Asia-Pacific

Australia

Move Over Pauline: Wars of Plunder Fan Racism

A government-sponsored anti-terrorism poster displayed at a bus stop in Sydney, Australia

A government-sponsored antiterrorism poster displayed at a bus stop in Sydney, Australia, in the aftermath of the London bombings. (Photo: Torsten Blackwood / AFP-Getty Images)

Move over Pauline Hanson, you’ve been replaced by an aggressive army of professional word-spinners who easily out-offend, out-vilify and out-incite you. They’ll do fine service selling the Howard government’s next war moves and attacks on our democratic rights.

In the wake of the London bombings, former National Party senator and treasury secretary John Stone made six demands in an article entitled “One nation, one culture” in the July 22 Australian:

“First, official multiculturalism policies must be abandoned outright. That does not mean we should cease receiving immigrants (albeit more selectively). It does mean all official multiculturalism’s appurtenances (for example: SBS, government grants to ethnically based councils) must be abolished.

“Second, we must sharply reduce, indeed virtually halt, Muslim immigrant inflow.

“Third, the precious gift of Australian citizenship must be harder to obtain …

“Fourth, citizenship should be conditional on reasonable fluency, appropriately tested, in English …

“Fifth, citizenship applicants should also have to pass a reasonable written test of citizenship’s meaning: parliamentary democracy, respect for others’ rights, the rule of law and a general understanding of the Australian values to which they swear commitment.

“Sixth, emphasis on English in our immigration policy should be enhanced. Today, English-language proficiency earns points towards an applicant’s overall score. It should be made an absolute requirement …”

This is not about racism but about the untrustworthiness of the Muslim community in Australia, Stone declared.

“All this has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with culture, and particularly with people whose culture is such that they are unlikely readily to integrate into society. For the world’s problem today, whence the London bombings derive, is that Islam has become a failed culture.

“We would be insanely complacent to assume that even those moderate Muslims now among us … will not, over time, produce from their ranks the equivalents of the London bombers … Meanwhile, we must accept that we are at war and start behaving accordingly before, as in London, it’s too late.”

Stone soon had a chorus. It included Piers Akerman (Sydney Daily Telegraph), Andrew Bolt (Melbourne Herald-Sun) and Gerard Henderson (Sydney Morning Herald). But a couple of other columnists, who claim to be small “l” liberals, also joined in the chorus: Terry Lane (Sunday Age) and Pamela Bone (Age).

Terry Lane, Sunday Age, July 17: “You can come here and enjoy the benefits of living in this society but you must acknowledge that the peace, prosperity and equality of opportunity here are not lucky accidents — they are products of our culture.”

Pamela Bone, Age, July 18: “I have long valued multiculturalism. But there is something wrong when second and third-generation Muslims can believe the society in which they grew up — indeed, into which they were born — is evil to the core and needs to be destroyed … Perhaps it is time to say, you are welcome, but this is the way it is here.”

Gerard Henderson, who swears support for multiculturalism, chimed in with a song of praise for “Anglo-Celtic societies” that support their leaders in times of war, accepting severe restrictions on their civil liberties.

Not just “Anglo-Celtic societies,” but any public systematically frightened into suspicion, fear and hatred of an enemy within, may put up with a more repressive state.

In George Orwell’s classic 1984, Big Brother compelled its citizens to participate in regular two-minute hate sessions. They had to stop whatever they were doing and watch a short film about Emmanuel Goldstein, “the Enemy of the People.”

The ‘‘hate film” painted Goldstein as a “primal traitor.” “All treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies.”

Sound familiar? The Bush-Blair-Howard mantra is that the London bombings had nothing to do with the occupation of Iraq; it is the result of an “evil Islamic ideology.”

Big Brother’s hate film played to deeply ingrained racist prejudices: from Goldstein’s caricatured Semitic features to shots of “endless columns of the Eurasian army”:

“Row after row of solid-looking men with expressionless Asiatic faces, who swam up to the surface of the screen and vanished, to be replaced by others exactly similar.”

So here’s the job for our we’re-not-racist-just-culturally-superior army of columnists: play to ingrained racial prejudices and hatreds. We’ve seen it all before in the 1990s’ Hanson-Howard “we’re not racist but …” duets.

It is impossible to champion “Anglo-Celtic” cultural superiority without fanning racism. All cultures today are in a complex process of change as the result of economic, social, environmental and technological changes, class conflicts and wars. Given accelerating global upheaval spanning more than a century, the “culture” that these columnists say is superior just happens to be the dominant one in some of the most successful plunderer nations.

This leads us back to Iraq: the latest nation to be occupied by the world’s top corporate plunderers. But there’s no connection, right?

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