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The prospects of an Australia Day race riot by flag aficionados look remote today, especially with the precautionary boost to the numbers of police sipping cappuccinos on Cronulla Beach. The Police Minister, Carl “Sparkles” Scully, is back in town, declaring he has cut short a taxpayer-funded European trip with his family to retake control of the troubled portfolio. Just what the police need.
But at least this week Sydney courts began to hear evidence against Arab-Australian youths charged with violent reprisal attacks after the Cronulla riots on December 11.
A 16-year-old from Chester Hill allegedly asked the driver of a car in Carlton his nationality before smashing in his window with a pole on the night of December 12, AAP reported. When the driver replied he was Australian, the youth said: “Are you f—ing sure you are, you f—ing sure? You f—ing Aussie” and swore in Arabic, according to police facts read to Sutherland Children’s Court by the magistrate, Paul Falzon.
Australian-born, of Middle Eastern descent, the youth is hardly a pin-up boy for Australian multiculturalism.
Thanks to an epidemic of similar law and order problems in other Western democracies with Muslim immigrant populations, even left-wing liberals are beginning to join the dots, and question multiculturalism. It is not the “culturally diverse community, united by an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia” as the Prime Minister, John Howard, put it in his Australia Day address, which is being questioned, but a welfare-driven ideology, corrupted by politicians chasing the ethnic vote, which has encouraged separate identities.
Travelling through France last month, just a few weeks after race riots there that made headlines around the world, it was startling how quickly the French have reverted to ostrich position: charming, urbane, with their low-energy economy, flaming cars and threat of “youths” from the “cités” ever present.
Early in the evening of New Year’s Eve on the Champs Elysees, car dealerships were busy bolting up plate glass windows as busloads of heavily armed gendarmes descended in preparation for the midnight invasion of barbarians from the “suburbs” — as the ghettos of Arabs and Africans are euphemistically called.
Nothing much was made in the media of these extraordinary measures, but a barman, when prompted, warned us to go home early because it would soon be “tres dangereux”.
Overnight, a group of about 30 “youths” from Marseilles terrorised passengers on a suburban train travelling from the Riviera. The train passengers were robbed and bashed and one woman was sexually assaulted for two hours while police stood by, waiting for reinforcements, according to a report in the International Herald Tribune four days later. Perhaps the police didn’t want to antagonise anyone.
The words “Muslim”, “Arab” and “Middle Eastern appearance” rarely appear in such reports. In Paris, a detective involved in counterterrorism work told me guilt about vile French treatment of Jews during World War II has created a powerful victim advocacy apparatus which has been hijacked by Islamic community leaders to silence debate about the failure of some second-generation Arab and African Muslims to integrate.
“They have a French nationality because they are born [here] but they don’t have a French mind,” he said. “But it is impossible to talk about this. You have to stay politically correct.”
France’s riots coincided with a furore in Denmark over the newspaper publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad. The editor of the newspaper was forced into hiding after the cartoons prompted death threats, demonstrations in Kashmir and censure from 11 Muslim countries — and caused the UN to condemn the newspaper!
Across Europe, one-time advocates of multiculturalism are openly wondering if the policy of promoting separate identities for immigrants at the expense of cohesive integration has been a mistake.
The response of the French President, Jacques Chirac, to the November riots was to reward rioters with more welfare. But he also imposed stricter requirements on citizenship candidates — that they learn French, integrate and not practise polygamy.
In Germany prospective citizens will have to sit a “loyalty test”, to test attitudes to such cultural issues as bigamy and homosexuality.
In Australia even diehard left-wing warriors such as Phillip Adams are questioning multiculturalism.
In an interview on Radio National this week with Emeritus Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki, credited with being the architect of Australian multiculturalism, Adams said: “It reminds one of the apocalyptic threats, predictions of Enoch Powell [a British Conservative politician noted for a controversial 1968 speech that immigration threatened national unity].
“At the time we all decried him, we howled him down, as we should have, but at least some of those predictions are coming true.”
A big call from the PC pundit of Paddington. Of course, for once, unrest in December struck uncomfortably close to home for the chattering classes. Cronulla and Maroubra are not that far from Bondi, the beach of choice for Paddingtonians.
Zubrzycki told Adams the Cronulla riots were a “wake-up call” for multiculturalism. They illustrated the folly of dumping poor, unskilled migrants from Lebanon in the outer suburbs of Sydney in the 1980s, “on the understanding they would be looked after by their families … We left them to their own devices, with no specific settlement policy, traumatised [by civil war], unable to speak the language, unable to come to grips with Australian culture and also largely of the Islamic faith”.
While warning of a “testing time” in 20 years, “in the form of huge … unstoppable movements of immigrants from countries in our near north and from Africa who have no hope”, Zubrzycki blamed the Howard Government for the Cronulla riots. Apparently it had ignored a 1999 report he helped write calling for a beefed-up multicultural bureaucracy. But where was “architect” Zubrzycki in the 1980s when the seeds of Cronulla were being sown?
At least our present problems can be managed by effective policing, if unhindered by political panic merchants. The majority of Sydney’s Muslims are law-abiding and anxious for harmony. And political correctness has not yet strangled public discussion, despite the best efforts of people like Adams.
(Posted on January 26, 2006)