By Ghali Hassan. Axis of Logic
While most Australians rightly believe that Australia is a multicultural nation, in reality multiculturalism is encouraging divisions, discrimination and racism. Australia needs an inclusive multicultural policy to dismantle “white” dominance and unite Australians.
|Australian citizens in an Australian-flag hijab.
Since the early 1970s, Australia has embraced multiculturalism and prides itself of being a multicultural nation. After abandoning the “white Australia” policy, Australia has become one of the most culturally-diverse countries on the planet. However, multiculturalism, as a government policy, is promoted not because it is good, but because it serves the ideology of the ruling class, enforces white dominance and protects white privilege. Hence, Australia’s white Anglo-Saxon elites have an interest in investing and maintaining a marginalised “ethnic” or “other”.
Furthermore, there is a tendency among white Australian elites that Australia must remain a white Anglo-Saxon society controlled by a wealthy white ruling class. This is despite the fact that 44 per cent of Australians are born overseas, or have an overseas-born parent. Only whites (preferably Anglo-Saxons) are Australians and only whites have access to good jobs and justice. Multiculturalism is an anti-culture that identifies white Europeans as “Australians” and the rest as the “ethnic Australians” without identity. Ethnic Australians are told to “assimilate”, but cleverly divided, weakened and put in “their places”, in segregated communities.
Successive Australian governments, particularly under the Liberal/National Coalition, have failed to promote racial harmony and provide programs to help disadvantaged Australians and new immigrants obtain employment and integrate into the Australian community. “We are not an economically equal society by any means. There are sizeable pockets of considerable social disadvantages to be found in every state, especially among Indigenous communities and in older industrial and regional areas”, writes Wayne Swan, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer. (The Monthly, March 2012). Australian multiculturalism did little to eliminate racism and discrimination against minorities, including Indigenous Australians.
In the so-called “fair go” Australia, the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is growing exponentially. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the wealthiest 20 per cent of Australian households have increased their average net worth by 15 per cent since 2005-06. The poorest 20 per cent saw only a 4 per cent rise. As the income gap between the rich and the poor grows wider, Australians are increasingly ghettoized.
According to a recent research in the Australian Economic Review (vol. 45, pp. 29-49); Australian-born parents (i.e., white Anglo-Saxon Australians) are more likely to send their children to well-funded private schools “where the share of their like type is higher” rather than to public schools to avoid exposing them to “unfamiliar cultures”. It is alleged that “there is an over-dominance of some cultures in public schools, which is denigrating the quality of education”. (The Age, 21 March 2008).
It is Important to note that, most ordinary (civilised) Australians believe in an egalitarian and truly multicultural Australia that treats all its citizens equally regardless of skin colour, religion and ethnic backgrounds. However, racism and discrimination are deeply-entrenched in white Australian elites. Indeed, about 85 per cent of Australians believe that racism is a problem in Australia.
While it is unlawful in Australia to discriminate against people because of their skin colour, religion or ethnic backgrounds, most Australian institutions practice racism and discrimination. The education system, the media, the justice system and the police are fuelled by racist practices. Of course, in public, the ruling elites pretend to serve the community, but under the skin, they are truly bigots.
In fact, racism is so entrenched in white Australia to the extent that an Australian from a non-Anglo-Saxon background has far less chance to be selected for employment (e.g. at a university) in Australia than a white English, a Dutch or an American holding no residency status and has no right to work in Australia. Nepotism and corruption are rampant and carefully nurtured to enforce white dominance and privilege in the nation’s most important institutions. Tens of thousands of unemployed professionals, including doctors, PhDs, engineers and teachers are driving taxis and doing low-paid odd jobs, despite serious shortages of these professions in Australia. Muslim Australians and new immigrants are denied the opportunity to work and serve the community because of their religion and non-Anglo-Saxon ethnic backgrounds.
A survey on racial and ethnic discrimination in Australia conducted by the Research School of Economics at the Australian National University (ANU) released in June 2009 found that there is substantial evidence of racial discrimination in employment. The study found that Australians from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds had greater difficulty of finding employment than those Australians with Anglo-Saxon background. According to the study, people with a Middle Eastern names and background (a.k.a. Muslims) had to send 127 per cent more applications for a waiter’s position than their Anglo-Saxon contenders. (PDF). As a result, unemployment among Australians from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds is significantly higher.
Of course, there are those Indigenous and “ethnic” Australians who passed through the net and become the face of Australia’s shallow multiculturalism. Their presence is nothing more than a PR designs to help in deflecting accusations of racism and discrimination. They are often paraded in front of TV cameras obsequiously dismissing any accusation of racism to promote Australia’s (fake) image of a multicultural and “tolerant society”.
The Indian author Arundhati Roy likened this to the forgiving of the Thanksgiving turkey in America:
“A few carefully bred turkeys — the local elites of various countries, a community of wealthy immigrants … the occasional Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice … are given absolution and a pass to Frying Pan Park. The remaining millions lose their jobs, are evicted from their homes, have their water and electricity connections cut, and die of AIDS. Basically they're for the pot. … So who can say that turkeys are against Thanksgiving? They participate in it”.
(The Hindu, 18 January 2004).
The same holds true in Australia. The like of Warren Mundine, Marcia Langton, Pino Migliorino, Stepan Kerkyasharian, Penny Wong and Noel Pearson come to mind.
Racism in Australia is systemic. It is well managed subtle kind of racism than elsewhere. Australia has a Multicultural Minister and several government-funded agencies and organisations, such as the Anti-discrimination Commission, Equal Opportunity Commission and the Human Rights Commission that act as enforcers of racism, legitimising discrimination and dismissing any criticism and racism-related complaints. There is no bill of right and very few Australians know that Indigenous Australians are not recognised in the Australian Constitution. Everyone knows his/her place. No one dares to complain. “If you don’t like it”, you are told “go back to your own country”.
As Oscar Humphries, the editor of the London-based art magazine ‘Apollo’ who grow up in Sydney writes:
“My own experience, having attended school [in Australia] until the age of 11, and then lived there during my early 20s, is that underneath the blocky ‘mateship’ of a certain type of Australian male there is a seam of racism. This racism is not only applied to indigenous Australians, but also to, for instance, the Lebanese [Muslim Australians] and Greek immigrants who live there”.
(The Telegraph. 29 June 2011).
Since 9/11, Muslim Australians continue to live under siege, often harassed and bullied by ASIO and the police.
Most recently, a right-wing politician, Teresa Gambaro from the so-called Australian “Liberal” Party, a collection of right-wing bigots and dirty fascists, accused – after “hearing reports” – non-white (a.k.a. Muslims) immigrants of failing to wear deodorants and integrate into the community.. It is not true that new immigrants have failed to integrate into “Australian culture” and ‘lifestyle”. Most non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants left their simple ways of life at home and have adapted well in Australia, doing all kind of dirty jobs. It is evident that Gambaro herself has not adapted well in Australia and remains an illiterate indulging in old racial stereotypes that contaminated the brains of most bigots in the Liberal Party.
Gambaro is the daughter of poorly-educated Italian immigrants. After fleeing the impoverished and war-ravaged Italy to Australia, Gambaro’s father worked as a farm labourer and a fishmonger – who stunk for many years – before he established his seafood restaurant in Brisbane. Gambaro’s rise in Australian politics is not because she cares about Australia or has a dubious university degree, but because she is white European. Her only contribution to multiculturalism is to greet new immigrants with hostility in order to advance her political interest because racism is a vital tool to dehumanise the “other” and manipulate public opinion.
We all know that, Australian politic is exclusively white territory, and only white Australians have the right to be in the Australian Parliament and participate in democratic debate. It is a privilege position to be in. It provides wealth and power and enough influence to advance the interests of relatives and friends. There is no democracy in Australia. What is called “democracy” is a quarrel between two corporate groups (parties) of wealthy white elites serving their own interests and the interests of their wealthy handlers. The people are duped and misled by politicians and the capitalist (corporate) media and forced into a delusional believe that real change can come from electing a different corporate group (candidate) of wealthy elites.
Like in most Western countries, the Australian media (outlet of the capitalist media) constantly demonises non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants, Indigenous and Muslim Australians, inciting racism and promoting divisions. Ethnic divisions are exploited and used by the media as an opportunity to promote fear. The media in Australia is a small pond of vicious white sharks. About 75 per cent of the printing media are controlled by the neo-fascist Murdoch Press, a pro-Israel Zionist and anti-Muslim propaganda organ. Australian major TV channels (ABC, 7, 9 and 10) are the cesspool of Britain and U.S. rubbish. They have no shame when it comes to demonising and bashing non-Anglo-Saxon Australians and new immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants. Australia’s media are dominated by white Anglo-Saxon bigots. There are no places for Australians from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds only in stereotypical roles.
Meanwhile, the self-described multicultural TV station, “Special Broadcasting Services” (SBS), has become the main demoniser of Muslims. It is often called the “ethnic” station. The station is financed by the pro-Israel Zionist lobby and managed by faceless white Anglo-Saxon executives. It is an anti-Muslim, racist and warmongering propaganda outlet. Its anti-Muslim agenda is hidden behind a façade of dark-skinned, unprofessional newsreaders and second-hand journalists. Like all capitalist media outlets, SBS alleges to be “independence”, but in reality, it is a dirty byproduct of CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Fox News and CBS propaganda. Its aim is to deepen the ethnic divide, tear communities apart and deny Australians from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds a collective voice. People are misled to have a strong “ethnic” identity, which isolates them and decreases their sense of belonging to the Australian community.
Having said all that, it is important to acknowledge that there are worse places in the world than Australia. Australia is not Europe or the U.S., where racism is condone and promoted by right-wing governments and neo-fascist parties. When it comes to dealing with ethnic minorities, Europe’s history, of course, is littered with crimes against minorities. For instance, some European countries, including France, Switzerland and Holland send Roma Gypsies and Jewish refugees fleeing from the Nazis back to Germany. Today, Europe has become a bastion of Islamophobia. Muslim immigrants and refugees bear the brunt of Europe’s neo-fascist policies. Of course, Australia’s current policy of dealing with desperate (mostly Muslim) refugees is a Nazi-like inhumane policy and should to be condemned.
Moreover, unlike Europe, Australia lacks the neo-fascist, far-right Islamophobes who practice “direct action” to expel immigrants in Europe. Crimes against Muslims and newly-arrived non-European immigrants are committed on daily basis. Many innocent people (mostly Muslims) and refugees have been murdered by neo-fascists in Europe, including Germany, Belgium, France and Britain. European political leaders, such as the neo-fascist Nicholas Sarkozy in France, David Cameron in Britain and Angela Merkle in Germany have attacked Muslim immigrant rights using multiculturalism as a cover. In other words, multiculturalism is used as a code word for Muslim. The promotion and exploitation of Islamophobia by Western leaders serve as a cheap vote winner among their racist electorate. Indeed, Sarkozy is campaigning for re-election on an anti-immigrants and anti-Muslim racist platform. The on-going attacks on multiculturalism by European leaders are seen as a justification for Western governments’ involvement in U.S.-Israeli criminal wars in the Middle East, West Asia (Afghanistan) and Africa (Libya). This is why both Nicholas Sarkozy and David Cameron declared during their violent aggression against Libya that multiculturalism is dead in their respective countries. Like the U.S., most Europe is multicultural regions, but also condones racism and discrimination against certain minorities.
In the U.S., Americans are segregated by centuries-old racist ideology and racist laws. As a result, the U.S. is one of the most unequal societies in the world with extreme and growing inequality (Extreme Poverty in the United States, 1996 to 2011). Anti-immigrants’ sentiment is spreading like wild fire across the U.S. Thousands of “undocumented” immigrants have been imprisoned or deported and their children were taken away from them and put in foster homes. There are hundreds of extremist and anti-immigrants hate groups, including 170 Neo Nazi and 152 Ku Klux Klan groups (The ‘Patriot’ Movement Explodes). Australia is not Europe or the U.S., not yet.
Australia still has to dismantle its white Australia policy and eradicate racism and discrimination to nurture a truly multicultural Australia. There is no such thing as Australians and “ethnic” Australians. One is either Australian or not. The only way forward is an egalitarian Australia for all Australians regardless of racial and ethnic backgrounds. An inclusive multiculturalism will unite Australians and make Australian strong.
Ghali Hassan is an independent political analyst living in Australia.
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AXIS OF LOGIC COLUMNIST GHALI HASSAN