At long last, a group of Aboriginal people are to take Australian journalist Andrew Bolt of Rupert Murdoch’s ‘Herald Sun’ newspaper based in Melbourne, Australia, to the Federal Court accusing him of racial vilification. The documents were lodged with the court on 7 September 2010, and the case is due to be heard this coming Wednesday, 29 September 2010.
For years Bolt has been vilifying people who identify themselves as being Aboriginal accusing them of abusing their racial identity in order to receive benefits and awards that are exclusively for Aboriginal people. Bolt seems to think that some people who identify themselves as Aboriginal are ‘too white’ to be Aboriginal. For Bolt, it would seem that the only test of Aboriginality is the colour of ones skin.
The group that are prosecuting the matter are basing their claim about Bolt’s vilification on two articles Bolt had written and that were published in the ‘Herald Sun’ newspaper. The first appeared in Bolt’s Column and blog on 15 April 2009 and was titled ‘White is the New Black’, and the second appeared as an opinion piece on 21 August 2009 titled ‘White fellas in the black’. In both articles Bolt attempts to vilify people with pale skin and who identify as Aboriginal by implying that they are frauds. Bolt uses his own brand of genetic rhetoric of eye, hair, and skin colour to support his claims.
There’s a certain kind of inverse irony with Bolt’s racial views. Readers may remember the 1978 made-for-television film, ‘Holocaust’, about the attempted genocide of European Jewry by the Nazis during World War 2. In it there was a scene which depicted Himmler, the head of the SS, witnessing the execution of captured Jews by shooting. As the naked prisoners were being lined up prior to being shot, Himmler noticed a young man who to Himmler didn’t appear to be Jewish. Himmler called him over to ask him if he was Jewish. The young man readily identified himself as Jewish to which Himmler then responded: “Then I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do for you”. The youth then returned silently to his place at the execution pit where he and the others lined up with him were then shot. For the Jewish youth who was murdered, his Jewish identity was so important to him that he was prepared to lose his life for it despite the opportunity of possibly saving himself from dying that particular day.
For Aboriginal people, racial identification is also important. It may not be about life or death today, but it may well be about the survival or demise of Aboriginal heritage in the future if the likes of racists like Andrew Bolt are successful in denying those that identify as Aboriginal of their heritage.
One can only hope that this prosecution will be successful.