An overheard bus conversation. Recounted without comment.

A) Hey, you know what today is? Invasion Day!

B) What?

A) Invasion Day.

B) Invasion Day?

A) Yeah,  ’cause it’s the day they invaded us Kooris.

B)  Oh, InVASion Day

A) So all those people wearing Australian flags are celebrating Invasion Day. ‘cept the ones that feel sorry for us.

C) We don’t want you to feel sorry for us, ya cunts.

32 thoughts on “An overheard bus conversation. Recounted without comment.

  1. It is a stupid day to have chosen (now made even worse by the dickhead nationalist fest that it is becoming) — and not just for the Aboriginals — it’s like somehow everyone should be grateful to Captain Cook for landing in Australia. Surely a better date could have been chosen, like the day the Federation bill was passed, or even better, just have a floating day that always gives people a long weekend — perhaps they could always put it after the Queen’s birthday so we could get a 4 day holiday.

  2. “it’s like somehow everyone should be grateful to Captain Cook for landing in Australia”

    Leaving questions of ‘gratitude’ aside for the moment, you do know the day doesn’t actually commemorate Cook’s arrival, Conrad?

  3. Mmmmm. Shocking. It’s been downhill ever since, really. We’ve got a lot to be despondent about.

    I’m surprised – in fact, moderately aggrieved – that no-one has come up with, “Everywhere Is Better – Well, Certainly More Ethical ( in historical terms certainly) – Than Here,” Day. We could all go to de-citizenship ceremonies where we’d apologise for everything that happened – particularly mixed grills, seriously overcooked vegetables, Banjo Paterson and Dame Nellie Melba – in the dark, flyblown, Dad and Dave ages between 1788 and the opening of the first Thai Restaurant in Sydney.

  4. I’m surprised – in fact, moderately aggrieved – that no-one has come up with, “Everywhere Is Better – Well, Certainly More Ethical ( in historical terms certainly) – Than Here,” Day. We could all go to de-citizenship ceremonies where we’d apologise for everything that happened – particularly mixed grills, seriously overcooked vegetables, Banjo Paterson and Dame Nellie Melba – in the dark, flyblown, Dad and Dave ages between 1788 and the opening of the first Thai Restaurant in Sydney.

    A holiday built around self-deprecatory whining? Sounds positively pommy, Geoff. What did the Romans Brits ever do for us?

  5. I’m totally hearting, ‘Self-Deprecatory Whining Day’, Fyodor. It’s top three material along with “We Really Shouldn’t Be Here At All But What About If I Just Drink Organic Free Trade Macchiatos And Do An Annual Bangarra Dance Company Bronze Supporter thingo Day”? And of course, “I’m a Vegan for Reconciliation, I Have a Mac and a Dot Painting (OK, OK, dodgy, hegemonic, pointillist interpretation maybe) of Faith Bandler and my great grandmother was a dispossessed Celt from Wales; could I maybe hang around if I promised to be completely ashamed of who I am, Day?”

  6. I think when thinking about whether it’s self deprecatory whining etc. or not, you need to distinguish between doing something to be nice, doing nothing and pissing people off, and presumably Australia day falls into the latter category, so I think it is reasonable to think about moving it, and not just white people trying to make themselves feel good etc. I don’t see why you would need to be ashamed of yourself to contemplate that either. It’s something negative that could easily be fixed at essentially no cost.

    “What did the Brits ever do for us?”

    I’m not really sure that’s relevant because we’ll never know what Australia would be like if the Brits hadn’t colonized Aus. Perhaps it would rich and prosperous and full of black people. Only Philip K. Dick can answer that one.

  7. A comment I heard with interest given the reflection or lack thereof taking place on Australia Day – “Nationalism is the last refuge of a scoundrel…” George Orwell apparently said this. I think I agree – too many bad things seem to happen in history because one country or another became to convinced of its own worth. Perhaps it is the uniqueness of all of us that makes us great and not the flag we happen to gather under..

  8. Perhaps we could change it from Oz Day to ‘Apologise for Something’ Day.

    Give the grumpy old ‘uns amongst us the opportunity for a day of our own. Sort of like a national version of the Larvatus Prodeo ‘Condemn’ threads, but opened up to those on the right.

  9. No, Peter, it was Dr Johnson, speaking in Captain Cook’s time, who said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”

  10. I think when thinking about whether it’s self deprecatory whining etc. or not, you need to distinguish between doing something to be nice, doing nothing and pissing people off, and presumably Australia day falls into the latter category, so I think it is reasonable to think about moving it, and not just white people trying to make themselves feel good etc.

    People are capable of getting pissed off about anything. The lowest common denominator approach to the avoidance of giving offence might ensure that the grievance industry finds another target for shamestorming, but it’s no guarantee that the new holiday would have any meaning or resonance with the population. Additionally, contra your assertion, this recurring sanctimonious whingefest IS largely the result of whitefella autofellation amongst les bien pensants.

    I don’t see why you would need to be ashamed of yourself to contemplate that either. It’s something negative that could easily be fixed at essentially no cost.

    The celebration of the foundation of Australia, i.e. the settlement of the first colony, is not something negative. White settlement was extraordinarily successful for the nation that emerged. The descendants of the original inhabitants of Australia are obviously entitled to a different view, as is everyone, but the brute fact is that the vast majority of Australians have good cause to celebrate the event.

    Your last sentence is inherently contradictory, in that symbolic change can have no benefit if it has no cost. Of course there will be a cost to changing the day. What you mean to say is that you don’t see the downside to devaluing an event that you don’t value, for your own peculiar reasons.

    “What did the Brits ever do for us?”

    I’m not really sure that’s relevant because we’ll never know what Australia would be like if the Brits hadn’t colonized Aus. Perhaps it would rich and prosperous and full of black people. Only Philip K. Dick can answer that one.

    Yairs. Rich and prosperous like all the other geographically isolated, tribal stone-age peoples with no immunity to Eurasian diseases, such as . . . um.

    Philip K. Dick? Do aborigines dream of electric sheep? Martian Time-Slip should have answered that one for you.

  11. “People are capable of getting pissed off about anything”

    That’s true. But sometimes it’s reasonable to get pissed off.

    “the settlement of the first colony, is not something negative”

    The vast majority of people that live in Australia are not related to people from the first settlement, and the vast majority of what has been built in Australia was not done by people related to them. So it certainly isn’t the only thing worth celebrating about Australia if you like celebrations.

    “What you mean to say is that you don’t see the downside to devaluing an event that you don’t value, for your own peculiar reasons.”

    Actually about 20 years ago, I don’t seem to remember people actually caring too much about it. Then it got picked up for political purposes, both positive and negative. And then it got picked up by the left of the distribution like the white males that you find in Cronulla that wave Australian flags and tattoo the Southern Cross on themselves. Wonderful.

    “Rich and prosperous like all the other geographically isolated, tribal stone-age peoples with no immunity to Eurasian diseases, such as . . . um”

    There’s no equivalent of Australia unfortunately, and given the almost infininte number of scenarios that could have evolved (colonization by others, for example — perhaps it would be more like the US or Brazil) in my books you’re either Nostradamus or too confident in predicting alternative realities.

  12. “People are capable of getting pissed off about anything”

    That’s true. But sometimes it’s reasonable to get pissed off.

    And sometimes clouds are shaped like animals. SFW?

    “the settlement of the first colony, is not something negative”

    The vast majority of people that live in Australia are not related to people from the first settlement, and the vast majority of what has been built in Australia was not done by people related to them.

    Huh? What does relation have to do with it? The residents of the Australia enjoy the benefits of white settlement regardless of your nonsense argument.

    So it certainly isn’t the only thing worth celebrating about Australia if you like celebrations.

    What? I didn’t say it was the only thing, but modern Australia began with that moment. That’s why it was chosen as a day of national significance. Its meaning is obvious. Less obvious is your rationalisation for downplaying it.

    “What you mean to say is that you don’t see the downside to devaluing an event that you don’t value, for your own peculiar reasons.”

    Actually about 20 years ago, I don’t seem to remember people actually caring too much about it. Then it got picked up for political purposes, both positive and negative. And then it got picked up by the left of the distribution like the white males that you find in Cronulla that wave Australian flags and tattoo the Southern Cross on themselves. Wonderful.

    That you have a problem with how other people celebrate the day is obvious, but it remains your problem.

    “Rich and prosperous like all the other geographically isolated, tribal stone-age peoples with no immunity to Eurasian diseases, such as . . . um”

    There’s no equivalent of Australia unfortunately, and given the almost infininte number of scenarios that could have evolved (colonization by others, for example — perhaps it would be more like the US or Brazil) in my books you’re either Nostradamus or too confident in predicting alternative realities.

    You’re the bloke engaging in historical haruspicy, remember? The reason why you cannot provide a single historical precedent for your fanciful fiction is obvious – there were NO instances of isolated aboriginal cultures developing independently into “rich and prosperous” states. Just. Did. Not. Happen. Anywhere.

    Also, why you’re picking through the ethnic entrails, remember that the USA WAS settled by Brits, for the better I might add. The reality is that if it wasn’t the Brits it would have been some other bunch of DWEMs. Given the Brits’ superior track record in colonisation it’s highly unlikely that the alternatives would have been better.

  13. “The residents of the Australia enjoy the benefits of white settlement regardless of your nonsense argument.”

    They probably benefit from technology developed by the Romans, a floated-dollar, and all sorts of other things that have essentially nothing to do with white settlement too. Can we have a holiday to celebrate those?

    The point isn’t that I don’t benefit from white settlement incidentally or anything else I can think of, the point is that there are probably just better dates that are more inclusive of the wider population that don’t happen to get focused on one particular issue that happens to divide particular groups. I’m sure, for example, if China decided to make Tibetan national day the day the Chinese “liberated them”, or if Sri Lanka decided their national day should be the one on which they finally defeated the Tamils, we’d never hear end of it. Sure, you could just say:”get stuffed” to those groups, but this hardly very productive.

    “but modern Australia began with that moment”

    Actually, I think that it began with federation (even then the population was less than 4 million, so one might argue what you mean by “modern” here). I also think that it is a better date that isn’t so divisive and nor is it focused on particular events likely to be annoying to people (possible except WA if they want secede..). We all came together to help each other across the country. Great.

    “there were NO instances of isolated aboriginal cultures developing independently into “rich and prosperous” states”

    But this is because there are simply no isolated aboriginal cultures living on large bits of land that didn’t happen to get invaded and oppressed, so it isn’t really suprising. All you are saying here is that he who has the biggest gun wins. And that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that these groups couldn’t have lived happily without this.

  14. They probably benefit from technology developed by the Romans, a floated-dollar, and all sorts of other things that have essentially nothing to do with white settlement too. Can we have a holiday to celebrate those?

    We do. It’s called Australia Day, when the Brits brought all the goodies of Western civilisation with them.

    The point isn’t that I don’t benefit from white settlement incidentally or anything else I can think of, the point is that there are probably just better dates that are more inclusive of the wider population that don’t happen to get focused on one particular issue that happens to divide particular groups.

    No holiday can be 100% inclusive when a minority insists on excluding itself. That’s the point I made earlier. The problem with the “better dates” argument is that there aren’t any, and certainly none with the emotional weight already invested in Australia Day.

    I’m sure, for example, if China decided to make Tibetan national day the day the Chinese “liberated them”, or if Sri Lanka decided their national day should be the one on which they finally defeated the Tamils, we’d never hear end of it. Sure, you could just say:”get stuffed” to those groups, but this hardly very productive.

    Majorities say “get stuffed” to minorities all the time, in all sorts of ways – productivity has nothing to do with it. Don’t be so naive.

    Actually, I think that it began with federation (even then the population was less than 4 million, so one might argue what you mean by “modern” here). I also think that it is a better date that isn’t so divisive and nor is it focused on particular events likely to be annoying to people (possible except WA if they want secede..). We all came together to help each other across the country. Great.

    Ask 10 randomly-selected people for the date of Federation and you’ll quickly work out why that’s a non-starter. The date itself makes it impractically meaningless as a national holiday.

    Arguably Federation was not as momentous an event as settlement of New South Wales. Modern Australia, by which I mean the nation, if not the state, of Australia had Australia Day as its foundation event. You can argue that the creation of the state is more important, but I doubt most Australians would agree with you. The history of the nation of Australia – as opposed to the island – is a history of colonisation, commencing with British settlement.

    But this is because there are simply no isolated aboriginal cultures living on large bits of land that didn’t happen to get invaded and oppressed, so it isn’t really suprising.

    No, it isn’t really surprising that all the large bits of land inhabited by isolated aboriginal cultures were systematically conquered by more technologically advanced cultures.

    What IS really surprising is that you could imagine an alternative history where this WASN’T the case.

    All you are saying here is that he who has the biggest gun wins. And that’s true.

    Ding-Ding-Ding! We have a winner!

    But that doesn’t mean that these groups couldn’t have lived happily without this.

    Millennia of human civilisation prove otherwise. “Biggest gun” and all that.

  15. “Majorities say “get stuffed” to minorities all the time, in all sorts of ways – productivity has nothing to do with it. Don’t be so naive.”

    Minorities and majorities also constantly fight/antagonize each other too. This includes “modern” places, like Northern Ireland. So it’s not naive. It’s finding some balance so this doesn’t happen.

    “Ask 10 randomly-selected people for the date of Federation and you’ll quickly work out why that’s a non-starter. The date itself makes it impractically meaningless as a national holiday”

    I’m willing to ask 10 people in, say, October when the date of Federation is, when Australia day is, when the Queen’s birthday is, or for that matter, who the Australian Head of State is. I’m willing to bet there is very little difference in the correct percentage of answers in any of those groups.

    The reason Australia Day has significance is not the date — it’s because it’s Australia day. Personally, I think the sorts of things we are discussing and that people complain about get too much attention because of the date.

    “What IS really surprising is that you could imagine an alternative history where this WASN’T the case.”

    There are certainly examples in history where people didn’t colonize each other when they could have (extracting tribute is so much easier), and there is lots of diversity in what happens when you are colonized. So there are lots of possibilities.

  16. I should have thought everyone born in Australia should be grateful for Cook and Phillip lobbing on our shore. The alternative is to wish themselves not born, and anybody was regrets being born can easily find another path to non-existence.

    Not a single person alive today was dispossessed by the white arrival and colonisation. The idiots trying to storm the restaurant yesterday are really saying:

    “I’m very shitty that history didn’t take a different path in which I wasn’t born and god only knows what would have happened to aboriginal people for good or ill!”

    Great slogan isn’t it.

  17. Minorities and majorities also constantly fight/antagonize each other too. This includes “modern” places, like Northern Ireland. So it’s not naive. It’s finding some balance so this doesn’t happen.

    So, you’ve just raised sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland in the context of the recurring whingfest over Australia Day and you start talking about “balance”? What a fucking joke. Get a grip.

    I’m willing to ask 10 people in, say, October when the date of Federation is, when Australia day is, when the Queen’s birthday is, or for that matter, who the Australian Head of State is. I’m willing to bet there is very little difference in the correct percentage of answers in any of those groups.

    Heh! If you’re willing to bet on that then you are a very foolish man. Which would explain a lot…

    Incidentally, you do KNOW the date of Federation, don’t you? You’re not just bullshitting impromptu, are you?

    If you don’t know, look it up. Now. Then have a good think about your life’s direction before writing your next comment.

    The reason Australia Day has significance is not the date — it’s because it’s Australia day. Personally, I think the sorts of things we are discussing and that people complain about get too much attention because of the date.

    Oh, I know, I know. Life would be so much easier if we could celebrate national holidays on any old date.

    There are certainly examples in history where people didn’t colonize each other when they could have (extracting tribute is so much easier), and there is lots of diversity in what happens when you are colonized. So there are lots of possibilities.

    O rly? There ARE examples of isolated aboriginal cultures that have not been colonised? Care to name some? I can think of a handful, but all in trivial undesirable places.

    What’s on your list?

  18. “So, you’ve just raised sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland in the context of the recurring whingfest over Australia Day and you start talking about “balance”? What a fucking joke. Get a grip.”

    How many billions have we spent on Aboriginals in the last 20 years alone? It’s not just a whinge fest. Oppressed people are oppressed people — and they cost a lot, as do most groups in endemic poverty. Perhaps they would be less oppressed if we didn’t rub it in so much.

    “Heh! If you’re willing to bet on that then you are a very foolish man”

    I’m still willing to bet that. I personally always forget when Australia day is (and Melbourne Cup day, and indeed all the other public holidays except Christmas). I’ve also seen some trash TV where someone was wandering around asking people who the Australian Head of State is, and almost no-one says, “the Queen”. Try walking into McDonalds or something like that and asking. I’ve tried (abeit with young people) it and works fine.

    “Incidentally, you do KNOW the date of Federation, don’t you”

    Yes. Rog will be happy as a holiday will be saved.

    “There ARE examples of isolated aboriginal cultures that have not been colonised?”

    I didn’t say that. I said that the effect of colonization is variable on the inhabitants (i.e., “and there is lots of diversity in what happens when you are colonized”)

  19. How many billions have we spent on Aboriginals in the last 20 years alone? It’s not just a whinge fest. Oppressed people are oppressed people — and they cost a lot, as do most groups in endemic poverty. Perhaps they would be less oppressed if we didn’t rub it in so much.

    The recurring whining about the symbolism of Australia Day is a whingefest, and is a totally separate issue to the welfare state that’s been built to cater to the grievance industry. Nobody in Australia is oppressed because we celebrate our national day on 26 January. Nobody.

    I’m still willing to bet that. I personally always forget when Australia day is (and Melbourne Cup day, and indeed all the other public holidays except Christmas). I’ve also seen some trash TV where someone was wandering around asking people who the Australian Head of State is, and almost no-one says, “the Queen”. Try walking into McDonalds or something like that and asking. I’ve tried (abeit with young people) it and works fine.

    Forgetful, too. You’re really joining the dots here, Conrad.

    “Incidentally, you do KNOW the date of Federation, don’t you”

    Yes. Rog will be happy as a holiday will be saved.

    Nice try, but unconvincing.

    I didn’t say that. I said that the effect of colonization is variable on the inhabitants (i.e., “and there is lots of diversity in what happens when you are colonized”)

    Glad to hear it. I think you’re done there, unless you want to throw up some more ignorantly ahistorical speculation.

  20. “Nobody in Australia is oppressed because we celebrate our national day on 26 January”

    Just my random readings today show that this issue is far less settled than you seem to imagine. Try, for example, the title in: http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2012/01/australias-aborigines . Someone thinks someone is oppressed anyway.

    “Forgetful, too. You’re really joining the dots here, Conrad.”

    Like I said. Try for yourself. Go into McDonalds, find the average Australian, strike up a conversation, and ask them those questions. There’s a simple empirical answer to all but one of those questions that can be answered as soon as you feel like.

    “I think you’re done there, unless you want to throw up some more ignorantly ahistorical speculation.”

    Right on Nostradamus.

  21. Also, why you’re picking through the ethnic entrails, remember that the USA WAS settled by Brits, for the better I might add. The reality is that if it wasn’t the Brits it would have been some other bunch of DWEMs. Given the Brits’ superior track record in colonisation it’s highly unlikely that the alternatives would have been better.

    The Dutch were doing a good job with New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland until the Brits put on their bibs to join the dinner table uninvited. Funny how a cigarette took on the name of the area Governor (along with a New York City district and top science high school) ….Peter Stuyvesant.

  22. “The Dutch were doing a good job with New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland until the Brits put on their bibs to join the dinner table uninvited”

    And the brilliance of their success in the Dutch East Indies gives an indication of What Might Have Been, Joe.

  23. Just my random readings today show that this issue is far less settled than you seem to imagine. Try, for example, the title in: http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2012/01/australias-aborigines. Someone thinks someone is oppressed anyway.

    The fact that we’re debating the subject is proof enough that the issue is not “settled”. That the clamour of sanctimonious whining is loud enough to attract the attention of Club Troppo, let alone Teh Economist, says nothing about who thinks whom is oppressed or the ability of a public holiday to oppress ethnic minorities.

    Like I said. Try for yourself. Go into McDonalds, find the average Australian, strike up a conversation, and ask them those questions. There’s a simple empirical answer to all but one of those questions that can be answered as soon as you feel like.

    We’ve already established that you’re a bloke willing to bet on empirical questions, based on nothing other than your anecdotal experience, which is more than slightly clouded by the disclosure that you tend to forget key dates. The first fact suggests you’re a fool, the second a forgetful one. This latest revelation, on the purported empirical validity of surveys carried out ad hoc chez Maccas, confirms that you also like to embiggen holes once you’re in ‘em.

    Right on Nostradamus.

    I’ve gotta pay that one. Second time you’ve used it, and it’s still illogical and inappropriate. Gold star, pink elephant.

  24. And the brilliance of their success in the Dutch East Indies gives an indication of What Might Have Been, Joe.

    oops.. lol. Fair enough. I find that whole Brit takeover quite amusing. Didn’t the Brits wake up one morning and decided they wanted it?

  25. And the brilliance of their success in the Dutch East Indies gives an indication of What Might Have Been, Joe.

    I’ll take that as sarcasm, G-Ho. The Dutch traded Manhattan for Run, in the Banda Islands. I’m sure it seemed like a good deal at the time – Banda being the only source of nutmeg and mace in the entire world – but in retrospect it looks positively Wilkian, as the Brits shafted them anyway.

    Circling back to Vegans for Reconciliation: Vegan Edge.

  26. Geoff – I will note that if we were to take the East Indies as an indication of what New Amsterdam would become we should could consider a counterfactual. Were we ignorant of what would become of New York, would we have formed an accurate impression based on British success in Nigeria/Sudan/Pakistan/West Indies etc.?

  27. “but in retrospect it looks positively Wilkian, as the Brits shafted them anyway.”

    Indeed. The Brits got Mulligatawny Soup and Rudyard Kipling and the Dutch got the ubiquitous, ‘rijsttafel.’ If you’ve ever worked as an expatriate for the Royal Dutch/Shell group of companies, an invitation to come round for rijsttafel can strike fear into the heart.

  28. “Geoff – I will note that if we were to take the East Indies as an indication of what New Amsterdam would become we should could consider a counterfactual. Were we ignorant of what would become of New York, would we have formed an accurate impression based on British success in Nigeria/Sudan/Pakistan/West Indies etc.?”

    Good point Richard. Nigeria and Sudan have both been independent for over half a century and both continue to be characterised as ‘victims’ of a colonialist past that is increasingly remote from the realities of their self-inflicted present.
    Nigeria has the potential to be one of the world’s great economies – and it’s not the legacy of colonialism that stands in the way.

    Pakistan is a shining example of why the Brits, Gandhi and Nehru were all absolutely right about the absurdity of partition. Thst it was insisted upon by Mohammed Ali Jinnah – a whisky-drinking, non-Urdu speaking product of the Inner Temple – is hardly the Brits fault, though I concede that Mountabatten’s ego was involved.

    The West Indies present a mixed picture: Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, OKish. Jamaica – Kylie Minogue’s fan base is pretty small, I understand.

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