May 092011

The current on-going debate over a few thousand asylum seekers (not illegal immigrants as seems to have become the common meme) has engendered a side-debate now in regard to Australian culture.

Some bigots are pretending that ‘our culture and way of life’ are under attack from these seekers of a better life. The why’s and wherefore’s behind such crass declarations are obvious to anyone willing to see through the transparency of such claims. What fascinates me is that those who believe such fantasies cannot identify just what it is about Australian culture that seems to be under attack. This disgusting piece in that equally disgusting rag, The Australian, is a classic example. There’s no surprise in the fact that the author once ‘advised’ Pauline Hansen. She couldn’t elucidate her fear and loathing either.

More and more often we’re seeing overt expressions of this faux outrage couched in affronted and self-righteous terms which call upon the past as support for an ethos which died out thirty years ago. I refer to the White Australia policy. A narrow-minded, elitist piece of legislation which sought to sustain racial purity. A salve to the consciences of apologists to Mother England. Billy Hughes, John Curtin, Arthur Calwell and Robert Menzies among them. Thankfully, that legislation no longer exists, being finally extinguish in 1973 after continually being watered down from 1948 onwards. Sadly, the intent and ethos of the legislation lives on among a minority of elite-leaning, racial purists predominately of the conservative bent. Although I must admit that even my own parents fostered such sentiments towards non-caucasian and coloured people’s during my youth. Even today my Mother denigrates practically anyone who doesn’t hail from a white, anglo-celtic, Christian upbringing. I must be an odd-one out having never been truly concerned or impacted by immigration policies or lived in fear of ‘my culture’ being attacked. More probably, my attitudes are guided by a sense of reality and reason. ‘my culture’ doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to those who make it what it is in company with me. As the words of the song state, “we are one, but we are many”, and accurate words they are.

Australian culture is shaped by our collective values. Those values, as defined by the Commonwealth Department for Immigration and Citizenship are stated as:

Australian values include:

  • respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual
  • equality of men and women
  • freedom of religion
  • commitment to the rule of law
  • parliamentary democracy
  • a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good
  • equality of opportunity for individuals, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic background.

It’s worth noting each dot point and the pertinent influential words or phrases. Respect. Equality. Freedom of Religion. Commitment. Rule of Law. Democracy. Egalitarianism. Tolerance, Fair Play. Compassion. Public Good. Opportunity. These are strong and powerful moralistic attitudes. These are sound, ethically solid beliefs. It is the basis of our cultural structure that those who fear it’s breakdown claim they wish to have protected. By expressing disrespect for difference, a belief in their white anglo-celtic Christianity being better than anyone else’s. By urging that religions other then Christianity be disavowed, that other cultures not be tolerated and that the public good not be engendered by those who so badly want to come here, they’re prepared to risk their lives to enjoy what we who just happened as a matter of fate, to be born here, enjoy. These expressions are the anti-thesis of what we tell those desiring citizenship our culture is derived from.

Australians, in my experience, are an easy going people, accepting of those who are accepting in return. Tolerant of those who display tolerance in return. We don’t, as a cultural rule, anticipate ignorance in anyone and won’t necessarily be magnanimous towards those who display a disregard for our culture, beliefs morals and ethics. We laugh at ourselves as easily as we’ll laugh at others. We tend to ridicule those who consider themselves above the rest, not because of a belief that such attitudes ought to be cut down, but out of an understanding that no single human being is any better or any worse than any other. As a cultural collective, we don’t put up with stupidity, ignorance or arrogance. My personal belief is one of simply not tolerating fools and frankly, why should anyone? Yet, there would seem to be a decided minority within the greater Australian cultural collective which is clearly exhibiting a stupidly ignorant and arrogant attitude towards their fellow human beings who wish to come here because of our culture, on the fraudulent pretext that those people – who aren’t white, anglo-celtic Christians – are vowed and declared to destroy the thing they want to enjoy once they arrive here. Race card? Simple facts as I see them, and I’ve yet to find any of this cadre who are capable of explaining otherwise.

Long past time the proponents of protecting their ‘culture’ come out from under their rocks and start telling us just what that culture is, and exactly why it’s under attack from a few thousand destitute fellow human beings from other places where life isn’t as comfortable as it is for those doing the whining.

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