Friday, September 01, 2006

John Howard - The Lagerfeld of Racism

So I guess most of you will think, "well, DUH" in response to this - but I'm coming to understand that racism is a bit like fashion: things go in and out of style.

And our PM is pretty good at either keeping up with, or even dictating, fashions.

In 1987, he was sporting a nice anti-Asian kimono.

In 1997 he was all about accessorising with the ill-fitting floral designs of one fish-and-chip entrepreneuse as she savaged as much indigenous attire as she could.

And for 2007, it appears burkas are going to be out, out, out, and homogenous beige in.

Why bother only identifying "a small section of the Islamic population, and I say a small section...which is very resistant to integration?" Firstly, it's a small section that is not reflective of the broader population, and secondly, as the PM's own advisory group member Iktimal Hage-Ali points out,

"there's a whole lot of other ethnic communities whose parents, whose grandparents don't speak the English language, and it's never a problem in the mainstream Australian community for them to go on living their everyday life without speaking the language.

Yet as soon as it's a person of Arab descent or a Muslim person ... politicians feel like they need to bring it to mainstream attention as the only group, like marginalising us even more then we already feel marginalised today."

I guess there always needs to be a racial whipping boy du jour - an obvious target on which to land all of society's ills. I feel I appreciate this a little, being a part of a sexual whipping boy subculture which even today can be comfortably villified with majority support or ambivalence, but I've certainly never been marginalised based on my race alone.

But who knows - perhaps I might be in the future? Who can predict fashion trends like this?

Lest this be misconstrued as a defence of deliquent Islamic men - after all, we know how much the Right love their Straw Islamo-Sympathising Left Man who "sooner believe(s) John Howard and George Bush are a bigger threat to world security than Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakar Bashir" (praise be to the Devine Miss M for that one) - let me make clear, as I have before, that I don't care for Muslim thugs any more than I do the Christian ones. Thugs are thugs, first and foremost.

At a stretch, I might even admit that I'm one of John's battlers who feels "uncomfortable" about the concealing dress of Muslim women. I don't like any system that uses religion as justification for female oppression.

But that's not really the issue here; I'm talking about why our PM somewhat spuriously chooses to identify only the "small" percentage of Islamic/Middle Eastern residents who allegedly refuse to integrate. I have 3rd-gen Italian, Chinese and Greek friends whose grandparents, who've lived here most of their lives, can still barely speak English. It doesn't strike me as a particularly distressing issue, but if it did, I'd identify the problem across the board of all non-Anglo cultures who've immigrated to Australia post-WW2, not just the Middle Easteners.

But of course, this isn't a spurious statement at all. Howard knows he can get away with this because anti-Islam is the current fashion. It's an easy, token diversion from the fresh range of scandals plaguing his administration.

Personally, however, I prefer not to take my fashion cues from this particular trend-setter.


At 1/9/06 4:08 pm, Blogger richardwatts said...

Here fucken here!

At 1/9/06 9:26 pm, Blogger Andrew said...

Howard made quite a valid point along the lines of not speaking English means it is harder to function within society. Not speaking English lasts only the first generation and it certainly applies to those from other countries. But I feel it shows our country disrespect and we as citizens of the country disrespect.

At 13/10/06 10:29 pm, Blogger Opinionated? Me?... Really!! said...

I enjoyed your comments. I think you articulated yourself very well and without the venon that, I'm afraid, I would have displayed.
I must admit, however, that I'm not a Howard lover so I particularly enjoy anti-Howard comments.
But you did better than that. You stated your case in an intelligent and dignified way and I agree with everything you said. Congratulations also, on a well presented blog/post. Very professional.

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