ActivePaper Archive It is important we are reminded of our history - The Age, 6/14/2020

It is important we are reminded of our history



When I read that the ‘‘Germans’’ episode of Fawlty Towers had been pulled for the use of racial slurs, it made me think about The Birth of a Nation, the 1915 landmark film by D.W. Griffith. This film is universally recognised for glorifying the exploits of the Ku Klux Klan while portraying African-Americans as sub-human. Is this film available to view? Yes, a quick online search yielded several ways to view the movie in its entirety.

Why is it worth maintaining our access to a film like this? Because it is part of our collective history. When we see films like this, we don’t subscribe to their values rather we are reminded of past wrongs. While Fawlty Towers may be in a different category, because it consciously pokes fun at racism (an important point in itself), when we see the Major indulge in his crude name-calling, we are reminded of the historical journey we are all taking towards awareness. I’m pleased the ban is going to be lifted, censorship like this robs us of our history. Catriona Jenkins, Rochester

The right name for the wrong reasons

Calls to rename Mount Disappointment following the rescue of 14-year-old Will Callaghan, would as Arthur Ellis notes (Letters, 13/6) need careful consideration.

However, in today’s environment, retaining the current name might not be as he envisages, out of respect for the explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell, whose endeavours were the precursor to the early settlement of colonial Victoria.

Instead, retention of the name could come from sympathetic alignment with the Aboriginal peoples who originally inhabited Victoria, and whose lives and descendants were irrevocably affected by the coming of white settlement. They, too, may consider ‘‘Mount Disappointment’’ appropriate and a name that should not be changed. Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

We need to refocus on truth and justice for all

Our public statues are generally of dead white males regarded as the worthies of their age by other dead white males. Many, according to their era were racists. The statues are rarely works of art, usually produced by hacks following established conventions. Where are the women? Where are the Indigenous heroes? Where are the non-Anglo immigrants?

As a nation, we need to refocus on truth and justice for all, while caring for our environment. Put the statues in museums if they will have them. Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside

We must do more than tear down statues

There is no doubt that ‘‘black lives matter’’. And, god knows, we all need to appreciate that fact. But it is a huge leap from supporting the Black Lives movement, to banning something like an episode of Fawlty Towers in the name of equal treatment of a particular national group. The same applies to pulling down statues of slave traders from the 18th century. How does that improve the lives of present-day black communities?

If we as a society want to join the cause of Black Lives Matter, then let’s do something to make Black Lives Better. In this country, for example, let’s do more to improve Indigenous health, housing, education and life spans.

Damien Ryan, Frankston