If it’s possible to spin in your grave while you’re still alive, Australia‘s conservative commentariat are currently doing just that. Having immediately abandoned all pretence of believing that marriage equality would be the first apocalyptic step in the country’s own little Ragnarok, the columnists, cartoonists, and pretend-TV-show hosts of the Australian right have settled (with as much temporary conviction) on the equally as reasonable position that changing the date of Australia Day would inevitably cause the entire country to sink into the ocean.
This issue is something of a perfect storm for them, having effectively snookered themselves into having to doggedly defend the date of Australia Day because brooking any change on it would require them to do two things they are fundamentally incapable of doing: conceding that progressives are in any way correct about anything, and conceding that white Australia might not always be correct about everything.
For most people against changing the date, their arguments as to how celebrating what was more or less the start of the invasion of already occupied Indigenous land and the beginning of over two centuries of genocides, institutionalised racism, forced child abductions, and cultural erasure could possibly be inclusive of all Australians tends to start and finish with ‘It happened a long time ago‘ but, being paid to turn their ceaseless rage at social progress into exhausting mental gymnastics, our right-wing commentators have taken it to another level entirely.
Piers Akerman, from whose enormous brain sprung such Mensa-level takes as Drinking the warmist Kool-Aid will kill us and Marriage vote was a victory for left’s hate, ejaculated out a very level-headed piece on the weekend, asserting that anyone advocating for change displays “hatred of our country” and that Australia Day is, actually, a celebration of “the end of the Stone Age on this continent“. While some cowardly commentators attempt to lean away from the colonialism aspect of the day, Akerman leans so far into it that it’s likely his face got wet, claiming that the arrival of the First Fleet represented the “dawning of modern civilisation in Australia“, apparently of the mind that the Stolen Generations and the Black War were reasonable prices to pay so that the iPhone came to Australia.
Tony Abbott, his reptilian body having spent enough time in the sun to conjure up the energy to write a thinkpiece, decided to stick his Dumbo-esque head into the conversation today. Tones trotted out an argument almost identical to Akerman’s, suggesting that, sure, not everything was rosy, but look at the cool stuff we have now. I imagine this is hard to believe, but his position doesn’t hold up to much intellectual rigour, essentially the equivalent of someone forcibly moving into your house, throwing out all your stuff, replacing it with their own, and arguing that it’s much better that way because now it has all the stuff they like in it.
At one point he even has the temerity to argue that British mistreatment of Indigenous people was ultimately for the best, because the country has the capacity to feel guilty about it:
The rule of law, equality of the sexes, scientific curiosity, technological progress, responsible government — plus the constant self-criticism and lust for improvement that makes us so self-conscious of our collective failings towards Aboriginal people — all date from then; and may not have been present to anything like the same extent had the settlers fanning out from Sydney Cove been other than British.
It feels like that’s much more circuitous than just, say, not failing them in the first place but, hey, only one of us was Prime Minister, so what do I know? I swear onion juice does something to your synapses.
Dean Alston, editorial cartoonist for the West Australian, took the crux of Akerman and Abbott’s contentions and either rendered them as a satire of themselves or completely straightfacedly, it is almost impossible to tell:
australia, a very normal country with no racism problem pic.twitter.com/6DpjOKSv0X— lucy valentine (@LucyXIV) January 21, 2018
Hybrid Easter Island statue / 4chan poster Cory Bernardi weighed in with his characteristic thoughtfulness and strategic genius, opting to announce his own version of the Hottest 100 to be held on Australia Day. The plan immediately backfired, with an astonishing number of the bands and artists on the list telling him to jog on, including Darren Hayes, Hilltop Hoods, Troy Cassar-Daley, Colin Hay, The Temper Trap, Jimmy Barnes, Icehouse, Powderfinger, Spiderbait, and Weddings Parties Anything. Bernardi, believing himself to be the centre of the universe, decried the response as militant censorship, still unable to comprehend that it’s just that everyone thinks he’s a fuckwit. He’ll get there.
Last, but not least (unless we’re measuring the amount it makes sense, then very much the least), we land at failed politician and failed television host Mark Latham, who now spends his days swiftly decomposing with the quiet dignity of an elder statesmen and lashing out on Twitter at anyone that blocks him with the very loud dignity of a cornered raccoon. Despite the tremendous efforts from the previously mentioned dipshits, Latham managed to embarrass himself the most by a very clear margin, delving into internet video to deliver his blisteringly cold take on the matter.
Latham’s piece of exceptionally ham-fisted satire imagines an Orwellian reality that logically* follows on from discussion about changing the date of Australia Day. This bleak piece of world-building imagines a horrifying future where the drawings of patriotic children are shredded in the kitchen and lovely middle-aged women are terrified to buy lamb chops for fear they will be caught out by the surveillance state. Words cannot possibly describe how nuts this thing is so I reluctantly insist you see it for yourself:
This country, man. What a place.