Scott Morrison
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

This week Crikey readers have been responding to Australia’s history of slavery, while others have been reconsidering their Nine newspaper subscriptions following The Age journalists’ revolt. Plus, the double standards of condemning protesters for breaking social distancing rules.

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On Australia’s history of slavery, and statues:

Jackie French writes: One definition of slavery is that “a person been sold for money to another”. The selling of Indigenous people as early as 1810, and the selling of the “contracts” for indentured labour in the sugar industry, is documented.

Our prime minister may not know Australian history, but I have spent 20 years writing it for our students, as have many others. But best not tell him, or we may have book burnings. We might even have crippling funding cuts to our universities, libraries and archives, or scientists sacked when they tell inconvenient truths… History did not just lead to today. It is around us still.

Maire Mannick writes: While there is not much of an argument against removing public art that praises people who did evil things, destroying art itself is problematic.

One solution is that decided on by Estonia when it recently built its National Art Gallery, and what to do with 50 years of Soviet art. On the one hand it was art dictated by an occupying power that imprisoned and murdered, on the other it was still art created by Estonian artists. So what they did was keep it but remove it from the nation’s chronology. The galleries ascend from prehistoric and medieval art up to current artists. Alone on the top floor and kept separate is the Soviet art.

On the revolt at The Age:

Leonore Hunstman writes: I was pleased to see this had happened, as I’ve become increasingly inclined to cancel my subscription to The Sydney Morning Herald because of the prominence given to Scott Morrison, the decrease in critical analysis of what he says and what he and his government does, the absence of reference to and comment on what opposition parties say and do, the one-sided reporting on, for example, Black Lives Matter protests and industry super funds. 

There is also the amount of newspaper space given over to promotion of TV programs on Nine, and celebrities from both Nine and 2GB. I cannot comment on criticism by Age journalists of the takeover of content by Sydney because I live in Sydney, and this would not be apparent to me. 

John McCombe writes: Much as I have loved The Age for most of my life, there are now several easily-accessible alternatives providing independent, quality journalism, from within Australia and from overseas. Any further signs of corporate interference and I’m happy to put my subscription elsewhere.

Bernie Woiwod writes: As an Age subscriber for a lifetime I am now considering cancelling my subscription. I can handle the need to print on the back of Harvey Norman and Woolworth’s junk mail due to the COVID-19 issues but I am missing the independence that is in The Age charter. 

I worry about the headlines in large print that do not follow up with a story to back up the the bold font. I am skipping pages where I see the regular articles by retired Coalition MPs. The fact that the board consists of the top
echelon of the Liberal Party is obviously a worry to the independence of the journalists. Unfortunately I cannot see how it is going to stop this drift to the right with the present structure of the board.

Double standards on the Black Lives Matter protests:

Decima Wraxall writes: Morrison calls Black Lives Matter protesters reckless, selfish, irresponsible … Yet we now see footballers ignoring social distancing, with hugs, handshakes, tackles, while sharing sweat and spit. This is a double standard of the highest degree. Hypocrisy at its worst. Bread and circuses to keep the masses compliant and quiet. It’s 2020. Enough time has passed being quiet. Justice was never gained by silence. And when you’re suffocated by a knee on your carotid, you can no longer turn the other cheek.

It’s time for changes suggested by forums such as the 1991 Royal Commission and the Uluru Statements are given the consideration they deserve. Time to stop faffing around and dragging their feet. We need to see a genuine effort to create a just society for all, not just the privileged few who happen to be born with a white skin, like me.

Mohammad Stacey writes: Is it just coincidence that the government ministers prohibiting the demonstrations are the same people responsible for the oppressive and neglectful policies the demonstrations are aimed at?

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Peter Fray
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