I’m a bit annoyed. I have been for years around about Australia Day, but I haven’t been able to articulate it properly until now.
I am seeing an increasing amount of talk each year from the capital-city self-confessed-expert set about how Europeans invaded this continent and how we inherit some sort of burden of guilt as a result, thus rendering Australia Day a day of shame, etc. This is poisonous nonsense. Uttering views like this without reference to the context of history is completely disingenuous and can’t be taken seriously from a logical point of view.
There’s almost no example in history of establishing a nation without upsetting or displacing someone. Throughout history, it is what we have consistently done as a species. Perhaps Iceland and Greenland escaped this fate, but I’m not even sure of that. People displace other people.
In the context of Australia, it was utterly inevitable that someone was going to come here and claim the continent for their country, be it the French, the Dutch, the Spanish, or someone else. That it was the British who finally did is more of an accident of history. Probably somewhat fortunately, all things considered.
As of about the middle of the 20th century, the world really started to wake up to the fact that all men really were created equal, and to take the idea seriously; obviously a great thing. Only since then has this talk of invasion etc come along. It’s a concept invented by the more careless and sanctimonious descendants of those who were actually there.
So let’s stop whining about historical inevitabilities that happened 220 years ago, realise that the human race is what it is, even if we are inclined to try and learn from history and thereby improve the current version of the world (which is no bad thing), and take a moment just to consider how lucky we are. None of us are going back to Europe, so this talk of invasion is hypocrisy.
Revisionism is poison. It’s fine to look at history and say “We shouldn’t ever let that happen again, knowing what we know now”. But anyone who says of people in history whose culture was still learning about the world and their fellow man “They’re bad people for not getting this or that right” are themselves bad people and just making a fool of themselves into the bargain.
In short: Move forward, getting things right from here. Don’t try to judge the past with your 21st century eyes.