Multiculturalism has proven divisive, not coalescent, so let’s ditch it

Like bad 1970s fashion, multiculturalism needs to be binned. 

Sometimes the obvious questions don’t get asked. Maybe it’s the stubborn power of orthodoxy that puts a spanner in the spokes of our otherwise critical and curious senses. Whatever the reason, it’s time to ask this: why do we still have a minister, let alone an assistant minister for multicultural ­affairs?

Hasn’t this cultural fad overstayed it usefulness? Just as questions are asked about whether taxpayers should keep funding multicultural broadcaster SBS, given its raison d’etre has waned, isn’t it time we asked why we still need government ministers ministering the multicultural word to the people?

There is a sense of urgency around this question after last week’s inauspicious start by Craig Laundy, the new Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

Laundy sounded like the very model of the modern multiculturalist — modern in the sense of 1970s modern.

Last week the Liberal MP from western Sydney adopted the condescending voice of those 70s multiculturalists, speaking down to us, telling us that he knows better than us. And just like 70s multiculturalism, he caused division rather than cohesion.

Laundy’s sentiments might please the large voting bloc of Muslims in his electorate but the rest of us were riled by his haughtiness when he said that when people “dive into this debate” (about Islam) and “say controversial things, I would argue the vast ­majority are speaking from a position that is not well-informed”.

That’s multi-culti speak for saying shut up, you’re too stupid to understand Islam or question Islam’s ability to find an accommodation with fundamental Western values such as the separation of church and state, free speech, gender equality and so on.

Alas, people aren’t stupid. We see that countries ruled by the ­Islamic faith have cultures diametrically opposed to Enlightenment values. We can see enclaves of Muslim migrants in Western countries have kept practices at odds with those values. We are entitled to ask questions about the level of gender inequality among Muslims. We are entitled to ask why some young Muslim men chose Islamic State over Australia; why genital mutilation and child marriages happen in countries such as Britain and Australia.

If Laundy finds our questions “controversial” then, sadly, he has caught that debilitating multicultural virus. Like a virus that takes hold of host cells in the human body, multiculturalism’s self-loathing virus started invading Western societies more than 40 years ago. Like a form of cultural cancer, it has weakened our ability to defend our most fundamental values and, worse, it has meant the only culture open to critique and question is our own.

To be fair, Laundy is not alone among Liberal MPs who inadvertently expose why multiculturalism must be discarded.

Last week on the ABC’s Q&A when Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was asked whether he believed in free speech, he said: “I’m attracted to the principle.” Really? That’s it? I might be ­attracted to a dress in a shop but I’m not committed to it. Surely a Liberal MP, a minister, can do better at defending a core Western freedom. You’re not going to convince anyone about the virtues of free speech by saying you kind of like it, with the same commitment as you might say you like cornflakes in the morning

The multicultural virus has impaired even self-professed cultural warriors. As prime minister, Tony Abbott decided that defending free speech by reforming section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was too hard once a few ­migrant groups kicked up a fuss.

Sure, the Senate was unhelpful, but rather than make a humiliating retreat, a warrior of Western culture should fight on to defend the marketplace of ideas, rather than kowtow to the marketplace of outrage that has been fuelled by multiculturalism.

And why wouldn’t Laundy champion all the usual multi-culti guff given the tone set by the more senior Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, another so-called Liberal Party cultural warrior, didn’t raise an eyebrow, let alone utter a word, when Abbott dropped his promise on free speech. We expect this cultural cowardice from Labor and the broader Left, but when voters can’t look to the Liberal Party to defend our basic values the cultural landscape is indeed bleak.

Remember that multiculturalism was never a policy with broad support. Research by sociologist Katharine Betts reveals multiculturalism wasn’t even a story of ethnic agitators: it was largely trumpeted by a group of Anglo-Australian activists so small that “most of them could and did meet in one room”. Twenty years after Malcolm Fraser included multiculturalism in the Coalition platform, a poll by the Council of Multicultural Affairs found the rank-and-file supporter of multiculturalism was not the ­migrant but the well-educated Anglo-Australian living far way from migrant enclaves.

In the 70s, multiculturalism was sold to the people as the tolerant, moral alternative to earlier evil policies of assimilation and integration. But assimilation and integration were not intolerant ideas. On the contrary, these policies invited migrants to Australia with the promise they, too, could become Australians and enjoy the values that made Australia the country of first choice for millions.

When migrants arrived in postwar Australia, there was a sense of obligation to the new country. The transformation of thousands of poor, displaced migrants into comfortable middle-class Australians in a matter of a few generations is one of the great success stories of integration. The traditional three-way contract was simple: majority tolerance, minority loyalty and government vigilance in both ­directions.

Becoming a citizen meant ­accepting responsibilities in return for clearly understood rights and privileges. A migrant renounced “all other allegiances” to swear loyalty to Australia.

More than 40 years later, asking for minority loyalty is regarded as a sign of intolerance. Against a backdrop of entrenched multiculturalism and a human rights frenzy pushing the right to be “separate but equal”, it’s now a case of the host nation owing the migrant.

The great multicultural con is that its proponents deliberately refused to define the term. They opted for feel-good ambiguity. So it meandered along meaning different things to different people. To some, it meant no more than promoting a culturally diverse ­society loyal to core institutions and core values. Meanwhile, a more virulent form took root, emphasising ethnic rights to be separate but equal, promoting cultural and moral relativism and identity politics where immigrants were no longer Australians, or even “new” Australians.

Multiculturalism endorsed what Theodore Roosevelt called a hyphenated loyalty to country. SBS uses the phrase Muslim-Australians, not the other way around. That hyphenated loyalty has under­mined an obligation on ­migrants to embrace a common set of values.

Worse, multiculturalism demanded that we tolerate the intolerant. To be sure, tolerance is a worthy goal. But it’s meaningful only when tempered with moral judgments about what is right and what is wrong. That is a debate we must all be able to be part of.

  • Alain

    Such a surprise that multiculturalism is divisive. In truth it should have been clear from the start, since even putting aside what it has become, it could only result in the balkanisation of any country. Canada of all countries should have know better with all the problems, expense and friction caused by two cultures: English and French. Two solitudes were clearly not enough for Trudeau Sr., so he bypassed the will of the people and the BNAA to bring us an increasing number of “solitudes”. Only assimilation/melting pot can create a sense of national unity.

    • Even Trudeau was dismayed with what Multiculturalism had become.

      The Liberal Party recognized as an ideal tool for vote whoring, a divide and conquer strategy.

      • Gary

        True, but Justin’s Hidden-Agenda has now been exposed where he didn’t tell Canadians during the Election campaign that he was going to drive of the $630 billion another $100,000,000,000.00 in his first term . Also he had a plot to bring into Canada a total of 200,000 pro-sharia ,devout, jew-hating ,homophobic muslim refugees which is now pay-back for the votes from the current 1,000,000 muslims.

        When a Liberal says they are against something or for something you can be assured that they are actually on the other side of the issue which comes out AFTER the win an Election.

        Mayor John Tory seems to feel he should boast about how Toronto offers Services in over 100 languages as if these perq’s for Minorities are free and don’t add top the deficit and $4 billion debt. Prior to Welfare ….. the rates for unwed Mothers was about 4% but now with our Welfare Industrial Complex and FREE Health Care plus Education it’s just over 20% and climbing .
        The biggest failure for refugees and a minority group has been the Somali Muslims from the 1990’s where the Welfare Alley on Dixon rd near Kipling has many of those muslims STILL on Welfare that gamed the system where women pump out more muslims for allah’s caliphate .
        Last year there was a 9-1-1 call where the 2 Officers that showed up were pretty well useless for the Canadian victim since both Cops barely spoke English and didn’t know what she was saying.
        Sadly , Barbara Hall won’t be shaken out of the mental Fog of stupidity until her grandchild of Parents life depends on an EMS , Cop or Fire Fighter but because of Diversity Quotas they are either sub-par for performance or were pushed through an ESL Class with a fake Diploma to be useless outside their self-segregated community with poor English skills .

        People are sick of hearing the stories about the 68 year old Aunt brought into Canada with no English skills that loves their relatives children and looks after them for FREE to save money for the taxpayers.

    • BradThomas

      It’s obvious that tensions and even violence arises from having a country, province or city made up of distinct, mini-societies, but I wonder if anyone has considered the effect on the efficiency of the workforce. People who don’t feel that they share a strong, national/cultural bond are unlikely to work well together – or perhaps at all. Even in something like a team sport, how well will players cooperate with each other when they feel their first loyalty is to their original culture, and not to Canada? Could multiculturalism be having subtle negative effects in this regard on our societies?

      • Low trust societies are the direct result of multiculturalism as is the breakdown of the rule of law.

        • BillyHW

          I have been made a foreigner in my own country.

      • jim marriot

        Workforce? Here in Vancouver if you are white you are lucky if you can even find a job – no matter what your qualifications or experience. If you don’t speak fluent mandarin, cantonese or punjabi – you’re out of luck buddy. Multiculturalism has destroyed Vancouver. It is no longer Canadian in any real sense.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      He brought in the multi culturalism to hide his bilingualism agenda.

    • Jim Fox

      The M-C word is much like the ‘islamophobia’ word. Misused & abused;
      French- English cultures have co-habited reasonably well [i.e. without resource to suicide bombers/AK47’s and car bombs]. There is ONLY ONE “religion” that demands death & destruction- and I need not name it…

      • jim marriot

        Let’s face it: Multiculturalism in the west has worked just fine as long as we were of European heritage. Similar cultural values, judeo-christian backgrounds etc. Third World multiculturalism has been a complete and utter failure.

        • Jim Fox

          Well, other nationalities integrated fairly well, with some degrees of protest/violence. West Indians, Indians, Pakistanis, Buddhists, etc.- prior to the latest jihad funded by the Saudis, Qatar, Iran, etc.

  • Multiculturalism is great. The problem is Official multiculturalism — Government imposed, where the gov decides how cultures should relate with one another, and the gov defines what culture should mean to you. It means that culture is defined through the lens of Marxism, or whatever Progressive new experiment is being foisted on the citizenry.

    I remember a discussion in U. with a prof who said that Native people should have the right to decide what kinds of industries should be on their land, and hence anything not environmentally friendly should not be allowed. So I asked him, “what if Natives decide that they want a nuclear power plant on their land?” He was dumbfounded — caught between a rock and a hard place, because he was only interested in Natives making their own decisions if those decisions were in line with his Progressive ideas.

    • Jim Fox

      Peter Medawar–

      How have people come to be taken in by The Phenomenon of Man? We must not underestimate the size of the market for works of this kind, for philosophy-fiction. Just as compulsory primary education created a market catered for by cheap dailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly tertiary education has created a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.

      Your ‘professor’ falls into this [now very common] group of plonkers.

  • robins111

    Multiculturalism and Lawn Darts were both inventions of the 60’s and 70’s and should be tossed (pun intended) for the same reasons.. they’ll effing kill you..

    • Jim Fox

      Links to peer-reviewed survey[s] of deaths from Lawn Darts, please??

  • Jim Fox

    IMMEDIATELY, OFF-TOPIC!! An australian perspective suddenly transmutes to CANADA. WTF??

    • jim marriot

      Those datardly Canucks! Yeah, we have the identical problems you guys have. Hell, we even have a “Liberal” goverment that is killing us as well…

      • Jim Fox

        You’re right- the similarities are many; difference is, Australia DOES NOT tolerate illegal immigrants [or ‘refugees’, ‘asylum seekers’, whatever leftist weasel words they use].
        It admits about 14,000 a year under the legal humanitarian scheme, which is too many.