Thursday, January 26, 2017

What does January 26 actually represent? Let's ask a country singer

January 26 is a controversial date in Australia, an occasion of great yearly celebrations as "Australia Day" marking the official start of the European invasion and subsequent genocide. 

But I simply don't care who I offend, I am going to use the occasion to lay down some hard truths whether people want to hear them or not. Mainly that Kev Carmody is a country singer and all you bloody idiots who think "country music is right-wing" or "so uncool" can get fucked.

Kev Carmody is an Aboriginal country and folk singer who is both very definitely not right wing and also very definitely very fucking cool.

Best known to wider audiences for writing and singing "From Little things Big things Grow" with Paul Kelly (about the historic Gurunji strike that opened the way for Aboriginal peoples to win some land rights), Carmody has been singing his country about Aboriginal oppression and resistance and just general struggles of life in the best country folk tradition for 30 years now.  It builds on a much longer and deeper Aboriginal country music tradition over the past few decades.

"Australia Day" is as good a day to listen to him as ever. More accurately labelled Invasion Day, there  are a lot more to the day than BBQs, beaches and flag draped bogans. There are protests on the streets -- like this one in Melbourne, which drew tens of thousands:

About 5000 marching to mark Invasion Day in Melbourne's CBD. (Photo via Nick Fredman on Facebook.

Unsurprisingly, there is growing controversy over January 26, including a push to change the date for a national celebration so it no longer marks the start of the wholesale theft of Aboriginal land and destruction of their culture.

Fremantle council's decision this year to cancel "Australia Day" fireworks, in recognition of the sorrow and anger the date causes, predictably led to right-wing meltdowns. Because more than 200 years of genocide and dispossession is one thing, but for god's sake, if you can't have a huge celebration with fireworks on the date that officially marks the start of the invasion and unprecedented catastrophe for the land's original inhabitants.then it is political correctness gone made.

What is wrong with Australia Day is captured perfectly by Kev Carmody's songs below. The first, from his 1987 debut, is on the theft and hypocrisy carried about by the invaders.

"River of Tears", a devastating true story where police murdered an innocent Black man David Gundy in his home in Sydney, shows the oppression and violence against the original inhabitants of the land have not ended. Hundreds of Black people have died in recent decades at the hands of police, and not one cop has ever been brought to justice.

"Cannot Buy My Soul" marks the ongoing resistance -- also seen in protests on the streets in m any cities today.

In 1788 down Sydney Cove
The first boat-people land
Said sorry boys our gain’s your loss
We gonna steal your land
And if you break our new British laws
For sure you’re gonna hang
Or work your life like convicts
With chains on your neck and hands

Terrorists dressed in uniformUnder the protection of their lawTerrorise blacks in dawns of fear
They come smashin’ through your doorYou’re not safe out there on freedom street
You’re not safe inside the "can"For their shotguns and their stunt gasThey’re licenced to drop you where you stand

For 200 years us blacks are beaten down here too long on the doleMy dignity I’m losing here and mentally I’m oldThere’s a system here that nails us ain’t we left out in the coldThey took our life and liberty friend but they couldn’t buy our soul