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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A History Talks by John Tognolini


Inspired by The History Channel's The People Speak. I’ve decided to make a regular weekly selection of quotations. Quotes are primary sources of history. The selection below are from the The People Speak. This series was inspired by the production of The American The People Speak. My future selections of quotes will not just be on Australia but internationally too.

John Tognolini 26-12-12
Bill Simon was ten years old when he was taken to the infamous Kinchela Boys’ Home on the north coast of New South Wales.
“It was winter 1957, seven o’clock in the morning. The sun was up and the sounds of birds drifted down into our small kitchen. My brother Lenny was sitting on the floor, eating toast; my brothers Murray and David and I, rubbing our eyes in a state of half sleep, were waiting for mum to smear Vegemite on our bread before we dressed for school. A routine day in the Simon household.
Someone rapped loudly on the door. My mother didn’t answer it. We hadn’t heard anyone come up the path. The knocking got louder, and finally my mother, who was reluctant to answer any callers when my father wasn’t home, opened the door and exchanged words with three people. We strained to hear what they were saying. Three men then entered the room.
A man in a suit ordered my mother to pick up Lenny and give him to me. My mother started to scream. One of the policemen bent down and picked up my brother and handed him to me. My mother screamed and sobbed hysterically but the men took no notice, and forced my brothers and me into a car.
My mother ran out onto the road, fell on her knees and belted her fists into the bitumen as she screamed. We looked back as the car drove off to see her hammering her fists into the road, the tears streaming down her face…”
Captain Major – The Gurindji Strike at Wave Hill
“I bin thinkin’ longa time about my people not having proper money or proper conditions. I been thinkin’ we got no one to help us, no one behind us. Then I bin hear about them white fellas talkin’ in that Court somewhere about equal wages.
When I first started I was working at Wave Hill. I was only a kid then. Wave Hill is my country. I am a proper Gurindji man.
…All around the Territory I bin working more than thirty year. And I bin thinking: white fella don’t treat native people proper, don’t give him proper wages or nothing. He never teach you to read, only to count, to keep tally when the cattle go in the yard….
Mesel’ I want to see my people get proper equal money, then I will go back to Wave Hill, and live in my own country with the Gurindji tribe.”
The Burnum Burnum Declaration of 26 January 1988
“I, Burnum Burnum, a noble man of ancient Australia,, do hereby take possession of England on behalf of the Aboriginal Crown of Australia.
In so doing we wish no harm to you natives, but assure you that we are here to bring you good manners, refinement and the opportunity to make ‘a fresh start’.
At the end of two hundred years, we will make a Treaty to signify occupation by peaceful means and not by conquest.
For the more intelligent we bring the complex language of the Pitjantjatjara, teach you how to have a spiritual relationship with the Earth and show you how to get bush tucker.
We do not intend to souvenir, pickle and preserve the heads of 2000 of your people, nor to publicly display the skeletal remains of your Royal Highness, as was done to our Queen Truganinni for 80 years. Neither do we intend to poison your water holes, lace your bread with strychnine or introduce you to highly toxic drugs.
We pledge not to sterilize your young women.
Finally, we give an absolute undertaking that you shall not be placed onto the mentality of government handouts for the next five generations but you will enjoy the full benefits of Aboriginal equality.”
Lowitja O’Donohue
“For over 50,000 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have called this great continent our home.
But for non-indigenous people to understand what this means you need to discard some of your cultural assumptions. You need to discard notions of real estate, titles and deeds. Forget about notions of ownership. Forget about land as a commodity to be bought and sold.
For indigenous people the land does not belong to us – we belong to the land.
The traditional spiritual relationship with the land – the Dreaming ­ refers to the journeys of the spirit ancestors across the land. As Bill Neidjie ­ a Kakadu man put it:
Our story is in the land …it is written in those sacred places …My children will look after those places, that’s the law.”
Robert Lyon – Speech at a public meeting in Guildford, June 1833.
“You are the aggressors…..They did not go to the British isles to make war upon you; but you came from the British isles to make war upon them. You are the invaders of their country – ye destroy the natural productions of the soil on which they live – ye devour their fish and their game – and ye drive them from the abodes of their ancestors…
They may stand to be slaughtered; but they must not throw a spear in their own defence, or attempt to bring their enemies to a sense of justice by the only means in their power – that of returning like for like.
If they do – if they dare to be guilty of an act which in other nations would be eulogized as the noblest of a patriot’s deeds – they are outlawed; a reward is set upon their heads; and they are ordered to be shot, as if they were so many mad dogs!
If ye have any feelings of compunction, before the die be cast, let the Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia live. Ye have taken from them all they had on earth.
Be content with this, and do not add to the crime of plundering them that of taking their lives.”
Charlie Teo’s Australia Day Address
January 24, 2012
I have not experienced overt racism since returning 11 years ago from the USA, but one of my visiting Indian neuro surgeons was spat on by an adult male as he was waiting at a traffic light.
It is incorrect and naive to say that there is no anti-Arab or no anti-Indian sentiment, just ask someone of Middle Eastern or Indian appearance. Unfortunately, racism still exists in Australian culture today. But if you think it’s bad, you would’ve cringed if you had heard some of the things my mum said about you “white devils”.
In my case, the lessons I learnt as a child, to never give-in without a fight, the strength that I gained in order to overcome the insecurity of being in a minority, and the overwhelming sense of fairness I acquired by experiencing such unfairness, would influence how I would react to similar challenges in my professional life years later.…
.. I would like to see this Australia Day as a turning point. I want my fellow Australians, those who were born here and those who have immigrated here, to pause and think of the lives that have been sacrificed for what we take for granted today. I want everyone who finds themselves angry and intolerant to think first about the misfortunes of those who are less fortunate.
George Black, State Labor MP, 1891
“I am a Republican because I see in that system all the possibilities of improvement, while under Monarchy I can see none; because I believe that all men are born free, and equal, entitled by the mere fact of their existence to certain rights which are inalienable, no matter what their capabilities, nor how menial their occupation. It is monstrous that animal succession, the mere accident of birth, should entitle anyone to lord it over his fellows.
Your king may be a babbling idiot, a monstrosity, may have broken every commandment, every law written and unwritten, what of it? He is your king, subject to the jurisdiction of no one, alike removed from the fear of punishment and the sound of reproach. ‘The King can do no wrong.’ How much longer will the people, by their apathy, their sluggish indifference, endorse this falsehood with their seeming approval?
Suppose for a moment that by some sudden calamity the English royal family – from the occupant of the throne to the latest candidate from the cradle were entirely blotted out from existence, do you imagine that it would have any affect on the condition of the country?
Well may we say God Save the Queen, because nothing will save the governor general.
The sun would rise and set, the laws would be administered, factory chimneys would smoke, dinners would be cooked and eaten, old folks would die, young folks marry, babes would be born, children educated and apprenticed, people would dance, laugh, sing, groan and weep;
Our hearts may be broken tonight, but our spirits are unbroken.
….the incubi never would be missed; the entire aspect of the country would remain unchanged.”
The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-sharif’. It’s the memoir of Najaf Mazari.
“I did not know that I could feel this much sorrow without a body to bury. How heartsick can I become before I break down and weep in front of everyone?
I wander about the camp with the blanket from my bed around my shoulders, searching for a spot where I can’t be seen and can’t be heard.
And where would that be?
I have been in the camp for three months. If such a spot exists, wouldn’t I have discovered it before this day?
…We who are watched and guarded, we who are questioned, probed, doubted – we are all illegals. We have come to Australia without invitation. We have jumped the queue. I had not heard an expression like that before I came to Australia – ‘jumping the queue’. It belongs to communities that place a very high value on orderliness, on due process.
It’s a good thing, of course, to value orderliness. The community of Afghanistan is only orderly now and again. But it was never my intention to jump this strange queue of which I had never heard. Most of us would never have qualified for a place in the long line to start with.
All I wanted to do was to stand up on the soil of a land where rockets did not land on my house in the middle of the night and hold my arms wide and say, ‘Here I am. My name is Najaf Mazari. Do you have a use for me in this country?”
Mary Lee on women’s rights
“…in our own Parliament the Dog Licence Bill, the Sparrows Destruction Bill, a road or railway, a bridge or well, anything and everything is allowed precedence of the Women’s Suffrage Bill and the women’s petitions for suffrage.
The suffrage is the right of all women, just as it is the right of all men, and although the immediate need may not be felt by the happy and prosperous- by women with kind husbands and comfortable homes- we insist on it on behalf of the solitary, the hard- pressed and the wronged; we insist on liberty that all may share the blessings of liberty.”
“Nineteenth century civilisation has accorded to women the same political status as to the idiot and the criminal.
“Let husbands, brothers, fathers be kept in mind that it is the duty of every free man to leave his daughters as free as his sons.”
“By and by there was a result, and I think it may be called the finest thing in Australasian history. It was a revolution — small in size; but great politically; it was a strike for liberty, a struggle for principle, a stand against injustice and oppression….It is another instance of a victory won by a lost battle.
It adds an honorable page to history; the people know it and are proud of it. They keep green the memory of the men who fell at the Eureka stockade, and Peter Lalor has his monument.”
Jack Mundy on the Green Bans
“What’s the good of getting higher wages and better conditions if we live in cities devoid of parks and denuded of trees?”
“Yes, we want to build. However, we prefer to build urgently-required hospitals, schools, other public utilities, high-quality flats, units and houses, provided they are designed with adequate concern for the environment, than to build ugly unimaginative architecturally-bankrupt blocks of concrete and glass offices…Though we want all our members employed, we will not just become robots directed by developer-builders who value the dollar at the expense of the environment.
More and more, we are going to determine which buildings we will build …The environmental interests of three million people are at stake and cannot be left to developers and building employers whose main concern is making profit.”
Rodney Croome – Gay Rights Activist
“A year ago today I watched with grief and horror from the public gallery of federal parliament as our national leaders passed a law denying same-sex couples the right to marry in Australia.
One of the most appalling features of the same-sex marriage ban debate was how speaker after bigoted speaker declared that allowing same-sex couples to wed would be a threat to the institution of marriage. But not one speaker ever bothered explaining why. Today I challenge this country’s legislators to explain themselves.
I want them to tell us how the marriage of these two loving, committed same-sex couples devalues the love and commitment that exists between heterosexual married couples?
I want them to tell us how giving equal rights, respect and recognition to families headed by same-sex couples demeans other families?
Of course they will never explain, because it’s not lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are destroying marriage. Heterosexuals are doing an excellent job of that themselves.
Not so long ago wedlock turned women into their husband’s property and was used to stigmatise inter-racial relationships. By draining the love out of marriage and making it, instead, a marker of hate, the federal same-sex marriage ban returns us to these dark days.
One day we will dance in the streets and raise our voices in a land where nothing matters more than freedom, equality and love. One day, we will truly belong.”
Charles Jardine Don, 1855 On the Eight Hour working Day
“Look upon the toiling millions of the world, who lay the foundations of all physical, intellectual and moral prosperity. What scheme should be left untried to raise up the industrial masses of this and every other country? And what scheme stands so great a chance of success as the Eight Hours’ movement? Political economy starts with the proposition, that labour is the source of all wealth – that to labour we owe the food, clothes and shelter necessary to man.
Look around and see the mighty deeds that labour has accomplished, from the time earth was a wilderness until now, when the vine and myrtle have replaced the thistle and the briar.
Look at the towns and cities of the earth, at the mercantile navies breasting the billows of every sea; view the works that labour has done, and I think you will agree with me that, after all, the labourer is the only being worth caring about. If ever in any country proofs existed of his value, it is in this one.
 “Women represent the most oppressed class of life-contracted unpaid worker, for whom slaves is not too melodramatic a description.
They are the only true proletariat left, and they are by a tiny margin the majority of the population, so what’s stopping them?
The answer must be made, that their very oppression stands in the way of their combining to for many kind of solid group which can challenge the masters.
But man made one grave mistake: in answer to vaguely reformist and humanitarian agitation he admitted women to politics and the professions. The conservatives who saw this as the undermining of our civilization and the end of the state and marriage were right after all; it is time for the demolition to begin.
We need not challenge anyone to open battle, for the most effective method is simply to withdraw our cooperation in building up a system which oppresses us, the valid withdrawal of our labour.”
Lieutenant J.A.Rawes – An Australian Solider in World War One France.
“…nothing but a churned mass of debris with bricks, stones and girders, and bodies pounded to nothing. And forest! There are not even tree trunks left, not a leaf or a twig. All is buried and churned up again and buried again. The sad part is that one can see no end of this. If we live tonight, we have to go through tomorrow night, and next week and next month.
Poor wounded devils you meet on the stretchers are laughing with glee. One cannot blame them – they are getting out of this…we are lousy, stinking, ragged, unshaven, sleepless…I have one puttee, a dead man’s helmet, another dead man’s gas protector, a dead man’s bayonet.
My tunic is rotten with other men’s blood and partly splattered with a comrade’s brains. I have had much luck and kept my nerve so far. The awful difficulty is to keep it. The bravest of all often lose it – one becomes a gibbering maniac. Only the men you would have trusted and believed in before proved equal to it.”
Poet Kate Jennings Front Lawn speech
“Watch out! You may meet a real castrating female or You’ll say I’m a man hating bran burning lesbian member of the castration penis envy brigade which I am I would like to speak. I would like to give a tubthumping, tablebanging emotional rap AND be listened to, not laughed at.
You don’t laugh at what your comrade brothers say, you wouldn’t laugh at the negroes, or the black panthers. Many women are beginning to feel the necessity to speak for themselves, for their sisters. I feel the necessity now.
We’ve heard you loud and clear before, brothershits, we know we have to work towards the Revolution and then join the ladies liberation auxiliary if we have any time left over. I’ve worked my priorities out, I will work towards what I know about, what I feel, and I feel because I am told ad infinitum that I’m a woman, I’m a second class citizen, and I should shut up right now because my mind’s between my legs. I say you think with your pricks. We should all get our priorities straight and organize around our own injustices, our own condition.
There are a lot of people here who feel strongly about the Vietnam war. But how many of you, who can see so clearly the suffering and misery in Vietnam, how many of you can see at the end of your piggy noses the women who can’t get abortions, how many of you would get off your fat piggy assess and protest against the killing and victimization of women in your own county. Go check the figures, how many Australian men have died in Vietnam, and how many women have died from backyard abortions.
You, by your silence, apathy and laughter sanction the legislators, the pig parliamentarians, the same men who sanction the war in Vietnam. All power to women!”
Joyce Golgerth on anti-conscription
“Mothers resist all sorts of pressure to bring up their children as useful citizens, to look forward to useful careers and to be of service to the community. Then suddenly their lives are disrupted.
After six months training these boys could be sent overseas for 4 1/2 years war service. They could come home maimed or blinded or die in a war which has been described as a bottomless pit of violence and horror.
One of the basic laws of our society establishes the authority and responsibility of the parent until a minor attains the age of 21. Such boys must have their parents consent to marry, to buy a car or a house, to join the navy or obtain a passport for overseas travel.
Yet here we have the complete denial of this right, where minors are conscripted without any reference to, much less consideration of, the parental attitude. Morally there can be no justification whatever for the forcing of young men to take life.”
Ned Kelly – 10 February 1879

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