Over the years when discussing Aboriginal affairs, I have often referred to the ‘victim brigade’ (VB). I have been criticised for using this term, among the many other things I am criticised for. And if people want to criticise me for that, then that’s fine. I have had some members of the VB tell me that they take great offence at being labelled as a member of the VB. For Aboriginal members of the VB, they have probably judged me as committing ‘lateral violence.’
Some people are confused and don’t know what I mean when I use the term. So in response to those who don’t know what the VB is, this article is for you. And if you are a VB member and feel that you are going to take offence at this article, then I suggest you go find your safe space now.
Distinguishing Real Victims from the Victim Brigade
Before I continue it is important to distinguish the victim brigade from those Aboriginal people who are true victims. In the book In Black & White: Australians All at the crossroads, I wrote:
Before continuing, let me say I fully acknowledge that there are some Aboriginal people in this country who live in environments that are so toxic and impoverished on most dimensions that it is very difficult for them to even survive without significant outside assistance, let alone fix problems. In some parts of Australia where there is little chance of meaningful employment, minimal access to basic services, minimal access to fresh and nutritious food, where alcohol abuse is prevalent, and people have known nothing different, then these people are victims of systems and mindsets that are fundamentally toxic. Some communities are victims of an ‘apartheid’ government policy: the Commonwealth refusal to allow leases on Aboriginal lands rules out private property and business enterprise and condemns these Aboriginal people to ‘welfare poison.’
They are the true victims, and the VB pay little attention to them, if they do, it is usually only as an excuse to blame the white man. Members of the VB are not victims though they would have you believe that they are. They would know where their next meal is coming from, live in a safe, clean, and secure environment, and probably enjoy the sorts of things you and I do. They are easily recognisable and distinguishable from the true victims. They are likely to be protesting with signs that read “Stop black deaths in custody” yet fail to recognise that Aboriginal people in custody are less likely to die than non-Aboriginal people in custody, or chant meaningless rhetoric like “Sovereignty never ceded” or claim to be offended because many people choose to have a holiday on 26 January, call it Australia Day, socialise with friends and family and have a meal and drink together or get upset when a white person wears black face paint. They are likely to tell you that they are suffering from ‘genocide’ and ‘oppression’ from the government. And any Aboriginal person who does not spend their time claiming to be victims of genocide and oppression will be accused of being either ‘assimilated’ or a ‘sell out’ or ‘coconut.’
They are likely to show their ‘outrage’ at the death of an Aboriginal person when the white man can be implicated but are relatively silent for black-on-black murder. The VB are there to take offence. They live by the creed: “To be offended is to feel important.” They are perpetually angry about something.
But are They Really Angry?
Yes they are very angry, but not about the issues they claim to be angry about. They are more likely to be angry over the lack of meaning they perceive their lives to have. The issues they claim to be angry about, whether they be the death of an Aboriginal person, a government funding cut, or a perceived act of racism that requires an Olympic gold medal standard of mental gymnastics to see any racism, or whatever, are simply just convenient excuses to express anger and play the victim.
Black American author, Shelby Steele, in his book White Guilt discussing Black Americans, has stated: “In both the best and worst sense of the word, black rage is always a kind of opportunism.” The anger (or rage) as it is in the USA and here, is simply an opportunity for VB members to grab some benefit from it. It’s also an opportunity to avoid addressing problems facing Aboriginal people like violence, child abuse, unemployment, unsafe living environments, and remote dysfunctional communities. For the VB member, he or she can simply say “it’s the government’s fault and that justifies my anger with the government.”
Why I Oppose the Victim Brigade
I oppose the VB simply because their message is poison. Although speaking in regard to the American context, the words of Harry Stein in his book tilted No matter what … they’ll call this book racist, helps provide the answer:
Perpetually focussed on past inequities rather than future possibilities, the victim mindset epitomized by affirmative action not only saps energy and initiative, it justifies the absence of energy and initiative.
Or in the words of Amy Wax when discussing race relations in the United States:
Focusing on the actions of others may sap the determination necessary to achieve difficult internal changes. Deemphasizing or abandoning the elusive quest for racial justice may in fact be a precondition for real progress … The victim must realise that, although others have wronged him, his fate is in his own hands.
More simply, the endless daily messages of doom and gloom from the VB hold Aboriginal people back. If you are black (or even a distant relative of someone who is), why would you bother getting out of bed if you have been conditioned to think that ‘white privilege,’ ‘white supremacy’ and other vague abstractions are keeping you down? Why would you try to partake in what modern day Australia has to provide, if the VB are there to tell you that participation in modern activities is ‘assimilation’ or an accomplice of ‘genocide’?
If there is any doubt as to the doom and gloom messages, as but one example, consider the rhetoric of 2015 NAIDOC person of the year, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks:
The assimilation process so far has failed, has failed to the extent that people are taking their own lives because they've been made to feel second-class; they've been made to feel less of a human being then (sic) the rest of Australians.
In the article whence this quote comes from, Rosalie does not define the rhetoric of ‘assimilation.’ I guess this is because examples of rhetoric are generally not definable, as they are deliberately vague. Was she implying that this ‘assimilation’ (whatever it means) is the cause of the suicides? I wonder if child sexual abuse could be a reason for the suicides?
Elsehwere Roslaie is reported as saying “Aborigines are not native animals and building houses for them is only another attempt to assimilate indigenous Australians into white society.” Was she implying that someone said Aborigines were native animals? I wonder if Rosalie lives in a house?
There is Some Hope
Fortunately there are many fine Aboriginal Australians who do not buy into the BS of
the VB. They are the type of Australians who, rather than wallowing in fabricated victimhood, are going to work, helping the broader community, and doing everything to keep this country as a great country. They are the ones who want to move together, hand in hand with their non-Aboriginal brothers and sisters as one. They are leaving the VB behind to play in their own little misery party. I applaud them.
 Hughes, H. & Hughes, M. ‘The Denial of Private Property Rights to Aborigines’ (2012).