Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Exceptions dwindling

There have been many riots in Western countries in recent times: Britain, France and America are obvious examples.

The response of the Australian political class to these events has usually been to claim Australian exceptionalism. We are different, they would assert, we are a multicultural success story the rest of the world should learn from.

I have always thought these claims to be complacent and arrogant. If multiculturalism leads to rioting in most countries which adopt it, why shouldn't the same thing eventually happen in Australia?

And now it has happened in a major way in Sydney.

So what has been the response of the political class down here in Melbourne to the rioting in Sydney? Well ... more exceptionalism. Now, though, the claim is that Sydney never got multiculturalism right, but we down here in Victoria have. It is we who are the exception and the rest of the world should learn from our example.

Our state Premier, Steve Bracks, for instance, has said that Victoria's multicultural history makes a Cronulla-like riot unlikely here. And Australian Multicultural Foundation executive director Hass Dallal said Victoria's multicultural success was an example to others.

Now, there are several things to note about this idea that Victoria is exceptional. First, the territory claimed by exceptionalists is always shrinking. Which parts of the Western world haven't now been hit by multicultural hostilities? Canada and not much else, it seems.

Second, Victoria is not so different to Sydney. Two months ago, 17 Muslim men were arrested in Melbourne and Sydney, many of them Lebanese, because they were planning major terrorist attacks in both cities.

And if you read through this article you find mention of recent ethnic brawling in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine (no Anglos involved, but Africans, Asians and Maoris) as well as long-running tensions in the country town of Robinvale (Aborigines vs Islanders).

Third, one of the experts who claims that Melbourne is different, does so because Melbourne has fewer ethnic enclaves. Melbourne, for instance, has only about 14,000 Lebanese born immigrants compared to about 50,000 in Sydney.

The problem with this argument, though, is that Premier Bracks has announced plans to use mass immigration so that Melbourne's population overtakes Sydney in the next 20 years. He wants to add an extra 700,000 migrants to Melbourne during this time.

So, if Mr Bracks has his way we won't even be different to Sydney in this regard either - our ethnic enclaves will grow to an equal size.

What then is needed as a political response to the events in Cronulla? Well, we should not continue to cling to vain hopes that things will somehow work out for the best in our part of the world, despite the policy of multiculturalism having failed elsewhere.

Eventually the defects built into multiculturalism will catch up with us all. So we need to do what hardly anyone in the political class is doing right now. Instead of accepting multiculturalism as something untouchable, and doing ever more of the same to try to make it work, we need to reject the policy itself as being misguided and mistaken.

Why force people of different races, cultures and traditions to live together? Why should we accept that this policy is the only "moral" one to adopt?

Isn't it actually more logical to follow the older ideal, in which each culture and tradition could reproduce itself within its own homeland?

Multiculturalism is a false ideal. It is time to recognise this openly and to reform the policy of mass immigration into Western countries.

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