Saturday, May 29, 2010

You're damned if you do...

Can immigrants ever truly be accepted by all the people of their new country?

Obviously, if a particular group is seen to cause trouble, this might be a barrier to acceptance. So logically, an ethnic group of high achievers who cause little trouble would be accepted easily, right?

Well, you'd think so. But it doesn't necessarily work out that way.

When people from an immigrant group are seen to commit crimes or do something to bring negative attention to themselves, you can hear the usual chorus of criticism.

"They aren't assimilating."
"They don't add any value to this country."
"They are uncivilised and incompatible with our national values."
"They will form ghettos."

Ok, fine. So what about when a migrant group makes a success of itself?

Take for example, the Chinese and Indian communities of Australia. There are almost 700,000 Australians who claim Chinese ancestry, and around 250,000 with Indian ancestry. Now obviously each community is diverse and contains all kinds of people from all walks of life, but both communities would have to be regarded as highly successful immigrant groups, by most measures.

While many Australians would view the stereotypical Indian job as a taxi driver or service station attendant, Indians are strongly over-represented in high-status fields such as medicine. They are much more likely than the rest of the population to have a degree, and to be working in a profession. Likewise, the success of Chinese-Australians in education is well-recognised. Check out last year's top year 12 scores in Victorian schools for specialist mathematics or chemistry, to take two obvious examples, and you'll notice the domination of Chinese surnames.

In both cultures, the strong emphasis on educational achievement, hard work, and the status gained by attaining a "good job", lead to success in many fields; witness the disproportionate success of ethnic Chinese in South East Asia compared to the indigenous populations. In Australia, both communities have a relatively low crime rate as well, when compared to that of the population at large.

This is not to say that the Chinese or Indian way is better than any other way - educational and economic successes are hardly the only measure of anyone's worth to their country. But by many of the criteria that is regularly used to attack some migrant groups (such as those from Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific), Chinese and Indians are therefore the ideal citizens.
So you might deduce then, that the same people who might criticise some communities for struggling to achieve, would heartily welcome migrants like the Indians and Chinese, who are prime examples of what is possible for those willing to go for it.

But no.

For "successful" migrants, the negativity is still there; except this time the complaints are different. This time, they are taking jobs and opportunities away from "real" Australians.

I've often heard the muttered accusation that Asian-Australian school students "cheat" by having tutoring outside school hours, or by eschewing sports or partying in order to study hard. Of course, this approach is not restricted to Asian students; any student wishing to get top marks needs to do this to some extent. It just so happens that Asian students make up a disproportionate amount of those top students. In any case, if this leads them to get the best marks and get accepted into the best courses and jobs, then so be it. Regardless of race, if I'm being treated by a doctor, or having my share portfolio managed by someone, I want it to be a person who is proven to be diligent and hardworking, rather than the one who was a good footy player in high school or who was the life of the party at age 16.

Check this post at the Herald-Sun for an example of how Asian students are viewed as a threat. It concerns one of Melbourne's best-performing schools, with a predominantly Asian student population (many of whose families have moved into the area in order to send their child to a good school). Many of the commenters see this as a threat. One describes it as a kind of genocide of white Aussies, under the guise of multiculturalism. Another wonders, "Where are all the Australian-looking kids?"

I wrote recently about a new selective high school in Mebourne, which accepts only students who pass an entrance exam. It is dominated by Chinese, Indian and Sri Lankan students - which indicates that their families are clearly putting a high priority on education. But over at the Oz Conservative blog, you can witness the paranoia that this signifies a grave threat to WASPS. Some suggest it means Asians need to be kicked out of the country.

So there you go, immigrants and children of immigrants; you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. You are either sponging off "our" country or stealing "our" jobs. If you don't sufficiently assimilate and perform by some arbitrary measure, you are a threat, a bludger, a dead weight. If you succeed, you are also a threat.

I'm not writing this some kind of love letter to Australia's Indian and Chinese communities. And neither am I an "open borders" kind of guy who thinks we should automatically let everyone in who wishes to come here. I'm just trying to point out that whatever basis people claim for not wanting "foreigners" in the country, it very often comes down to one simple reason: they don't like foreigners.


  1. Great post, but whenever Australians/Americans talk that "Real" Australians/Americans bullshit, I think we should always ask them to please define "real". If "Aboriginal" and "Native American" don't come up, then they need to turn that illegal alien lens into a mirror and shut the hell up.

  2. ^ Haha, it's amazing how white Americans and Australians have the capacity to forget that there is someone "realer" than them!

  3. I'm the daughter of immigrants and I've had people casually tell me that immigrants who don't fit in Canadian/Western society are a burden and should never have immigrated. Yet, these are the same people who say these prosperous immigrants are being given jobs (yeah, right!) and that it's unfair. I know many immigrants with a very strong work ethic and they value higher education. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

  4. "I'm just trying to point out that whatever basis people claim for not wanting "foreigners" in the country, it very often comes down to one simple reason: they don't like foreigners."

    I don't think it's so much that they "don't like foreigners". It's they don't like the APPEARANCE of what they define (in perpetuity) as "foreigners".

    The Herald-Sun is turning into a mouthpiece for white nationalist sentiment. And as the words would suggest, this is sentiment that hold Australia to be a "white nation".

    If the problem was foreigners, then Andrew Bolt wouldn't every year pipe up about Orange Day, "when the Dutch come out to play", with his readers happy and unthreatened for him to do so. Why? Because he's a "fellow white", "one of us".

    This is why, also, there is a reflexive defence of the Afrikaners in South Africa and a strong sympathy for their plight, being a race without a volkstaat.

    The Herald-Sunnists seem to subscribe to a sort of pagan religion that "embed[s] the white races in a sacred worldview that supports their tribal feeling", to borrow from Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, author of The Occult Roots of Nazism.

    So what you're seeing is an expression of white nationalism. According to these people's conception of the nation, it is a volkstaat, a homeland (in the case of Australia) for white people. And non-white people who reside here are just that -- residents, not Australians proper. They are foreigners now and they will be foreigners always. Their children and their children's children will be foreigners. Because this is a white nation and Australia is a nation of whites.

    Read the Herald-Sun, if you don't believe me. And watch the politicians of the Liberal (Conservative) Party catering to these feelings, if you don't believe me.

  5. If we really want to go into this, the only "real" Australians are indigenous Australians. Who are not white. End of story.

    Can immigrants ever truly be accepted by all the people of their new country?

    I don't think so.

    For "successful" migrants, the negativity is still there; except this time the complaints are different. This time, they are taking jobs and opportunities away from "real" Australians.


    Because of stuff like these, I don't have a wish to become an immigrant; even with the bad economy in my country and the fact I'd love to live somewhere else (did I mention I like Australia and Canada?) Now obviously, I wouldn't have many of these problems because I am white, but still, I am not sure if I want to become an immigrant.

  6. @ Peter:

    "The Herald-Sun is turning into a mouthpiece for white nationalist sentiment."

    That might be going a bit too far - there are columnists there with pretty mainstream or even left views there - but certainly they lean to the right and Andrew Bolt does repeatedly flirt with white nationalism. It's certainly the only mainstream media outlet in Australia where those kinds of views can get a regular airing.

  7. @ Mira:

    It ain't all bad. Fortunately this doesn't reflect everyone in these countries.

  8. United States White WomanMay 31, 2010 at 3:26 AM

    Hello, this is off topic but I wanted to tell you I appreciate the post you made at SWPD (about reasons some WP don't speak up in cetain situations and with certain people).

    I would have commented there but I don't have time to get a PhD in sociology / linguistics, and it seems that's what's needed for a white person to post there. Very little chance for civil discussion there.


  9. @ USWW:

    I appreciate the comment.
    I'm in total agreement, I feel like SWPD has increasingly succumbed to a "you're with me or against me" mentality (at least in the comments section).

    I rarely post a comment there anymore, because if someone expresses anything even slightly different to the dominant narrative, they get howled down, just like I did on the thread you mention.

  10. It ain't all bad. Fortunately this doesn't reflect everyone in these countries.

    I guess, but still, I have my doubts. I am not sure if I want to live somewhere where economic is better, but racism is ugly, and to be spared of the worst immigrants can get because I'm white (and Chinese and Indians are not). Plus, my husband is "racially ambiguous" looking for some cultures, so I don't know.

    Like I said, I am educated, non violent, and I am not greedy (I don't need much money). I really like Australia and Canada. But I still have my doubts about immigration. Nothing against Australians or Canadians per se, and the countries are beautiful.

  11. Studying more?...getting tutored?
    Will these Asian students stop at nothing to get this unfair advantage?
    (I've heard some of them even play musical instruments!)

  12. ^ Musical instruments?!?!?

    Is there no end to their nefarious plans?

  13. I am of Asian descent and I run a business where my staff members are White. They are good people and we all get along well.

    I had one staff member who is a racist. She treated me as if I was nothing and she started to take advantage of my kindness towards her. I gave her flexible hours, I gave her time-off to attend her ill grandfather a couple of times and I was understanding of her situation with her private life.

    After a while she started to take advantage of this and started to ask for days off on the day instead of giving me notice a few days before, and just being dismissive towards me.

    One day I caught her stealing on camera and I confronted her about it and she couldn't even admit it. I yelled at her and fired her due to that and because of her attitude.

    This woman is Polish and this may seem politically incorrect and racist, but many Polish women tend to be devious, crafty b!tches who think they are better than others.

    White Australians can't label me as a racist as all my staff members are White. I am contributing to my community and helping to create local employment.