been serving up the Bolt Report for over a year now.

The show features a monotone Andrew Bolt presenting his racist, inaccurate and self-serving propaganda to those who may not already have ingested the weekly bile spewed in his Herald Sun columns.

Last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Bolt’s closest threat to the “Most Offensive Person in Australia” title, briefly overtook the shock jock in the stakes when he said the most defining moment in the country’s history was the arrival of the first fleet.

He was so sure of this “fact”, he said it twice.

It was obviously an outrage. The settlement of Australia heralded the demolition of a 70,000-year-old culture (although it survives despite attempts from assimilationist governments) and the deaths of tens of thousands of Aboriginal people at the hands of the colonialists.

I’m not just talking about a few deaths. I’m talking about deaths on a genocidal scale. There are estimates that 60,000 First Nations people were killed in Queensland alone.

There are massacre sites scattered throughout this land, trampled by bushwalkers or destroyed by development. 

The common history taught at school was that my people did not resist, that they did not fight for the land that sustained them for thousands and thousands of years, and which they in turn cared for meticulously (read Bill Gammage’s The Greatest Estate on Earth).

That is one of the great lies of Australia’s history. But a history of black resistance is not considered a “defining moment” for Abbott, Bolt and their ilk.  The Frontier Wars were effectively wiped from the history books and are absent from our national memory.

Yesterday, Andrew Bolt addressed the issue on his show, claiming his rightful place on the “most offensive” throne, with guests Nikki Savva, a former Liberal party staffer, and Health Services Union manager Kimberley Kitching.

Bolt played an excerpt of Abbott’s speech and followed it up with this pearl of wisdom: “I think the fact he repeated it, suggested he really wanted people to hear it and react to it”.

Kitching timidly replied: “Yes but I think it’s better when a Prime Minister is inclusive, and I’m not sure that the first fleet arriving in boats full of convicts, really defines Australia today.”

Bolt scoffed at her.

“And what language are you speaking Kimberley?” he asked.

“English”

“Wow…” Bolt replied. “How could you… but this is the point. The ABC was full of predictable outrage yesterday from Aboriginal leaders, including Abbott’s own advisor Warren Mundine who seems to be operating as a one-man opposition within the government… the fact is you should be able to say the truth. It was the most defining moment in our history.”

Savva responded with her own version of Bolt’s argument:

“It was a statement of the bleeding obvious… and it might not be a happy statement of the bleeding obvious for Indigenous people, but the fact is that is what happened. That is why Australia is what it is today – now Indigenous people may wish it wasn’t so… but it is so.

“We are here, we are speaking English, we have a judicial system gained from the British, we have a parliamentary system gained from the British.”

Bolt interjected: “The rule of law”.

“The rule of law… all these things,” Savva said.

And then Bolt dropped the clanger: “And a lot of these are actually good. I found it amazing. Aboriginal leaders responding in English to this statement of the bleeding obvious… it sort of just plays into Abbott’s hands.”

Bolt is gleefully boasting about the political capital Abbott could have gained from the pain of Aboriginal people not being able to speak their traditional languages.

It really is a ‘statement of the bleeding obvious’: The reason Aboriginal people respond in English is because languages were ripped from their tongues by successive governments that aimed to either wipe away or assimilate Aboriginal cultures into mainstream Australia.

The history of the settlement of Australia described by Bolt and Savva is not “true” or “fact” – it is a whitewashed history that excludes the traumatic experiences of Aboriginal people and boasts about the barriers that push against them when they try to exercise their rights to culture, language and spirituality.

Australia is one of the world’s top hot spots for disappearing languages, which should be a shock to all citizens because languages are the portal to revitalising and reinvigorating cultural practices.

Languages are libraries of cultural knowledge. To Aboriginal people, they are as valuable as the commodities the big miners want to rip from our land.

For Bolt to undermine this, and instead react in amusement to the continual suppression of Indigenous languages and cultural practices, is one of the most offensive things I’ve heard from him. And I’ve heard him utter some pretty offensive things.

This lie that all Australians have benefited from systems gained from the British is also one that doesn’t weigh up with the evidence.

How then would you explain the fact the nation’s jails are brimming with Aboriginal men, women and children, on the losing end of a white justice system? Or ‘the rule of law’ as Bolt puts it.

This is not a happy statement of “the bleeding obvious” for Bolt or Savva. It is a stupid, and inaccurate statement that does nothing to help raise Aboriginal equality.

New Matilda

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.

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