Two different words- multiculturalism and terrorism, so why does Australia an ‘accepting, open minded, diverse’ nation conflate the two? – Investigates 1/2 of the Two Crazy Youths.
Multiculturalism and terrorism are two words that should never be associated. It fabricates surplus tension, it’s dangerous and divides Australians in a time when each of us should be standing together united, arms linked, against the imminent threat of terror- because if we weren’t to, then terror will truly be in the lead, and therefore assimilation must be dead.
It may come as a shock to “those across the seas” to learn of Australian’s willingness to associate multiculturalism and terrorism, but nowadays the “lucky country” – for all, “with boundless plains to share”, appears to be backing away from its oath.
Very un-Australian, I must admit.
Multiculturalism in Australia has been present for 75 years and the benefits have been a bipartisan political policy. Historically Australia, has typically had a proud record of tolerating and celebrating ethnic diversity. This has flamboyantly been infused in the streets of ‘Little India’, the Paniyiri Festival and in the merriment of Chinese New Year. Indeed, Australia presented itself, especially during the magnificent display in the Sydney Olympics as perhaps the most multicultural and accepting society on this planet.
However, recently an argument emerged about the relationship- if any, between multiculturalism and terrorism. Some ‘superior’ Australians seem to think multiculturalism is to blame for all our ills.
The cause of ethnic enclaves? Multiculturalism. Why doesn’t Australia have a crystal clear national identity? Multiculturalism. Brutal adolescent gangs? Multiculturalism. The list goes on and on, and now it seems Australia has added the repulsive word of terrorism onto the extremely offensive list of ‘multiculturalism is the cause of everyone’s problems.’
The discussion around multiculturalism has quite drastically changed in the last fifteen years. The usual, ‘They’re a Weird Mob’ antics, when ethnic societies were referred to as people who did ‘weird’ things, spoke in ‘weird’ ways, cooked ‘weird’ food, had too many people living in one house and took all the jobs- that type of bombast was to change tone.
It came as no surprise when the Andrew Bolts’ and Bill Mahers’ of Australia, targeted multiculturalism in the wake of the terror attacks on September 11; and even significantly more since the 2005 tube attacks in London, where the scapegoating of multiculturalism has been more widespread and vehement. This was a particularly radical moment in Australian political conversation and entirely reinvigorated and reintroduced debates about multiculturalism. The attacks on our Motherland are deemed to be more noteworthy than 9/11, when regarding Australian’s perception of the apparent existence of a relationship between multiculturalism and terrorism. 9/11 was an unspeakable attack, committed by foreign, Western haters, whereas the tube attack was the first time a terror attack on the West had been committed by people from the West- born and bred. We reacted with anger and horror- and rightfully so, we were threatened; but soon confusingly enough the blame was directed towards ethnic societies.
Australia followed suite.
Etching further scars into our already broken hearts, were the scenes in the recent Martin Place Siege, prompting a series of attacks on innocent civilians. In just the past year there has been over 46 reported racial attacks in Australia, in which the victim has been blamed for acts of terror. Some of us appear to be geographically incapable, racially ignorant, or maybe just wholly stupid, as threats aren’t only made to obviously Muslim civilians, but to the Sikh community, men with beards, women wearing slightly more modest clothing, and just really anyone with a brown complexion or look even remotely ‘Middle-Eastern.’
Lydia, an Australian woman whose ancestors, sailed on the First Fleet, just happened to choose to convert to Islam when she was 21, explains the blatant racism and the vile manner in which people approached her, “I’ve been told I should be taken out the back and shot and that I should be beheaded, in front of my four-year-old son.” Another woman had her arm broken during a racist attack, the victim was told that “she caused terrorism” and “if she didn’t go back to where she came from”- (a phrase that many people of a different ethnicity have heard), then he’d “kill us all”. Very ironic. Yet again, a woman was physically assaulted, punched square in the face in Melbourne in broad daylight and told to “go back to ISIS” – whatever that means. Many members of the Sikh community have reported that their turbans have been ripped off and even told that “if they want to wear whatever that was, then they’d have to go back to Saudi Arabia.”
Geography lessons required? I think yes.
As if Australia wasn’t tense enough already the wonderful world of media seem to be under the impression, that we could do with more.
Whenever terror attacks or crimes committed by those of a different ethnicity are reported, it seems that that the name of the attacker, their country, and religious practices are being listed, before the actual attack is brought to light.
Recently, whilst listening to the news on one or another prominent radio station, breaking news hit, and for the first twenty seconds, this is what I heard, “A devout Muslim, Abdullah Yusuf Omar, a man of Syrian-Lebanese roots, who prays five times and day and reads the Quran….” Can you imagine my complete and utter confusion? Why was a mere description of a man headlined as ‘breaking news’, or making news at all?
In this the media have highlighted the word of “otherization”. A dangerous word indeed. News media cover stories of terror attacks in such a way where a specific ethnic group is targeted, creating an “us vs them” scenario. This creation of dichotomy entices pathways for excess social unrest and integrates groups through their helplessness and anger that then triggers further attacks.
Waleed Aly, a decorated Australian author, academic, lawyer and staff member of the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University, recently pointed out the “us vs them” situation is actually allowing way to the victory of terror. His passionate cry for the acceptance of multiculturalism as a crucial aspect of counter-terrorism opened the eyes of many. “ISIL’s strategy is to split the world into two camps. It is that black and white. So, if you are a member of Parliament preaching hate at a time when what we actually need is more love – you are helping ISIL. If you are a religious leader telling your community, they have no place Australia – you are helping ISIL. Or if you’re just someone with a Facebook or Twitter account firing off misguided missives of hate – you are helping ISIL. And I am pretty sure that right now none of us wants to help these bastards.” Whether you’re of the left or right, Atheist, Christian, Muslim, black or white, there is no denying just how utterly true the words of Aly are.
Fear is normal, natural even. We as a nation have the right to fear terrorism, but let’s not be manipulated into believing the that those of ethnic beginnings don’t have the right to feel the same as the rest of Australia.
“We are one, but we are many, and from all the lands on earth we come, we share a dream and sing with one voice: I am, you are, we are Australian”
Let us as a nation come to our senses, we are all afraid; but stop with the petty blaming. Multiculturalism is part of who we are as a nation, we are all Australians so “With courage let us all combine,” amalgamated against the threat of terror because if we aren’t then terrorism will have won, and we will have a much larger problem than bigoted individuals who simply just can’t learn to love and accept.