Saturday, December 17, 2005

Squatgate & Cronulla - Divide & Conquer Strategy

I find this article titled ‘It’s harder to be Australian’ by Paola Totaro and Robert Wainright of the Sydney Morning Herald extremely interesting. At the end of the posting I’ll tell you why!

Basically the article recounts the difficulties of non Anglo-Celtic or non-Caucasian migrants perceiving themselves as real Aussies. Most of them would unhesitatingly claim Australia as their homes, but when asked whether they feel Australian all the time, the answer seem to be in the negative.

Note my underlining – in other words, sometimes or maybe even most times they do feel Aussie, but the feeling seems to be not all of the time.

The finding of this social study was conducted by Dr Greg Noble, of the University of Western Sydney's Centre for Cultural Research.

Dr Noble said "It is the mix in the messages that emerges so strongly in this research. There is both a sense of Australia being home and yet that they are also made to feel not at home. That they feel Australian but are also strongly, profoundly attached to their cultural backgrounds.”

"At the same time, they feel that they are constantly made to feel as though they must choose, as if these two sentiments are in opposition when to them, they clearly are not. These are deeply paradoxical statements that are being made."

His academic colleague, Professor Mary Kalantzis at RMIT University in Melbourne identified the underlying cause, that it’s engendered by a deliberate political motive or strategy,which is aimed solely at winning the hearts and minds of that most valuable of voting blocs, the aspirational working class, but which unfortunately is also increasingly and intolerantly volatile.

She said "How do you win over the working class? It is consistently done with fear. From the first victory and Pauline Hanson to today … and this week in Cronulla, in the anxiety about industrial relations law and the fear that working people will drift back to Labor … the idea is to inflate fear to keep your core constituency.”

In other words, Professor Kalantzis agrees with ole KTemoc, that John Howard’s refusal to admit the Cronulla mob violence was racist has more to do with his fear of offending potential Anglo-Saxon working class voters, which he had lured away not only from Pauline Hanson but also from the Labour Party.

His fear of losing this vital voting bloc is further compunded by his recently introduced industrial laws which had angered the working class, so he wants to make himself and his party a very small public target by not condemning them for the Cronulla violence.

Professor Kalantzis continued: "That is why John Howard said the actions we saw on the beach were not racism. Bob Carr did it too … fear of ethnic crime, that became his political strategy. This issue is not about racism nor criminality. They are just inflammatory words. It is about how to win the votes of the disaffected Anglo-Saxon poor. And it is not that the older immigrant groups are immune … they, too, express great fear and suspicion often of non-white, non-Christian immigrant groups."

OK, the politicians or ‘pollies’ as Aussies termed them milk their constituencies if their fears of the ‘others’ , and then represent themselves as ethnic or, to be more euphemistic, ‘working class’ heros, or as they say in Australia, a man for the ‘battlers’. That's how John Howard and indeed some other pollies have been presenting themselves.

So don’t expect the ethnic divide to narrow in the near future. But to my earlier point – why I find this article intersting?

The above political manipulations should sound very very familiar to virtually every Malaysian. The local pollies in power are just like their Aussie counterparts, playing on their constituency’s fears of ‘others’ or in Malaysian derogatory parlance, the 'nons', meaning non-Malays.

The Malay parties would promote the ‘ketuanan Melayu’ or ‘Malay dominance’ ideology, supposedly to protect Malay rights and rightful position in Malaysian society from the rapacious grasps of the 'others'.

The Chinese and Indian based parties are just as bad, promoting themselves naturally as protectors of the ethnic minorities under seige.

In a tactical reversal of Howard’s approach in the Cronulla incident, the Malaysian pollies in power deliberately projected the recent Malaysian Abu Ghraib case, otherwise known as Squatgate, as an ethnic issue, which naturally aroused ethnic feelings – many pemutations of the real motive could be derived or speculated upon – subject of another Ktemoc posting soon.

But like those non-Caucasian migrants in Australia, the Malaysian 'nons' would unhesitatingly aver they are Malaysians and Malaysia is their homes, but if asked whether they feel Malaysians all the time, the answer would not be dissimilar to some Aussies.

As I have said for Australia, so I say for Malaysia - don’t expect the ethnic divide to narrow in the near future.

PM Howard Tiptoed Thro' The Tulips


  1. KTemoc

    You are drawing cross cultural comparison's while scratching sociologist types to get a class based answer.

    One could equally conclude that young blood Muslims in both counties can gang up and cower police - in order to intimidate communities for many years.

    Unlike Malaysia, were a reaction against Muslim oppression may border on treason (or get the parong treatment), we here in Australia are not yet in that sad position.

    Australia can DEAL with its Muslim young bloods.

    The problems that these Lebanese lads have created are well recognised by their victims.

  2. Mate, everytime I blogged on a thread you would argue about a completely different issue. The thrust of my posting was on the political element, where pollies see it profitable to milk the ethnic resentment.

    I wasn't talking about the existing problem of anti-social Lebanese or redneck whites, or even Malaysian Muslims, though they form the inevitable background to the core issue of my posting.

    I see similarities between Aussie and Malaysian pollies in this regard, to harvest votes, with a totally opposite approach in each respective case.

    The Aussie pollies would avoid agitating racism because that's the admirable value of Aussie society, but would remain unscrupulously silent when statesmanship pronouncements could have provided leadership examples.

    The Malaysian pollies deliberately agitate racism when it suits them, with total impunity if they are the from the ruling party.

    Both Aussie and Malaysian pollies obviously want to act the feraless leader to marshal parochial emotions into their camps, either for their individual needs or the party needs.

  3. Mate

    Yes I must admit that Howard, through inaction, has been able to politically exploit the inherent evil of young blood Lebanese in Sydney.

    He has allowed mistaken policies of allowing the wrong people into the country to "speak for themselves".

    This will justify the introduction of more restrictive immigration measures in the next few months.

    I'd hope the measures centre on higher entry fees on permanent residency.

  4. Quote:
    Yes, I must admit that Howard, through inaction, ...

    Tampa? Children Overboard? "We choose who comes here"? etc!

    Hardly inaction! ;-)

    ... the inherent evil of young blood Lebanese in Sydney.

    Whoa, especially on the adjective inherent - you worry the shit out of me with that perception!

  5. What's wrong with "We choose who comes here"?. That pretty well represents all countries immigration policies in practice.

    Is your worry that it was a statement from a white person?

    Does anyone criticise Japan's extremely restictive immigration policies. I'd argue that the only significant minority in Japan are those carry just some Korean blood. They are widely seen as inferior by Japanese.

    Over "inherent" it stays until the Lebanese community has proven that it can live peacefully with other Australians. So its a reforming value judgement rather than a racial prejudice.

  6. No, I am not worried about a country saying "We choose who comes here", because as you correctly put it, it's its right. But Howard's saying that within the context of when, why and how he uttered that statement has a grubby political motive to benefit himself (and the Coalition) rather than a national benefit.

    Remember, the thread of this posting is not about immigration policies but the political manipulation of ethnic perceptions for votes.

    Voicing an immigration motherhood process/criterion in that context I mentioned had been nothing more than a political stunt to outflank the Opposition, whether Pauline Hanson's One Nation or the Labour Party. Hence it proves my point that Howard was hardly inactive as you suggested.

    I won't go with your inherent ;-) bias because while I believe some, or if you like, many Lebanese youths have racist behaviour, that's hardly an inherent factor in a Lebanese.

    For example, one cannot attribute the heinous behaviour of the white supremacist Afrikaans as an inherent trait in all Dutch people or even the Afrikaans. Racism is a consequence of many environmental factors, one of which is political manipulation.

    Believe me, as a Malaysian, I know how pollies manipulate the Malays to hate ethnic Chinese. I have many Malay friends who are not susceptible to such bigoted brainwashing. And the Chinese are just as bad except they aren't controlling the political power - their racism is a function of - let's just name two - (1) a siege mentality and (2) the Middle Kingdom syndrome.