Friday, 31 July 2009

Treating People Like Beasts...

A post on the unfortunate incident of the Aborigine with the Taser over at ‘Angry Exile’s blog came to mind at the weekend.

He writes about the paternalistic attitude of the Aussie authorities to Aborigine communities:
But as annoying as that is the other situation, that of no booze zones because of the amount of alcohol abuse among some indigenous Australians, is if anything even worse. Not only is it paternalistic and borderline racist - I know it's the wrong country but it smacks of White Man's Burden to me - but what effect is it having? Well, since they're going to be hassled by the police for having alcohol some choose to sniff petrol instead, and that brings us full circle to some poor bastard jerking to the rhythm of the Taser while trying to put out the fire on his chest. A further complication is that I'm told that some alcohol bans in and around Aboriginal communities have been brought in at the request of the communities themselves. Now that made me rethink the situation. Isn't it equally patronizing to suggest that the Elders of a community aren't able to decide what should and shouldn't go on there? Isn't it just like a home owner asking people not to smoke in his house, and expecting them to comply or go outside? I can't help but feel that there's probably a middle ground here, and scaling up that home owner example might be roughly the direction to take. But it's a bit of a minefield and all I know for certain is that banning booze in public areas is not an answer. At best you move the problem on to somewhere else and at worst you end up with people abusing more dangerous substances that you can't so easily ban and can't readily police if you try.
The reason it came to mind at the weekend was because I happened to see, in the ‘Telegraph’, the most stunningly racist photo I’ve ever seen.

It was a group of tribesmen clustered round a car, underneath a honking great sign saying (in terms usually reserved for warnings about bears at Yosemite) that tourists should not feed them, offer them rides in cars, etc.

These were people. And yet, the sign treated them as less than human. And apparantly 'for their own good'. Their own good, of course, being defined as what the 'Oh! Native cultures are so wonderful!' crowd decided for them.

I can’t find it in the online edition, but this article describes the situation:
Over the last decade, the number of tourist trips into their jungle reserve has grown so rapidly that critics say it increasingly resembles a human safari park. An array of notices at the entrance to the forest instructs visitors not to stop or allow the Jarawa into their vehicles, not to take photographs - and not to feed the tribesmen or to give them clothing.
Because these people aren’t to be treated as people, capable of deciding for themselves: ‘Sod the loincloth and spears – I want an iPod!’. They are to be treated as pets, or worse than pets – as animals in a reserve, to be forced to maintain their ‘native culture’ whether they like it or not.

Seriously, how is it that anyone who claims to be ‘anti-racist’ isn’t up in arms over this?

Meanwhile, what concerns the right-on union warriors over here in the UK?

Well, according to Pavlov’s Cat, this sort of thing:
Unison took action against its members, including the Greenwich branch's Onay Kasab and Bromley’s Glenn Kelly, after they produced a leaflet showing the three wise monkeys from a Japanese proverb, with the caption "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".

The leaflet criticised the union for a lack of debate at its national conference in 2007, but the four were told by union chiefs some people could find the image racially offensive.

Well done, lads. Obviously, we have no more real or pressing problems with race in this country. As Pavlov puts it:
So 'some people could' , but nobody did , did they ? or you could bet these guys feet would not have touched the ground if an actual complaint had been made.


Pavlov's Cat said...

Hi Julia, ta for linkage

the original photo you refer to can be found Here, The Jarawa tribe face new threat

and I agree it is a disgrace, I believe the same occurs with tribes in the Amazon, hidden from all but 'researchers'. 'for thier own protection'

JuliaM said...

Ah, yes, indeed that is the one.

"I believe the same occurs with tribes in the Amazon, hidden from all but 'researchers'. 'for thier own protection'"

All the better for them to keep 'researching' in tropical climes!