Apr 082008

For those who choose not to fathom the inconsequentialities of the mind of Gerard Henderson, I’ll summarise his latest SMH article.

Gerard wishes to promote the idea that because John Howard slammed the inclusion of the word ‘genocide’ in the 1997 Bringing Them Home report, and Kevin Rudd has deliberately chosen not to make reference to it’s inclusion in his ‘Sorry’ speech in February, that both men think alike. Indeed, Rudd can even be likened to Howard on this perceived ‘leftist’ issue.
Gerard goes on the criticise Robert Manne and Raimond Gaita for a perceived back-peddle by both academics, who previously used the term in critique of the former Howard government, now pulling back given that their favoured political ideology is in government. All this criticism, and essentially nit-picking over a word?
Dictionary_dot_com defines ‘Genocide’ as being:

the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.

The Oxford dictionary defines it as:

the deliberate killing of a very large number of people from a particular ethnic group or nation.

The Collins version says:

the policy of deliberately killing a nationality or ethnic group

Some considerable differences there, I think you’d agree, reader. Is genocide a policy or an action? Is extermination literal, virtual or physical? We know, for example, that the Western Australian government policy of the early 20th century was to assimilate aboriginal culture into white culture, and treat inter-bred individuals as wholly white Australians in order that the aboriginal race and culture should eventually cease to exist. It’s all in the BTH report, which Gerard has conveniently glossed over.
The simple fact remains that these policies existed. People died as a direct result. People’s lives were destroyed, as a direct result. Arguing perceived political correctnesses over the usage of a word or words doesn’t alter those facts. It seems to me to be ironic that someone from the so-called ‘right’ should be arguing a point which is essentially grounded in political correctness. What would John Howard have to say?
Again, this column is merely another in a long line of ideologically oriented slights by Gerard Henderson against his nemesis on the ideological ‘left’. That he needs to fill his editorially defined quota of words on the basis of a weakly formed argument over the use of a single word in a document so important as the BTH report, simply highlights the irrelevance of opinions of him and his kind, in my view.