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Dear Andrew ...

By Graham Ring - posted Thursday, 18 May 2006

Mr Andrew Bolt
Herald-Sun Newspaper
PO Box 14999,
Melbourne City MC, 8001

Dear Andrew,

I imagine your columns are read by roughly a million more people than read mine. So, lest you think that what follows is motivated by professional jealousy, let me assure you that I would chew my right arm off to achieve the readership figures that you enjoy. And in the unlikely event of this happening, I will try desperately hard to restrain myself from using my perch on a super-size soapbox to launch bitter, personal attacks.


Perhaps minnows shouldn’t give advice to the big fish, but I’m going to have a go anyway. As it happens, I write quite a bit about Indigenous issues so I thought that you might be interested in a few reflections. In any case, you seem to have a remarkably thick skin, so I’m sure you won’t take offence.

My experience - for what it’s worth - is that it takes white fellas like us about two years of serious work to realise that we know absolutely nothing about Indigenous Australia. Then, if we move carefully and slowly, I think it’s possible over time to gain a basic grasp of how things work. But don’t get down-hearted. Wasn’t it Socrates who recognised the value of “knowing that we do not know”? When you reach this point you’re actually on the right track.

But it seems to me that you’ve still got quite a way to go. On Wednesday, April 12, you offered your readers a nasty little epistle entitled “Ferals run Amok”. I felt you appointed Camp Sovereignty spokesman Robbie Thorpe devil incarnate, and went at him like a dog worrying a postman. Yes, Thorpe is given to bursts of hyperbole - but he’s not Robinson Crusoe there, is he Andrew?

In fact I was going to suggest it might be a case of “the pot calling the kettle black”. But on reflection I thought I’d avoid clichés about colour, because it seems that the issue is one of deep sensitivity for you.

Remember your observation that “not even a third of the 150 illegal campers [at Kings Domain] looked even tanned”. What were you trying to say? Is it your view that Europeans have no business campaigning for Indigenous justice?

Or were you trying to make the point that you like your black fellas “proper-job”? Would you have preferred to see 150 charcoal-skinned warriors, silhouetted against the Kings Domain sunset, right foot on left knee, holding a brace of spears and speaking in staccato bursts of language? A romantic vision Andrew, but the world’s not like that anymore, and we all have to move on.


In any case, why are you so concerned that many children with an Aboriginal parent or grandparent identify as Aboriginal themselves?

These children are often raised in remarkably supportive - if not materially comfortable - extended family environments, and grow up accepted by all concerned as Indigenous.

There’s nothing sinister about it.

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First published in the National Indigenous Times in Issue 104 on May 4, 2006. 

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About the Author

Graham Ring is an award-winning writer and a fortnightly National Indigenous Times columnist. He is based in Alice Springs.

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