Politics: What is Australian?

I’ve been thinking about Australian-ness for a while, partly inspired by a friend’s blog posts about nationalism in France, and partly inspired by the new Citizenship Test and other acts of idiocy currently being perpetrated by our government.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that I have some ideas about what being Australian is all about that are perhaps more unusual than I’ve thought. Because to me, the key thing that makes Australia Australia is immigrants, immigration, and the stunningly diverse population we have as a result of these things. Let’s face it, with the exception of the few people of Aboriginal and Koorie descent, we are all immigrants here. And most of the waves of immigrants, now I think of it, have been from classes or races that were at the time considered socially unacceptable (criminals! Irish! Miners! Chinese! Greeks and Italians! Chinese again! Vietnamese too! Muslims! Sudanese!). I find it both sad and ironic that the descendants of these earlier settlers now feel the need to turn around and reject classes of immigrants based on religion, colour or alleged criminal tendencies. And this from a country whose most long-established families take pride in being descended from… convicts. Or, less romantically, economic refugees fleeing the Highland Clearances. Or, if they were lucky, Catholics, which carried a fine set of prejudices in its day.

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Politics: Racism and Moreland

Just thought I’d re-post this email that was just sent to me:

Moreland Community – Rally and March
Stand Up for Multicultural Communities

Racism will not divide us: Muslims are welcome

12pm SAT April 1st
Cnr Glenlyon and Sydney Rd (Outside Brunswick Town Hall)

supported by Moreland Council, Socialist Alliance, Carlo Carli MLA, Moreland Peace Group, Moreland Greens, Stop the War, Civil Rights Defense

After ten years of playing the race card, Howard and Costello have made recent comments singling out Muslims as antagonistic to
“Australian culture”. Tony Abbott, recently inteviewed on Lateline said that,” the purpose of multiculturalism is not to say that all cultures are equal”. These comments represents new heights in promoting community division.

This new wave of divisive politics deserves a community response. The Moreland area typifies multicultural Australia. Let set an example and send a message that Muslims and migrants are welcome in our community.

Just to add my two cents – I overheard a conversation on a tram yesterday about how the area is ‘no longer a good place to raise children’ and ‘not nice, like it was 15 years ago’ apparently in response to some local (admittedly annoying, but no more so than usual) teens of arabic descent making a lot of noise on the tram. I was fairly horrified, but as an eavesdropper, didn’t feel that I could respond. I’m wishing I had now. I am disturbed at the way racism seems to be becoming endemic in our culture…