By Denis A. Conroy – Ballarat, Australia
Where is Australian multiculturalism going? Are we to remain a subaltern people, too remote in every sense from historic definition to be able to infuse our national identity with meaningful discourse? Will we ever forge resolutions to the problems that demand attention? For instance, writing a constitution for this country, or creating a treaty with the indigenous people, might be a beginning?
Since 1973 (Google) we have assumed the following… As a prescriptive term, multiculturalism is the simple fact of cultural diversity and the democratic make-up of a specific place, sometimes at the organizational level, e.g., schools, business, neighborhoods, cities, or nations. As a prescriptive term, multiculturalism encourages ideologies and policies that promote this diversity or its institutionalization.
In this sense multiculturalism is a society ‘at ease with the rich tapestry of human life and the desire among people to express their own identity in the manner they see fit’.
But how can one ignore the inherent incapacity of our system to deal with any form of resolute reform when power brokerage is the raison d’etre of our system.
Casting a glance over the ‘multiculturalism’ referred to in the above paragraph and ‘the tapestry of human life’ metaphor, the reality comes across as being infertile at best and anemic at worst, against a background of competing groups.
The great game of musical chairs that we call free elections, is about voting in our chosen candidates for a stint at exercising unilateral power for a while within a multilateral context. But it seems that the old binary shoe-shuffle of left and right has changed little over time. Intellectuals to the left and right are identified by the guernseys they wear (was Fredierich Engels right in saying that ‘all morality is class morality’?) ,or by the calibre of imputation they use when confronting adversity, or deflecting attention from issues deemed too hot to handle.
Our understanding of what our ‘tapestry of human life’ could mean, was tested recently in NSW when the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Sydney Morning Herald engaged in faux semantics over the appearance of a Glen Le Lievre cartoon, accompanying a column written by renowned journalist Mike Carlton on the subject of the Gaza siege.
Glen Le Lievre used a photograph of a large group of Israeli civilians standing on a hill overlooking the caged-in people below being slaughtered. This picture became the template for the cartoon he created, depicting celebrants wearing the kippah and Star of David while making vulgar whoopee on a hill above the imprisoned Gazans.
In the ensuing ‘morality’ play conducted in the backrooms of the corporate domain, the question of who could say what and when in the multicultural state was resolved in covert silence. The verdict was that the symbols of the Star of David or the kippah implied stereotypicality by way of invoking Jewisness.
Nevertheless, the world watched in horror as Zionist Israel, their aircraft and tanks embellished with the Star of David, their personnel wearing the kippah, relentlessly turned the Gaza enclave into a state of perilous decrepitude.
The big lie that followed the censoring of the cartoon was obfuscated in semantic niceties. The truth was something else; it was not admissible to identify the doer with the deed. It was anti-Semitic to acknowledge Israel’s racism against the Palestinians…as if the world hadn’t already noticed what the Israelis had done to the Palestinians!
So the multicultural house of cards has many faces. For one group, the NSW Board of Deputies, it was fair game to play the religious card. The moral high ground was the pulpit from which they could demonize their detractors.
No word is said about an ideology that inducts young Jews into the IDF from Australia, Britain, America, Canada, Ukraine etc., to join in an obscene ‘turkey shoot’ of the innocents of Gaza. Is the depiction of a Jew as having a big nose as in Le Lievre’s cartoon more offensive than the cowardly lengths to which the occupiers and oppressors of Gaza go to, in order to pulverize that tragic place?
To be fair, more than 160 Jewish Australians publicly objected to the war on Gaza calling for restraint…voices of moderation springing from an ether of surprises…as does the memory of Francisco Goya’s wonderful prints ‘Disaster of War’, so revealing of excess in all its manifestations, so acutely tuned into something that our cartoonists or journalists might regard as being at ease with the rich tapestry of human life in all its multifarious forms and how best to express it.
Meanwhile, it’s back to business as usual, unless people across the world who, in bearing witness to the inequities imposed on the people of Palestine, find better means to deal with the falsities surrounding the origins of the conflict and highlight the theft of land as being the issue so central to this tragedy.
– Denis A. Conroy is a retired businessman and journalist and a voracious follower of matters political outside of the mainstream arena. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.