A top Australian university has stirred national debate after publishing a guide claiming the British didn’t discover the country, but instead “invaded” it.
The University of New South Wales rejects the idea that Britain resettled Australia.
“Australia was not settled peacefully, it was invaded, occupied and colonized,” the guide says. “Describing the arrival of the Europeans as a ‘settlement’ attempts to view Australian history from the shores of England rather than the shores of Australia.”
Accusing the UNSW of political correctness, a local tabloid said the institution was “whitewashing” its curriculum.
Is there a more contemptible rag in the English-speaking world than the Sydney Daily Telegraph? pic.twitter.com/3g8oszHfoG— Jason Wilson (@jason_a_w) March 30, 2016
An Australian radio host Kyle Sandilands also denounced the UNSW, saying its instruction book “divides society.”
“All the flogs at uni reckon we invaded the joint … I’m not interested in who was here first and who did what, get over it, it’s 200 years ago.”
Now, there is more than one thing wrong with what the Sydney’s Daily Telegraph — a notorious publication — and Sandilands are alleging.
First, when Captain James Cook in 1770 claimed the east coast of what is now known as Australia, a diverse population of different indigenous and aboriginal communities — speaking more than 250 different languages — had lived in the region for more than 50,000 years.
Of course, Cook’s “discovery” was followed by colonization (read: bloodshed), a process that wiped out of many natives and deprived the remaining of their basic rights — actions that amount to invasion.
Therefore, UNSW is not rewriting history; it’s stating facts.
Also, Sandilands’ disinterest in what happened more than 200 years ago shows his opinion on anything important shouldn’t matter at all.
The university insists its guidelines are not set in stone, they merely serve a “diversity toolkit” for teachers.
“Recognizing the power of language, the terminology guide is designed as a resource to assist staff and students in describing Indigenous Australian peoples and their history and culture,” UNSW stated in response to criticism.
“The university is committed to giving all our students a positive and inclusive learning experience and respecting and learning about Indigenous knowledge is integral to that.”