Contributed from Victoria
Cartoonist Bill Leak has died at 61 of a suspected heart attack. This is a terrible thing for anyone, their family and friends. As they remember, those close to the departed focus on what the person brought to them.
Bill Leak had become a celebrity. He was the pin-up cartoonist for the worst political elements in Australia. His work hurt those who he targeted. So, while the apologists wax lyrical about how wonderful he was, justice demands that something be said about the dark side.
Leak’s special target was Aboriginal people, who he routinely portrayed as less than human, drunks and child molesters, with hands out for government payments. He perpetrated the myth that the original Australians were spongers on real hard working Australians.
There are a few startling untruths in this jaundiced view. While there are undoubtedly Aboriginals who abuse alcohol, mistreat children and live on handouts, it applies equally to the non-Aboriginal population. Leak could just as easily promote an image of drunken, child abusing whites on welfare.
The claim that original Australians got too much money from the government is contradicted, by the reality that on a per capita basis, Aboriginal Australians receive much less than the rest of the population, in terms of health, education and the rest of the services most of us take for granted.
And who are the real hard working Australians? Leak borrowed the myth that these are the Anglo-Irish descendants, who are hard done by in their own land, when everyone else is given a good income houses and cars. Never mind that this is not true. It provides a convenient excuse to get stuck into migrants. More so if they are Muslims.
In Bill leak’s world, these people threaten our way of life and the government is imposing a multicultural agenda to culturally obliterate the Aussie.
Guess what? Aussie’s, besides the originals, are migrants as a group. Most they have only been here a few generations. Secondly, since the 1850’s gold rushes, they came from all parts of the world. For instance, the Chinese have been here all this time. The first Afghans came here not much later. They were the first Muslims. Italians, Greeks, Poles and people from many other lands have also been with us all along. Just as have people from a range of faiths. In recent decades, the Australian population has become even more diverse.
The Australian way of life is therefore more diverse and wonderful than Bill Leak would have us believe. It is this makeup that makes Australia multicultural. Pretending otherwise is to deny the real world.
Worse than this, it is a means to preach racism and intolerance for others who do not fit into a narrowly constructed mould. Bill Leech devoted his life to this and Se is accountable for his contribution to the hurt inflicted on the innocent. He is not an icon of the hate.
Defenders of Leak argue that he represented free speech. No he didn’t. His work served to silence the voiceless. Successful artists, of whichever medium, are in a privileged position. They have a public stage and what they do, can have an influences. This carries a responsibility to not harm others. Those who do not honour this, do not deserve their privileged position.