The Necessity of Reparation for Historic Injustices

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bluediamond started the topic in Sunday, 25 Jul 2021 at 1:26pm

Uni assignment i did a few years ago. This is my take on things. I'm sure this will ruffle many feathers. I hope so.
Love Blue Diamond x

The Necessity of Reparation for Historic Injustices

Introduction – Compensatory Justice
Disparities between the standards of living of humans on this planet have long been a part of our history on this planet. From the wealthy nations of the West to the developing and undeveloped nations on this globe, the diversity in the quality of life when viewed from a moral standpoint are without a doubt grossly unfair.
In this paper I will look at why historic injustices do require some form of reparation. I take a strong stance that we are more obliged to solve current injustices than to provide reparation for every act of injustice in the past. In doing this I will first investigate the historic injustice of the Aboriginal people of Australia and I will look at the argument that they are entitled to some form of reparation and why.
I will incoroporate some interesting views from Jeremy Waldron, Robert Nozick and others which will help me slowly build to my conclusion that reparation should be in the form of Non Indigenous Australians surrendering some of our priveleges as a form of reparation.

Historic Injustices to Indigenous Australians:
Australia the continent was well inhabited for many years long before white settlement. It is commonly known that in 1788 Australia was colonised as a country under the rule of the British Empire, with total contempt for the fact that it was already inhabited by a native indigenous race of people.
The way the original inhabitants have been treated, including forced assimilation, execution, stolen families and not even allowed to be recognised as citizens for a large part of white Australia’s history are also well known facts. (Poole, 1999,pp114-142)
There exists now a situation where there is a large divide between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal Australian’s that can be traced back to the moment Australia was invaded by English settlers and the brutal and unfair treatment that has followed.
So at this point now, in 2013 what is the just and fair way to make amends for past actions?
I would argue that a moderate to large amount of reparation is overdue for this nation of people, the Aboriginal people. But there are many challenges to this view point especially that of how much reparation, and what sort of compensation.

Past injustices or present suffering?
One of the questions raised in an issue like this is whether it is better to provide compensation or reparation for past deeds, which have already been done in a previous generation and cannot be changed, or whether it is better to now provide assistance to those who are suffering in their current situations and consider that as a form of moral duty.
To understand this we need to delve a little deeper into this issue and hear some differing viewpoints.
Firstly we need to understand what the best way to provide reparation. How do we judge what is the best way of giving back and how much? Jeremy Waldron states “The historic record has a fragility that consists, …in the sheer contingency of what happened in the past” (Waldron,1992,p5 )
This is saying that we can’t trace every single injustice back to the original act therefore reparation for every act would be almost impossible because it would ultimately be guess work.
In this statement he has an objection from Robert Nozick who believes it is in fact possible to address this problem by “changing the present so that it resembles how the past would have looked had the injustice not taken place” (McKenzie, 2013)
This would be a way to ultimately provide maximum reparation, but is it the correct approach? I believe this is a fairly radical approach, although it does have some merits in the fact it would be working in a positive way for indigenous people, I don’t think it is entirely the right way to deal with these issues but it is on the right track.
Waldron argues that it is based on too many unknowns. “The status of counterfactual reasoning about the exercising of human reasoning of human freedom is unclear”(Waldron 1993,p10)
Which leaves the question somewhat open about the sort of reparation that is required, but provides one clear answer to the key question. Both agree that yes, reparation to some extent is required. But how much and in what form?
Another philosopher who leans more towards Waldron’s views is Kymlicka. He is somewhat more straightforward in his assessment that property rights in particular for Aboriginals would create “massive unfairness” and also he maintains the argument “Aboriginal rights must be grounded in concerns about equality and contemporary disadvantage. (McKenzie, 2013) I agree with both these views but I don’t think they provide any active solutions.

The Solution?
So if its not handing back all of Australia’s land to the original inhabitants that is the most appropriate way to deal with past injustices, then what is?
I look at the current country I grew up in, as a white Australian. I ask myself why I never had Aboriginal friends growing up, no understanding of Aboriginal culture and why my basic understanding of Indigenous Australians is mostly 200 years old. I look at our flag, a symbol of a nation that stole a country from its original inhabitants, with no recognition of the Indigenous people at all on it. I see that Australia considered Indigenous people as less than people until only 40 years ago and I see the way that Indigenous Australians live a completely separate life to the way of life I know as an Australian. I see that the only indigenous politician I am aware of is a former Olympian and it is because of this fact of her sporting status that I know this. I see no collective power or representation of Indigenous Australians and I see non Indigenous Australians,( a culture built on a history of stealing a land and mistreating its people) still taking, taking as much out of this land as they can, with little to no regard of sharing or giving to the original inhabitants. I see a government that says lots of words about ‘closing the gap’ and bringing the living standards of non- indigenous and indigenous Australians closer together, but apart from nice words, there is no conviction, no follow through, just assimilation , and all that still remains are injustices.
As stated by Sparrow, “Continuity gives rise to responsibility on part of present generations of Australians for our history”.(McKenzie,2013). Although deeds happened in the past beyond our control, what we do now to either ignore, or rectify these issues will reflect on us in history. So if we choose to do nothing, we are contributing to the history of the mistreatment of non- indigenous Australians. And this is simply unacceptable in my opinion.

Conclusion
So what is fair? I believe that the way forward is a surrendering of some of our privileges as non- indigenous Australians. The simple fact is it was morally wrong without a doubt what has happened in the past. And it is also morally wrong without a doubt to ignore these facts and not offer some form of reparation in the present. But how much?
I think that going back to Robert Nozick’s argument is a start. I think Nozick is wrong to make the present resemble the past in every aspect. But I do think that it would be reasonable to restore some aspects of the way things should be. The things that happened in the past were out of our control and we can’t go back to changing the way things were. But we could change the way things are.
For some examples. Why not give at least 50% of political power to indigenous people? It surely would be a fair thing to do considering this is their country. Media control. 50 percent. Industry. Realestate. The list goes on. Why do we not acknowledge the indigenous people on our flag, or better still use their flag? Why is Australia still a part of the Commonwealth when it serves little purpose to any of us and serves as a constant reminder to Indigenous Australians that they are still controlled by the original invaders. These to me are fairly simple reparations that would have minimal impact on Australia as a whole. Perhaps, it would alter the way we live but I think it is our responsibility, morally to forfeit some of our privileges for the greater good. Basically a little bit goes a long way.
In closing, it is a fact that a huge injustice occurred to the Indigenous population and suffering continues to this day. There is no easy solution to such a burden of pain. I believe the only solutions are for the non- Indigenous population to take responsibility and sacrifice our own way of life to bring about an overall equality. Sacrifice is not an easy word. But it all comes down to right and wrong. We are in a position to give, in this current generation. What are we so scared to lose, that was never ours in the first place??

Bibliography
McKenzie,C.”Prof” (2013), Lecture, Historic Injustices and Indigenous Rights, Macquarie University
Poole, R. (1999). Nation and Identity.Routledge, London, pp.114-142
Waldron,J. (1992). ‘Superseding Historic Injustice’. Ethics, 103 (1), 4-28

References
Poole, R. (1999). Nation and Identity.Routledge, London, pp.114-142
Waldron,J. (1992). ‘Superseding Historic Injustice’. Ethics, 103 (1), 4-28

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bluediamond Sunday, 28 Nov 2021 at 2:39pm

Great stuff Brutus. This is exactly what we've been banging on about. Embracing the culture!! Its not closing a gap, which implies lack, its creating unity, which implies growth...moving forward!
Would love to hear it sung in native tongue dependant on region too. There's alot that could happen in this space that would hold massive symbolism.

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zenagain Sunday, 28 Nov 2021 at 3:28pm

Read that early this morning and agree, No objections from me to make the change to the anthem. It always brings a tear to my eye when Julie Anthony belts out AAF. I'd love to hear her sing it in the native lingo too.

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GuySmiley Sunday, 28 Nov 2021 at 4:21pm

Love it and agree a verse in native tongue would be best.

Hey brutus or anyone you got a copy of Sik Joy?? There was a great track in it about songlines really simple but lyrics that said it all, love someone to post here ...

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udo Sunday, 28 Nov 2021 at 6:08pm

Sik Joy - full movie is on Utube

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brutus Tuesday, 30 Nov 2021 at 5:11pm
GuySmiley wrote:

Love it and agree a verse in native tongue would be best.

Hey brutus or anyone you got a copy of Sik Joy?? There was a great track in it about songlines really simple but lyrics that said it all, love someone to post here ...

Have you ever read Song lines?

the Sik Joy movies I think Dick Hoole still has them.

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brutus Tuesday, 30 Nov 2021 at 5:14pm

David Dalaithngus , One man who changed our World and the positive contribution he has made to Australia's Film Industry....a National Treasure.......

https://www.theage.com.au/culture/movies/a-rock-star-trailblazer-who-was...

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GuySmiley Tuesday, 30 Nov 2021 at 6:16pm
brutus wrote:

David Dalaithngus , One man who changed our World and the positive contribution he has made to Australia's Film Industry....a National Treasure.......

https://www.theage.com.au/culture/movies/a-rock-star-trailblazer-who-was...

Agree brutus, a very sad day, David’s gentle and culturally generous on screen presence showed us all how we can come together. A true legend.

Thanks for the reminder about that book ...

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seaslug Tuesday, 30 Nov 2021 at 9:26pm

Storm Boy on tonight NITV followed by Twelve Canoes

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seaslug Wednesday, 1 Dec 2021 at 12:57am

and a documentary on Mr David Dalaithngus on ABC

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Constance B Gibson Wednesday, 1 Dec 2021 at 7:25pm
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brutus Wednesday, 29 Dec 2021 at 5:35pm

pretty bloody annoying , when we are spending $500 m on our New War memorial.....and there is only tokenism for any recognition of the Frontier Wars...which were between our First peoples and our colonial settlers........have a read and make a comment ??

https://www.theage.com.au/national/indigenous-memorial-must-recognise-di...

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bluediamond Thursday, 30 Dec 2021 at 3:29pm

Would personally prefer to see that $500 Mil spent on spreading Indigenous culture thoughout Australia Brutus, especially based on what you observed above. That's a bloody lot of money for a memorial, especially one with a misleading slant on the real history.

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groundswell Thursday, 30 Dec 2021 at 5:43pm

Sorry if i missed it but were indigenous Australians ever sent to world war 1,2 or Vietnam or Korea?
Seems like people were more racist then and they would have been through some tough times if they did.

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seeds Thursday, 30 Dec 2021 at 11:22pm

They volunteered. Fucked if I know why. Great service to their country which I appreciate

https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/serving-their-country

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Supafreak Thursday, 30 Dec 2021 at 11:34pm

Great link seeds , thanks

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Supafreak Thursday, 30 Dec 2021 at 11:34pm

Great link seeds , thanks

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brutus Friday, 31 Dec 2021 at 7:18am

BD, it's a bit like telling the history of the USA without mentioning cowboys and Indians......which in turn leads to a better understanding of the affects that invasion/colonialism had and has today on all of us as a Proud inclusive nature.....without recognition and being inclusive of our History , we are just a Nation that's based on a selective political past....no wonder politicians as a profession are rated worse than prostitutes/Psychics/lawyers ...actually at the bottom of the list of least respected professions in Western Society

Politician's can't be trusted to deliver something as simple as recognizing Australia's frontier wars so we as a Nation suffer as a foundation of truth should be the basis of being an Australian , so we will remain divided/polarized and essentially still searching for our identity..

bluediamond wrote:

Would personally prefer to see that $500 Mil spent on spreading Indigenous culture thoughout Australia Brutus, especially based on what you observed above. That's a bloody lot of money for a memorial, especially one with a misleading slant on the real history.

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bluediamond Friday, 31 Dec 2021 at 8:01am

A cynical eye would consider lack of inclusion of facts as a deliberately divisive ploy by our current government Brutus. I cant imagine an obvious part of history being 'adjusted' as being accidental...not with that much money being spent on this.
Happy new year to you mate. And the rest of the SN crew. I hope 2022 is a wave filled epic one for all of you.

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bluediamond Sunday, 9 Jan 2022 at 6:02pm

Thought this was an interesting take on things by @evosurfer on a different thread today, but relevant to this topic. I think its important to record and document comments like this fir discussion and future reference..
@evisurfer said "im sick to death about hearing what happened over two hundred years ago its got
nothing to do with us and almost every nation in the world has been overrun by some country
or other in history so suck shit and die"

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brutus Sunday, 9 Jan 2022 at 6:14pm

BD , I wonder if would say the same about Anzac day, or his parents/kids/wifes/ birthday as it's only history?

bluediamond wrote:

Thought this was an interesting take on things by @evosurfer on a different thread today, but relevant to this topic. I think its important to record and document comments like this fir discussion and future reference..
@evisurfer said "im sick to death about hearing what happened over two hundred years ago its got
nothing to do with us and almost every nation in the world has been overrun by some country
or other in history so suck shit and die"

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bluediamond Sunday, 9 Jan 2022 at 7:12pm

Exactly Brutus. The mind boggles.