Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Racism and the many different Australias (@ Peril Magazine)

I have another post up at Peril Magazine. It's a long screed about the different ways people see racism in Australia, and the difficulty of analyzing it objectively.

If you ask someone who is somewhat right-wing, most of the time they will tell you that Australia is not really racist. Likewise, a left-winger will usually tell you that it is.
Why is that? Well, those on the left like to highlight the evils of “the system” and those they deem to have power and status, and champion the rights of the little guy (in this case, minority groups). So it suits their worldview to see racism around every corner. Conservatives, by contrast, like to imagine that life is one big level playing field where everyone can achieve whatever they want if they work hard enough, and thus they tend to see claims of racism as mere rabble-rousing. Likewise, a conservative point of view likes to defend the idealised traditional Australia of yesteryear, when things were simpler, a time before people with funny foreign names arrived and started trying to change everything.

Check it here.


  1. Very reasonable and insightful article, ES. Can't find anything to disagree with here.

    This part, particularly the part I bolded, I think warrants further discussion.

    Likewise, a conservative point of view likes to defend the idealised traditional Australia of yesteryear, when things were simpler, a time before people with funny foreign names arrived and started trying to change everything.

    I like to use the blogger Ask a Korean's formula for determining how racist/anti-racist a country is.

    The way I see it, in order to pass judgment on how racist/anti-racist a country is, you have to look at how many visible racial minorities there are in that country.

    (therefore, ethnic minorities such as Eastern Europeans in Western European countries and ethnic Koreans in Japan, don't count)

    Then, you have to look at whether or not those minorities are numerous enough (or projected to become numerous enough) to threaten the majority group (and they could threaten them in many different ways).

    Finally, you have to look at how tolerant and inclusive the majority group (in this case, white people) are towards these minorities in light of the fact that said minorities are in a position to threaten their previous status within society.

    By that standard, I would say that Australia is a relatively non-racist country. Considering the demographic change it has undergone in such a relatively short period of time, I would say that it has handled its sudden multiracialism/culturalism as well as most people could have in the same situation.

    Likewise, I'd say the U.S, using the same standard, is (to parrot the Korean) arguably the least racist country in the world.

    I can't think of a single country that has undergone such radical demographic changes in such a short amount of time (In just over four decades, the U.S. has gone from 90% white to just over 60%).

    And yet, a few white nationalists and Tea Partiers looking to "take their country back" notwithstanding, what I find really mind boggling is the fact that there hasn't been a significant backlash against all these rapid changes. In spite of the fact that non-whites are in a position to significantly threaten white people/change everything around them, the response from whites has been remarkably restrained, given the circumstances.

    Even in traditional European countries such as Sweden, Norway, Ireland, etc, places with no history of multiracialism, their responses to the rapid demographic changes currently taking place there have been very restrained (a few Anders Breivik type outbursts notwithstanding). In fact, as you pointed out in your "pursuing a better immigrant" and "Muslim youth and rape" posts, if anything political correctness has run amok in those countries, with non-white immigrants living in those countries, demanding that they be accommodated, and yet looking down on Western culture.

    That's a far different cry from a country such as, say, Israel, where mainstream politicians and prominent public figures are constantly railing against the "demographic threat" posed by the high birthrates of Arabs and other non-Jews, and even justify the deportations of African "infiltrators" (Israeli dysphemism for illegal immigrants/foreign workers) by saying that Israel needs to preserve its Jewish character/maintain demographic dominance.

  2. With all of that in mind, I think this goes back to our previous discussion/debate regarding the merits of diversity.

    Previously, European countries such as Sweden have always prided themselves on their tolerance and willingness to accept different peoples. However, now that those different peoples have become numerous enough to become a nuisance, the anti-immigrant far right in Europe has now been on the rise for the past decade or so, and accusations of racism now abound.

    I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I find it interesting the way people incessantly critique white people for their racism/racial insensitivity (real or perceived), and at the same time say that diversity is a strength.

    However, you can't have one without the other. Whenever you have a society with a significant number of visible racial minorities, there will almost always be race problems.