Thursday, January 25, 2007

For the record

Word has it that I am being traduced and misrepresented at various points around the blogosphere. How excitement!

But as I seem to have upset several people with Tuesday's post on the implications of the PM's re-naming of the Department of Immigration and Citizanship (DIC, formerly DIMA, formerly DIMIA), and it has resulted in libellous misrepresentations of my views in ways and places I can't control, let me make a couple of things clear.

I did not call John Howard 'a racist'.

I did not claim, nor did I imply, that he had actually used the word 'assimilation'.

What I said was

(a) that his policy was assimilationist, which it is. Short of stopping immigration altogether, assimilation is the only thing left, by a process of elimination, after you erase the alternative, 'multicultural', from the name and the policy of the department in question,


(b) that assimilation was essentially a racist policy, which it is. 'Assimilate: to absorb, to become absorbed, incorporated ... to become or cause to become similar'. What this means is the erasure of cultural difference, and cultural difference sometimes, though not always, includes racial difference. A desire to erase racial difference would seem to me to indicate a negative attitude to it.

A quick look at the post in question should confirm the accuracy of both (a) and (b). But I do admit, with shame, to having optimistically assumed that these things were understood without me having to spell them out, and that people would be able to follow the argument. One would hope that the people reading one's blog can, in fact, read, but it seems this isn't always the case.

UPDATE: Oh and another thing: I would be very interested to see any of the people who called that post 'drivel', 'stupid', 'prejudice', 'nonsense', 'wankery' or 'deception' (deception? que?) explain clearly and in detail just exactly what they think Howard's reasons were for the last two changes in this department's name. Go on. As the PM himself would be proud to say, have a go.


Mindy said...

It's a cheap shot, and one that is sure to come back and bite me, but anyway... PC some of these people can't even spell, much less follow an argument. I thought what you said was perfectly clear, but then I agree with you, so I would say that. Maybe posting in words of one syllable?

Pavlov's Cat said...

No, of course they can't, you're quite right. (NB words of one syllable!) Thank you, Mindy. I was beginning to think it really might be me.

redcap said...

Erm, can *I* call John Howard a racist who is only interested in assimilation? I'm perfectly happy for any righties to come and flame me at my blog. In fact, bring it on - I'm in the mood for a ol' good argument! :)

Alex said...

Howard is a racist.

Remember his attempts to limit the amount of Asian immigration in 1988?

Discrimination on the basis of race is racism. Howard reinvented himself as a more moderate voice later on, however, underlying beliefs such as the ones he displayed are engrained.

I like a lot of what Munn writes, but he's got this one terribly wrong.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Redcap, be my guest by all means.

Alex, I do indeed remember 1988 clearly.

Dany le roux said...

szebmMs cat,the Little Rodent does not care any more if it is called multiculturalism or assimilation but he does care if his core business support base does not get a flood of better quality workers than the now 1.75 million wasting away on Newstart most of whom are not counted when it comes to compiling the bullsh*t 4.7% unemployment rate.
Migration has again produced a housing shortage in Sydney and a surplus of workers which keeps the rents up and the wages down.The tensions arising from this state of affairs and the massive infrastructure shortfalls the Rodent has been happy to let the State governments sort out.
I think things must be different in SA where there seem to be skilled workers still actually producing things like cars and good wine.

Anonymous said...

Sushi Das made a similar point last January.

Mmmmm, Sushi...

Cast Iron Balcony

Ernst Jacobi said...

"... his policy was assimilationist, which it is."

A claim like this needs to be supported by evidence. Are the synagogues being closed, religious schools or SBS defunded, non-white immigration curtailed, foreign language banned ...

You have built your case on a pile of straw. What a sad joke.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Dany -- thank God for a reasonable commenter who can explain his position lucidly and rationally, and I can see your point. What's needed is better understanding and management of the problems as they arise, better cooperation between state and federal governments, and less incomprehension between those in power who think in exclusively economic terms and those who have other kinds of values, including humanitarian ones, in play. (Not unlike the blogosphere, in fact.)

"Ernst Jacobi" (I wonder what your real name is), read the posts properly before you comment on them here, please. .

And read the newspapers. If you really are so naive that you don't recognise assimilation when it's staring you in the face unless it's actually burning synagogues and banned kilts, then that is your misfortune but it is not my fault. And I am getting very sick of personally abusive trolls on my own personal blog.

hc said...

Obviously JWH substituted the word 'citizenship' because he sees that as something valuable and worth emphasising. It is too. No immigrant is being forced to abandon their culture but, when they come to Australia, the desire is for them to become recognisably Australian and a citizen.

Those who find this offensive place no value of the idea of being Australian - it is seen an empty slate that any external culture can only improve on. Even the idea of being an 'Australian' is a bit nationalistic and unpleasant to those with this precept.

Outside your leftist echo chamber you'll find that almost no-one agrees with this view. Almost no one identifies JWH as a racist (sorry as an assimilationist and assimilationist means racist) - glad we cleared that up!

You are unduely sensitive about people criticising your views PC. It was a silly post and richly deserved the flack it got.

Pavlov's Cat said...

It got more approval than flak (NB spelling), Harry, as you can see here; did you actually read this comments thread? Or is anyone who agrees with me to be dismissed as the 'leftist echo chamber' -- unlike all those rugged individualist heroes on the right, who of course don't have any views in common?

Most of what I've said here has been to correct the malicious misrepresentations of someone other than you, and if you aren't following that part of the discussion then I suggest you stay right out of it. If all you mean by 'unduly sensitive' (NB spelling, again) is that I have spiritedly defended my views, what else would you have expected me to do? It seems to me that you are being far more sensitive, about me or anyone else criticising your hero the PM, than I am.

These things are a matter of opinion and interpretation. I happen to think that the way people use language is important and carries a lot of meaning. I haven't seen you yourself advance a better argument than 'It was silly' yet, either.

As for this bit:

'Those who find this offensive place no value of the idea of being Australian'

I don't find it offensive at all; I merely disagree with you that it is Howard's real agenda. What I do find offensive is the way he's pushing, for political advantage, the idea that anyone who doesn't agree with him doesn't care about being Australian. I'm fifth-generation Australian on one side and descended from two First Fleeters on the other, myself, and extremely proud of both sides of the family, but I can't see what it's got to do with the Prime Minister, I'm sure.

' - it is seen an empty slate that any external culture can only improve on.'

'Seen' by whom? Not by me; please don't put words in my mouth. What I and other anti-assimilationist, pro-multiculturalist types advocate is diversity within the law, as I believe I've already explained.

'Even the idea of being an 'Australian' is a bit nationalistic and unpleasant to those with this precept.'

I have a PhD in Australian Literature, which I taught in a university for seventeen years and have written books about. If you look at today's Weekend Australian you will see that I wrote the cover story of the Review section, the piece about Australian fiction and Australian values. But then, perhaps you don't value literature either.

And if you think my views are silly, why on earth are you reading my blog? Life is short. Go do something you love.

hc said...


Thanks for the spelling lesson.

I am sure you are a very experienced writer, journalist and academic. Good for you - indeed I've taken a whole new view of your world!

Yeah, and its all a matter of opinion. Wow.

You really are a sensitive little soul.

"And if you think my views are silly, why on earth are you reading my blog? Life is short. Go do something you love."

I've taken my ball and - for the moment - gone home.

dany le roux said...

I have not bought a D.Digger organ since 1975(there are still a few of us about)but today I bought the W'end Australian just to read your opus because it does not seem to be available on line.It is a very high quality piece of work and you should be very pleased with yourself.
The moral for HC of this story is - there can be no good or sensitive written ideas without good and sensitive writing.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Thanks, Dany. Sorry about your $2.20 (?), because the article is indeed online, here.

lucy tartan said...

Thanks for the link, Pav - I spent at least ten minutes today trying to find that online - really enjoyed it.

You should recirculate that Austlit meme you made up ages ago.

Pavlov's Cat said...

It took me ages to find it online as well -- when in fact the link was on their home page for that edition under 'The Arts', but not alas identified there by author.

Recirculating the Aust Lit meme might be fun. I am feeling a bit grim about the whole blogging enterprise in the wake of weird events last week, and have a whole stack of unhappy new theories about blogging and gender, so some light relief might be in order.

ThirdCat said...

I was just looking for a meme to do yesterday afternoon and couldn't find one.