Sunday, February 27, 2011

David Round: Multiculturalism and Diversity - part 6

You may remember HART (Halt All Racist Tours), prominent when rugby tours to and from South Africa much exercised the nation. One of its later concerns, before it eventually faded away, was the immigration of white people to New Zealand from South Africa, trying to escape their native land before it became, as all too surely it is slowly becoming, another Zimbabwe. HART was deeply concerned that some South African immigrants might be ~ oh unspeakable horror ~ white supremacists, and proposed that before New Zealand accept any South African immigrants we should examine them on their racial attitudes, their knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi, and so forth.

None of us, I am sure, want to see people with strong racist views establishing themselves here. Nevertheless, I could not help but have mixed feelings about HART’s proposal. For one thing, it never seemed to have occurred to the poor innocent trusting souls at HART that would-be immigrants might be less than honest when answering their examination questions. They might swat up the correct answers and give them, even though they did not really mean them. Incredible, I know, but it has been done before. It also occurred to me that South Africans are not the only people in the world with racist attitudes. The Chinese, for example, have been renowned for centuries for their belief in the superiority of the ‘Middle Kingdom’, as they call their own country, in the middle of and superior to all the other countries of the world, and the corresponding inferiority of all foreigners, including white ones. There is hardly a race or nation in the world that does not consider itself better than its neighbours. As I have been explaining recently, that is an entirely reasonable and inevitable attitude to have. Until recently it would not necessarily have received the ugly label of ‘racism’ at all. Pride in ones own people and culture is an elementary part of self-respect. Eliminate all immigrants who think more highly of themselves than others and there will not be many left.

If I may dwell on this point for a second ~ it is not racism to desire that one live among people more or less like oneself. Earnest puritans may desire that every day be for everyone an exercise in tolerance and a training in heroic virtues of patience, kindness and renunciation of self, as we improve our own souls by learning to tolerate the stranger and the alien ~ but most of us, whatever our culture, like to live, most of the time, among our own kind. That is not racism. It is merely a desire that one should feel at home in ones own country. What is wrong with that? (It is, after all, the motivation of the newcomers who want to bring their own ways with them.) To be at home ~ to live among familiar faces and old customs, to hear ones own language and ones own stories in ones own land ~ how has this come to be labelled racism and xenophobia? This is only a humble and human wish, to be at home. The angry and ugly of soul among us always want to destroy the things of home, and every now and then these people get the upper hand. When puritans and reformers destroyed the things of beauty, the images of the saints in stone and stained glass which their own ancestors had created to adorn the churches of their faith, when they tore down the churches themselves which for generations had been God’s house and home amidst their own homes ~ when they did this, they claimed high principle as their reason, but that was not true. They were greedy also for treasure, and they were filled with strange and unholy hatreds. The French Revolution ~ any revolution ~ was not motivated by simple love of the people. So too in our own day. Under the pious high-minded cant our own reformers see a chance to spit in the face of their ancestors and destroy the homely society which gave them life and nurtured them. And there are opportunities for personal enrichment also, of course…

At base, then, we and the multiculturalists have quite different understandings of the nature of the state and indeed of society itself. Ours is the ancient idea ~ that since the state is our natural and proper environment, as Aristotle and so many since have argued, then it is indeed to be considered as our home, and its inhabitants as our family. As I explained earlier, this is the very origin of the word nation, which literally means those of the same birth and ancestry. In a home and family, good personal relationships are very important. Without them, a family may well tear itself apart, and will certainly be less happy and work less well than might otherwise be the case. It is important, therefore, to know ones fellow citizens, to understand them, to be able to rely on them as one relies on ones own family in tough times. This is simply not possible where considerable numbers of newcomers ~ strangers ~ with strange ways are constantly entering. A family must agree on how things are done, and that agreement arises from its history and constant companionship. The state, therefore, is indeed a society, a social organism, not merely a group of people with little in common ~ all ‘diverse’ ~ living in the same place.

The multiculturalists’ state, by comparison, for all its ‘diversity’, is a cold and impersonal machine. There is no need for personal relationships. They are indeed impossible where we are all so different and many of us so new. This grim state is in no sense actually a society at all, only an aggregation of individuals doing their own thing, so what do a few more different ones matter? Law is elevated to excessive heights, because more and more laws are required to compensate for the loss of common understood social bonds. Laws must be far-reaching, to demand tolerance of strangers and keep an increasingly fragile peace, to do more and more things which once members of a community did naturally. Such a state easily develops into a tyranny. This state is of the same nature as the post-modern philosophy which is its ideological prop and the aggressive free market capitalism which is equally destructive of community.

But to return to the story ~ HART’s call for an examination of South African immigrants’ racial attitudes was in fact a call for cultural compatibility. It was an acceptance that people who come to live among us should agree with us about what our basic values are. HART would, I imagine, be horrified to realise that this is the implication of its call, but that is undoubtedly the implication. New Zealand is undoubtedly not a racist nation ~ I would say that, the breast-beating of the neurotically guilt-ridden notwithstanding, we are actually one of the most tolerant nations on earth. Dunedin’s last mayor was a Chinese man, his predecessor an Indian woman. A Maori transsexual can be elected as mayor of Carterton. But there is more to our culture than just an absence of racism. I have already made some suggestions, in Part II of this series, about what other characteristic elements of our culture might be ~ informality, egalitarianism, equality of the sexes, love of sport and the outdoors, and so on. If, as HART proposed, we should require immigrants to hold compatible attitudes on one aspect of our culture ~ our non-racism ~ surely by the same token it is entirely reasonable that immigrants be tested on all aspects of our culture. The consequence of this, of course, would be the very opposite of what HART desired, for it would mean that our immigrants would be more like ourselves, whereas HART clearly wanted them to be different. HART’s agenda was multiculturalism, and it saw white supremacists as an obstacle to that objective. It was not interested in examining other aspects of the culture of would-be immigrants. But I see no reason in principle why we should not desire that our immigrants be like ourselves. What is wrong with the idea that our new neighbours should be people more or less like us, whom we can easily get on with, who are educated and speak our language, and indeed will be an asset to the community, not a drain on it for generations? Why should such desires be sinful, and racist, and officially forbidden? There is no doubt that they are forbidden. Last year, when Dr Greg Clydesdale of Massey University presented a carefully-researched paper, full of figures and footnotes, at a respectable academic conference ~ a paper suggesting that the economic benefits of Pacific Island immigration to New Zealand were not all they were cracked up to be ~ Joris de Bres, the Race Relations Commissioner, condemned that paper publicly without ever having read it or having received a single complaint about it. (He later did read it ~ or so he says ~ and surprise surprise, this ‘investigation’ confirmed his initial reaction. I believe Dr Clydesdale is still in communication with the Ombudsman on the whole matter.) Why are such members of the thought police, every bit as oppressive as anything out of 1984 or North Korea, tolerated, let alone paid princely sums of money, in an allegedly free country? ‘Thought police’ is no exaggeration. As Obergruppenfuhrer de Bres’s jackboot response reveals, we are not allowed to question the undoubted virtue and benefits of the immigration of practically anyone to New Zealand. We are not allowed to ask ~ Whom is immigration for? Should it not be for the benefit of us, the host country? Are we obliged to give our country away for nothing to anyone who comes along, regardless of what they can offer? Surely we should be entitled to pick and choose ~ to select those immigrants out of the lengthening queue who will most benefit our community and fit in well at the least trouble and expense. The world will be a harder place in future, and everyone on the New Zealand lifeboat will have to pull his weight. There will be no room for everyone, and no room, hard-hearted though it may seem to say it, for the hapless rag tag and bobtail waifs and strays whom we currently consider it virtuous to accept and support. In future we will simply not be able to afford multiculturalism and its corresponding immigration policies.

But we are not allowed to say this. To express any doubt about indiscriminate immigration is forbidden by the prevailing ideology. Have you noticed, for example, how any person or party expressing doubts about immigration is always and automatically described by the news media, as well as our politicians, as ’far right’? We are never told anything at all about that person’s or party’s other policies ~ the mere fact that a European, for example, opposes the further disintegration of his or her country by Muslim immigration instantly means that he is ‘far right’, which is, of course, as we well know, a most unspeakable crime. The news media do this all the time. That is why Pim Fortuyn ~ since murdered, of course, by an apostle of tolerance and diversity ~ caused reporters such perplexity. He was openly homosexual, smoked marijuana, was very liberal on all sorts of issues, and generally did not fit the far right stereotype at all. But the BBC ‘s obituary did so describe him, without a shred of evidence. Just the other week I heard a BBC reporter describing Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean Marie Le Pen and just elected as the new leader of the Front National, as ‘far right’, without the slightest attempt to describe any of her attitudes and policies except to say that she opposed Muslim immigration . By such a label the reporter is in fact attempting to instruct us that we were to dismiss her party’s policies as contemptible and not worthy of any consideration. So much for the BBC’s integrity these days ~ almost as bad as our own National Radio. The reporter did tie himself in knots somewhat, by saying both that her party and its policies were ‘loathed’, I think the word was, by most French people, but also admitting, as he had to, that in the 2002 presidential election her father polled second highest, and therefore was in the runoff election against Jacques Chirac, and that his daughter was now more popular than her father was then. He did not attempt to explain this amazing inconsistency.

That, anyway, is the prevailing official ideology; and its purveyors, viler than the pushers of any deadly drug, are leading us down the path of national suicide.


Anonymous said...

While we do need to be open minded and tolerant we should not let the self appointed thought police run our lives. These people with the connivance of the lazy and non investigative media have been allowed to get away with far too much.

To paraphrase a famous quote. "For P.C. idiocy to prevail it is sufficent for good men and women to do nothing."

So fight back. Tell them, tell the media and tell the politicians that we have our own perceptions of the situation and we refuse to have their beliefs and attitudes forced upon us.
That's what living in a democracy is supposed to be about,isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The position of HART was to be seen to not support Apartheid. That is why they did not want New Zealand to be seen as a haven for white south africans fleeing the consequences of the social circumstances they had created. It had nothing to do with the esoteric and mis-informed counter logic that you have so profusely espoused here.
You claim to have some knowledge of what makes the Kiwi national identity and yet you seem to have neglected to study the history of Ner Zealand. Surely you have forgot (or probably never knew) that prior to world war two the vast majority of imigrants to New Zealand came here to escape the soul destroying class system of Britain. A system that you are clearly an unrepentant product of.
I on the other hand am a 5th generation New Zealander. I understand the values this country was founded on better than someone with you upbringing could ever possibly hope to. I've met people with you "Prisoner of Mother England" attitudes before and I am afraid those values are incompatible with the future of this country.
You talk of people wanting to belong at home and feel comfortable. For your own good and peace of mind, you should go back to where you clearly belong. There is no place for your lack of tolerance in this country. There is no place for your brand of veiled racism. There is no place for you.