JEFF CORBETT: Stop these PC insults

"ABORIGINAL and Torres Strait Islander visitors are warned that exhibits in this museum may contain images of deceased persons."

Do they think I'm an idiot? Or do they reserve the insult for Aboriginal people with a darker skin than mine?

We have become familiar enough with white man's technologies and the trappings of the modern world to know that a museum will have photographs that will most definitely be of dead people, very dead people, and we can safely assume in Australia that some of these people were Aboriginal. Very Aboriginal.

Yet the management of museums I visited in Sydney several weeks ago feel that I and other Aboriginal people need to be reminded of this inevitability.

ABC and SBS television issue a similar insult every day: "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following program may contain images and voices of deceased persons."

If this serves a purpose it can be only to feed the political correctness at these absurdly PC organisations. We have not so recently put down our stone tools that we need to be reminded that every film may contain images and voices of dead people, and those Aboriginal people who abide by the traditional social rules of skirting around references to the dead won't need reminding of those rules by white people.

Cultural sensitivity, the PC call it. Cultural insensitivity is the fact of it.

And as a person of European background I want no part in insulting anyone with this nonsense and as a person of Aboriginal background I don't want to be so insulted.

The very same insult is to be found in the acknowledgement of traditional owners to be endured by black and white together at every occasion overseen by people so PC they are impervious to the insult, and yesterday in a Sydney newspaper I was heartened to see a prominent Aboriginal woman put it bluntly.

The head of Sydney Opera House's indigenous programming, Rhoda Roberts, said she was dismayed by the prepared paragraph read at many public meetings, that it was tokenistic and PC. The Sydney Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council, which charges up to $540 for a welcome-to-country ceremony, said in the same newspaper article that it did not see the acknowledgement as tokenistic, and I suppose there is nothing tokenistic about $540 per welcome.

We show, so the acknowledgement goes, respect and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, of elders past and present, on which this meeting takes place, and no-one ever seems to question whether the elders warrant respect. Many people, elders of all races among them, don't.

It is paternalism at its most offensive, a pat on the head and a shhhh finger over the lips, a treat to keep a child happy.

Respect, the perpetrators of this paternalism spout, for traditional ownership, as if ownership of anything warrants respect, and culture, as if there is something about Aboriginal culture that earns it more respect than other cultures. And they are so blinded by political correctness that they cannot see that this special treatment of Aboriginal people has the same effect and purpose as the "special" label for an intellectually disabled child.

We need to be seen as Australian, because that is what we are, and as is the case with other Australians we don't want to be separated by unique acknowledgement of that status. No Australian is more worthy than another, no Australian more entitled to be here than another, no culture to be more respected than another, no history to be more celebrated than another.

Apart from the falseness of the respect and the paternalism of the delivery, being singled out as deserving special recognition sets us apart when it is more important than ever that we be seen as equal members of modern Australia. To be portrayed as special and thus more equal is as racist, and perhaps more damaging, as being portrayed as less than equal.

There is no future for us in the past.

Should we boo when the PC elite insult Aboriginal Australians with  humiliating specialness?

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