Ten-Herng Lai, former PhD student with the School of Philosophy, penned an interesting article in relation to the Australia Day protests of 2021, as well as the vandalism of colonial statues.
In this op-ed – Lai states that researchers in the philosophy field are learning a lot about this type of activism, looking at the situation from both perspectives.
One major point, is that history should be reflected accurately no matter the content. With some major historical and colonial statues engraved with falsehoods such as Captain James Cook being the individual to discover Australia in 1770 – when it was in fact Willem Janszoon. And before that the land was inhabited by Indigenous Australians. Lai argues that if these engravings are to display the truth they should do so in an unambiguous matter. Was the term ‘discover’ referring to it being ‘discovered by Europeans’? Or ‘discovered by humans’?
There is also the matter of the depiction of those responsible for racist policies and the mass murder of Indigenous Australians – whilst being upheld as ‘honourable’ or ‘celebrated’ by being preserved in prominent statues throughout Australia.
On the other hand, Lai also looks at, and pulls apart the criticism with which these vandals have been met with. Namely, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that he believed the vandals where aiming to 'deny history'. While others would label the protesters as 'anarchists', arguing that removing the statues will not only achieve nothing but also waste money.
Ten-Herng Lai suggests that no matter your stance, there is a lot to learn from the protests and vandalism. You can read his full insights and relfections in his article: https://www.abc.net.au/religion/taking-australia-day-protests-seriously/...