Emperor Pascoe's Chinese Nirvana
The last chapter of Dark Emu, entitled “Accepting History and Creating the Future” finally exposes Mr Pascoe’s ideological agenda, and what a truely frightening, and may we say, un-Australian conclusion he draws. We knew that many of Australia’s Intellectual Elites dislike and complain constantly about contemporary Australian society, and feel that Australians are just not ‘progressive’ enough, but the loathing for Australia’s history and its achievements which we see displayed in the final Chapter 8 of Dark Emu is confronting.
Using his standard literary technique of starting with a depressingly bad story about our colonial (or our European) past, Mr Pascoe then follows with a description of the idea that he wants the reader to think is caused by our colonial actions, and lets the reader make the subconscious link and discovery of this new truth - a “why wasn’t I told moment”.
For example, in Chapter 8 of Dark Emu, he sets the scene with a description, borrowed from the ‘pseudo-historian’ Gavin Menzies, who claims that in 1421, “the cultured Chinese, instructed to treat people with kindness”, traded with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people…”showering them with gifts as a way of cementing ties” [stay with me, it gets better, Ed.] and…”some northern Australian Aboriginal people visited China under this scheme when the beche-de-mer trade was being forged” [Evidence please or else what a lot of baloney! Ed.].
Mr Pascoe then goes on to talk of, “a bleak comparison between European and Chinese foreign policies [where] [i]nstead of the cultured Chinese, instructed to treat people with kindness, it was the cruel, almost barbaric Christians who were the colonisers. Francisco Pizzaro gained Peru from the Incas by massacring five thousand Indians in cold blood. Today he would be considered a war criminal.
In effect, the Portuguese used Chinese cartography to show them the way to the East. Then they stole the spice trade, which the Indians and Chinese had spent centuries building. Anyone who might stop them was mown down. When fifteenth-century Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama reached Calicut, he told his men to parade Indian prisoners, then hack off their hands, ears and noses.
Invaders like to kill the original owners of the soil they intend to plunder; but, even better than that, they like to humiliate them. Once the hard work is over, their grandsons rewrite the history of the renamed land and paint their grandfathers as benevolent visionaries.”
So you see, after harrowing paragraphs like that the scene is set - the reader is feeling depressed and appalled at what some Spanish and Portuguese explorers did in the 1520’s and now comes the literary trick in the next paragraph when Mr Pascoe continues with,
“ In describing how nations can insulate themselves from the facts of history, Menzies noted that, ‘American and European historians had managed to persuade the world…that Columbus had discovered America and Cook Australia’. This fabrication is not unique; the history of colonialism is dense with examples” .
So there you have it - by dropping in the name of Cook at the end of this depressing diatribe, Mr Pascoe connects Cook, the British and ultimately us, as co-conspirators with the exploits of the Conquistadors, some three hundred years previously on the other side of the world. The British settlement of Australia is thereby classified as exactly the same as the Spanish conquest of the New World. Plus we are such greedy capitalists for buying spices from the Portuguese who stole the spice trade from the gentle Chinese (who never actually had it, but don’t let facts stand in the way of a good story). Well not so fast buster! We can see through all this rubbish.
We won’t bother to go into detail about the wars that Britain and Spain have fought and how appalled the British people and their government had been at some of Spain’s actions in the conquest of the New World. Instead we will focus on Mr Pascoe’s apparent disappointment that the ‘cultured’ and ‘kind’ Chinese didn’t colonise Australia first. Instead we got those ‘brutal’ British with their Enlightenment, Common Law and Christian values. Are you for real Mr Pascoe? Can you honestly put your hand on your heart and say you would have preferred a Chinese Emperor, instead of the British Crown, to be the coloniser of Australia in 1770 - 1788?
Torture was ( and is still is) a standard technique of those ‘cultured and kind’ Chinese. The Chinese Water Torture depicted here was still in use in China up until the 1860’s.
These Chinese prisoners are experiencing first hand the ‘culture and kindness’ of the government of the Chinese Emperor. They are held in cages by the neck and the bricks on which they stand are gradually removed over several days until they choke - Torture and execution.
In Australia since 1820, 1648 executions by hanging occurred, of which 4 are recorded as Aborigines (wikipedia & click here). Capital punishment is now banned in Australia.
Whereas in Mr Pascoe’s ‘cultured and kind’ China, capital punishment is still legal and more than 50% of the world’s executions take place in China, although they are becoming ‘kinder’ - in 2014 ‘only’ 2400 executions occurred, down from 12,000 in 2002 (wikipedia).
Do you honestly think Mr Pascoe, that scenes like this, but with Aboriginal women instead, would not have been common in colonial Australia during the an Australian Chinese dynasty? The official British Colonial policies towards the Aborigines may not have been perfect under today’s standards, but are you honestly suggesting that the Chinese would have not forced the Aboriginal population into servitude or worse? Just ask the peoples of Tibet, the Uyghurs (with reportedly up to 1Million in forced labour camps in 2019) and now Hong Kong how they feel about the ‘cultured and gentle’ Chinese.