Two letters to The Oz yesterday responding to a column from the day before. There is nowhere in the world like Australia, but we will ruin ourselves if we do not understand that a One Australia Policy is the only policy that will keep us whole. Here’s the first letter.
Maurice Newman (“Assimilation must be part of the deal for new citizens”, 21/2) blames multiculturalism for “division, growing intolerance and diminished national pride”.
He is not entirely right. As an activist in the Chinese community since 1984, my conclusion is that the commodification of the ethnic vote is the real culprit. I have lost count the number of times I cringed when I heard politicians at Chinese New Year functions telling the assembled how they respected our culture and how we had every right to preserve our culture, with one saying that she had been a practising Confucian without knowing it.
Worse, they confer “grants” for cultural festivals under the guise of multiculturalism, but in reality for no other purpose than harvesting votes and political donations. Then there are the multicultural awards, paid directorships on government owned corporations, and sinecures in state upper houses, all to lock in votes. This commodification of ethnic votes has bred a whole class of ethnic leaders who stridently call for ethnic “rights” to buttress their personal support in their ethnic group, at the cost of sabotaging the natural gravitation of migrants towards assimilation to gain economic and social progress.
Such ethnic leaders do not seem to question why few of their Aussie-acclimatised children care to be part of their glorious make-believe fiefdoms.
And then this is the second.
Maurice Newman’s timely article reminded me of a very perceptive comment made in John Howard’s autobiography in the closing chapter: “Multiculturalism is not our national cement. Rather, it is the Australian achievement, which has many components. One of them has been, successfully, to absorb millions of people from numerous lands into the mainstream of our nation”. It is no surprise that those on the left who are quick to criticise any suggestion regarding curbing immigration themselves tend to dwell in the trendy inner-city suburbs, where social diversity manifests itself primarily in a decision between eating Thai or Vietnamese food for dinner, before reverently watching the latest SBS documentary about an ethnic minority group that mercifully lives multiple postcodes away from them.
The fact is that our prevailing enviable culture is not a mere accident, nor based upon Eastern mysticism or Asian civil codes, but is largely due to our Judaeo-Christian heritage — the dignity of the individual, the practice of both justice and mercy, the furthering of human creativity through technology, a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, and the betterment of society’s standards.
It is, perhaps, better to speak of multi-ethnicities, instead of cultures, as we have one Australian culture, and all imported creeds need to cleanly align with the mainstream; otherwise, they should be left at the door or called out as inferior.