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