After Robert Manne’s brilliant essay on Julian Assange, which was so well-researched and informative, Peter Robb on Marcia Langton raises more questions than it answers (‘Who’s Afraid of Marcia Langton?’, April 2011). Perhaps he was too close to the subject.
He seems to be trying to portray her as heroic. Hence, she is a grandmother “several times over”, and he refers to her as a struggling single mother while she still has a partner. The final accolade that for her, “the social struggle is intimately and unfashionably a part of becoming a better person”, makes her both rebel, and saint.
As for the story about her escape from “white traders” (whoever they are, they seem totally incompetent), the lack of detail renders it highly implausible. When she was running down the street stark naked to hail a cop who just happened to be passing by, where was the child with whom she had just arrived in New York?
More importantly, the reader would like to know what is her relationship (if any) with Aboriginal people?
Nobody was interviewed for this story apart from the subject herself and it leaves the reader wondering just how reliable a witness she is.