Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Caught between worlds

Liberals don't really know human nature. Take the case of sustained, mass immigration. Liberals present this blandly as a win-win situation for both immigrants and host population. What liberals fail to recognise is that it's a deeper part of our nature to identify with our own settled communities.

Not only does sustained, mass immigration disrupt (or even destroy) the established identity of the host community, it also does the same for many of the immigrants themselves. It strips them of their natural form of community identity, leaving them feeling caught between worlds, or confused, or outsiders to the society they live in.

The actor/singer Paul Capsis was interviewed in The Age newspaper on Saturday. His parents migrated to Australia from Malta and Greece, so he does have a common European background with other Australians. But this wasn't enough for him to identify with the established Anglo-Australian population.

He writes,

I hated being Australian as a child. We were like "why are we here?" ... we were welcome refugees ... When I was 12 , it hit me I was an outsider. I wanted to belong ... You don't know who you are. I tried to connect. At 14, I thought, 'I don't think I can live through this.' My family gave me strength.

Sustained, mass immigration is therefore not, in some straightforward way, of all round benefit. It's a policy which makes it unnecessarily difficult for people to establish normal forms of self-identity in which we feel strongly connected to the community we live in and to its culture and traditions.

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