Part 1, Defining Culture
All of today’s Australians (even the Aboriginal people) are either migrants, or descended from people who migrated here from overseas. From the founding of the modern Australian state at Federation, until the early 1970’s, the basis of our immigration policy was more or less the same as that of the United States. This was articulated clearly in the following letter from Theodore Roosevelt to the American Defense Society:
'In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.'
This policy worked well because our earliest immigrants worked hard to become Australians. The great majority were from Europe and the UK, with cultures that differed little from ours. Cultural harmony is no problem with harmonious cultures. Children of immigrants were almost indistinguishable from their school mates. These immigrants turned Australia into one of the most prosperous and successful countries in the world.
Sometime between the early 1970’s and the early 1990’s however, every “Western” nation around the world (but excluding wealthy “non Western” countries such as Japan) decided to implement a previously unheard of doctrine known as multiculturalism. In Australia, this policy was introduced in 1973 by controversial Whitlam Minister and suspected Mafia collaborator Al Grassby. The public was never consulted about this policy, and the concept of “culture” was never defined.
If you have ever been to a “cultural” festival or celebration, you would most likely have found it full of exotic spicy foods, ethnic people doing lively, interesting dances and wearing unusual and brightly coloured clothing. When we hear the term “culture,” these days, this is what immediately springs to mind. If this were all that was meant by the term “culture,” then a multicultural human society might exist in peace and harmony. What is not to like about that?
The flaws in this policy come into stark relief however, when we understand the deeper meaning of the word “culture”. This meaning is far less visible and will never be on display at any “cultural” festival, but is in fact, far more important. Culture in its deepest sense, refers to the set of values which are used by a society to determine its ethics. It is those things which a society, as a whole, considers to be right or wrong.
An example: Hindu’s consider it to be very wrong to kill a cow, whereas most Westerners are happy to enjoy a nice rump steak. For this reason, India may have laws outlawing the killing of cows, whilst we have no such law.
This has nothing to do with ethnicity or race. If you or I had grown up in a Hindu family in India then we would probably also consider killing a cow to be morally wrong. This is the basis of any culture, a set of shared beliefs in what constitutes right and wrong which are shared by one group but not another. These values are passed on from one generation to the next by parents, religious institutions, media, schools, peers and other institutions.
Each of the different cultures has its own concept of right and wrong. There is no universal definition of what is right and what is wrong. We in the West tend to rather arrogantly assume that the principles of the Ten Commandments not to kill, steal, cheat, lie etc. exist in every culture but this is demonstrably not true. In the past (and probably even today in remote areas) there have been warrior societies where killing was considered a rite of passage for all males. The Vikings were somewhat famous for glorifying rape, pillage and plunder and there are numerous examples of cultures which considered particular Western (Judeo/Christian based) “sins” to be virtues.
Going back to our original example, we cannot say that all Westerners will agree to killing cows for food, or that no Hindus will ever have a sneaky t-bone steak. However most Hindus would consider eating beef is “wrong” and to most Westerners it is "OK".
The doctrine of “multiculturalism” as opposed to “multi ethnicity,” dictates that groups of people with different cultures will live in one society and retain their culture, rather than trying to assimilate into the culture of the host nation. The first problem with this lies in the fact that the laws which a society makes, and agrees to be governed by, are simply an extension of the culture of that society.
So what happens when two very different cultures live under a single set of laws? How can you keep the Hindus happy if you allow the killing of cows and yet how can you ban it without upsetting westerners who want to eat beef?
What are the options in this situation?
- Override the Hindus and keep the Westerners happy.
- Override the Westerners and keep the Hindus happy.
- Persuade the Hindus to accept the culture of their new place of residence.
- Make two or more sets of laws for people depending on their particular culture.
- Separate the two groups and put a border between them with separate rules for each.
Now the first two options are really only one, the majority tends to override the minority in a democracy. Of course whilst there is a huge majority of one particular culture the smaller one has to fit in with, or assimilate into, the host culture. In other words, the culture of the group with the most political power will be enforced and members of the minor culture just have to grin and bear it (unless their numbers grow to a point where they can wield enough political power to change things).
Option three is the doctrine of assimilation which used to hold sway in most Western countries and still does in the rest of the world. The reasoning behind it is that if someone wishes to be a part of your society, then they should be willing to make an effort to adopt the culture which has shaped that society. If they do not wish to do so then why did they come in the first place? This was
Theodore Roosevelt’s option.
Theodore Roosevelt’s option.
The doctrine of “multiculturalism” however views this as wrong. It insists that migrants into a nation should not be compelled to abandon their original culture, but should instead be encouraged to retain it (and the costs of doing so should be borne by citizens of the host country). Sometimes however, the cultural differences are much worse than just "sacred cows". Sometimes, the differences lie in paedophilia, female genital mutilation, the killing of homosexuals, child marriage, and grotesque punishments.
The inevitable consequence of this approach is that the law of the land will need to be altered in some way, to accommodate the culture of the new migrants. This could either be a whole new set of laws, or a series of exemptions based upon the cultural preferences of different citizens.
A RECENT EXAMPLE FROM GEELONG VICTORIA
Registered sex offender, Ali Jaffari, an Afgani immigrant, accused of attempted child-stealing (his third serious offence), has had all charges against him dropped after a Magistrate told prosecutors he would have trouble finding Jaffari guilty. Magistrate Ron Saines said if he was hearing the matter, he would have reasonable doubt, citing ‘cultural differences’ as one factor, which would result in the charges being dismissed. Ali roamed free to offend again (he said "is OK in my country") until he was later caught with violent child porn on his computer, and was eventually deported.
This second option is being used for Muslims in the UK, who now have Sharia courts all around that country. The problem with this solution is that it violates two very important principles, which are the bedrocks of Western society, namely the rule of law, i.e. one law for all, and the principle of equality which underpins it.
Before the doctrine of Multiculturalism came along, Western Governments were compelled to treat each of their citizens equally. Nowadays, the way judges apply the law, depends to a varying extent on such things as what colour skin you have, where you were born, even what culture or ethnicity you would like to belong to.
It is difficult enough to persuade people to follow the law at the best of times, but without the rule of law, how can a society gain respect for its legal system? When people look around and see others being allowed to break laws by which they are bound, they will naturally lose respect for the whole legal process and society degenerates into a kind of tribal free for all.
This seems to be the way that Europe is heading, with areas in the UK, France and Germany being declared as being under Islamic (Sharia) Law. Sadly, parts of Western Sydney now seem to be on the same path. Many of the original inhabitants are now unwelcome in their own suburb, and choose, or are forced to leave. Their suburb is no longer "part of Australia". In effect, we are defaulting to option four, reverting to separate mini nations with their own borders and laws. All we will have achieved by doing this will be the fracturing of what were once powerful, prosperous and peaceful societies. Surely this outcome was predictable when the multicultural experiment began.
The call for "cultural harmony" is like mixing oil and water. Shake the mix until you are blue in the face and it just separates right out again. Just a few minutes studying European history would suggest that cultural harmony is an impossible fantasy for any community with incompatible cultures. That does not mean that we should not welcome people who will assimilate, and reject former beliefs and practices, especially those which deny basic human rights, equality, the rule of law and democracy. If they can do this, it should be a much easier step to be another great Aussie.The saddest aspect of all this, is that the leaders of our communities, whose very job it is to debate policies such as these, have all been intimidated into silence by the threat of being branded as "racists" and "bigots". In order for this to have happened, an even more important principle had to be breached, namely the principle of freedom of speech, which I will be examining in more detail in Part 2 of this article.
Part 2, Ant Caps and Other Principles
Traditional Australian homes are built almost entirely of wood and consequently need to be protected against termites (white ants). The usual way is to build the house high up on posts and to put a thin steel ant cap on top of the post. Since white ants cannot live in the light and cannot bore through steel, this keeps them out of the house.
Now it is not uncommon for home handymen to build a wall around the underside of the house, in order to create an extra room underneath. Unfortunately, many of them don’t understand the danger posed by termites.
Once the walls have been built, termites are able to bore straight up inside the wall and into the house where they eat it from the inside out. For a long time this goes completely unnoticed and people enjoy the handy new living space they have created.
Eventually of course little cracks and creaks and groans begin to appear. If these are ignored for long enough the home owner realizes his mistake when he falls through the floor boards, by which time the house is probably only fit for demolition.
The principles of a society are like the ant caps in a wooden house. They were put in place when the society was built and then sat there, largely forgotten, quietly getting on with the job of protecting the society.
Then one day, some bright spark with no understanding of their function decides that they are just an inconvenient impediment to progress and improvement. Next thing you know, your principles have been compromised and your society is being eaten from within by every type of corruption you can imagine.
In part one of this article, I wrote about how we had breached the principles of equality and the rule of law in order to accommodate the new doctrine of multiculturalism but before this was even possible, a far more important principle had to be violated, the principle of free speech.
Before I get into how this happened, I’d like to explain the importance of free speech because, shockingly, this is not something that is taught in schools and seems to me to be ridiculously underappreciated.
When the founding fathers sat down to write the constitution of the newly formed United States, foremost in their minds was the protection of religious and other minorities. These were people who had fled persecution in Europe of the worst possible kind.
This was not the persecution which minorities today complain of, such as not getting government assistance to build their places of worship, or having to submit to body searches at airports like everyone else. This persecution was more like being tied to a stake whilst an angry mob lit a bonfire underneath you and then danced on the ashes once you were burned to a crisp.
With this in mind, you might have expected the founders to have banned criticism of religious minorities but instead they did the opposite. The very first amendment of the US constitution demands the right for any and all citizens to say pretty much whatever they dam well please.
Of course there are a few important exceptions to this. It is illegal to incite people to violence or to damage someone’s reputation with a lie. Yelling fire in a crowded theater is another often sited example, but other than this, free speech is totally protected.
The reason the founding fathers chose to do this (and all Western nations more or less followed) was that they understood that the right to defend one’s self through reasoned argument, is the greatest protection anyone can have.
When a person or group loses this right, they become powerless and are at the mercy of others. What would happen to you if you went to court, accused of a crime but not having a defense lawyer or being allowed to say anything in your defense? If the prosecution tells lies or half truths about you then you will have no way to defend yourself. These are the situations which people without freedom of speech can, and often do, find themselves in.
In this situation, the only option is to try to live without offending those in power, which amounts to a form of semi-slavery. Free speech is the greatest protection anyone can have against this, and any other form of tyranny, it is also the basis of all other freedoms.
When dictators wrest power the first thing they do is to ban the right of people to criticize them. This is why any attempt at removing free speech should be treated as an attack on the freedom of the entire society.
It is important to understand that free speech is not the right to tell people what they want to hear, it is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. No one in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was ever imprisoned for saying what a great guy Saddam was, despite the fact that free speech was not a right for Iraqis.
In fact, there were lots of things which Iraqis were allowed to talk about in Saddam’s Iraq. They were allowed to talk about the weather or what a bad job the mechanic had done on their car etc. In fact, when you think about it, they were able to say almost as much as a person in a “free” country could.
This is the point about free speech, it is not the ability to say “most” things, it is the ability to say absolutely anything (outside of the exceptions noted above) without fear of retribution. If you give up that right and hand the power to limit free speech in any way to your ruling class, then you have removed any obstacle to their quest for absolute power and the question becomes not “if” but “when” they will use it.
Sooner or later the temptation to use their power to criminalize criticism of themselves will be too great and society begins a slide towards dictatorship and totalitarianism. Free speech is therefore an all or nothing concept. You either have it all, or you don’t. Saying you have a limited amount of free speech is like saying you have a limited amount of virginity.
The “problem” with free speech, is that people will invariably say things which you don’t like. Some people will say that the holocaust never happened or that heroin and slavery should be legalized, some will say that Germans are rude, French people are arrogant and black people are all lazy. Unfortunately, if you want to have free speech, this is what comes with it.
If you don’t like an idea however, then you have the right to stand up and give good reasons why these ideas stink. If these ideas are lousy, then it should be easy to rubbish them. If you can’t, then maybe the idea isn’t as bad as you first thought.
Remember, once in a while, someone will come along with an idea that seems awful, like for instance, “hey, maybe the world isn’t flat” or “maybe it’s the earth that goes around the sun and not the other way around,” which, on examination turns out to be not such a bad idea after all.
This is not however the main reason for protecting free speech, important as it is. The main reason is, and will always be, the protection of the ordinary people in a society, like an ant cap, remove it at your peril.
Votaire realized the importance of this when he declared, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” Whatever the opinion, no matter how much you want to stop people from denying the holocaust or advocating rights for child molesters, you cannot do this without destroying freedom of speech.
Like ant caps, the protection is all or nothing. Once a single ant cap is breached, termites can get in and you might as well remove all of the rest of the caps for what good they will do you.
Likewise, once you make a single free speech exception, the foundation of freedom in your society has been breached and you can expect to see a gradual erosion of your freedom over time. It is like making a single small hole in the ant caps of your house and expecting that you will be 99% protected against termites.
When you hear people clamoring for the removal of free speech for a particular cause, these people are probably being unwittingly manipulated by individuals or groups, whose aim is not to protect you from child molesters or holocaust deniers, but to remove the protection which your parents and grandparents fought so hard to wrap around you and your children. When a group tries to remove your right to criticize them, you need to be very afraid.
In his famous “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968, British MP Enoch Powell made the following observation:
“In the hundreds upon hundreds of letters I received when I last spoke on this subject two or three months ago, there was one striking feature which was largely new and which I find ominous. All Members of Parliament are used to the typical anonymous correspondent: but what surprised and alarmed me was the high proportion of ordinary, decent, sensible people, writing a rational and often well educated letter, who believed that they had to omit their address because it was dangerous to have committed themselves to paper to a member of Parliament agreeing with the views [to restrict immigration] I had expressed, and that they would risk either penalties or reprisals if they were known to have done so. The sense of being a persecuted minority which is growing among ordinary English people in the areas of the country which are affected [as his area had been] is something that those without direct experience can hardly imagine.
He was of course immediately accused on TV of inciting “a violent and irrational response in the streets.” This despite the fact that, as he pointed out to his accuser, there had been no violence to anyone’s knowledge (there were in fact, widespread peaceful demonstrations and strikes around the country in support of his position. Why this response was irrational, was never rationally explained).
This has been the position of multiculturalists ever since. Western nations are always assumed to be like the Alabama of the 1930’s with White folks just itching to burn crosses on the lawns of helpless migrants after any careless remark should fall, like a spark on a tinder box.
There has never been any evidence cited for this assumption. To my knowledge, there has never been any indication that violence against migrants has been any worse than violence by migrants against those already living here or violence within migrant or non migrant communities themselves.
I can’t think of, or even imagine, any government policy which could be implemented with such successful silencing and vilification of its critics. Imagine the uproar if John Howard had sought to prevent anyone from arguing against the introduction of the GST or the retention of the Monarchy.
It has always been an unspoken but accepted dogma however, that in order to create a vibrant multiracial and multicultural society in Australia, freedom of speech would have to be restricted (read, abandoned).
No one ever asked the Australian people whether this was a sacrifice they were prepared to make. I for one, think it is about time that someone did.