December 04, 2008

Aborigines wallow in garbage on "arses"

'God, did I say that?' Harris says sorry to AboriginesROLF Harris has apologised to Aboriginal leader Lowitja O'Donoghue at the opening of the new National Portrait Gallery in Canberra for comments he made about Aborigines needing to get off their "arse(s)."

The London-based 78-year-old artist and performer made the comments to the media last week after watching a documentary about a Northern Territory Aboriginal community. "You sit at home watching the television and you think to yourself , 'Get up off your arse and clean up the streets your bloody self, and why would you expect somebody to come in and clean up your garbage, which you've dumped everywhere,' but then you have to think to yourself: 'It's a different attitude to life,'" Harris said last week.

He went on to argue that Aboriginal children would wreck all their possessions and that the disorderly state of Aboriginal communities was a result of cultural traditions.

At yesterday's opening of the National Portrait Gallery, designed by architect Richard Johnson, Aboriginal public administrator and former Australian of the Year Lowitja O'Donoghue, whose portrait hangs prominently, confronted Harris over the remarks privately in the gallery's upstairs area.

"She said, 'How could you say that?' … You think you're talking quietly off the record about things that you feel, and then you see it printed up and you think, 'God, did I say that? Did I mean that?' I didn't mean that. I would just like to apologise for any offence that I've caused and put it behind me," Harris told The Age yesterday.

He attempted to qualify his comments, saying he was trying to explain problems of dysfunctional Aboriginal communities.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Good-for-Nothing Indians and Indians as Welfare Recipients.


Melvin Martin said...

There is an old saying in Australia that is usually said when something is patently unacceptable to the white Aussie:

"Give it back to the abos!"

"Abos" referring, of course, to the Aborigines.

I, for one, wish that "they" would give it all back to the abos.

gaZelbe said...

I see this sort of thing alot from white people. So many can't seem to grasp why communites who have been oppressed (or targeted for extermination) for a long period of time can't just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and attain economic and social parity as soon as some obvious legal barrier is removed, i.e. "jim crow laws are gone, so blacks have no excuse to be unemployed or poor." There seems to be little understanding of social legacies of oppression and genocide.

Is it too abstract an issue for the general public? I don't know.

It almost seems like people want to believe that centuries of injustice really only resulted in a few bad and embarrassing laws and that the whole issue can be addressed and subsequently dismissed by getting rid of those laws and pretending they and the situation never existed.

dmarks said...

"There seems to be little understanding of social legacies of oppression and genocide. "

But a person has only lived one life, and is not the sum (or negative sum) of everything their ancestors lived through.

Anonymous said...

i think you guys should shove it up your arses...if you think your soo much better why not be known you ignorant excuse of a human go to hell that's where you belong stop stereo typing native people not all of them are like that get your fucking facts straight obviuosly your against everything and everyone I mean what did they ever do to you? ugly thing