Stalinist pigeon perch attack fixed
IN THE long and complex history of all the history that has been contested over a long period and in a very complicated way, nothing has been quite so contested as the question of who has the right to write the history and whether someone else can re-write it.
History is usually written by the people who came out well from events either materially, territorially or socially (in other words the winners) and that version of history as written is then set in stone, both figuratively and literally in the form of statues, for which our pigeon population is eternally grateful.
But is history set in stone? Or to borrow a phrase from Jefferey "The Dude” Lebowski, is history, "Just like... your opinion man.”
Historically speaking it has been men, often old white guys, who have reserved the right to write and preserve history for themselves and woe betide anyone else who thinks they might have a go at adjusting it later on. This is especially so in the arrival of white Europeans more than 220 years ago.
Recently Stan Grant made the point that having a statue in Sydney's Hyde Park lauding Captain James Cook for "discovering” Australia was not accurate when Aboriginal people had been custodians of this place for more than 60,000 years and had been doing quite well thank you very much for asking. Which we didn't. And saying things didn't go quite so well for indigenous Australian after our arrival is an understatement.
Stan has a good point - the statue is part of our collective ongoing failure to write a truthful account of our history that acknow- ledges indigenous Austr- alians in a fair dinkum way.
And one night recently someone had a go at the statue with a spray can writing "No pride in genocide” and "Change the date” on the hallowed stone.
A tough but fair enough comment but definitely not part of, "a deeply disturbing and totalitarian campaign to not just challenge our history but to deny it and obliterate it”, as Malcolm Turnbull said. It's not a Stalinist plot - a sploosh with a high pressure hose will fix it Comrade Mal.
So the statue is fine as a pigeon perch but the plaque needs some work along the lines of, "This is a statue of James Cook, most probably the first white man in a frock coat to draw a map of the east coast of this chunk of real estate, well done and thanks for all the terrific maps and avoiding scurvy”.
Then we can all move on and re-dress the balance by throwing up an equal number of pigeon perches depicting significant Aboriginal Australians - Bonner, Bandler, Roach, Namatjira, Shirley "Mum Shirl” Smith, Pemulwuy and Bennelong come to mind.
There are probably some local indigenous leaders worth setting in stone as well.
But let's not ask any old white guys, like me, for any more statue ideas.