The notion that white Australians must be welcomed to Australia by Indigenous leaders, as occurs at the opening of state and federal parliaments, conferences, and school assemblies, is a pernicious one. This practice, while it may appear reasonable or harmless, is a manifestation of the ongoing assault on Australia’s Western heritage, and implies that white Australians, whose families have called Australia home for many generations, do not really belong here.
“Welcome to country” ceremonies, which have become the norm in Australia since Kevin Rudd’s apology to Indigenous people in 2007, maybe a recent invention according to the much-maligned Australian historian Keith Windschuttle, who has said of the practice, “This ceremony is not part of any Aboriginal culture. It is an invented tradition, most probably devised by white academics.” The first occasion of a “welcome to country” on record is from 1976 and was performed by Indigenous television presenter Ernie Dingo.
I recently attended an event at which the audience, mostly comprised of white people, was “welcomed” by an Indigenous speaker. It was a pitiful display of bitterness, resentment, and even hatred towards white Australians. Indeed, it was little more than a scolding for being white. The speaker bluntly stated that Australia still belongs to “First Nations” people (a nonsensical and ahistorical term lifted from Canada’s debates about colonialism) and therefore does not belong to descendants of settlers. He even asserted that we needed to learn Australia’s “true history”, even though ignorance in the general population of Australia’s British heritage has never been more apparent.
It was an overtly adversarial presentation – devoid of hope or a positive vision for Australia. There was not a trace of recognition of the fact that Indigenous people enjoy all the fundamental rights that all Australians enjoy or the tremendous efforts that governments, charities, and individuals have put into improving life for Indigenous Australians over decades. Instead, the speaker aggressively asserted that Indigenous people are still colonised, and white people must continue to be reminded of this until colonialism ends (whatever that means).
The belief that all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, have a right to call the country in which we were born home is now openly attacked by resentful people who are given a platform simply because they identify as victims, and there is no surer way to gain a platform in our culture now than to play the victim.
The desired outcome for such activists is unclear. How, exactly, will we know when enough has been done to overcome the racism they decry? What measurable goals must be achieved? When will we be able to congratulate ourselves for elevating Indigenous voices and dismantling colonialism enough? Will it be when all references to Christianity are removed from the national curriculum, as was attempted (and, thankfully, negated) last year? Or when we abolish the Australian flag? At what point will we have made enough progress?
White people, as nebulous as that concept is, are not guests in Australia. My ancestors were born and raised here many generations ago. The British heritage is full of heroes and nobility, and no one should be made to feel guilty for being white or blamed for the actions of people who have long since died.
This attribution of historical, collective guilt to an entire group of people due to their skin colour is not only racist but is a symptom of a dying society. It is part of the assault on Western values based on selective distortions of history and the Marxist idea of class guilt, now applied to race, which divides humanity into “oppressed” and “oppressor” classes, ascribing sinfulness or virtue-based on whatever group one happens to belong to.
This is a dangerous lie to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike. The reality that nobody is allowed to acknowledge, but everyone knows, is that Indigenous Australians not only enjoy the same basic rights as everyone else but are now viewed by mainstream institutions, namely government, media, and the universities, as requiring added help and protections in the name of “equity.”
Such policies mean that Indigenous people have access to a range of opportunities, from scholarships to employment, that non-Indigenous people do not. Welfare policies for Indigenous people abound, yet so do high rates of alcoholism, abuse, imprisonment, and early deaths in Indigenous communities.
Is this because of racism? How many more apologies, more welcomes to country, more equity programs, are needed to remedy these issues and undo the supposedly ongoing harms of our colonial heritage? Or could it be that these policies, which negate personal responsibility (that nasty colonial idea), do more harm than good, and the professional victim activists ignore this for the sake of their own egos?
Pointing out this obvious reality will get one accused of racism which, in woke mainstream settings, is one of the most serious accusations one can level against another person. It destroys careers and reputations (which is often the point). This constant threat of ostracism for saying “the wrong thing” is a cudgel the Left wields to shut down discussion about Australian history and how issues in Indigenous communities should be addressed.
Meanwhile, welcome ceremonies, apologies, and other empty gestures do nothing to address the issues faced by Indigenous communities (especially those who live in remote areas). The virtue-signalling activists don’t care about them, only about getting revenge on white people for the sins of their ancestors and elevating themselves through their supposed victimhood.
Australians need to find the courage to defend our British heritage without returning the hostility of the already bitter and resentful activists. The assault on Western history cannot go on for much longer without things getting ugly. If Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike fail to agree on a vision of the good society, one in which all our ancestors, traditions, and virtues are respected, we are in for hard times ahead.