“What the Founding Fathers actually meant was…”
“Well, if you really read into the Bible, you’ll see that Jesus meant…”
“We’re not meant to eat wheat. If you knew what our paleo ancestors used to eat…”
We hear remarks like these all the time, in casual conversation on politics, religion, history, to the point of cliché. They all share a common theme: to put it simply, things aren’t going as well today as they were yesterday, so if we simply figure out what people were doing yesterday, we can get better!
When I used to teach, I would occasionally drive home three “rules” of history.
1. There is no Virgin Land
2. There are no Indigenous Peoples
3. There is no Golden Age
I’m going to focus here on the final of the three rules (the other two I may get to later). The quotes I opened with were fixations…
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Identical to the politics in the states
The use of language to create visual spectres is an effective approach for politicians, their supporters, and allied interest groups to develop a narrative that can become the media narrative.
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a work report related to asylum seekers in Australia, and had noticed two significant changes made by the Australian Federal government to legal and bureaucratic terminology. First was a change to the term used for those who arrive by boat from ‘Irregular Maritime Arrival’ to ‘Illegal Maritime Arrival’. The aim of this was to legitimise PM Tony Abbott’s assertion of the illegality of arriving without a visa, which legally speaking isn’t true.
Second was the renaming of the ‘Department of Immigration and Citizenship’ – which oversees asylum seeker applications – to the ‘Department of Immigration and Border Protection’. This reinforces the shift from multiculturalism and legal process to gatekeeping, which began…
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