Tag Archives: Aborigines

The Hardest Word

I’ve been reading about Kevin Rudd’s visit to India. Apparently people waited with bated breath to see if he’d apologise for the ‘racist’ attacks on Indian students earlier this year. People are probably going blue in the face, because the Aussie PM stopped short of saying sorry, but accepted responsibility for law and order Down Under…or words to that effect.

I’m not trying to say that Australians are not the apologetic type. In fact, I admire the way they are quick to say they’re sorry if they think your feelings have been hurt, or they’ve done wrong. Earlier this year the Jackson Five were spoofed by a group of singers with black-painted faces on Hey Hey It’s Saturday. It was Australian humour (still a mystery to me), and people probably found it funny. Harry Connick Jr., the guest judge, was not amused. The incident made the morning news, and probably made Connick Jr. famous for the first time in Oz. The presenter apologized at once, of course.

The PM himself has, in fact, been making formal apologies this month to the Forgotten Australians, the former inmates of Fairbridge Farm School. Years ago, a large number of under-privileged children were brought over to Australia from the UK, with the promise of a better life and a brighter future. Unhappily for the kids, many of them were abused, put to work, and in short had a childhood that left them traumatised. Many completely lost contact with their families when Australia ‘adopted’ them. It was something of a legalized almost-kidnapping. A sorry tale, well deserving a prime ministerial apology.

Last year Rudd apologized for Australia’s mistreatment of the Aborigines. There is a whole ‘Stolen Generation’ of Australian Aborigines who were taken away from their families as children. Hmm…I begin to see a theme here. What is it with the Australian government and children?

Still, while begging their pardon is a public acknowledgement, I’m not sure what purpose is served. I’m reminded of those Indians who want the Queen to apologize for British colonization. Would that wipe out two hundred years of British heritage, the Indian railways, and English education? I’m not going down that road…. Suffice to say that with Australians, sorry only seems to be the hardest word.

I should point out that Indians and Australians have a history of apologies though. It just takes a few cricket matches and Harbhajan Singh… need I say more?