Documentary Film: The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight BackNovember 15, 2011
I’ve devoted some space on this blog to the bizarre case of Marlo Morgan, enemy of the indigenous people of Australia. Her fake story about the extinction of “true” Aborigines (along with her claim of being their guardian and messenger to the world) is the most sickening case of identity theft and cultural assassination in the history of publishing.
Morgan’s book Mutant Message Down Under is also the most widely read book on Australian Aborigines. It’s been translated into 26 languages and been read by tens of millions of people the world over. Clearly the majority of readers fail to pick up on the surreptitious but profound racism. Clearly too, most readers lack the knowledge of the subject matter that would allow them to quite swiftly see through the hoax. (Not only is Morgan’s representation of Aboriginal culture inaccurate to the point of being surreal, but even her mere descriptions of the Australian landscape are so inaccurate as to almost be offensive.)
The biggest tragedy is that her success is built upon a genuine worldwide interest in the subject. Millions of people read that book on the understanding it’s a true story. In fact readers have paid for a dose of racist poison. Aborigines earned the interest themselves through two centuries of struggle in the face of genocide and oppression that continues to this day. International recognition of their culture is important to their continued survival, especially given that their real history is little known, even within Australia.
A series of documentaries made in Australia about Aboriginal history, oppression, and survival has recently been made available on the internet by the film maker. I will be posting them here, with a little commentary for each.
The first is The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back, from 1985. It deals with the Aboriginal resistance to the invasion and colonization of their land.
This extraordinary documentary was made by Australian journalist John Pilger in the lead up to Australia’s much hyped bicentennial celebrations of 1988. It was (I understand) broadcast on Australian television, no doubt with a stern voice over preceding it, explaining that the views presented are purely those of the film maker. (The state broadcaster always did that to Pilger’s documentaries, revealing how rarely such views were presented, and how unwelcome they were.)
I didn’t see the film back then, but watching it now I realize what a shock it must have been for white Australians (like me) to have seen it. Incidentally, I find the term “white Australian” ridiculous, and potentially racist, but there’s no other word for it. If I say “Australian” or “we”. I’m not referring to indigenous inhabitants. Maybe some day people living on the continent of Australia will have a term that accurately and comfortably refers collectively to all its inhabitants, but the way it’s going I doubt it will be in my life time.
Anyone wondering why Australia is still not a republic, that’s the reason. We’re not really a nation at all. By failing to recognize the already existing indigenous nations we robbed ourselves of the right to legitimately claim our own nationhood.
And as the film makes clear to me, we Australians have failed to come to terms with our own history. I knew quite a bit of the information contained in this film, but “knowing” and “coming to terms with” are two profoundly different things in this case. This 50 minute documentary would have been shocking, but perhaps above all confusing for those who saw it back then. Today, more of it is known and accepted as aspects of history that can no longer be denied. But it’s still not “our” history, in the way that Germans have come to terms with the Nazi era as “their” history.
But how does one come to terms with nameless massacres, or having stolen thousands of children from their families? Or having nuked innocent people without warning or reason? (No, I haven’t wandered off topic with that last sentence. You’ll see it towards the end of the film.) The existence of an entire country — a Secret Country, as Pilger calls it — with an entire history, has been denied for so long that coming to terms with it requires more than just accepting the facts. And we’re still struggling with that.
Well, this is an attempt to at least provide accurate information to people who landed on this site hoping to find out not only the truth about Marlo Morgan’s lies, but also to get more information about the subject of her book: the oldest surviving culture on the planet.