It’s Naidoc Week! No Award promises to talk about things other than Naidoc Week this week, but first:
In the Northern Territory, Senior indigenous affairs bureaucrat wears confederate flag to Beef Breeders dinner.
No Award, we considered going into the Confederate Flag for you since, as Australians, we don’t really know the ins and outs of USA history. But the NT News has actually given us all the information we require on the topic.
“I don’t think he deliberately set out to be controversial, I just don’t think he really thought about it,” a person at the ball said.
“But the fact is in his position he needs to be a little more thoughtful about these things. He was a bit remiss not to consider it might offend people, especially so close to the Charleston massacre and the whole white supremacist thing over there.
“It’s quite a hot topic around town, too, with the vigilante group and the like.”
The flag was first flown by the pro-slavery Confederacy during the American Civil War, fought in large measure over the rights of land owners to keep black slaves.
It has since been displayed as a symbol of southern American pride, but has also been co-opted by white supremacist groups.
Most recently, Dylann Roof, who killed nine people in a racially motivated attack inside a historic black church in the United States’ city of Charleston this month, posed with the flag shortly before the massacre.
“THE FLAG WAS FIRST FLOWN BY THE PRO-SLAVERY CONFEDERACY” let me reiterate, the Confederate flag was flown initially to indicate a desire to retain slavery.
Of course, this history hardly unique to the US, and we have exactly our own Australian ways of commemorating the Australian refusal to view Indigenous Australians as people. We have universities and streets and statues commemorating Macquarie (who legislated that Indigenous people could be shot if they resisted “civilising”), and Batman (who was a bounty hunter of Aboriginal people in Tasmania before he stole Melbourne from people of the Kulin nation), just as examples.
(Not to mention that Australia’s “alternative” flag comes from the Eureka uprising, which was mostly about resisting unfair taxation, but was also about white miners banding together against the tax-paying Chinese miners.)
HOWEVER, we are (for once) talking about America, not Australia, and, guys, if you ever fell compelled to dress up as anything to do with another country, maybe, I dunno, hit up Google to make sure you’re not about to be horribly offensive.
No Award is usually prepared to extend the benefit of the doubt to people who aren’t aware of the context of particular international taboos — we only recently found out why it’s not cool to link watermelon and African Americans — but there’s been a lot of media coverage about the Confederate Flag in the last couple of weeks, even in Australia. And it’s not unreasonable to expect a basic level of media literacy from a public figure.
(Also, why would you go to a 4th of July event wearing the flag of a people who literally tried to secede from the US? In company with someone wearing a Union Jack? Not to go too far down this derail path, but this choice was bad on many, many levels. How did it win a prize? What’s wrong with people?)