The mainstream media in the United States is not afraid to throw the racist label around, but of course they don’t want to confine it just to their country, they want to label the entire western world as racist. In Australia we have no shortage of people willing to line up and tell the American media what a racist and evil place Australia is. One of these Australians is author Alice Pung (who I had never heard of) who gladly penned a piece for the New York Times called ‘Living with Racism in Australia’.
It would appear that the New York Times has some sort of vendetta against Australia as this is not the first time they have attempted to paint Australia as a racist backwater nation. Waleed Ali wrote an opinion piece a few months back criticising Australia’s current refugee program. Now only days after this piece from Pung there is a story by ex-pat Alice Gilbertson saying how our refugee policy makes her ashamed to be an Australian and the main reason for her leaving Australia was her disgust with our policy.
Focusing on Peng’s article, her parents are from Cambodia and survived Pol Pot’s Killing Fields, given she begins with this statement it would be fair to conclude that the negative things she describes about Australia are minor compared to the horrors of a genocide. She begins her attack in Australia talking about how multiculturalism has been abolished and assimilation now seems to be the policy (she provides no evidence to back up her claim, it seems to be a gut feeling).
It’s worth defining for a moment what multiculturalism and assimilation mean.
Multiculturalism in its modern definition is not simply enjoying foreign foods and festivals which most of us are happy to endure in. Today it means not bothering to learn English, not following Australian law and making no attempt to participate in Australian society in general.
Assimilation can be defined as the opposite, learning to speak English, following our laws, socialising with other Australians and being a hard working citizen. It doesn’t mean you have to completely hide your cultural background, it just means making a reasonable effort to become an active participant in Australian society.
However she then proceeds to discuss almost fondly her father’s work experience in the 1980s of being a successful factory worker. However things changed in the early 1990s with the recession and the beginning of the offshoring of working class jobs due to greater costs and regulations associated with hiring local workers. She then describes a guy yelling a racial slur from their car and a brick thrown through their window which she assumes was racist. Her description of poor living standards, crime and poverty of everyone during the economic downturn should be interpreted as a reason why economic growth and high living standards are important to community cohesion, people are less likely to turn on others for race or any other reason.
She then talks about when Pauline Hanson was first elected in 1996 and in her maiden speech stated Australia was ‘’in danger of being swamped by Asians’’. Although today especially with the successful way second generation Asian –Australians have integrated into our country this statement would seem hysterical. But back in 1996 there was legitimate concern about how Asians were integrating into our country with ghettos forming, many not speaking English and of course crime gangs such as those in Cabramatta in Sydney’s West. The author despite her criticism does concede this was a problem and even concedes that fans of Pauline Hanson were capable of seeing that many Asians such as her family were good hardworking people. We are lucky in Australia that Asian immigration turned out to be a great success despite these initial problems.
Her most fatal mistake however is that she believes there is no difference between the concern expressed about Asian immigration in the 1990’s and the current concern over Islamic immigration. Both are completely different immigration experiences, Islamic immigration has brought with it; increased risk of terrorism to Australia; a disrespect for laws of this country with the spread of sharia law, which includes the subjugation of woman, gays and other religious groups; and increased burdens on our welfare bill, as many do not work as previous migrants famously did along with the new problems posed by Islamic polygamy to Australian society and the welfare system. These negative aspects of Islamic immigration are actually getting worse with time as most of the recent terrorist incidents in Australia have been done by second generation Muslim-Australians.
Peng concludes by saying the bigots, as she calls them are still after her. Given that she is a successful lawyer rising to the top of Australian society, this country has provided her with opportunities which would have been a distant dream in her parents’ homeland of Cambodia. She has described a few unpleasant incidents in her life but she has hardly proved that Australia is a land of rampant racism.
Australia is one of the best places in the world to live and offers people boundless opportunities to achieve their fullest potential, we should all be disgusted at attempts like this to smear Australia as some sort of racist backwater nation.