Sunday, December 18, 2005

Australian racism

Germaine Greer in The Guardian:

Australian racism derives from the same bottomless source as British racism - from universal ignorance and working-class frustration, reinforced by an unshakeable conviction of British superiority over all other nations on earth, especially the swarthy ones. If Australia had been colonised by any other nation but the British, it would be less racist.

Scott Burgess has already dealt with this article, but I have a couple of other things to say about it.

I remember at university the way the feminists used to say 'in this country' with a sneer that crossed state boundaries, and you used to accept it, not having been anywhere else. Then, when you did go somewhere else, you sort of noticed that maybe the feminists should have gone somewhere else before making the comparison. I remember, as well, that when I first arrived in Italy (in the late Eighties), people there would comment on the comparative lack of racism in their country compared to other places; Italians 'just weren't like that'. Then the proportion of immigrants rose, just a couple of percentage points, and suddenly, it was a very different story. When I last went back (2004), the expressions I heard used about Albanians and Magrebis made my hair curl.

I was an English teacher for too many years and in that time I got to know Arabs from various countries, Chinese, Japanese and many others. With most it was a matter of hints or an occasional remark, but the attitude of the Arabs to sub-Saharan African (and to the Pakistanis that provide so much of the manual labour in their countries) was like nothing I had ever heard, or wish to hear again.

Secondly, a small note about the new Lebanese community in Australia. Figures quoted by Keith Windschuttle in The Australian indicate that, universally, immigrants to Australia have always integrated within 2 generations.

...less than 10 per cent of second-generation marriages of people of European descent were to someone from their parents' country. Much the same was true of immigrants from south and east Asia. Only 6 per cent of Indians married within their ethnic group, as did only 18 per cent of Chinese.
This is certainly true of my own family, Lebanese who moved to Australia just before the First World War. The second generation, the first born in Australia, almost without exception married outside the 'ethnic' community. It is not true of the new intake.
No less than 74 per cent of Lebanese brides and 61 per cent of Lebanese grooms married within their own ethnic group.

What's more, the figure is increasing and has been doing so since the Nineties.

Germaine Greer sounds like an adolescent first year student who has just discovered that you can say anything if you claim to be speaking on behalf of the oppressed.

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