Saturday, April 02, 2005

We can't win the diversity game

There's a profile in today's Age of comedian Akmal Saleh, an Egyptian Christian who migrated to Australia as a boy. Akmal has this to say about the political leadership of America and Australia:

President Bush makes me angry. I find the Middle East (situation) overwhelming. I think Bush is a fanatic. He's extreme, ethnocentric. America is almost Third Reich Germany. It's frightening seeing the power of the Christian Right. I think John Howard is also scary.

Now, there's a lesson to be learnt here. George Bush and John Howard are the very opposite of ethnocentric. You might even call them ethnophobic (have I coined a new term here?). George Bush wants to accept millions of illegal immigrants in America and John Howard has raised foreign immigration to record levels in Australia. They are both going beyond any normal political expectations to undermine the interests (in fact the very existence) of their own ethnic group.

And yet Akmal Saleh, an immigrant who has had money and fame conferred upon him in his new country, does not praise Bush and Howard as great ethnic diversifiers. In fact he calls them ethnocentric extremists and compares them to Nazis.

So white men like Bush and Howard can never win the diversity game. They'll never win kudos from the Akmal Salehs of this world for sacrificing their own ethnic traditions in favour of diversity. Even if they were to start wearing turbans or worshipping in Hindu temples they would still be scary white guy bogeymen to the likes of Akmal Saleh.

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