Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

"New Australians" no longer the byword for immigrants down under

By Aussiegirl

This article in the Australian sure rings a bell with me. My own family were among the first so-called "New Australians" and we were delighted and proud to be called such. It was a name that implied belonging, it was a name that implied we were welcome. My mother, father, sister and I emigrated to Australia from the Displaced Persons camps of post-war Germany. I have published previously on UT my mother's memoir of our family's long sea voyage from Europe and our first days settling in in the outback and wilds of Australia.

As time went on, however, it looks as though the idea of New Australians became supplanted with the poison of "multiculturalism", which has only led to societal and cultural disintegration, violence, discontent and an internal wave of crime and terror cells that are now, regrettably the norm in that formerly peaceful and idyllic land. I hope Australia wakes from this slumber in time to save itself, and I hope that the encroaching multiculturalism that is threatening to fracture this country is also brought under control.

I do not want our politicians pandering to different ethnic groups by speaking to them in their language. The language of our land is English, and while my parents never did manage to master it completely, being adults when they arrived, they nevertheless knew the value of learning the language of their new homeland and got along quite well. My sister and I attended Australian schools and learned to speak the language perfectly. Since I was a baby, I simply grew up with two languages, and never even remember learning to speak English, while my sister had to make some adjustments. Nevertheless, she quickly learned the language and we never looked back or expected that Australia should cater to us in our own language or anything else of that nature. We were new citizens, and we learned the ways of being Australian. Similarly when we traveled further and wound up in America -- it would never have crossed our minds that American society should somehow cater to our language needs. Above all else, we wanted to become "New Americans".

And while America has always welcomed immigrants, and has never stood in their way of forming cultural associations and carrying on their traditions in private organizations, it has always expected that immigrants become also American first -- and then enjoy the heritage of their fathers in private associations. Therefore we can have, and are enriched by, Italian American societies, Polish American societies, Irish-American, and any other hyphenated kind of AMERICAN you can name. We eat their foods, which only enrich the flavor of our melting pot, we enjoy some of their traditions and indeed make them American, as every enjoys St. Patrick's day and on those days everyone is Irish and wears green. But primarily, we still remain American. America is and should always be -- a melting pot - where cultures mingle and enhance the stew of American culture, and not a smorgasbord -- with different dishes all sitting side by side but never forming a whole. That's about enough food analogies to last a lifetime. Maybe it's time for lunch!!

Read the article:

Tina Faulk: Pride of place lost in blurred citizenship.:

IN the early 1960s, my parents emigrated to Australia from the small Dutch Burgher community of what was then Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. They were part of the great migrant waves already washing over Australia's cultural shoreline, and they considered it a privilege to migrate. The White Australia policy was still officially in effect, but people "of majority European background" such as my parents were greeted as "New Australians" in their new country.

I, and perhaps many others, regret the passing of that term. It fell from favour around the same time that multiculturalism reared its ugly multiplicity of heads, like Cerberus, the guard dog at the gates of Hades. "New Australian" implied that a new arrival was not only welcome in the Australian community, but had chosen, and had committed, to be there, and was only different to an "old Australian" in the time of his or her tenure.

The old goldfield term "new chum" must have carried the same message - a good-natured label tempered with the laid-back down to earth practicality that stamped the "Digger". What was wrong with that? Yet "New Australian" fell into disuse, to be replaced, at the height of the multicultural frenzy by such PC terms as "ethnic" which now, as everyone is uncomfortably aware, has been debased to such depths that it has become a pejorative, and taken as verbal shorthand for "non-white".

Paul Keating, a man who did not know a lot about Asia, once exhorted Australians to be more like Asia, and those of us of Asian background writhed in embarrassment. Was Keating really asking Australians to seriously adopt the less salutary aspects of Asian community and governance - corruption, nepotism, the inequality and horrors of casteism and degrading treatment of women? As Australians, we can be proud of the society that we have built: inclusive and tolerant.

Rabid advocates of multicultural policies were often surprised at the lack of enthusiasm showed by the very groups the policies were supposed to benefit. The policies were well meaning, but they did not encourage commitment to the wider community, and were ignored by the majority of migrants settled in Australia. A Greek-Australian friend, whose parents toiled long hours at one of those once-ubiquitous corner milk shops once said: "Middle-class Anglos seldom understand, but we don't want our kids to be 'ethnic' we want them to be mainstream. I don't care if they never eat baklava again in their lives if they get to university."

That was one of the problems with multiculturalism. As a policy, multiculturalism trumpeted the message: "It's all right not to join the mainstream of Australian life." The result, as we know it, was ghettoisation, isolation or alienation, and, even after a generation, reluctance to commit to the Australian community.

Australia, like Britain, but unlike the US, made the multicultural mistake.

Britain is now faced with a generation of angry, alienated youth who speak with English accents but who do not feel English. Born between traditional and modern worlds, they have been let down by exponents of multiculturalism. Americans, on the other hand, took a different, more successful tack. Right from primary school, children learn what it is to be American - albeit hyphenated - Chinese-American, Polish-American, African-American and so on.

Working as a journalist in Washington, DC, I once interviewed a young Japanese-American, visiting the national capital with a school group from Hawaii. Proudly pinned to his jacket was his grandfather's medal from the Pacific War, and, as proudly, he recounted how his grandfather, pinned down by enemy machine-gun fire with a US infantry battalion on Guam, cupped his hands and shouted, "Susume" ("Charge") which the enemy soldiers promptly did, into the American gunsights. Japanese-American soldiers acquitted themselves heroically, fighting under their cocky slogan "Mo Betta".

How many young Australian-born Muslims, I wonder, would defend Australia, if the need arose, and how much of that indifference may be blamed on multiculturalism?


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