It’s not his hysterical and easily disproved comments about the social ills of equal marriage that earn him this award, it is not the fact that he disappears single parents in his hysterical rant about how children need parents of both genders to be proper human beings, it is not the fact that he claims that conversion therapy for queer people is successful, it is in fact the usage of the phrase “stolen generations” that he deserves beating about the head and body with a large object for.
Brace for a new stolen generation
[title of the article]
The phrase “Stolen Generations” is an emotional phrase and he’s hoping to play on the emotions it raises and repurpose them for his own asinine “cause”. Van Gend uses a phrase that has particular meaning to those of Indigenous heritage in Australia, in a context which has nothing to do with the forcible removal of children from loving families and communities to be brought up by others away from their culture and community and identity.
The Stolen Generations (also known as Stolen children) is a term used to describe the children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments. The removals occurred in the period between approximately 1869 and 1969, although in some places children were still being taken in the 1970s.
The extent of the removal of children, and the reasoning behind their removal, are contested. Documentary evidence, such as newspaper articles and reports to parliamentary committees, suggest a range of rationales. Motivations evident include child protection, beliefs that given their catastrophic population decline after white contact that black people would “die out”, a fear of miscegenation by full blooded aboriginal people. Terms such as “stolen” were used in the context of taking children from their families – the Hon P. McGarry, a member of the Parliament of New South Wales, objected to the Aborigines Protection Amending Act 1915 which then enabled the Aborigines’ Protection Board to remove Aboriginal children from their parents without having to establish that they were in any way neglected or mistreated; McGarry described the policy as “steal[ing] the child away from its parents”. In 1924, in the Adelaide Sun an article stated “The word ‘stole’ may sound a bit far-fetched but by the time we have told the story of the heart-broken Aboriginal mother we are sure the word will not be considered out of place.” (Wikipedia)
Van Gend’s usage is clearly appropriating other people’s history for a spurious cause, which is a big problem. It reinforces the cultural narrative of privileged straight (white?) man only paying attention to the history of the marginalised (and a history he would, the rest of the time, probably deny or defend) when it suits his purpose. He clearly did not consider the impact that his use of the phrase “stolen generation” would have on those that it directly applies to.
So van Gend, you’re the arsehat of the week – well done.