Australia Day furore

A couple of shops in Australia have been selling these t-shirts online and in store:

There has been a public outcry because the Est. 1788 slogan is deemed as racist. For a lot of Indigenous people, Australia Day is known as “Invasion Day”. The western world may well have not arrived until 1788, but Australia had actually been populated successfully for tens of thousands of years. But because that history is primarily a oral storytelling; respecting and leaving the land as it is; taking only what you need culture – not one that used thousands of slaves to build pyramids, churches, the Acropolis or other huge buildings, they’re not visibly connected with their land in the way other ancient civilisations are. Indigenous people are constantly deemed as second class citizens, even now. This isn’t isolated in Australia,

The problems and issues faced by Indigenous people in Australia are wide and deep. I’m not going into all of them here, it shames me how we treat people all over the world, but the rape and pillage of this land is something that sits very uncomfortably with me. On my first visit here Hubs and I drove through the Blue Mountains around Sydney, we had a beautiful lunch in the Hunter Valley, visited a couple of wineries and while it was a glorious morning and early afternoon, driving past an open mine and seeing the gaping hole left behind is predominantly what I remember of that part of the journey. I’ve vented before on mining, and no doubt I’ll vent again.

I am fully aware of the hypocrisy of this as I sit at a computer, and have a mobile phone on my desk, don’t worry, I get it.

I whizzed into the shopping centre this lunchtime to buy a birthday present for the party we’re going to on Sunday. I was bombarded with Australiana tat to help us celebrate the rapidly approaching Australia Day. Flags, chairs, stubby holders, t-shirts for every member of the family, carefully grouped red, white and blue clothing on display. In England, every other national day is celebrated, particularly St Patrick’s Day. But mention celebrating St George’s Day, and you’re racist. Most people don’t even know when it is in the UK as it is kept so quiet, but they’re happy to get out their tree for St Patrick’s. Because after all, that is how you celebrate anything nowadays, you get blind drunk, punch on and fill A&E departments up at weekends.

My question is simple. If Est. 1788 is racist, then why is everything else connected with the anniversary not racist? What is the difference? The t-shirts are being pulled from sale and there is a media backlash that the shops are frantically trying to ride out. But everyone is happy enough to have a public holiday out of it, everyone is happy enough to have a BBQ and a hangover, but people aren’t angry enough to stand up for human rights to ensure that everyone is treated equally.

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