The ink is barely dry on the new year’s calendar, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already dropped his annual dogshit take on Australia’s colonialist history.
While last year’s effort, suggesting that Australia simply has no history of slavery at all, was a bold offering sporting impressive manipulation of fact, this year’s entry easily outstrips it for sheer ineptitude.
Fronting a press conference this morning, Morrison’s attentions turned to the impending January 26th public holiday, and its eroding status as a day of national pride.
In a comment that is somehow both historically wrong and completely downplays the atrocities committed against First Nations people in Australia, Morrison asserted that January 26 was about acknowledging the hard times endured by everyone, because – and brace yourself for this – those people on the First Fleet ships didn’t have a particularly “flash” day either.
The full quote, which is a fairly remarkable feat as far as economy of shit things goes, reads thusly:
“Australia Day is all about acknowledging how far we’ve come. When those 12 ships turned up in Sydney, all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either. What that day, to this, demonstrates is how far we’ve come as a country and I think that’s why it’s important to mark it in that way.”
That the First Fleet comprised of 11 vessels and not 12 aside (which is deeply funny when you consider just how much reverence old mate is trying to hang on those boats in this case), the smug ignorance of Australia’s colonialist past has become a fairly insidious trait of Morrison’s stint as Prime Minister.
The clear attempt to re-assert control over the narrative of Australia’s history bares all the hallmarks of the worst elements of Trumpism; the framing of white colonisers as victims, which much smarter people than I have very eloquently identified as a core tenet of the rise of the white nationalist alt-right.
For a man who claims to be so stridently insistent on respecting history, Morrison’s revisionist efforts follow a playbook that has proven disastrous consequences. And if that’s the path he chooses to keep marching down he’ll wind up being viewed less as the bumbling buffoon and more as the callous destroyer. And God help us all if that winds up being the case.