Invasion Day and the Inherent Discrimination of Australian Nationalism – Aiesha Saunders
Growing up as a Dunghutti boy in Kempsey – a rural town in New South Wales – I saw January 26 (the day of the invasion) celebrated in two very different ways. I watched some families have lunch or spend a day at the beach drinking beers, which always involved misunderstandings speech on “friendship”– is not unlike those that politicians toss. Or conversely, I have seen people attending First Nations mourning ceremonies and protesting the same day. My family has both indigenous and non-indigenous backgrounds so my day in Australia consisted of having breakfast with my loved ones as everyone had a day off. However, it was not a moment of celebration. As a Dunghutti boy, shaped by my family traditions, I strongly identified with the position that this day is the day of invasion and a time of mourning, not celebration. This position prevents me from identifying with other Australians who hold large family gatherings and parties on this day. Even so, the opposing positions and recurring debates, both in the news and among the people I grew up with, about how the day should be spent showed me that celebrating this day was not right. . It wasn’t until my late teens that I began to form my own understanding of the history of the controversial day and the ideas of Australian nationalism that went with it – ungracefully from my single course in aboriginal studies in high school, taught by an old white man. guy.
nationalism is defined as an ideology or movement of intense devotion and loyalty to a nation-state by prioritizing the interests of that nation over others. Nationalism is not inherently good or bad. It all depends on how it is used and what message is presented. Incoming Godwin’s Law… In high school, I learned about 1930s Nazi Germany, which spread ethnic nationalism and global control. A clear example of the dangers of nationalism. This contrasts with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank who are currently struggling against human rights violations and injustices. Which is a nationalist movement for self-determination, empowerment and sovereignty of an oppressed group. Nationalism can be a tool of discrimination or empowerment.
The NSW government describes January 26 as the national day to “celebrate the Australian spirit”, while claiming to respect and reconcile with First Nations people. However, as much activists before me have pointed out, this day seems to forget all the atrocities experienced by non-white Australia under this guise of nationalism. This Australian spirit (or nationalism) has a habit of excluding all the dark sides of the past. On the most nationalistic day, little attention is given to the history of colonization, which led to war, slavery, massacresand mass starvation. Although the day may seem like a long-standing Australian tradition, it was not officially recognized as a national holiday until 1994. Since then there has been increased encouragement of unification through nationalism peddled by the government. This peddling was first popularized in The wars of history by then-Prime Minister John Howard, who promoted conservative views on Australian history. Particularly shocking, he spread the “black armband“pendulum perspective of history, which has been used to delegitimize First Nations experiences and undermine the truth about colonial history. He pushed the idea that Aboriginal genocide did not take place and did not acknowledge the existence of the Stolen Generations. It comforted and assuaged white guilt and was partly done to create hasty national unity instead of building a legitimate one – such as through reparations for indigenous peoples. This new nationalism has ignored First Nations peoples and has had lasting impacts on today’s understanding of history, which is evident when our current Prime Minister says things like “there was no slavery in Australia.”
Not only that, but it also ignores the problems found in modern Australia. “But colonization took place hundreds of years ago. Things are different now,” and after all, it’s the “lucky country“, Apparently. However, this is simply not true and ignores the ingrained inequality in modern Australia suffered by First Nations people. Currently, the incarceration and children in care outside rates are disproportionately higher for Aboriginal people. This overrepresentation is due in part to a series of systemic issues that unfairly affect the First Nations population. The issues of health, education and economic opportunity that are not being solved because first nations people are not being listened to. So when I’m told that things are different now and we live in the ‘lucky country’, I mean privilege and willful ignorance. How can a group afflicted by inequality be expected to celebrate a country that is working against them? A day when history is invalidated and reality ignored.
Racism and religious discrimination are beliefs and behaviors used to exclude specific demographic groups. This is a common theme rooted in extreme nationalism. By refusing to accept and opposing other cultures, the central nation-state maintains its conceptualized ethnic makeup, resulting in certain groups being unwelcome and viewed as “the other”. In the Australian context, First Nations and people from diverse cultural backgrounds, such as migrants and refugees, experience the highest racism rate. I have had my own personal experiences with racism regarding my Aboriginal identity. White people called me “mixed race” or “not really black”. However, this does not compare to cases of racially motivated attacks that have been on the rise for some bands in Australia. It is then to be expected that people targeted for their race or religion will feel unwelcome and unsafe in this country, especially on days when Australian nationalism is celebrated.
In contrast, many Australian nationalist parties, groups and movements feel comfortable enough to openly champion causes rooted in discrimination. Around the day of the invasion, the disregard for First Nations perspectives is blatant, like the time when Pauline Hanson, leader of the One Nation Party, declared that those who oppose the national holiday should “get over it… get rid of the chip off (their) shoulder”. There was also many political parties who are dedicated to stopping migration and who oppose Islam in Australia, which is just plain and simple Islamophobia. Australian nationalism and the racist tendencies it invokes were on full display in the Neo-Nazi trip to the Grampians Last year. On this trip, more than 30 white men affiliated with the Nationalist Socialist Network traveled to the Grampians region to celebrate the Invasion Day weekend. They burned crosses and posed as German Nazis while chanting Hitler slogans and giving his salute. The leader of the group also had rented the Christchurch mosque shootings in the past. Australia has its own neo-Nazi group, who feel welcome to parade their extremism on Australia’s National Day. The day was meant to celebrate the country’s multiculturalism, and acceptance leads to further discrimination for those who don’t match the ethnic makeup while normalizing extremist views. I don’t want to celebrate national pride on a day that makes neo-Nazis and Pauline Hanson think they can celebrate white nationalism.
This is the reason why changing the date will not solve the problem. The problems with the so-called Australia Day don’t stop and start on January 26. It starts with Australian nationalism and what it represents as an oppressive and ignorant ideology. A form of nationalism that claims to be inclusive, when in reality the voices of First Nations people are ignored, non-white Australians are excluded and discriminatory groups are made comfortable. I guess it’s the ‘Australian spirit’.
Your support will allow IndigenousX to remain independent and continue to create original content.