Thursday, 24 March 2016

"Multiculturalism and tolerance will....

protect us". This was the general message from Downunder's Prime Minister in a speech to the Lowy Institute last night.
Now please don't misunderstand me. Downunder is an interesting place because of the diverse range of people who live in it. Visit some areas of some cities and you can almost believe you are in another country so many people around you will speak another language. The food is different. Some people dress differently. They look different. They do things differently. 
It's fascinating.
We have Italian, French, Chinese, Indian, African and more "festivals". There are even events which supposedly "celebrate" all these things. 
Read a list of names anywhere and you will be going to pronounce some of them even if you can guess where they might come from. The Premier of one state has a name which is pronounced in no way like it is spelt. Never mind.
But will it protect us? No, of course it won't. Tolerance won't protect us either. Tolerance has to come from all sides and, as the Dutch - surely once one of the most tolerant nations on earth - have found, tolerance on one side does not guarantee tolerance on another.
I have a wonderfully diverse range of acquaintances. I won't call them friends because they aren't people I share social occasions with  so much as students. They are young enough to talk openly and freely about their attitudes and the attitudes of their families. Many of these apparently tolerant, "Westernised" students hold beliefs that differ from mine. There are big differences in the way they view such vital things as a woman's role in society. Many of them have been born here, brought up here, gone to school here - and they still hold those views. "Multiculturalism" encourages them to think differently, to hold on to the culture of their parents and grandparents. They may not know the languages their grandparents speak but they know the other traditions and celebrate them. It tends to isolate them. Good Muslim girls don't date. They don't go out alone or in a group if the opposite sex is involved. There are arranged marriages, female genital mutilation does occur, and much more besides. 
I don't know what the answer is but saying that multiculturalism and tolerance will protect us seems incredibly naive. It won't. It just divides us. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It divides us into tribes, and if the history of Australia before white man came is anything to go by, tribes do not get on well together much of the time.