Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How cultural senility is ruining Australian conservative discourse

In 2003, I started a Masters of Laws program at the Australian National University (ANU). This meant returning to my family’s other ancestral city of Canberra (“other” as in apart from Delhi, India). I spent much of my time either in the ANU Law library or in a house I shared with a number of other post-graduate students in Melba.

Part of my time would also be spent walking around picturesque Lake Ginninderra or other parts of the Belconnen precinct. It was like being transported back in time to the East Ryde I grew up in the 1970’s – brick and fibro houses on quarter-acre blocks, Holden Kingswoods and small neighbourhood shops that would shot at 6pm on the dot.

And there were always the hotted-up cars. Boys will be boys. Although the Canberra boys were far more civilised than their ‘70’s East Ryde equivalents.

As a young boy riding my bike in East Ryde, I remember often having young boys with bad haircuts and hotted-up cars drive past me and scream abuse. And it wasn’t just me. Anyone who looked slightly different, whether presumed Chinese or Greek or Italian, would cop it.

In the playground at school, we were teased and even physically assaulted. My parents were often afraid to let me walk home after having witnessed a number of boys assault me. They were also afraid after one local boy from a Pakistani Christian family was repeatedly kicked, bashed and eventually stabbed by classmates on his way home. The boy died from his wounds.

Of course, we were taught never to regard all Anglo-Australians as being the same as these young people, even if their Anglo parents (and frequently even my Anglo teachers) did little to stop them. Indeed, I later discovered that other Anglo-Australians would also cop abuse. I could never understand why, given both groups had the same colour of skin, hair and eyes. Later I learnt the reason why some Aussies were also attacked – they were Catholics!

I always associated hotted-up cars with violent and racist youth. Now, some 30 years later, the hairstyles and clothes may have changed. Even the cars may have been slightly modernised. But not much else has changed. Be they retro Anglo-Aussie white Protestant chauvinists or “Lebs”, boys will be boys.

Some weeks back, whilst visiting a friend at Sydney’s only halal McDonalds in Punchbowl in the Arab heartland of south western Sydney, I noticed some young people with bad haircuts and even worse attitudes park their hotted-up car next to mine.

My friend is of Turkish background and was born in Australia. After we finished our meal and our discussion, my friend and I walked out to find these boys were using my car as a dinner table. When I asked them to remove their stuff, one remarked:

“Don’t f#ckin ask me to move my stuff, skippy!”

His other colleagues joined in the abuse. I noticed they were wearing necklaces with Arabic calligraphy of God’s name on their chests. One came upto me and said: “Don’t you mess with me or I’m gonna f#ckin kill you!”

On another occasion, I had stopped on a red light at the intersection of King Georges Road and Canterbury Road in Wiley Park. My car was in the right lane, and in front of me was a car with 3 young women seated. Next to them, turning right, was a car with young boys with baseball caps and bad haircuts. From their rear-view mirror was a red box carrying a Qur’an.

The attitude displayed by these boys was far from Qur’anic. They kept hissing and making sexual remarks toward the young women. Indeed, they were so engrossed in their abuse that they didn’t even notice the street light arrow for turning right had turned green. The girls drove on. I stopped my car for a brief moment and gave them a piece of my mind.

“Salam, boys. Is this how you’d like someone to speak to your mother or sister? Think about it. Your behaviour gives us Muslims all a bad name.”

The response from one of the boys was quite clear.

“F#ck off. You’re not even a Muslim. Those sluts were asking for it!”

I can tell storied like this until the cows come home. I can also pontificate about how some cultures are inferior to others. I can speculate about the influence of convict genes, or about how Protestants simply don’t know how to integrate with Catholics. I can use anecdotal evidence to condemn an entire culture.

Like some of the opinion writers from that often uninformed Australian newspaper, I could quote statistics on the numbers of Anglo kids during the 1970’s who refused to marry outside their culture. I could even remind you all about why a certain historian was right about why we shouldn’t allow “slaps” and “gooks” into the country.

But what would that achieve? Unless you are an amateur or have an axe to grind, you don’t build social policy on anecdotes. You use facts and research and derive rational conclusions.

To claim that there is something culturally wrong with all Australian Muslim men simply because of the sick comments of certain convicted gang- rapists just doesn’t compute. And if you do wish to make claims like this, at least take some time to read the sources of this culture.

It is inherently irrational to judge people according to their race or colour. It is even more lame to hate people for that reason. So why is it that so many allegedly conservative writers and politicians play the raced card?

I guess because some conservatives still haven’t realised that they are no longer at university. Yes, it was all fun and games at uni to pretend to be a fascist just to upset student activists from the Left. I did it myself in first year. I was part of a ticket for the student magazine called “NASA” which stood for “No Asshole Socialists Anymore!”. Our symbol was a rocket smashing through the hammer and the sickle. Our group photo consisted of a group of starving Africans lifted from the promotional material of an aid agency.

Yes, it was funny back then to oppose everything the Left stood for. Even when they were right (or should that be Right?). But some conservatives just never grow up.

Which explains why so many pseudo-conservative writers who only seem to appear in pages of that most tabloid of American broadsheets The Australian will attack any idea the Left supports. Why? On what basis? Purely because the Left are supporting it.

Soon we will be reading Keith Windschuttle or John Stone waxing lyrical about why conservatives should be opposing mathematics because the Left say it’s right. Or perhaps we’ll read Mark Steyn trumpeting about how murder should be decriminalised. When you combine ideological immaturity with bland senility, almost anything is possible.

The other day I had coffee with a reporter from The Australian. He told me about how he was now in charge of reporting on the broad Arab/Muslim sector (whatever the hell that means). He asked me why he is getting so much resistance from people in various communities in providing him with information.

I advised him to read the op-ed pages of his paper and figure it out for himself. Hey, I think it’s great that at least one broadsheet is prepared to print conservative stuff. But why print the most lunatic writers? Or are we playing a game of opposites with Fairfax and the ABC?

Still, not all conservatives are stupid. Just as not all Fairfax papers are printed by the devil. Michael Baume writes some absolute beauties for the Australian Financial Review. John Hewson isn’t bad either, though some may not regard him as a conservative.

So there is plenty of variety of opinions and thoughts and beliefs in various sectors of the Australian community. Generalisations are for dimwits. Serious analysis of people and events requires research and understanding. Throwing mud at an entire community requires a certain degree of basic stupidity. These days, it seems there’s more stupidity on the conservative side.

Perhaps what we really need is a government led by the Member for Warringah …

© Irfan Yusuf 2005


Anonymous said...

Member for Warringah owes an allegiance to a foreign power, and is thus ineligible, under the australian constitution, to sit in parliament.

Anonymous said...

Irfan what did you do when those muslim kids were vulgar towards you?

Anonymous said...

Your experience with lebs is normal. Why don't you accept that your private school upbringing and cosmopolitan family makes you different (and superior) to 99% of the muslims out there.

Worshiping Allah and taking any religious guidance from any non-Australian sheik or mullah is a form of allegiance to a foreign power and should void the Australian citizenship of all muslims. The government of Australia should have no business protecting non-Australians from the legitimate wrath of Australian citizens. Hence there should be legally acceptable open slather violence by Australians on muslims.

Anonymous said...

On Blogs: ”For the most part they are the height of egotism, nearly always banal and often a psychological cry for help.”—the Daily Telegraph’s Anita Quigley

Irfan said...


Abelard said...

Dear Irf,

I cannot, and nor can you, imagine 3 avowed Buddhists or 3 Hashidic Jews or 3 Bible-carrying Christians behaving like your Muslim boys at the traffif lights.
Or telling me or you, after being reminded of their shameful behaviour, to “F#ck off. You’re not even a Buddhist/Jew/Christian. Those sluts were asking for it!”.

Especially not in a non-Buddhist or non-Jewish or non-Christian country.

Sometimes it is stupid to generalise. Sometimes it is stupid not to.


Anonymous said...

peter, you obviously haven't travelled outside the north shore or eastern suburbs. go to cabramatta or fairfield and you will see plenty of kids from vietnamese and assyrian and maronite backgrounds behaving like that.

GoateeCat said...

Go rural, good Christian booners are doing that all over.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 5:30 is a stinking muslim who should never of been let in this country. All muslims make their own country into hell and then come here. Letting in one muslim was always a mistake done purely by Bob Hawke and Paul Keatings hatred for Australia. Rape and insult Christians now because one day we will have our time to kill you and you will see that muslims are just cowards as they die.

Anonymous said...

anoymous leb scum who insults Assyrians and Catholics by comparing them to lebs. Arab muslim scum who in all the Empires of the Middle East were not even worthy enough to be slaves. Arab are the most illiterate and ignorant people in the Middle East excluding Yemeni, and too stupid and lazy even to be slaves. All non-Arabs and non-muslims unite against muslim Arabs especially those who pretend they are lebanese but are just the flies and the maggots.

Anonymous said...

Assyrians dont behave like that Irfan Useless.

Anonymous said...

Dear Irf,

You are one of the few Muslims who are publicly trying to maintain dialogue regarding the cultural tension we're experiencing. Australia needs you very much. You are a light to many young Muslims in Australia. Thank you on behalf of all your fellow Australians. What I think is counter productive to your efforts are posts like Jan 04 'How cultural senility . . '(you were probably tired as you usually write well argued and well researched essays).
Your comment about armchair Nazi's in Online Opinion you probably regret. To take their side for a moment. There is overwhelming evidence now from the vast majority of Muslim countries (and it is the way religion is daily lived that provides the empirical evidence not apologetics) that there are very great political differences (with roots in theology) between the west and Islam. It is answers to these concerns that I think those who post in OnlineOpinion are crying out for. They react badly to what appears to be evasion when you are probably just very tired and frustrated.

In 'Cultural Senility . .' There are no real arguments present in the whole piece. 'Some cultures ARE inferior'. Those transported were mostly pickpockets or petty thieves who were victims of Industrial age economics/lack of welfare. I read there was a massive influx into cities in the transition to the industrial revolution. Law and order couldn't cope and very severe punishments were meted out. These people were convicts not criminals in the main. Do you have statistics about who marries who to counter Windschuttle? You argue ad hominem, with hasty generalisations "I behaved in a juvenile way as a pretend conservative therefore all conservatives are juvenile". You use hyperbole and create a straw man that you demolish instead of the substative argument. And you become what you critisize "generalisations are for dimwits". You speak of serious analysis and reasoned argument but it is lacking in this post, most crucially.

I point this out not as an attack but because I was disappointed. Am I trying as hard as you in service to the Australian public? Not even close. But like I said we need you, and history has drawn you out and is asking something of you. Those little slips unscrupulous ppl will latch onto and Australia will be worse for it.

I think this is the situation that confronts Australia

This person is a geo-political commmentator of singular quality.

I hope you are able to navigate your way in the difficult position you're in. Godbless in all your efforts.

(Race/colour are not the issues. Maintaining this line doesn't appear intellectually honest to many people.)

Titian said...

The best thing you can do is realise that there are bad people in every culture. However, the bad people should constitute 1% or 2%. With Lebs it's more like 30% if not more. Not all lebs are bad, but too many of them are. Stats speak for themselves. The gaols are full of Aussie white trash crap. They are far less than 1% of the Aussie anglo population. The number of lebs in prison though represents a much higher percentage of the Lebanese population in Sydney. It approaches 5%! what do you expect people to think!

If I were you, I'd accept the fact that these mad arabs are giving Muslims a bad name. Stop defending them. Show us that a Muslim can be as Aussie as Mark Jackson! Denounce those idiots, admit that they are a problem, join us in condemning them and in to embarrassing the Lebanese "culture" in Sydney to cleaning up its act! Join us in letting the government feel safe in identifying Lebs as a problem. If you other muslims and NESBs stopped the defensive crap - the government would stop being so PC and scared to act. Then we'd all get on! Aussies have always associated with curries! Aussies, other than the idiot ratbag ones (which are 1% of the population), have always had time for subcontinentals- you've always been here - you're part of the family!

Alaric said...

Peter - you are a truly enlightened man.

On this topic it is not the "Aussies" identifying an ethnic group, it is an ethnic group identifying themselves.

Isn't it funny how everyone can relate to Irf's stories about Lebs with many similar tales? Ironic isn't it that such incidents could actually bring us all together - Aussies, Pakis, Asians.

Maybe that explains some of Cronulla. After all, the TV footage I saw showed all sorts in the fray- notably a huge Islander guy at the train station who was very dark skinned and several "ethnic looking" people.

Vercingetorix said...

That first post poses some big problems for Catholics (Head of Vatican), Australians for constitutional monarchy (Queen of UK) and even Anglicans (Archbishop of Canterbury).

Having said that - I do think that Mullahs with foreign ideas preaching here are a problem. In Irf's defence however, he's also raised this as a big problem. Shouldn't we get behind his idea of locally trained and raised Imams? Even if you had radical ideas and wanted to ban Islam - surely local imams are better than foreign ones if they were the two choices you had? Can't you people be constructive?

Augustus said...

Vercingetorix, you miss the point.

Those leaders of which you speak ie, His Holiness, Her Majesty and that other lesser cleric all have representatives in Australia who are duly screened, appointed and more importantly scrutinized and if necessary sanctioned by their superiors. They all belong to heirarchical structures with regulated checks and balances.

Isn't that really the issue? That the Islamic community refuses to answer to or be responsible to or for anybody or any action?

They could look to Catholicism, Monarchy and Indeed organised Christianity for examples of how to build true community and awareness.

Anonymous said...

Vote for NAASA
No Asians Arabic Scum Anymore

vercingetorix said...

I was just firing a shot across the bow of post no. 1....

Augustus said...

When you get to be as old as me, you remember things from days gone by. Like when the anonynous posters on this site were members of the Group. The Young Liberal left. I remember the great battles they waged to take right wing branches for the Pink ones. i remember them from times before they changed their religion from opportunist athiest to oportunist evangelical christian.

Ahhh Vercingetorix, remember when being a right winger meant you were a true conservative? Remember when it meant you had principals?