Multiculturalism: A Political Artifact
Multiculturalism is the demand that Australians should adapt to rancorous demands by newly arrived or resident ethnic groups. Multiculturalism emerged from the New Left matrix of the 1960s and 1970s and is the crazed orphan of cultural relativism. In the Australian case it was designed to destabilise the affiliations to British-Australian traditions, institutions and values. The operational assumption that Australia was a W.A.S.P. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) paradise built on racism, genocide and oppression is still assiduously promoted by leftist historians and by ethnic and pro-ethnic media. Hating Australia became a profession.
In asserting the regressive fantasy that all cultures are "equal", cultural relativism ensures that the host country, Australia - a term that multiculturalists are trying to depreciate - was denigrated as the source of authoritative allocation of values and legitimacy. Australian multi-culturalism was never put to the people and was almost covertly promoted by progressive activist networks.
Multiculturalism became a contentious topic decades after the realisation that it was politically and culturally destabilising and the origin of many taxpayer-funded social problems including ethnic crime, narcotics, social and religious separatism and political vote-catching.
As two researchers recently summarised, "Multiculturalism was not well known or popular among ordinary Australians." Subsequent research into popular acceptance of multiculturalism reveals respondents were particularly concerned that "they were never asked to vote on it".
The historian of Australian multiculturalism, Mark Lopez, points out: "Multiculturalism was developed by a small number of academics, social workers and activists, initially located on the fringe of the political arena of immigration, settlement and welfare. The authors responsible for versions of the ideology were also principal actors in the struggle to advance their beliefs and make them government policy".
As Max Teichmann has noted: "The original definers of the multicultural scenario were few in number, so had to move carefully . . . Few Australians, native born or immigrant, really wanted it . . . Most Australians were quite unaware of this process of conversion by stealth of the decision makers and opinion formers."
Multiculturalism as a policy was never discussed internally at Cabinet level or party room within either political party. Members of both parties presumed that the legitimacy of multiculturalism derived from political leaders and elite support. Multiculturalism was public policy by stealth.
Lopez notes that through "core groups and activists' sympathisers and contacts . . . multiculturalism became government policy . . . because the multiculturalists and their supporters were able to influence the ideological content of the Minister's sources of policy . . . Contemporary public opinion polls implied...in the general population, a widespread resentment, or a lack of interest, of the kinds of ideas advanced by multiculturalists. ...The original constituency for multiculturalism was small; popular opinion was an obstacle, not an asset, for the multiculturalists."
Finally, "Multiculturalism was not simply picked up and appreciated and implemented by policy makers, government and the major political parties . . . [I]n every episode that resulted in the progress of multiculturalism, the effectiveness of the political lobbyists was a decisive factor. . . . [Multiculturalism was] tirelessly promoted and manoeuvered forward".
Gradually the downside of multiculturalism has become clear. The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington have provided further insight into this perilous dimension, for as Walter Lacquer has written, the hijackers operated "all under the cover of multiculturalism".
By prescribing through law the status of numerous ethnic identities, Australia entered a new culture of complaint and litigation - against alleged discrimination. The multi-culturalists had a strategic advantage: their opponents were stigmatised as racists. Racism was described by university historians as the lynchpin of Australian nationalism and identity and involved a "cosmopolitan" hatred of Australians. As Lopez summarises: "In addition to being racist, the typical Australian was negatively stereotyped as parochial, boorish, narrow-minded, materialistic, suburban, culturally inferior and in need of improvement."
Multiculturalism became a profession based on the mobilisation of ethnic resentment. Grievance mechanisms required the expertise of the chattering class in the form of lawyers, social workers and, of course, the establishment of commissions and statutory bodies to rewrite "racist" laws and advance the interests of ethnic minorities repressed by the "dominant culture".
No country is naturally multi-cultural - it is always imposed. In 1996, the architect of multi-culturalism Jerzy Zubrycki described multiculturalism as, "a good idea that has gone wrong. Ethnicity has been cynically exploited for electoral and civic advantage. Morality rather than social engineering is now required to make Australia a better place." Multiculturalism poses the key questions of loyalty and allegiance to Australia: to whom do the hundreds of ethnic groups and communities owe allegiance? It may take a crisis to find the answer.
The chattering class quickly attached itself to the immigration / refugee issue and promoted a climate of suspicion to all Howard Government claims. Immigration is a low or no-cost cause of high symbolic value. Demography and distance also shape its stance. The chattering class resides in areas and suburbs in which there are few ethnic minorities and therefore few attendant social problems.
The chattering class view immigration and illegal immigrants - commonly misnamed refugees - as a test of their cosmopolitanism, tolerance and cultural relativism. Support for immigration is a litmus test for moral superiority. They do not feel threatened.
However normals regard high immigration levels and illegal immigrants as threatening personal, community and national security (national security is a concept systematically devalued by the chattering class).
The chattering class accuse the Howard Government of exploiting the latent racism and xenophobia of Australians, thereby expressing their lack of understanding and contempt for one of the most racially tolerant countries in the world. The "illegal immigrants-refugee" issue also offers a media platform for a host of formerly anonymous legal mediocrities who can promenade as "men of principle", defending "refugees" in their favourite media outlets the A.B.C., The Age and S.B.S.
In mid-December 2001, bemused Australians television-watched "asylum seekers" burn down fifteen detention centre buildings, destroying four of them in Woomera, South Australia, as they chanted: "visa, visa, visa". The chattering class commentators justified their arson and sabotage against Commonwealth property by claiming it should be seen "in context" and they "shared their pain".
Living in their twilight zone, the commentators denied the existence of multi-million dollar people-smuggling rackets which placed hundreds of men, women and children at risk of death and massive trauma. They denied the existence of terrorist-sleepers entering Australia in the illegal immigrant streams. Thus the refugee-detention issue provided a unique insight into the moral posturing of the chattering class and their contempt for the key issue: Australian sovereignty.
Consistent with the compulsive attachment to "rights", the controversy over aboriginal rights and apologies is conducted by those who have knowledge by description rather than knowledge by acquaintance. Robert Manne, the chief academic exponent of the stolen generations myth recalls, "I did not encounter a single aboriginal child in my primary or high school years."
The use of the term genocide is particularly misleading and offensive to the many Europeans and genuine refugees from Asian countries who fled communist genocide and mass murder. Not only does it degrade and cheapen the horrific dimensions of genocide, but it also reduces genocide to a propaganda slogan against Australia's past. It is a chilling example of the "Big Lie".
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