Melbourne University Press, $14.99 pb, 95 pp, 9780522875522
It was a great moment in Australian history when William Cooper walked to the Australian parliament to object to the treatment of Jews in Germany during World War II. At the time, the British and Australian parliaments were ambivalent about the atrocities occurring across Europe, and yet an Aboriginal man could not bear to see the government of his country sit on its hands.
Cooper knew a thing or two about oppression, racism, and the way societies allow injustice to cut a swath through an undesired element simply by looking above the heads of brutes enlisted to perpetrate evil until the civilised commercial interests can lower their gaze from their heavens and say, oh, what a shame, they have all disappeared. Every population can find brutes to do the killing, and every population has a vast number who calmly accept the largesse created by such abominable work.