1988 badgeWhen ‘J. T.’ of East Perth wrote a pro-segregation letter to the newspaper in 1943, they probably expected to get some support for their position.

After all, J. T. had noticed the waiting seat for trolley bus passengers in Wellington Street was frequently occupied by “natives or half-castes” and bus passengers had to stand.

“What right,” fumed J. T., “have these natives to occupy a seat that should be reserved for white people?”

Given how generally racist Perth sometimes looks in the past, Dodgy Perth found it refreshing to read the next edition of the Mirror.

K. R. Whitby of Geraldton kicked off by noting that the country belongs to Aboriginal people, not white folk, and demanded “fair play” for everyone.

A Darlington resident told J. T. that he was the trespasser on Wellington Street, since white people stole the country from the Aborigines. So no one could complain about where the rightful owners chose to sit.

And W. Pearce of Fremantle stuck the knife in by pointing out that J. T. would have refused a seat to Christ, since he would have been a “coloured man” in J. T.’s eyes.

Sometimes it’s too easy to judge the past from the point of view of the present. We need to remember that some people in the past were racist bigots, and some as PC as you can get.