Monday, February 21, 2005

Rabbit Proof Myths

In December of 2000 I spoke at an Orthodox youth conference in Western Australia, that was held at a now closed Aboriginee college that is located on the grounds of a Benedictine Monastery in New Norcia. I mentioned this in passing in a talk I recently gave and someone afterward suggested I should see the movie "The Rabbit Proof Fence" in order to find out the real story of how Aboriginees were treated in Australia.

It was a beautiful and well acted movie, but the story of evil white Australians trying to steal Aboriginee children for purely racists reasons caused me to question how accurately the history in this movie was portrayed.

Well, I have found two articles that compare the facts of the movie with the real history.

The first is Rabbit Proof Myths, by Andrew Bolt.

The second is Rabbit-proof fence: “a true story”? by Keith Windschuttle.

Here is how Andrew Bolt's article begins:

The truth of Australia's past is hard enough to face, and untruths and exaggerations now will only divide us. Phillip Noyce claims his new film, Rabbit-Proof Fence, is a true story. The Hollywood director's publicity blurb repeats the boast: ``A true story.'' Even the first spoken words in the hyped film, which opens next week, are: ``This is a true story.'' Wrong. Crucial parts of this ``true story'' about a ``stolen generations'' child called Molly Craig are false or misleading. And shamefully so.

No wonder that when Craig saw Rabbit-Proof Fence at a special screening in her bush settlement last month, she seem surprised. ``That's not my story,'' she said as the credits rolled. No, it isn't. Instead, it is Craig's story told in a way that would help ``prove'' the ``stolen generations'' are no myth -- that thousands of aboriginal children were indeed torn from the arms of loving parents by racist police.

In saying this, I mean no disrespect to Craig. She has had a film (supported by $5.3 million of taxpayers' money) made of an episode of her life in which she showed extraordinary courage, endurance and willpower -- but it's a film which can't be trusted to tell the whole truth. Who could value its praise?

It was 1931 and Molly Craig was just 14, when she and two of her younger cousins -- Daisy, 8, and Gracie, 11 -- were taken from an Aboriginal camp at Jigalong, in Western Australia's north, and sent to the Moore River Native Settlement, 2000km south. There these girls were to live with other ``half-castes'' and to go to school, learning skills to help them to adapt to non-Aboriginal society.
But the girls fled after one night, and in an amazing nine-week epic walked home to Jigalong -- all but Gracie, that is, who was found by police at Wiluna. Craig's feat made the papers but was not written up in full until 1996, when her daughter, Doris Pilkington, who was herself raised at Moore River, wrote the book on which Noyce has based his film.

BUT Noyce and his scriptwriter didn't stick to the facts Pilkington uncovered. Instead, the story was rewritten and now supports a monstrous falsehood -- that we have a genocidal past that is, as Noyce's publicity material declares, ``more cruel than could ever be imagined''.

Let me show you how they did it -- how they told untruths or only half the truth in their ``true story''.

Read on here.