Sir – An open letter to young Paddy Gibson, Sydney academic and saviour of blackfellas.
Well once again you’ve sneaked into our country young Paddy to tell us all, black and white, what we should be doing about the most difficult and sensitive issues that we all face. You’ve come from the great southern metropolis to pass on your wisdom to all of us poor benighted white rednecks and dumb bush blackfellas in this backwoods town of ours far from the intellectual delights of Sydney Town where they don’t really have any problems at all.
I’m assuming that you think of yourself as essentially Irish since you call yourself Pádraig after the blessed saint who drove the snakes from the Old Sod, though your surname is Norman derived Sassenach. But that’s Ok young Paddy because we white English speaking Australians are all mixed up aren’t we and we all come from somewhere else. I usually go by the name Dave Price but you can call me Dáithi Mac Rís or Taffy ap Rhys if you want to acknowledge my cultural heritages and I’d appreciate that since 200 years is not a long time. This is especially so for my wife’s mob. My wife is not mixed up at all, like you and me, young Paddy. She’s Warlpiri but she is also related closely by marriage to members of all the major language groups of Central Australia. Her parents were about the age of our grandsons when they first saw whitefellas. She was born under a tree with her aunt as the only attendant and midwife for her Mum. She usually goes by the name Bess but this is spelt Piiji in Warlpiri and you’d have to learn a bit more to know how to pronounce it. She is also known as Nyirringali after he great aunt and of course her skin name is Nungarrayi which makes her a sister to your good friend Barbara Shaw. She can also be known as Yunkaranyi Jukurrpa after the place in Anmatyerr country that her child spirit came from. If we attended all of the funerals we should under Aboriginal law we’d be going to about 30 a year on average and we wouldn’t be able to earn a living or care for our dependents. But none of this interests you, does it young Paddy, for you know better than all of us what is good for us.
But despite all I describe my wife has managed to get herself elected to the NT Parliament. So did several others from backgrounds similar to her own. They have brought a new government to the Territory. They are from the bush, not from the city, like the ones you have learnt your politics from, those who weren’t elected by anybody and aren’t democratically inclined. They don’t think like you. But of course you’re not interested in any of this are you Paddy. You don’t believe in democracy or civil society. In Irish terms you’re more in the tradition of the Real IRA or the UDF whereas my wife would think more like Veronica Guerin or even Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. I can tell from what I see of you on the internet that you are positively proud of acting like and being treated like a criminal. The world is sick with angry young men Paddy. And you are quite happy to egregiously insult my wife and myself because we disagree with your undergraduate politics. You have done so often, as have your colleagues within the cloistered realms of the metropolitan academy. We can forgive all of this because it seems to us you are young and idealistic as we all once were and you don’t seem all that bright. But we do struggle to forgive your arrogance and your unwillingness to learn from your elders.
My wife managed an 18.5% swing in an electorate that is 73% Aboriginal. Four of her colleagues are Aboriginal. Three of those are from the bush and speak an Aboriginal language as a first language. You don’t seem to trust them to have their people’s interests at heart and you seem to be telling us that you know better than they what is good for their people. As an elder of your own people, one who has spent a lifetime working with Aboriginal people, sustaining a marriage with a Warlpiri woman and raising a talented and proud Aboriginal daughter, I would give you some advice. Take the time to learn about life, don’t believe all they tell you in the academy, desist from gratuitously insulting your betters and keep you nose out of other people’s business until you know what you’re talking about.
Dave (Dáithi Mac Rís) Price Jangala