Tonight, as I write this, Dutch politician and outspoken critic of Muslim immigration into all Western societies, Geert Wilders, is speaking somewhere in Melbourne (where I live) on this very subject.
He’s in Australia on invitation from a fringe organization, Q Society, who are openly anti-Muslim. Not surprisingly, they had trouble finding venues, and their meetings will be picketed by protesters, including the one held tonight as already witnessed on the news.
I’ve seen all this before, more than once, where some foreign group is going to overwhelm our cultural heritage and supplant our identity or the identity of our children. This is pretty much the rhetoric of Wilders, specifically aimed at Muslims, yet I heard the same rhetoric aimed at ‘Wogs’ (Italians and Greeks) when I was growing up, then Asians, especially refugees from Vietnam, and now it’s Muslims, as they are the predominant refugee group seeking asylum in Australia.
Xenophobia has always been alive and well in this country, as it is all over the world, yet we pride ourselves on our multiculturalism. Wilders, and the people who support him, equates multiculturalism with cultural relativism, therefore it is untenable. This is a gross simplification and misrepresentation, and is certainly not what most people see or experience who live in Australia.
Wilders has come here to warn us that we live in a delusion and that we will become an Islamic totalitarian state simply by maintaining a tolerant and open attitude towards Muslims. Wilders believes strongly that all Muslims are trapped already in this state and we will be forced to follow. Obviously, Wilders hasn’t met the Muslims that I know and he’s never had a conversation with Waleed Aly.
Wilders’ bonhomie claim to a ‘friend’ and kindred spirit in Australian politics is Cory Bernadi, who was recently forced to resign his front-bench post in Federal politics as a result of him comparing gay marriage to bestiality. Personally, I’m not surprised that Islamophobia and homophobia should produce common bedfellows. They are both based on paranoia, intolerance and a desire to freeze our society in aspic.
My observation from witnessing 3 generations of immigrants is that it’s the children who determine the result. They experience a range of cultures that sometimes creates conflict with their parents, but they’re the ones who seize the opportunity of education, social interaction and workforce experience. At the end of the day, they have to reconcile their cultural heritage with the society they call home, and, generally, they seem to manage quite well.
I find it interesting that Wilders repeatedly points out our Judea-Christian heritage being at odds with Islam, yet we are a secular society, and its strength is not to politicise religion; something other societies struggle with.