1788: A dirty word

1788 has become a dirty word.

So in the lead up to Australia Day, T-shirts emblazoned with those four little numbers have been pulled from shops and outlets all over this nation. It doesn’t matter that they signify the year in which the tiny settlement that eventually became Australia was established.

It’s an embarrassing disgrace. Big W and Aldi should hang their corporate heads in shame for this stupid display of political correctness and historical revisionism.

View image on TwitterApparently, these T-shirts are racist.

Any Grade 2 school kid should know that the First Fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour on January 26, 1788.

Consequently, it was the day that New South Wales was formally colonised (or established). That is historical fact.

It is also an historical fact that a little over 100 years later the Commonwealth of Australia was formed with the words:

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established”.

Without the First Fleet, Australia would not be the prosperous, civilised nation it is today. Nor would it be one of the few nations in the world that recognise Almighty God in its constitution. So we can all be thankful for the efforts of those in the First Fleet. In establishing themselves Down Under, they endured hardships far beyond anything we even remotely experience today.

Sure, I grant that if those 1,400 odd English and Irish sailors, marines and convicts who tootled south over the oceans and into Sydney Harbour had not done so some other European nation would have settled this part of the world. Maybe we could be French. Or Dutch. But we aren’t.

And looking at how the French and Dutch colonies developed, I’m sure we are all thankful that possibility did not occur.

What is certain is that Australia would not have remained an uncivilised island. And it was uncivilised.

I remember very well the day I sat in a lecture theatre at the Australian Defence Force Academy in 2000 listening to my lecturer, Gerald Walsh. He was giving the first class in the Australian Colonial History course.

Gerald was an old bloke and a fantastic teacher. What he didn’t know about Australian history wasn’t worth knowing.

He also had inspiring courage. This was obvious when he taught us that the Aboriginal inhabitants at the time of settlement had no civilisation. It was true, but it’s just not the kind of thing you are allowed to say in a university.

But Gerald’s argument was based on reality. Civilisation is not just a word that you can label anything with if it is to have meaning. It’s based on objective facts. There is no civilisation without written, codified laws and permanent settlements and structures.

None of these were present on this continent on 25 January, 1788. They were established the very next day.

The Aboriginal peoples have their own culture. And they should be proud of their heritage, just like the rest of us. But there was no civilisation on the Australian continent until the English made it happen.

As a result, every Aboriginal in Australia today lives in better circumstances than their forebears did 250 years ago. Whether they like that or not is entirely up to them. But the angry, vocal minority of Aboriginals who live perpetual fantasies of victimisation are just ungrateful. That’s the truth.

And this is another truth. I am as Australian as they are. Every one of us born here has a link with this land.

Unfortunately, the victim mentality is only spurred on by drongos like the Former Race Discrimination Commissioner with the very Anglo-Saxon sounding Christian name, Tom Calma.

Only a drongo would say this about Australia Day T-Shirts with “Established 1788” emblazoned proudly upon them:

What we can say is that it is not accurate, is bad taste and does not in itself lead to an understanding of Australia’s history and heritage.

‘‘In the lead-up to Australia Day it is important that we educate the community, the nation and the international community about what Australia Day celebrates.’’

If Tom ever re-reads his words, I hope they make him feel stupid. Because they should.

For Mr Calma’s benefit, Australia Day celebrates many things about this great nation. But one of the most readily apparent things it celebrates is the arrival of the First Fleet on 26 January, 1788 and the establishment of the colony that eventually became Australia. In fact, for those in the Australian and international community who are unaware (and Mr Calma obviously fits into this category) January 26 was designated as ‘Australia Day’ specifically to recognise this historical fact.

I’m happy to educate him on this little bit of trivia so that he doesn’t make any more silly statements that are not accurate, in bad taste and that lead to a misunderstanding of Australia’s history and heritage.

Unfortunately, I doubt Mr Calma and his pathetic, hand-wringing leftie mates will let facts get in the way of a sob-story. So he’ll keep on whinging about things like T-Shirts with 1788 on them, even as he takes advantage of a life given to him by those who suffered to make it possible.

But I’ll say this: I’m proud to recognise those who established civilisation here in 1788.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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  1. Australia can learn a lot from the example of Gabriel Garcia Moreno, the first president of Ecuador, who publicly consecrated Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, outlawed freemasonry, and barred non-Catholics from becoming citizens and voting. His legendary presidency was only possible due to graces given by Our Lady of Good Success.

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  2. To build a Catholic civilization in Australia, we all need to work for the conversion not only of Aboriginal people – but also Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, pagan savages – yes EVERYONE – to the Catholic Church – the One True Church of Christ outside of which there is no salvation.

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    • Rory, have not both the Pope and Archbishop Pell *both* said within the last year that Atheists might go to heaven?

      ‘Francis delivered his message by sharing a story of a Catholic who asked a priest if atheists were saved by Christ. “They complain,” Francis said, ‘If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!” We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” ‘

      And here is Archbishop Pell interviewed about the same question on the Q&A program:
      TONY JONES: Is it possible for an atheist to go to heaven?
      GEORGE PELL: Well, it’s not my business.
      TONY JONES: You’re the only authority we have here.
      GEORGE PELL: I would say certainly.
      TONY JONES: Yeah?
      GEORGE PELL: Certainly.

      How then can there be “no salvation outside the Catholic Church”? Considering you have made a statement against the teaching and authority of both the head of the Catholic Church in Australia and worldwide, I suggest you repent of your heresy publicly, lest your eternal soul be damned.

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      • Nathan,
        “Outside the Catholic Church, there is no salvation” is a Dogma of the True Faith. The only people exempt from this Dogma are “invincible ignorants” i.e. imbeciles or complete ignoramuses.

  3. I look forward to the day when Australia becomes a Catholic colony – not subject to some dirty protestant crown – but fully consecrated to our True Queen – the Blessed Mother of God!

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  4. But Bruce, they were living well past 30, in fact well into old age before white settlement…

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    • “But Bruce, they were living well past 30, in fact well into old age before white settlement…” ——————————- How would you know?

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      • Sorry Bruce, just getting back to your post now.
        I cannot speak for other areas in Australia but my firsthand experience in East Arnhem Land is that before white settlement people were living healthy and productive lives with good diets and health outcomes. There is much qualitative evidence there as first contact was only just before WWII, with some of the children and grand children of those who experienced first contact still being alive.
        I think the point is that for all our western medical advancement over the last 200 years the Aboriginal populations of Australia have not benefitted in the same way as the white population. There is a well researched ‘gap’ and that cannot be denied.

  5. Yes Nathan, I have read Windschuttle’s “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History”, I just don’t agree with his view, it is far from a widely held view as you suggest. But I will take the opportunity to argue the case for there being civilised nations of people occupying this land before European settlement because this key fact has now been recognized in Australian law: that is, this land was not empty when settled. I understand that you may not need this, but for me to be a truly proud Australian, I need this fact recognised by my country’s constitution… did you even read my link above? How can you possibility say that they were uncivillised, i.e. not socially, culturally, or morally advanced: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/uncivilized .
    And Bruce, help me understand what is so “uncivilised” about being nomadic? And when you talk about Indigenous Australians being nomadic you can’t be talking about ‘aimless wandering’ in search of food, because that simply was not the case. Yes, they often moved across their clan’s estates with the change of seasons but as expert land managers they sustainably managed the land for future generations; this is something we could very much learn from as we (Europeans) have not done such a good job of this in the last 200 years.
    Are you both actually saying that we Europeans were “better than” Indigenous Australians in certain ways and that therefore our views and wills somehow trumps theirs? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how we had the right to disposes Aboriginal nations of their land, culture and languages. That is not to “demonise our first settlers” or those who came after them right up until today, but it is to admit that we got it wrong and that harm has been done.
    FYI: today’s paper, there is no victimhood here…

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    • Indigenous Australians did not manage the land sustainably. The thylacine and Tasmanian devil were driven into extinction on the mainland by their hunting techniques. Their focus on hunting macropods made it hard for the carnivorous species who preyed upon them (thylacines) and the ones who scavenged on carrion (Tasmanian devils) . Their overuse of fire wiped out much of the continental rainforest and allowed the hardier plant species to take control. That had a huge effect on Australia’s weather systems and wildlife. Australia is now dominated by grasslands and bushlands. The process was already under way in the interior because of Australia’s gradual movement towards the equator, but it was sped up by the Aborigines continual burning of rainforests. There were large marsupials and reptiles that were driven into extinction in a very quick timescale after the Indigenous Australians arrived on the continent. It’s believed the Aborigines were responsible. The Komodo dragon was endemic in Queensland and there were terrestrial crocodiles that could run faster than people. They’re no longer around and there’s only one reason. Aborigines hunting them into extinction. The early European settlers were even worse to the environment and I have nothing but contempt for their actions. They tried to kill everything on this continent because they wanted to replace them with European animals. They were wrong to do so and we need to remind our children why it must never be allowed to happen again. Hooved species that were Introduced by the British compacted the soil to the point it is now difficult for Australia’s native burrowing species (bandicoots and rats) to forage for food and build their nests. Goats and pigs eat a lot of the vegetation and outcompete the native animals. There’s blood on the hands of the early settlers and the Indigenous Australians.

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    • “And Bruce, help me understand what is so “uncivilised” about being nomadic?” ——————- They’re not going to have things like hospitals, schools, courts, libraries and factories. You need those things if you want to have a decent chance of living past 30.

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  6. Bernard, if you ever re read your words, I hope they make you feel stupid. Because they should.

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  7. This whole ‘commentary’ made me sick. The fact you claim there was ‘no civilisation’ before the settlers landed is disgraceful.

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    • Not disgraceful, and not even controversial until left wing academics engaged in a conscious process of historical revisionism which demonised our first settlers. What I think is that you don’t even know how out of step your views are with the facts of history or of mainstream opinion. Note I keep those separate because I’m not claiming any authority from popularity. I’ve read Windschuttle’s “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History”, and I strongly suspect you haven’t.
      Further, you show you’re completely unable to distinguish between a sensible debate about the characteristics of Aboriginal habitation of the continent prior to 1788, and the respect that individuals deserve when we deal with them face to face. Australians of Aboriginal descent deserve respect and every opportunity afforded to other Australians to public health, comprehensive education and the dignity of work. They don’t deserve these because they are Aboriginal; they deserve them because they are Australian citizens, along with the rest of us. People deserve dignity, but ideas do not. There are any number of reasons there was no civilisation prior to 1788; Australia was a stagnant gyre, remote from any stimulation. Even European civilisation was stagnant at a certain point in history and benefited from information which flowed back in from Arab or Oriental worlds; there was no such stimulus here at the antipodes. Others might be cited, but the raw fact remains.
      Returning to the original point, however: We have everything to celebrate about 1788. The Australian story is almost unparalleled. A colony founded by men armed with enlightenment values, able to take the best of the Western tradition (industry, science, secularism, individual merit) and leave behind what was not needed (sectarianism and class), forming Australia’s egalitarian and pacific ethos. This is worth celebrating, and your disapproval means little to anyone.

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  8. What!!! -“there was no civilisation on the Australian continent until the English made it happen. As a result, every Aboriginal in Australia today lives in better circumstances than their forebears did 250 years ago”
    This is just plain wrong… if not offensive, also the name calling of Dr Tom Calma AO is certainly unnecessary.
    “Magayamirr” is just one example of civilised rule of law, from the Yolngu people of North East Arnhem Land. http://www.magayamirr.com/
    I respectfully ask that you read this and educate yourselves

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      • Gail, there is nothing wrong or offensive about that quote. Aborigines were an intelligent and resourceful race who achieved many wonderful things, but they never formed their own civilisation. They were nomadic and separated into many tribes, roaming the continent in search of marsupials, monotremes, birds, reptiles and the few placental mammals that lived here (the dingo is an introduced species) because they never settled the land.

    • Ma’am, I agree wholeheartedly with the statement “There was no civilisation on the Australian continent until the English made it happen. As a result, every Aboriginal in Australia today lives in better circumstances than their forebears did 250 years ago.”
      Further, I deny it is racist to say so. There was no written language in Australia until it was brought by the Europeans. Nor was there science, architecture or philosophy (beyond primitive superstition). How fortunate Aboriginals are that Australia was settled by the British; given explicit instructions to be humane to the native population, and not the Spanish, Portuguese or Chinese who undoubtably would have been less so. No one denies the existence of tribal law, but there was no unified ‘Aboriginal’ people to act as a representative to the British, let alone an ‘Aboriginal nation’. Why, the natives on the north shore of Sydney could not even converse with the natives on the south shore due to differences in language. Take your white, confected offence elsewhere.

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      • “How fortunate Aboriginals are that Australia was settled by the British.”

        Who are you people? How on earth have the indigenous population of Australia been ‘fortunate’?

      • The indigenous Aussies suffered greatly at the hands of the early settlers who killed them and regarded them as animals, but their descendents have benefitted from the science and culture that was introduced to them.

  9. We must remember the hard work of the first settlers. They toiled long and hard and gave up their lives to make it possible for confederation to take place in 1901. None of it would have happened if it wasn’t for that little settlement in Botany Bay that was founded in 1788.

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    • They were “bound for Botany Bay” but ended up settling in Sydney Cove 🙂

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