Xenophobia, the irrational fear of…

http://museumvictoria.com.au/collections/items/1557327/sticker-australia-love-it-or-leave-it-australia-2009
Source: http://museumvictoria.com.au/collections/items/1557327/sticker-australia-love-it-or-leave-it-australia-2009

I absolutely despise racism, but I think you’ll find what’s more insidious in Australian society is xenophobia. It manifests in the loathsome debate about Asylum Seekers, it rears its head whenever a Burqa or Hijab is seen on telly, it gets trotted out by mincing conservative geese like Piers Akerman whenever they see Australian (read: British or American) ‘values’ getting ‘overrun’ by ‘foreigners’.

For heaven’s sake, what I would give for some maturity in the national discussion.

And now I see this kicking around Facebook. I’ll let you read it, a purported address by Julia Gillard (read: a fabrication by some random Islamophobic, Asian-hating, white person). It’s long, but it’ll give some context:

W O W ! She Did It

Again!!!

Australia says NO — This will be the second Time Julia Gillard has done this!

She sure isn’t backing down on her hard line stance and one has to appreciate her belief in the rights of her native countrymen.

A breath of fresh air to see someone lead. Australian Prime Minister does it again!!

The whole world needs a leader like this!

Prime Minister Julia Gillard – Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

Separately, Gillard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying she supported spy agencies

monitoring the nation’s mosques. Quote:

‘IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT… Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.’

‘This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.’

‘We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese,

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!’

‘Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.’

‘We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.’

‘This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I

highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.’

‘If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.’

NOTE: IF we circulate this amongst ourselves in Canada & USA , WE will find the courage to start speaking and voicing the same truths.

If you agree please SEND THIS ON and ON, to as many people as you know…

Perhaps you spotted the inconsistency in the idea that our diplomatic, atheist Prime Minister would say something as ludicrous as this: “‘Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.’ “

I’m sure you also identified the obvious silly inaccuracy: “if God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home”. I mean, if GOD offends you, like seriously offends you, then you must be Richard Dawkins, and I think it’s pretty unlikely he’s going to be able to find a completely secular Republic anywhere in the world (although judging by the non-religious, Other and Atheist tally on the last Census, Australia is ironically well on track to being that place).

“IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT” is fundamentally xenophobic. At what point does an immigrant become Australian? At what point in this nation’s 200 year history did it make an effort to adapt to the cultural needs of the previous nations and their 40,000 year history?

Besides, the need for immigrants to adapt is a truism – if you moved to a new country, I daresay some level of adaptation is always required. Maybe learning the streets, getting a job, finding the shops, settling in, etc? All those practical things that enable us to live…that’s adaptation, isn’t it? Statements like the above refer purely to a cultural supremacist agenda: they must adapt to our culture (whatever that is), and cast off whatever valuable aspects of their own that they might contribute. The insensitivity and stupidity is astounding: do people really think it’s possible to move to an entirely new country and not adapt at all?

Or what about this pearler: “I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture.”

What a silly thing to say. A whole nation worried about offending people? There’s a difference between being offensive and being an intolerant bigot. Demanding people change their identity is, frankly, a little more of the latter than it is of the former. People should be allowed to be as offensive as they like, it’s often funny, but when that turns into destructive discrimination vilification, it’s no longer cool.

But that’s not the point here.

Nobody is seriously suggesting that Australia is offending an entire culture are they? There’s nothing particularly offensive about ‘the Australian way of life’, whatever that nebulous beast might be, except perhaps the fact that The Shire ever made it to air in the first place.

“But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.'” is the kind of insensitive, intolerant, evil rubbish that gets hurled around by the same people who direct unbelievable racism at the original owners of this land, Aboriginal Australians.

I hate to play the ancestry game, but let’s play it: I’m six generations white Australian. The first Norman arrived here in the Third Fleet (stealing a tool or something, the usual). The only people with more claim to being ‘Australian’ than me, according to the logic of those that wrote this pap, are the convicts on the First and Second Fleets, and the Australian Aborigines.

I have zero, ZERO issue with anyone from any place on Earth coming to this country. Not because I hate Australia, but because I love it and I want more people to experience it.

And we really should remember that a flag is a symbol, nothing more, and the Australian flag was adopted as the national flag in 1953, so let’s not pretend this thing has been around for as long as other nations. I like our national flag the way it is, but I’m quite unoffended to have a discussion around the relevance of its symbolism, and whether there is a need to change it – I don’t fly off the handle at the very suggestion.

I’m also well aware that there are already many Australians who do not feel adequately represented by the current flag. Does anybody seriously propose kicking out some of our most committed individuals, simply because they dislike a flag?

And what the hell is ‘our pledge’?? I’m 27 years old, and I have never once had to take a ‘pledge’. This is where the poorly constructed case made by these gits falls to pieces, and you realise that they’ve been trawling Tea Party garbage from the United States.

The people who post articles like this are racists, bigots and xenophobes, and they post these inflammatory things hoping that people will repost them and cloud the waters of compassion and plurality in this country.

There is no ‘Australian Culture’ that is going to get ‘overrun’ – that is a fundamentally xenophobic phobia.

If you don’t like that a shop doesn’t have English on its sign, don’t shop there.

But I find it deeply offensive that a person in a country as progressive and enlightened as ours would say that we are going to force everyone here to speak the same language and observe the same cultural traditions as those that were imposed by force 200 years ago (as though they haven’t evolved with generation after generation of migrants and knowledge and technology), or that someone somewhere has the right to be arbiter of ‘Australian Culture’.

It’s pure xenophobia, and it’s borderline racism. I don’t tolerate racism anywhere. I believe if I mind my business, you can mind yours, and that’s it. I don’t EVER want to force my culture on anybody else, and that includes forcing English and only English on people that live here. I mean, it’s a person’s own loss if they don’t speak English in a majority English-speaking nation anyway!

I don’t understand what cultural insecurity leads someone to post something like this. Do people have so little faith in the strength of the Australian character? Of our unity as a nation of migrants (which, from around 200 years ago, we are)? Do we not believe in any kind of human virtue anymore, or are we simply cultural thugs, picking a problem and bashing at it till it gets away from us?

To all the xenophobes in Australia I say this: chill, we have a beautiful country, and you’re trying to ruin it.

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3 Replies to “Xenophobia, the irrational fear of…”

  1. I’m not Australian but I did want to share my opinion on one point, for I agree with most you’ve stated, language I feel is part of the adaptation process when moving to a new area. Not that theirs should be disregarded or lost but instead another added. Just as I learned Italian when I moved and resided in Italy I feel the opposite should be the requirement when moving to another place.

    1. Oh absolutely, as I said, you can’t possibly expect to live comfortably in a country like Australia where the majority language by a mile is English and you don’t speak any of it. Naturally learning a new language is part of the process of moving into a different culture, and I think you make a beautiful point about ‘adding’ – to me that’s what is so wonderful about multiculturalism, the idea of ‘addition’.

      The problem with the rhetoric of ‘learn our language or get out’ is that it is not about addition, it is about subtraction (of another language) and multiplication (of the accepted language). There’s none of the beautiful growth and joy of ‘addition’.

  2. I have read a similar speech said to be comments by John Howard. I am with you on xenophobia. In my opinion racism doesn’t exist as such, the scientific basis and appropriation of Darwin’s theories have been disproved and most average Australians do not understand. Fear is the basis of what Australia and many other countries deal with in regards to harmony. I’d also go on to say that unity and the ideals of multiculturalism didn’t arrive with the first fleet, instead, was born out of all the different language groups.

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