Editor’s note: The tenth anniversary of the Cronulla riot has come and gone, the only casualty being a pig roasted at a commemorative barbecue-cum-protest organised by the flag-draped ratbags of the anti-Islam Party of Freedom, whose original plan to mark the anniversary was foiled by court rulings sought by NSW Police. Worth noting is that no injunctions were ever sought against the Jew haters who have harassed and attempted to ruin the Max Brenner chain’s business. No surprise there, sadly. Any police officer worth his or her salt, not to mention career prospects, knows when and which groups need to be allowed a little slack. Motorists booked for driving a whisker over the speed limit should be so lucky.
Much the same could be said for members of the media, who grasp what to report and how to report to it. Thus do we see, to cite but one example, Channel 9’s delicate omission from its report of the latest Cronulla tensions.
“What happened next sparked days of mob violence that shamed the nation.”
If you couldn’t guess, that is understandable. The yobbos who incited what was, by riot standards a noisy and ugly but rather mild affair, aren’t the sorts your average newsroom habitue knows, likes or understands. They certainly never met anyone like that at university!
Make mention in your report of the rolling caravans of Lebanese thugs who poured in armed convoys out of Sydney’s west to attack random strangers and burn Australian flags and who knows what might happen? Having some ethnic group or other file a complaint with your editor might be the least of it. Why not play it safe and leave readers with the impression that the subsequent violence, far more shocking than the beach melee which prompted it, was also the work of ocker extremists, racists and “right wingers”. If the day ever comes when a job with the ABC is in the offing, the stain of having once being accused of Islamophobia would not enhance employment prospects.
Ten years ago, Quadrant’s Keith Windschuttle was a lonely voice in identifying the real catalyst for the Cronulla ugliness and what followed. Racism and intolerance? No, none of that. As he explains below in a column published at the time in The Australian, it was the creed of multiculturalism.
Please read on….
— roger franklin
The tensions that exploded this week were defined into existence by multiculturalist policies and ideas. It wasn’t the youths at Cronulla beach who decided that all Lebanese constitute an ethnic group. That was done for them by politicians, bureaucrats and academics in the name of constructing ethnic communities. Those youths certainly can be blamed for trying to beat up a few outnumbered innocents but not for responding to people as ethnics in the first place.
In earlier periods, Lebanese immigrants were not defined as an ethnic group. Lebanon is one of the oldest sources of Australian migration. People have been coming from that country since the 1880s. They were never defined as aliens under the old White Australia Policy and their numbers gradually grew, from 601 in 1891 to 2670 in 1933.
Until 1975, almost all were Maronites or Christian Lebanese. They prospered here, married into the local community and, within two generations, became largely indistinguishable from the Australian mainstream. One of their offspring, Nick Shehadie, a former lord mayor of Sydney and the husband of NSW Governor Marie Bashir, captained the Wallabies in three of 30 Tests for his country. How Australian can you get?
After 1975, the onset of civil war brought Lebanese Muslims here on grounds of humanitarian resettlement. At the same time, the policy of multiculturalism was initiated by the Whitlam government and entrenched under Malcolm Fraser. Multiculturalism began and, until recently, was regarded by most Australians as a civilised concept to ease immigrants into their new environment.
But it became corrupted by partisan politics. As former Labor government minister Barry Jones has admitted, immigration became “a tremendously important element” in building up a long-term, non-English-speaking political constituency for his party. In the 1980s, immigration policy switched from national interest to ethnic preference, from demographic and labour-market need to family reunion. In the name of cultural diversity, the bureaucrats in charge used welfare and housing policy to promote ethnic community building. This concentrated non-English-speaking immigrants in western and southwestern Sydney.
Most affected were the post-1975 Lebanese Muslims. By 2001, 73% of all Lebanese in Australia were living in these Sydney suburbs.
Multicultural policy was always justified by the assumption that the xenophobia of old Australia was the problem. This presumption still reverberates in the voices of politicians and journalists who have responded to this week’s events as if Australian youths are the real culprits. Hypocritically, they denounce racial stereotyping of ethnic groups but freely typecast Anglo Australia.
Multiculturalism is also at odds with the core tenets of liberal democracy, where rights inhere in the individual, not the collective, and where people’s representatives are elected politicians, not self-appointed ethnic spokesmen or godfathers. Multiculturalism is a reversion to tribalism that is anachronistic in a modern, liberal, urban society.
In Sydney it has been plain for at least a decade that, instead of ethnic communities living happily in the diversity of social pluralism, multiculturalism has bred ethnic ghettos characterised by high levels of unemployment, welfare dependency, welfare abuse, crime and violence. The social engineers responsible should have been well aware of the likely outcome, especially for young men.
All the evidence from the numerous studies of similar ethnic ghettos in North America and Europe show they produce much the same result, whatever the colour or ethnicity of their inhabitants. Ghetto culture for young men everywhere is characterised by interpersonal violence, sexual irresponsibility, incomplete education, substandard speech, a hypersensitivity about being disrespected and a feckless attitude towards work.
The Lebanese assaults on the Cronulla lifesavers that led to this week’s mass retaliation were nothing new. This behaviour has been with us for more than a decade. When the former principal of Punchbowl Boys High, a school dominated by Lebanese Muslim youth, suffered a breakdown and sued the NSW government, he gave an insight to the local culture.
Between 1995 and 1999, students armed with knives had threatened classmates, teachers were assaulted and gangs invaded classrooms. On one occasion, the principal had a gun held to his head by a Lebanese gang member who threatened to shoot him. One of his students was convicted of murdering a Korean schoolboy and three other students were jailed for their roles in some of Sydney’s most notorious gang rapes.
In 1997, during a house fire in another Sydney ethnic ghetto at Auburn, known as Little Lebanon, police and firefighters were attacked by youths hurling rocks. An ambulance had a window shot out, ensuring all future ambulance calls to the locality were accompanied by police escort. Little Lebanon was a concentration of Muslim families from the same rural district who had come to Australia first as refugees, then as chain immigrants.
At the same time as all of this was going on, however, most Anglo Australians were giving the lie to the stereotype of latent racism. Outside the ethnic enclaves, instead of racist or ethnocentric attitudes to newcomers, old Australians were working with, marrying and having children with them.
Studies by Monash University’s Bob Birrell of the most revealing test of immigrant integration, the marriage rate, showed that by the end of the ’90s less than 10% of second-generation marriages of people of European descent were to someone from their parents’ country. Much the same was true of immigrants from south and east Asia. Only 6 per cent of Indians married within their ethnic group, as did only 18 per cent of Chinese. In short, most immigrants, whatever their race, married Australians of other nationalities.
However, for the Lebanese, of whom most of marriageable age were Muslims, these figures were reversed. No less than 74% of Lebanese brides and 61% of Lebanese grooms married within their own ethnic group. Moreover, these figures had increased since the early ’90s, when they were about six percentage points lower. This pattern may have fulfilled the community-building objective sought by Lebanese political and religious leaders, but it has been a disaster for their constituents’ relationship with the rest of Australia.
Put this week’s beachside violence into its political and social context, and the conclusion is clear. It is not race that is the problem but culture. Multiracialism has been a success in contemporary Australia but multiculturalism has been an abject failure.