Keith Windschuttle always writes interesting and provocative articles, and today’s effort in the Australian is no exception. First of all, Keith lays into the censorship over the court case by the Australian Fairfax media group.
If you get your news only from the Fairfax press, you would have missed one of the most damaging scandals yet to have rocked Aboriginal affairs. The story received front-page treatment in News Limited newspapers, especially The Australian, when it broke on April 14, and for the following five days. Several television and online forums canvassed its consequences. But Fairfax editors regarded it as such a threat to their world view they imposed a nationwide ban on the story. Not a word about it appeared in the pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review or The Sun-Herald.
Bolt had written opinion on his blog that many people claiming to be Aborigine were not so much so as white or mainly European in descent, and therefore had only a tenuous claim to the many benefits they had received from identifying as indigenous. He was subsequently sued under Australia’s odious and totalitarian Racial Hatred Act by a number of plaintiffs including Larissa Behrendt. (see picture).
The Racial Hatred Act is a disgusting and barbaric piece of legislation that has no place in a civilised society. The law should be expunged from the statutes. Bolt’s “trial”, regardless of whether the plaintiffs are true aborigines or not, is a farce that should never have taken place. However Windschuttle’s article is a devastating deconstruct of Behrendt’s claims regarding her Aboriginal heritage. Coming after her disgraceful attack upon a true aborigine, it should see the end of her academic career-
Behrendt was born in 1969 and grew up mainly in the middle-class Sydney suburb of Gymea on Port Hacking in the Sutherland Shire. Neither she nor her parents came from an Aboriginal community. Her part-Aboriginal father Paul was an air traffic controller and later an academic, her white mother Raema an accountant. [..]
Both Behrendt and her father claim that his mother, Lavinia Boney, was a member of the Stolen Generations. The archival evidence, however, reveals this is incorrect. According to Boney’s file in the NSW Aborigines Protection Board records, in 1917 when she was aged about 13 and living at the blacks’ camp at Dungalear Station, near Walgett, her mother died. Her father’s whereabouts were unknown, so she was effectively an orphan.
The Aborigines Protection Board found her a job as a domestic servant on a pastoral station at Collarenebri. Her file says this was at “the girl’s own request to get away from camp life”. From 1921 to 1923 Boney was employed in domestic service in hospitals and private homes in Sydney and Parkes. She met the German editor Henry Behrendt at Parkes Hospital. They married and went to live at Lithgow. Lavinia eventually had nine children by him before she died in childbirth. In 1944 Henry placed five-year-old Paul and his surviving siblings in the Presbyterian Church’s Burnside Homes at Parramatta.
[..] (Paul, Larissa Behrendt’s father) lived in a hippie commune before moving in with Bobbi Sykes, the black activist made famous in the 70s at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra. She was also a supporter of the Black Panthers movement. Sykes subsequently won a scholarship to Harvard University where she was described as its first Aboriginal graduate. However, her Aboriginal identity was later declared fraudulent by Aboriginal activist Pat O’Shane, the NSW magistrate also from Sykes’s birthplace, Townsville. Sykes’s father was not an Aborigine but a black American soldier stationed in north Queensland during World War II.
Sykes became important in Larissa Behrendt’s life, showing her how she could also get to Harvard. Larissa admitted that in her undergraduate degree, “I hadn’t got particularly high marks”. Yet she was preferred ahead of a university medallist, and the decision generated a complaint. In an age of affirmative action in higher education, however, she fitted the required profile. “I think Harvard saw a gap in their intake,” she explained.
Disgraceful that a good man like Bolt should be up on charges over this farcical matter which is nothing but a political hit job. The whole Windschuttle article is here. The Australian.