Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another nail in the coffin of our heritage

From The Independent Australian, Issue 14, Summer 2007/08:

Sic Transit Gloria

The demise of Old Norse at Australian universities is another milestone in the cultural dispossession of our founding population in favour of our "Asian destiny".

The University of Melbourne has decided to change its traditional course structures to what it originally called the 'American model' - now renamed the 'Melbourne model'. As a result, some forty or so subjects will no longer be taught. One of these is Old Norse.

The language of the Vikings was first taught at Melbourne in 1944, by the Belgium-born Augustin Lodewyckx. In 1946 a second course was set up in the English Department by Professor Keith Macartney. Graduates of these classes include many people who are household names to educated Australians. They include: Dr John Martin, the author of the best book on Ragnarok; Dame Leonie Kramer; the poet AD Hope; the great Anglo-Saxonist Bruce Mitchell; and the only Australian recipient of the Order of the Icelandic Falcon, Professor Ian Maxwell.

In 2007, allegedly in the interest of economic rationalism, this grand tradition draws to an end. Old Norse will be taught no longer, despite the school having international recognition of high standing. The University of Melbourne, in its weaselly defence, claims that only thirty-odd students undertook Old Norse in any given year. What the university apparently doesn't understand is that it's not the number of students that's important. It's the quality, a factor that will soon become much scarcer at what was once a great university, but is now being dumbed down to accommodate fee-paying Asian students.

In 1972, the American author Wilmot Robertson published the first version of his seminal book, The Dispossessed Majority. In his preface, Robertson perceptively remarked that, "The most truly disadvantaged are those who are hated for their virtues, not their vices, who insist on playing the game of life with opponents who have long ago abandoned the rules, who stubbornly go on believing that a set of highly sophisticated institutions developed by and for a particular people at a particular point in time and space are operational for all peoples under all circumstances."

That is the situation in Australia today. Our universities, like many of our other institutions, no longer play by the rules for which we initially created them, and continue to fund them. They give mere lip-service to those rules, in order to continue the dispossession of Australia's founding Anglo-Celtic population without alarming us too much. Would you like proof of this? Well, Melbourne University claims that low student numbers for Old Norse have doomed the subject. When Monash University abolished the same subject, back in the Hawke-Keating era, the number of students enrolled for Old Norse at Monash had actually been growing substanially for several years under the direction of a dynamic young Anglo-Saxonist from Oxford. Yet Monash made no secret of the fact that it preferred to allocate resources to Asian languages, regardless of student numbers. In other words, student interest in subjects relevant to traditional Australians was of no concern to Monash, which preferred to be an agent of change toward Australia's so-called "Asian destiny".

The demise of Old Norse at Australian universities could be seen as just a footnote to the cultural dispossession of our founding population, which still remains a majority. In itself, Old Norse is of little consequence. Yet if traditional Australians continue to allow our institutions, which once served us so well, to become a chorus to our ongoing dispossession, we will have only ourselves to blame. If our children have less and less exposure to our own people's heritage, we can scarcely blame them if they adopt the culture of other groups that are promoted positively in the media and elsewhere.

It is hard to know how to fight back against Melbourne University's decision to drop Old Norse. As a Melbourne University graduate, I have made it clear that their begging letters will no longer be rewarded with a cheque. Of course, that won't be enough to make any difference to them. I think we must withdraw our support - totally - from all institutions that have turned against the founding Australian people that they were originally created to serve.

There is a good, old-fashioned word for individuals and institutions that have set themselves against their own kith and kin. That word is "traitor".

The author wishes to remain anonymous for professional and personal reasons.

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