Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The shock, the horror!

How did the Melbourne Age celebrate Australia Day? It offered us four opinion pieces, none of which celebrated the historic culture and tradition of Australia.

The first, by Greg Day, called for a process of reverse assimilation in which the host population are supposed to assimilate into the culture of the newest arrivals:

Another example of government spin gone tragically wrong is the latest Australia Day Council advertisements, urging us all to barbecue like never before.

The advert, in the style of a 1970s Maoist propaganda poster, features three bronzed Aussies gripping their chops and snags close to their hearts in readiness for the ritual fry-up.

One can only gasp in horror at the meaning this might have for people of the Hindu faith - this is tantamount to saying throw another sacred cow on the barbie, mate.

The Age, in its wisdom, also thought it a good idea to publish a column on Australia Day criticising flag-abusers. Roel ten Cate wrote:

To an anti-social minority, every display of the flag means a vote in support of violence-based nationalism. We all know who this minority is. They can usually be seen on Australia Day with their shirt off, beer can in hand, often wearing the flag as a cape, and being generally loud ... But they are not solely to blame. All those who choose to publicly exhibit the flag - whether they have pure intentions or not - are inadvertently encouraging these flag-abusers.

Not too much joy on Australia Day from The Age so far. And the kill-joy trend continues with Stephanie Dowrick's column. She begins promisingly by stating that "we have countless reasons to be grateful". But then we get the following:

It is anyway barely possible to regard Australia Day as an unconditional celebration ... Aboriginal population ... unreflective racism and colonialism ... how difficult it is for first-generation migrants to feel at home ... exacerbated when people look and sound different...

She then offers us the prospect of an inevitable "social revolution" in which there cannot be a stable national identity:

At every level what it means to be an "Australian" is in a state of flux ... It is one of the markers of 21st-century life that populations are on the move ... While this social revolution is unrolling, we can't predict how it will alter our conceptions of nationality and belonging. But we can recognise the inevitability of this change .... A common reaction to such fears [of change] is defensiveness and bigotry.

So there's a revolutionary movement of change that will alter our conceptions of nationality. But if you question it, claims Stephanie Dowrick, you are showing mere defensive and bigotry.

At least she admits that the liberal programme is a radical one. Of the several radical/revolutionary political movements of the twentieth century, the liberal one is the sole survivor. A pity we couldn't have seen it off with the others.

So what are we to do for a national identity? Stephanie Dowrick thinks it should be based not on racial or cultural origins but on traits such as generosity, respect, neighbourliness, resourcefulness and kindness. But, as she herself admits:

These are human qualities, not national ones.

So they cannot then define a distinctively national identity. They cannot be the basis of a stable national tradition.

The final opinion piece, by Prasanth Shanmugan, is another attempt to redefine the national identity. Like a few recent migrants he feels lost in a multiculture and has picked up on how superficial it all is:

I do not agree with the policy and theory of multiculturalism, as it is defined and practised. I believe it is flawed with its narrow focus on diversity and on the other. And sadly its meaning was never elucidated beyond tasting a different cuisine each night.

But what kind of national identity does Prasanth Shanmugan endorse? He calls for a nationalism based on "attitude" rather than an ethnic nationalism based on historic kinship. According to Shanmugan, it doesn't matter what passport you hold or where you were born. What matters is simply a "clear commitment to Australia".

Unfortunately for him, he quotes former PM Bob Hawke in his support:

The commitment is all. The commitment to Australia is the one thing needful to be a true Australian.

And what does this commitment consist of? According to Hawke:

An Australian is someone who chooses to live here, obey the law and pays taxes.

You're a committed Australian simply by virtue of the fact that you choose to live here rather than somewhere else. As one commenter put it in response to Hawke:

According to Hawke, Australians have no distinct ethnic or cultural identity. In fact, they have absolutely nothing to define them as a people - no history, traditions, ancestors, customs or heroes. To be an 'Australian' is not to belong to a distinct national community; it simply means you live here and pay tax.

In short, it seems that Hawke is saying that 'Australians' don't really exist in any meaningful sense.

So there you have the four opinion pieces gifted to us by The Age on Australia Day. That is the range of thought The Age considers reasonable to offer to their readers in order to celebrate a national holiday. There's not much joy in it and certainly no sense of a tradition to be celebrated.

32 comments:

  1. Slightly off topic but until recently I thought that I was alone in thinking that The Age is both racist and sexist. Guess our numbers are growing. That can only be a good thing.

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  2. Well, I hope you all had a great Australia Day anyway!

    Great post, too, Mr. Richardson. I thought that you found a particularly great quote here: "how difficult it is for first-generation migrants to feel at home ... exacerbated when people look and sound different..."

    You know, the migrants are right to feel that. I felt it living in China and southeast Asia. And it was precisely because of that discomfort that I turned down a job offer in China and returned home. The migrants are going to have to decide and prioritize what they value more. I valued my homeland and my own over money, and I've not regretted the decision I made because of those values.

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  3. "I valued my homeland and my own over money, and I've not regretted the decision I made because of those values."

    I know. Virtually every young person you meet has on their list of things to do "work overseas". As fascinating as it is to live overseas for short periods I find the idea quite horrifying. Making up for it by living in "expat" communities seems a fairly ridiculous substitute. Talk about skipping out on your people.

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  4. I consider the Fairfax group a sheltered workshop for Arts graduates who cannot make it in the real world. As each day passes, the Fairfax journalists strive to emulate its role model, the New Idea. Just take a look at today's Age. What to cook, what the stars are doing, fashion columns, social gossip, etc. A bit of news, usually irrelevant, is tacked on.

    It's target demographic seems to be the half-educated affluent. Stay at home doctor's wives and lawyers. The type of person who wants to feel good, look good but not really do any thinking. Its a no-brow paper for pretentious low brow people.

    Thank God for the internet. It's driving a stake through the heart of these type of papers.

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  5. "The Social Pathologist" The Fairfax crowd are in fact just plain snobs and institutionalize the division of this country between the inner city political class and everyone else. What the Inner City Political class can't see is that they are the most homogeneous anglo group in the country.

    I happen to have in my possession a book "The Big Picture; Diary of a Nation" actually published by Doubleday in 2005 but covering 175 years of Sydney Morning Herald photos. In this collection (quite good BTW) right at back is a photo "Acknowledgments" and shows the Fairfax staff involved with this book. I would say approx 120 to 150 persons are in the shot and I swear I cannot see even one Asian face let alone a black one, or a women in head scarf.

    Perhaps my own judgment is unfair but I just cannot imagine from their appearance anyone of them outside the inner city of Sydney or Melbourne, can't imagine them drinking a beer under the tree where all the locals up here gather for a charity rubber duck race on Australia Day and I can imagine the
    look of horror on their faces as the women organize the children and food and the men set the marquees, the tables and the boats.

    I then think of my own work place a global telco where I really do work with people from all over the world and they do consider Anglo Aussie Australia as real, in fact it's what attracted them here in the first place.

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  6. Jesse wrote,

    "Making up for it by living in "expat" communities seems a fairly ridiculous substitute."

    Yeah, that's something isn't it? I mean expat communities are understandable: you want to be around people like you. But then, that's the point of national borders too.

    I hope no one misunderstands me: I had a great experience overseas and, if a person has a clear idea of what they're going to do and why (not just "to gain experience" blah, blah, but something real), time abroad can be time well spent. But it should be for a time, and for most people, that time should come to an end within a few years.

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  7. One thing I find really pleasing these days is that both the online Fairfax and Murdoch press allow comments from members of the public on many of the opinion articles that are published.

    Frequently the commenters' opinions are in stark juxtaposition to the rubbish that the pc, lefty commentariat churns out. I am sure that a lot of the authors of said pieces are very often taken aback when they realise that their views are often regarded as offensive by the general public. After all, when you spend your time surrounded by other left-wing arts graduates, the pc ideology becomes a bubble that becomes self-reinforcing.

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  8. So in other words, Australia should simply become America? Do these people realize that's the model they are basing their stance on?

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  9. "So in other words, Australia should simply become America? Do these people realize that's the model they are basing their stance on?"

    Liberals here in the US use the same "logic" and language - including especially shaming language ("racist", "nativist", etc.) to anyone who opposes unlimited immigration - but it is no more true here in the US than it is in Oz that we have no distinct racial, ethnic, or cultural identity, nor is it true that the US is a "proposition nation", nor is it true that the only thing you need to do to become an American is pay taxes and obey the law.

    Stupid liberal suicide is the same the world over.

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  10. Isn't this cute I'm watching the 7.30 report as we speak and seeing leftie after leftie pan immigration (some defending it). Bob Carr is against it because "we have a fragile ecology". An Aboriginal author is against it, again environmental reasons. Sociologist Eva Cox is against it because it will cause social tension and exacerbate "existing inequalities", ie welfare payments will have to stretch further. The best argument is from a Monash Proff that the reasoning is fallacious, the biggest argument in favour is to stem skills shortages, especially in the mining areas. Immigrants however go to the Eastern cities and cause a housing boom which creates further skills shortages.

    Those in favour say. 1. If we prepare for it, it won't be a big deal. 2. It will be good to have more Asians, it will closen our tie to Asia *sighs*. 3. Taking in immigrants is part of our responsibility as a world nation (horror). 4. The aging population, we need a growing work force to pay for the aging baby boomers. Ah yes everything is about the baby boomers.

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  11. 1. If we prepare for it, it won't be a big deal.

    Firstly, I don't see why we should be forced to "prepare" for a government-engineered population explosion that is neither supported by or beneficial to the average Australian. This forecast disaster is entirely preventable. It's really as simple as a stroke of the Immigration Minister's pen.

    As for planning, both State and Federal Governments have thus far abjectly failed to plan for the immigration-fueled population explosion they have unleashed upon us. The housing shortages, water shortages, overloaded infrastructure and services, congested cities etc. currently besetting our citizens on a daily basis attest to that. Given the problems we are already facing, what makes the proponents of "big Australia" so confident that we will be able to magically sustain the rapid growth rates of the last few years in perpetuity without things getting even worse?

    2. It will be good to have more Asians, it will closen our tie to Asia *sighs*.

    Australia already has a large Asian minority (at least 10% of the resident population). How many more Asian immigrants do we actually need? Are we meant to believe that a doubling of the Asian population in Australia will somehow double the amount of trade with Asian countries? Assuming this is the case, Australia could increase trade with Asia tenfold by becoming 100 percent Asian. What a great idea!

    If Asian countries are reluctant to trade with Australia because it happens to be a predominantly European society, then surely that is an example of Asian racism. Why on earth would Australia want to appease such terrible racists?

    Our elites constantly admonish us that race is totally and utterly irrelevant and anybody who disagrees is a racist troglodyte. If so, then surely the racial differences between predominately European Australia and its Asian neighbors shouldn't be an obstacle to stronger relations. After all, race doesn't matter! It's just a social construct! Same applies to immigration policy. Our immigration policy is meant to be race-blind, but yet we have some immigrationists arguing for the importation of one particular racial group - a "yellow Australia" policy.

    Another point: I find it interesting that Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea etc. have all been able to develop strong trading relations with the West without needing to import tens of millions of Westerners.

    3. Taking in immigrants is part of our responsibility as a world nation (horror).

    Australia takes more than its fair share. In fact, Australia is a freak among the world's nations in terms of its massive immigration intake - the largest per capita intake on the planet.

    I for one would be ecstatic if Australia brought its immigration intake in line with the rest of the world's countries.

    4. The aging population, we need a growing work force to pay for the aging baby boomers. Ah yes everything is about the baby boomers.

    This argument is fallacious and has been so thoroughly discredited that anybody who still claims that immigration is a fix for an ageing population is either mendacious or a moron. It is nothing short of a crude Ponzi scheme.

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  12. But what kind of national identity does Prasanth Shanmugan endorse? He calls for a nationalism based on "attitude" rather than an ethnic nationalism based on historic kinship.

    I do tire of recently-arrived immigrants telling long-standing Australians what their national identity should be.

    What is wrong with this country's Anglo-Celtic majority asserting "we form the historic majority people and culture of this nation and we will define our own identity"?

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  13. We desperately need a new political party/movement in Australia. Some years ago we had the AAFI (Australians Against Further Immigration) which folded itself into that now largely defunct right-wing party from QLD. Needless to say it fizzled out which is a pity. We desperately need a breakaway party led by someone with a few marbles to really stir things up in Canberra. How blissful it would be to see that cosy duopoly busted up for good.

    Rudd recently said: "Over the next 40 years, the Australian population is projected to increase to 36 million." source.

    What gets really gets my goat is that he uses the word "projected" as if this massive increase has nothing to do with his government's deliberate policy of mass immigration and open borders. It's worse than the spin he is famous for. It's just a bare-faced con. I don't know how he can say it with a straight face. It would almost be monty pythonesque if it wasn't so bloody tragic.

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  14. Bernhardt Vernius wrote,

    "So in other words, Australia should simply become America? Do these people realize that's the model they are basing their stance on?"

    Yeah, and isn't it hilarious that it's the Left that's pushing it? The anti-American Left...ha! Well, the contradiction can be solved by observing that the "America" Australia would become is not the real America. That after mass immigration into America the difference between real Americans and propositional Americans is not widely understood any more, is itself a warning to patriotic Australians.

    Just today I had a professor reprimand me for writing in a paper that America was founded by the English and was therefore a Western nation. She admonished me about my ignorance of the country's changing demographics (hah!) and told me I shouldn't make "racial" or "ethnic" arguments. Apparently even if the arguments happen to be true.

    Of course, I'm ignoring her, but it really ticked me off that she thought she could hang a few loaded words over my head and cow me into submission.

    RD wrote,

    "If Asian countries are reluctant to trade with Australia because it happens to be a predominantly European society, then surely that is an example of Asian racism."

    Haha, good point.

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  15. Jesse said: "I'm watching the 7.30 report as we speak..."

    Check out the comments over at the 7:30 Report site. You'll find that every one of them is against further immigration-driven population growth and, more importantly, they all see through Rudd's spin and sophistry.

    In last night's interview (28/1), Rudd pretended as if he had no control over these population projections, even though they are a direct result of his government's mass immigration program. Rudd spoke of the huge "challenges" (read: problems) that the projected population explosion will create for Australia, but he failed to mention that these "challenges" are a consequence of his immigration policy and could be completely avoided if only immigration was permanently reduced to more saner levels.

    Rudd is a mendacious fraud and clearly part of the problem.

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  16. RD said...

    "Rudd is a mendacious fraud and clearly part of the problem".

    I've been following this debate for almost 20 years. What's encouraging is that is is FINALLY starting to get on people's radars as is evidenced by comments like this in the 7:30 report forum.

    "Remember at the next election that a vote for labor or liberal/national is a vote for continued unsustainable population growth......and all the problems that go with this.

    Maybe the public is starting to finally wake up. Rudd himself is starting to look like a deer caught in the headlights when asked about this topic. Of course that only means that he is adopting that evil genius John Howard's strategy of saying nothing on (legal) immigration but turning the volume up to eleven behind closed doors.

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  17. "Just today I had a professor reprimand me for writing in a paper that America was founded by the English and was therefore a Western nation. She admonished me about my ignorance of the country's changing demographics (hah!) and told me I shouldn't make "racial" or "ethnic" arguments. Apparently even if the arguments happen to be true."

    Perhaps you should remind her that America is still a European-majority nation, with Anglophone European-Americans still dominating nearly every aspect of American society.

    And exactly why is discussing the historic racial or ethnic composition of the United States off limits? There has always been a racial/ethnic dimension to the West. It is a civilisation created, characterised and sustained by Western European peoples and their colonial offspring. This is a matter of fact, not a mere opinion.

    You should ask your professor precisely why such realities are not allowed to be discussed.

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  18. "Rudd himself is starting to look like a deer caught in the headlights when asked about this topic."

    That is totally true. But it could be that Rudd is a weak sort of person who always looks uncomfortable when the ideological carpet hasn't been laid out for him.

    "Rudd is a mendacious fraud and clearly part of the problem."

    His immediate and optimistic support for large immigration numbers was also unsettling. It indicates he's not really considered the issue seriously at all. Perhaps this added to his discomfort with the questions.

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  19. "It is a civilisation created, characterised and sustained by Western European peoples and their colonial offspring. This is a matter of fact, not a mere opinion."

    America is considered a Western nation by the rest of the world. Perhaps say "inspite of changing demographics America is primarily a Western nation"? We're talking about university speak here not real life. As irritating as uni is there is life after it.

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  20. "KERRY O'BRIEN (to Rudd): You're a strong Christian. Would it bother you if the influence of Christianity, for instance, were to fade significantly in Australia over the coming decades?"

    KEVIN RUDD: That's just a question of how - well, first of all, questions of religious belief are entirely personal matters...any view that you should entrench a particular, you know, religious view and the orthodox political arrangements of Australia I think is not in the Australian tradition".

    Somebody pass me the barf bag please. If I hear any more pc lefty nonsense like that I'll be ill.

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  21. "This argument is fallacious and has been so thoroughly discredited that anybody who still claims that immigration is a fix for an ageing population is either mendacious or a moron. It is nothing short of a crude Ponzi scheme."

    I'm curious on this point because I think it is the most frequently used justification for large immigration (along with other general economic benefits). I'm sure its been discussed on this blog before but why precisely is immigration ineffective when it comes to reducing the population age?

    Thank you.

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  22. "Somebody pass me the barf bag please. If I hear any more pc lefty nonsense like that I'll be ill."

    I payed attention to that exchange too.

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  23. Jesse wrote: "I'm sure its been discussed on this blog before but why precisely is immigration ineffective when it comes to reducing the population age?"

    Well, unless immigrants are somehow immune from the ageing process, they, too, grow old, meaning that immigrants brought in now to replace the current generation of retirees will require the importation of even more immigrants when they themselves retire, and so on ad infinitum.

    As this article notes, the idea that immigration is a solution to an ageing population "has been discredited by every authority that has looked at it – from the UN, to the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the UK Government Immigration Advisory Service the Home Office, and the OECD."

    The only people still peddling this argument are those with an ulterior motive for supporting high immigration.

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  24. Mark Richardson wrote: "How did the Melbourne Age celebrate Australia Day? It offered us four opinion pieces, none of which celebrated the historic culture and tradition of Australia."

    Hardly surprising. Australia Day has been so utterly hijacked by multiculturalists that you wouldn't even know we were meant to be celebrating the beginning of British settlement on this continent.

    It seems the entire period from 1788 until the mid-20th Century, during which Australia drew its people, culture, institutions and way of life almost exclusively from the British Isles, no longer has any relevance whatsoever in modern "multicultural" Australia.

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  25. "The only people still peddling this argument are those with an ulterior motive for supporting high immigration."

    Its true that immigration to reduce the pop's age requires more and more immigration to sustain it, but it does lower the age over the short term. As most political planning and argument is short term people who support it would say, well it does the trick. Also aren't migrants more likely to have children thereby increasing birth rates?

    This is obviously all very short sighted but current politics rarely looks past the end of its nose.

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  26. I saw Joe Hockey on the box last night saying old people will have to work harder, for less pay, in overcrowded cities. The overcrowded cities was just thrown in at the end. Is that all the Liberals have to say on immigration, that it will make it more crowded? Pathetic.

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  27. Mark, you're probably not the type to be interested in the 7 soapie Home & Away, but you might be forced to watch it at the dinner table by your wife.

    Regardless, you should check out the episode last night, where on Australia Day a bunch of hooligans wearing flags assault the new Muslim character in town, call him a terrorist, tell him to go home and then, when he hides in the Diner with his friends, they burn down the Diner.

    This is another appalling example of how mainstream thought has been contaminated to make Australians feel they are part of a racist culture and that Australia Day is a day of hate, when there has never been a ritualised bashing of innocent Muslims on Australia Day or at any other time.

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  28. "where on Australia Day a bunch of hooligans wearing flags assault the new Muslim character in town, call him a terrorist, tell him to go home and then, when he hides in the Diner with his friends, they burn down the Diner."

    Oh dear we're like the Klan.

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  29. Its true that immigration to reduce the pop's age requires more and more immigration to sustain it, but it does lower the age over the short term.
    ---
    It doesn't though, because of family reunification which allows younger immigrants to bring in their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts etc. Not to mention illegal immigrants who come at all ages - the older ones especially like Social Security -- see Obama's aunt, an illegal immigrant in her late 50s, who lives in public housing in Boston and who is completely dependent on public welfare.

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  30. Well that's true. If family reunion is allowed.

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  31. Why is cow the sacred animal for Hindus and buffalo is not?
    Can you say Hindus are racist? lol

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