We grew here, but as for you...
It's strange how selective national guilt is. Germany went through an agonising orgy of recrimination post-Nazism and produced a fine body of self-lacerating literature, while Japan's nihonjinron - the doctrine of racial superiority - survived two atom bombs unscathed and continues to enrage war vassals China and South Korea.
But as for Britain's gradual takeover of the Australian continent and the flourishing colonies left behind by empire - who remembers the defeated living in desert pockets unable to support cattle? It seems like the temporary introspection of the 60s - 90s has been superceded - and with it cultural cringe - and instead Australia is prouder than ever, more certain than ever, more settled on this foreign soil than ever before.
What struck me about the Cronulla riots was this latent pride - spurred on by Hanson, spurred on by the emergence of the unAustralian - the Asian face, the Lebanese intrusion on beaches. The iconic image was the tanned surfer who had painted himself with war-stripes, as the Aborigines did with ochre, to defend his turf - "We grew here, you flew here". The image has stuck with me, capturing a defiant boy-man claiming this land as his own, emblazoning his claim on his chest. I believe the surfies-turf slogan first arose in Hawaii, as surfers - always a parochial and defensive bunch - nursed resentments against the newcomers from other American states. (Scroll down on this page
). The slogan's reappearance here means, perhaps, that Anglo pride is resurgent, coming from conflict with emergent groups, as is nearly always the case.
Concerned citizens tend to view Cronulla as they did Hanson - the hydra of blue-collar racism which must be quashed. But this obscures deeper issues - increasing feelings of ownership; a more traditional form of patriotism emerging, and the way in which diversifying patterns of migration away from the restricted Southern European immigration post-war unfortunately intersects with the flight of manufacturing and the end of the long post-war boom (artificially kept alive by minerals exports at present). So Australia invites in migrants which it no longer desperately needs for massive hydro schemes or to replenish our supply of males to replace those left in lonely European or Asian graves, and with the phasing out of the colour bar, migrants from Lebanon and Africa and China flock to one of the rare lands of alleged opportunity. Here, they work their way up in time-honoured fashion, angering Anglos - job theft! face colour! Muslim treatment of women! - and undermining the multicultural paradise which makes Australia appear so inviting to the desperate refugees and skilled migrants alike. We live in interesting times.
Next Federal election, to stave off the mournful cries of inner-city lefties in distress - Howard walks amongst us again! - I am thinking of organising buses trucking the inflamed out to Cranbourne/Melton/Dandenong to engage with Liberal voters. Post-election lefty whinges are so boring - but I don't know anyone who voted for Howard, they bleat, sipping lattes amidst culture and patting a tame refugee. Well, why not try talking to those who have repeatedly expressed their confidence in Howard? Why huddle in inner-city ghettoes under siege from the right, protecting academic grants and unprofitable artists? Why not tackle the government on imprisoning desperate people with dark faces and the unsuccessful war to salvage some oil for America? If you can't make the case for change to outer suburbanites, I don't want to hear another fucking complaint about our illustrious PM.