Sunday, May 28, 2023

Lushington D. Brady: Where Am I From? Glad You Asked!

It’s not ‘racist’ — it’s friendly conversation

One of the funniest ratios I’ve seen on Twitter was when a race-baiting activist demanded to “Normalise asking white people where they’re REALLY from”. Whereupon white people flooded her timeline with replies detailing exactly where they and their ancestors for generations were really from.

Ancestry has in fact an $850m per year business out of people finding out exactly where they’re really from. As I responded on Twitter, I know perfectly well that my mob are from England, Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, Germany… My kids have a healthy dose of Mediterranean and Maghreb genes thrown in.

Despite my solidly northern European ancestry, though, in my youth especially I was often mistaken for all manner of exotic ancestries. Maori, very commonly, even to the point of people coming up to me in pubs, “Eh, kia kaha, bro!”. Maybe it was the tan and long hair (sadly, long gone). But I was also asked if I was everything from Spanish, to Croatian, even Hawaiian and Aboriginal.

Just one of those faces, I guess.

But, here’s the thing: I was never, ever offended. I found it not only funny but a great conversation opener. When a bloke in a Melbourne Maccas greeted me with, “Eh, cuz! Where you from!”, we had a great chat.

Sydney writer Seja Al Zaidi agrees.

I’ve always regarded these conversations as a pleasant, fruitful way of connecting with others in a more authentic capacity. Discussing one’s culture tends to be more enjoyable than the banality of weather-centric small talk.

Apparently, though, we — or more likely Al Zaidi alone, given that as a white man I have no right to be offended — were victims of a racism no less vicious for its subtlety.

This entire time I’ve been the victim of repeated acts of racism without even knowing. It’s not curiosity and friendly chatter I’ve been on the receiving end of – it’s a series of malicious “microaggressions”, insinuating that I’m not welcome in this country.

In a word: bullsh*t.

The widely disseminated idea that asking someone where they’re from is offensive or inappropriate is nothing short of asinine. Asking someone about their heritage is a perfectly reasonable way to express curiosity, discover common ground or develop a meaningful connection.

More importantly, the fact we live in a country where we have plentiful opportunity to pose the question is a brilliant reflection of the cohesive multiculturalism we’ve achieved in Australia.

What motivates the finger-wagging offence-mongers is the poisonous doctrine of political correctness.

The level of self-aggrandisement required to believe that every stranger making friendly conversation about your heritage is deploying racism is truly astonishing. Appeasement of this social sanitising has been institutionally ratified through our universities, corporations and media.

The truly astonishing thing is that these idiotic cry bullies have been allowed to get away with it.

Rather than addressing that the people who demand this kind of censorship might be ill-equipped to deal with the realities of modern life, boardrooms and chancellors alike have acquiesced to the perverse dictates of a political class set on undermining human connection and antagonising well-meaning Australians.

The only sane response is to serve it right up to the bastards.

I’ll choose to celebrate our country’s spectacular multiculturalism by continuing to ask people where they’re from, and embracing it when they ask me. The inelegant practice of perpetually assuming racist intent undermines the congenial coherence Australian society has managed to achieve. The kind of coherence my family immigrated here for.

Like all bullies, the cry bullies of political correctness only win so long as no one stands up to them.

Lushington describes himself as Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. This article was first published HERE


Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

Gidday. What am I? I'm Dutch and proud of it. I'm a member of an immigrant community that made a contribution to this country's economic development well beyond its proportional representation in the population. Yep, ask me about my heritage any time. Now, as to why orange is our national colour.............

Anonymous said...

My two favourite discussions are ‘how did you meet each other ‘ (of couples) and ‘what is your heritage’. They reveal the most wonderful, sometimes extraordinary, always fascinating stories of people. I am more than happy to share my stories. And people who are comfortable in themselves are always excited to share.
Here’s a lovely sample: my daughter invited a white friend from the former Rhodesia to her wedding. This friend speaks, amongst other languages, Xhosa. Her now husband’s best man - fair skin blue eyes, black hair- is part Xhosa. Both were delighted to have this shared connection which would never have occurred if I had not been interested in each of them.
Further more the woman had a close relative in the Anglican Church who had overlapped with my own relative in the Catholic Church, Donal Lamont.
I think these stories are magic.

CXH said...

Barend - looking at your name, I presume it was your forefathers that stole all the vowels from the Polish?

Hazel Modisett said...

I have Ngapuhi ancestry, which means that side of the family are originally from the K'au district of the Big Island of Hawai'i & Sth East Asia before that by tracing the Lapita pottery. It is still undetermined where they came from before that...
I choose to identify as a human from planet Earth...

Anonymous said...

Hazel, my ancestry is diverse across Europe, which is great fun when on holiday - it gives a focus for places to go to. But like you, ‘ I choose to identify as a human from planet Earth...’.

Hello friend.

Robert Arthur said...

I quite agree. In most circumstances it is absurd to take offence. Many simply wish to confirm their own assessment. I have often been asked if I am English! With visons of cheeky cockneys and coarse labouring classes I do not berate them. (One of my grandparents came from southern England where for many decades many have managed to speak standard English, and it passes on.)
Of course if an overstayer, persons may be sensitive.