Hostility to John Pilger’s film Utopia a denial of nation’s brutal past

I have previously shared with you some of the remarkable work of Aussie journalist/filmmaker John Pilger. John’s latest film, recently released, is called Utopia. John’s film documents the denied history of the brutal European treatment of Australia’s native Aboriginal people. It is not John’s first film on the plight of Australia’s forgotten and brutal past.

I was aware of the release of Utopia, but it was an article by Adam Goodes, currently “Australian of the Year” for 2014 and a well-known and highly decorated Australian rules footballer, that caused me to track down John’s film and watch it. You can find Adam’s article here.

I quote:

For the last few weeks, I’ve seen a film bring together Aboriginal people all over Australia. The buzz around Utopia – a documentary by John Pilger – has been unprecedented. Some 4000 people attended the open-air premiere in Redfern (an inner Sydney suburb with a large aboriginal population) last month – both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians – and yet little appeared in the media about an event that the people of Redfern say was a ”first”. This silence has since been broken by a couple of commentators whose aggression seemed a cover for their hostility to the truth about Aboriginal people.

When I watched Utopia for the first time, I was moved to tears. Three times. This film has reminded me that the great advantages I enjoy today – as a footballer and Australian of the Year – are a direct result of the struggles and sacrifices of the Aboriginal people who came before me.

Adam Goodes: “It takes courage to tell the truth, no matter how unpopular those truths may be.” Photo: Rohan Thomson

Utopia honours these people, so I think the very least I can do is honour Utopia and the people who appeared in it and made it.

It takes courage to tell the truth, no matter how unpopular those truths may be. But it also takes courage to face up to our past.

That process starts with understanding our very dark past, a brutal history of dispossession, theft and slaughter. For that reason, I urge the many fair-minded Australians who seek genuine prosperity and equality for my people to find the courage to open their hearts and their minds and watch Utopia.

End of quote.

I was also interested to find this brief video by John Pilger discussing the making of Utopia. He conveys a powerful, almost brutal message – in the way John perhaps uniquely can.

Firstly, I encourage all Australians to watch this film of our current treatment of our indigenous people, and some of our past treatment of them. Like so much in Australia that might generate discomfort, it is swept under the rug. John drags it out and tells it like it is, showing through his own example and that of some of the beautiful, articulate, sensitive, aware aboriginal people he interviews, that this needs to and deserves to be addressed. Australia’s treatment of its indigenous people is perhaps the worst in the world, certainly for a country with such abundance.

Secondly, for me it is just one of many examples of how indigenous people across the world have been treated by arrogant, Christian Europeans as they have colonised the world; whether it be the British in Australia or Canada, Europeans in the United States, the Spanish in South America… I could go on.

I am drawn to a quote from Desmond Tutu:

“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

John mentions the connection to the eugenics movement that this maltreatment has. He is closer than he perhaps realises as to where this all arises – the arrogant right of the wealthy, powerful, white-skinned elite who seek to control us all for their benefit. As I watched the extraordinary incarceration of aboriginals in Western Australia, for nothing more than being black, my mind wandered to the FEMA camps in the United States. The lot of the aboriginals of Australia is perhaps a pointer to the near-term fate of all disenfranchised, whatever their skin colour.

Track down Utopia and watch it.

I, for one, do not see this being addressed in the current consciousness. Insufficient numbers of people have the will or the understanding to see it happen.


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