By Joe Montero
Andrew Bolt has created another storm, by saying on his television program the Bolt Report, that “Aboriginal” Australians cannot claim they were ‘here first.” This attracted a tsunami of condemnation.
To be fair, Bolt was not suggesting that there was no one here when the First Fleet landed. What he was doing, was trying to resurrect the old John Howard line, that you can’t blame me for what happened two hundred years ago.
By individualising the problem, he says, he was born here before any indigenous or other person younger than he, and he can therefore claim to have been here first.
Sometimes those who condemn Bolt get hung up on the words and fail to notice the content. And it is the content that is most reprehensible. He was playing with words here, in order to draw attention and create a platform, on which to peddle his real message.
The situation was a discussion with guest Garry Johns, over his new book called Recognise What? It concerns the matter of recognising the First Australians in Australia’s constitution. John’s position is that it shouldn’t happen, because “no characteristic of a person should be written into the constitution.”
Among the First Australians there are those who support such a change to the constitution and many, who do not and call for treaty instead.
Johns suggested that there could be a preamble that recognises that others were here first, and the land was colonised.
This is the part that stirred up Andrew Bolt. He wants to obliterate recognition of the colonial past and replace it with the myth of western civilisation, which came here and put the land to proper use. And not for the first time, those questioning this myth were called the real racists, trying to divide Australia into separate groups.
Turning things on their head in this way, is stock in trade for Murdoch’s News Corp empire, and Andrew Bolt is a leading figure here. There is purpose in it. And that is to sling mud at those who do not accept the Murdoch narrative.
Thus, those seeking an end to racism are called racists, in the same way that those criticising the fascist nature of much of what comes out from this stable as closely resembling the fascism of the past, are called fascists. Those putting forward views that are not acceptable are called deniers of free speech and part of an elite controlling and destroying Australian society.
One just has to look at what the old fascists said, and especially Mussolini and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. They said the same sort of stuff. Just read their words and see. The New Corp crew are also using the principle of the big lie. Make it big enough, tell it often enough, and people will come around to believe.
The method is used to build a straw man and position themselves as champions against injustice. The Andrew Bolt and company proclaim themselves as defenders of their version of the real Australia from racist attack, whether it be recognition of the First Nations, the imposition of multiculturalism, or anti-discrimination laws: Put themselves forward as the protectors of free speech, by insisting that critics should be silenced: Proclaim war against the leftist elite in control, on the grounds that it is responsible for the economic difficulties and social problems faced by much of Australia.
The News Corp crusade that Bolt is part of, is not about protecting the battler, but about dividing Australia to defend extreme wealth and privilege.
The best evidence of this is not only the billions pocketed by the Murdochs and other major shareholders and big wheels within the organisation, including Andrew Bolt, but also, the unflinching and ongoing championing of policies that take away from the majority and restrict rights that have been handed down by those who came before us. This the reality that cuts through all the sophistry.
This Bolt incident is not entirely disconnected from what has been going on with the ABC. Putting aside the parade of appointments, sackings and the latest resignation, at the heart of what is going on, is a campaign to destroy the public broadcaster, seen as a competitor and mouthpiece of the enemy. No force has campaigned as vigorously against the ABC as New Corp.
Catalyst for the most recent developments, it appears, the failure of Michelle Guthrie to perform.The ABC was not muzzled to nearly the extent that its opponents demanded. Te move to get rid of senior reporter Emma Alberici, over stories that angered the government and News corp, came into the mix. Chair Justine Milne was brought to take the helm. But the action of staff and the popularity the ABC managed to turn this around and force Milne’s resignation.
For News Corp, two issues of recognition of the First Australians and the ABC are parts of the same crusade.
Andrew Bolt’s recent comments on who was here first is part of this. What he said was dead wrong. Its broader implications are even more damning. When this is being peddled by the biggest media empire operating in the country, it poses a serious threat to the well being of Australia. This is why it is so important for all fair minded people to stand up against it.