To set the scene, I am a proud white Aussie male of mixed heritage. There is Italian and English blood coursing through these veins. I now have a loving Filipino partner who comes from the island of Mindanao
which is racked with trouble between muslim and christian. This post is about race, religion, culture and creed as well as multiculturalism and discrimination.
Growing up I probably
only met one or two Aboriginals but I met a lot of Vietnamese through early secondary school. In fact, the cardiologist who dealt with my mum turned out to be one of my classmates in high school, a Vietnamese guy who I remember as a 'bookworm' who spent his
time in the library when others were out messing around. I was educated in both the state run as well as the private catholic school system. I love the fact that we have various cultures in this country bringing the food and introducing issues white
australia would never have heard of otherwise. We have not had a terrorist attack on our soil but we have seen Aussie lives lost in other places.
The recent arrival of Geert Wilders on the shores of this big beautiful island called Australia should not be cause for concern. He is a Dutch politician who is calling for the end of muslim immigration into Holland. I know we have seen the violent reaction or
overreaction towards the Danish comic strip writer who mocked the prophet and the writer Salman Rushdie and his book 'Satanic Verses'. France trying to ban the burqa in public places
and the overreaction to the video about the life of the prophet. Who can forget the protests and the picture of a child holding a placard “behead those who insult the prophet.” Do we have to live in fear ?
And of course who could forget 9/11, the bombings of trains in Madrid and London and the bombings in Bali from which a number of Aussies died. Attacks that were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists, men mostly some of whom
were wealthy and well-educated. Where is the concern and protest regarding outspoken fundamentalist muslim clerics? Who would dare to protest their speeches, yet we seem to mock those who question and speak out about these issues. We treat Geert Wilders much
like Pauline Hanson. Freedom of speech, what a joke!
Andrew O'Keefe from the Sunrise program interviewed Geert Wilders but instead of letting the man speak, he cut him off and interrupted and acted mockingly
towards this man. I like Andrew O'Keefe on Deal or No Deal and as a front man for Sunrise Weekend but as an interviewer he showed the Aussie ignorance to the real issues. Very disappointed with the interview Andrew, we wanted to hear the man speak, right or
wrong, not you talking over the top of him and those mocking tones. I wonder if Andrew would interview the muslim clerics in the same manner?? Is he scared??
I understand where Mr
Wilders is coming from but would like to pick him up on one issue. There are indeed modern cases of orthodox Jews beating and punishing women for wearing trousers. Perhaps not going as far as stoning them to death. Fundamentalist Muslims like the Taliban are
not the only ones to punish women for nothing more than seemingly being women. I hope he is not saying that orthodox Jews be deported out of Holland, now that would really sound like Nazi speak.
He did remind me that Australia felt much freer before 9/11 and the Bali tragedies. These attacks were mostly conducted and/or organised by well-educated and wealthy followers of the Islamic faith. Imagine what the ignorant and uneducated would do? We
are caught between fairness, anti-discrimination, political correctness and multiculturalism on one hand and blind faith and fundamentalism on the other. Nobody wants to be branded a 'racist' and so we will tolerate the truly intolerant and instead try to
mock those who maybe raising the issues. It is the 'other' that i really want to talk about...
Many years ago, i travelled by bus to Darwin and while staying there I applied
for a job. The job was an Accounts Assistant in an Aboriginal community. I was interviewed by a recruitment agent and then told that although i had the requirements I was not going to be put forward because “Aboriginal elders would not listen to a younger
person”. I was told that theirs is a culture of elder respect and so I walked away and continued my travels throughout Australia by bus and train. It was sad to me not simply because i was looking for a job but I saw it as an opportunity
A number of years later I studied 'Indigenous Studies' at university as part of my bachelor degree. We were taught by an indigenous woman who was very anti white middle
class culture. At the beginning of this course everything we wrote was wrong, we soon learned to see things from the others perspective. When we wrote from this point of view we began getting better marks and subsequently passed the course. This course was
part of my criminological degree and so was an interesting cross-disciplinary given the over-representation of aboriginals in our correctional institutions. It was at a time of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
These subjects were very much about 'the other'. A concept I had never
really thought about before. I enjoy learning new things and talking to people from diverse places. Always thinking that I want to treat people as i find them, theory being be nice to people that are nice to you. Since then I have travelled to
a number of countries in south east Asia, western Europe, USA and the UK. More recently I entered a commerce degree where i met a lot of students from all different parts of the world. Some were muslim, hindu, christian from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
I got along with most as I was in the minority of native english speakers.
During the commerce studies, we had a tutor who seemed to enjoy
taking it out on some of the foreign students, particularly the Indian and Chinese. Not to blow my own trumpet but i felt i stood up for them as i didn't like his attitude. He may have had a lot of experience in his field but this didn't make him a good
communicator. I have never had much trouble with any 'other', the most problem i have had has been with those seemingly of my own ilk i.e other white guys! During my school days, i was a victim of bullying and this was at the hands of other white kids.
Doing part of my final years of schooling through correspondence because of it. Again, my experience is simply that... my experience.
Of course, racism exists in most societies in
the world, none more so than in a homogenous society. Australia is not immune, as highlighted by 'Dumb, drunk and racist' by Joe Hildebrand. An example of this is when I went to Japan
to travel around and teach english. I was told that the school would only hire caucasian native english speakers as Japanese would not respect/listen to darker people. In Asian culture, to be dark is considered to be poor and indicative of working
the land. I saw this all around south east Asia i.e Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. We saw girls wearing long gloves and face masks and big hats while riding their scooters around. This was done, we were told, in order to keep their skin as white
as possible. White is considered to be a sign of beauty in asian culture, yet in aussie culture bronzed is the ideal although this is changing because of skin cancer concerns.
As talked about in a previous post 'More fun in the Philippines..' my partners cousin who she thought of as an older brother was violently killed by a muslim gang so, of course, our impression of the followers of Islam is not positive. Even though this
seems to have been a case of mistaken identity, she knows of many examples of this 'eye for an eye' thinking of militant muslims. I'm sorry to say but I have no problem with head scarves, i see them as sensible in this sun worshipping nation but the
full burqa should be banned in public places. Seeing faces are a big part of this culture and the burqa seems like wearing a mask.
This is what 'multicultural' means to me...