Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Prime Minister kills two linguistic birds with one stone

John Howard has always hated the word 'multiculturalism' and has grabbed his chance to erase it from the country's vocabulary:

The PM also announced he would rename the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Yes, the former Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs -- product of an earlier erasure in which the word 'Indigenous' had been likewise obliterated --- was most recently known by the acronym DIMA (pronounced DIMMER, at least by me). It has been replaced as of today by 'Department of Immigration and Citizenship' and I am quite sure is already being referred to as DIC.

And, as I've said over at LP, I am sure that they will proceed to wave it, along with the flag.

Could this have been a deliberate longterm two-step plan to bid a symbolic good riddance to formal acknowledgement first of Aboriginal people and then of any reference to any culture other than Australia's narrow grey outgrowth of 1950s Anglo-Saxon dreariness, to which the PM has been systematically attempting to return us for eleven years now?

But wait, there's more:

The whole purpose of immigration is to recruit more people to the broader Australian family,'' Mr Howard said.

Oh, that's clever. Propose assimilation, a fundamentally racist policy that has been comprehensively and internationally outdated and discredited, and then dress it up with the 'family' reference, by which, as we all know, the PM means hubby, wife and 2.4 children, in that order. Two bits of reactionary rhetoric in one sentence.

I wonder whether it's all his own work.


cristy said...

Don't you mean 3 children - remember we are now supposed to have 'one for the country'.

comicstriphero said...

If I were a smarter commenter, with a better recollection of high school english texts, I'd liken this re-naming and formalised 'forgetting' to something in 1984.

But I can't quite dredge something up.

It all has the same feel, though.

Kirsty said...

" recruit more people to the broader Australian family,"

Sounds like a cult to me. Pass the Kool Aid.

Dean said...

Personally I couldn't care less what they call it. I think most non-Anglos don't really give a toss, either. In any case, it's about time to chuck out multiculturalism as a slogan. The basic premise has been thoroughly assimilated in society. Look at John So's popularity, for example. And both Bracks and Iemma are from wog backgrounds.

hc said...

If Howard is such a racist why are rates of iummigration at their hiighest level for a decade with more migrants than ever before coming from non Anglo Saxon backgrounds. Why record levels of refugee and humanitarian migration from Africa.

This post is utter nonsense.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Well, Dean, I'd argue that it matters quite a lot what you call it, because different words actually do mean different things. (And besides, if it doesn't matter, why did Howard bother to change its name?)

Harry, if you don't understand the difference between assimiliation and multiculturalism -- and you don't seem to, judging by your comment -- then I can understand why you would think the post is nonsense. It would certainly be nonsense to you.

But there is a big difference in meaning between 'assimilation', which aims to make everybody "like us", and 'multiculturalism', which advocates expression and maintenance of cultural difference within the law. It's not a "slogan", it's the name of a quite specific position.

Cristy -- wow, think how much trouble you'll be in with the rabid hordes if you have two more after the 3rd Pea and write excellent blog posts every time how it feels to be pregnant with them!

Pavlov's Cat said...

'ABOUT how it feels ...'


hc said...

'...a fundamentally racist policy'.

This is nonsense - inconsistent with the facts and an instance of displaying nothing but prejudice.

In what way has Howard sought to deny people their culture? In what way has the government been racist? By urging that migrasnts speak English?

All you are saying is that you don't like John Howard. It really is drivel.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I said that assimilation was a fundamentally racist policy, which it is. The definition of assimilation is that incomers, um, assimilate -- namely, conform to the practices of the dominant culture. That's what assimiliation is. One of its openly stated aims is to erase cultural difference, which often includes racial difference.

And I agree that it is drivel, though not in the way you mean.

Lunar Brogue said...

I wonder if the good people of Tamworth in publicly describing the Sudanese migrants in their midst as polio-incubating criminals were being racist?

How many of these good citizens live behind picket fences, own small-businesses, take their kids to soccer on Saturdays and mistily honour the flag?

I'm not convinced that our culture would be any richer, our sense of unity and common purpose any stronger, if the Sudanese Tamworthians learnt how to behave and think the Anglo-Tamwo way.

Oz said...

Most of the problem is that I don't think people have any idea about multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism is about accepting a level of pluralism within a framework of generally accepted values. It's not cultural relativism as some try to make it out to be.

Australia for a long time has been diverse, arguably the fact there was a sectarian divide shows there was significant difference.

The difference has been that we've actually been accommodating of difference under multiculturalism and we haven't had such problems until the deprioritisation of the policy under Howard.

The difference between multiculturalism and "assimilation" which means to engulf, destroy and merge is that multiculturalism is about saying 'Yes you can contribute to shaping Australian culture' instead of 'You're an immigrant/ethnic, you therefore have no right to contribute to shaping what our society and culture should be like. You need to become exactly like us but you won't be our equal because you can't have an input.'

Pavlov's Cat said...

Indeed. Nice summary, thanks.

Ampersand Duck said...

I'd love to broaden my Australian family with an overseas adoption, but the hoops of fire are just too hot to jump through. I wonder if he'll make that particular exercise easier?

And love the thought of DIC.

The Department of Communications, Technology and the Arts (where BB used to work), DCITA, is formally pronounced Deeseeta, but I always call it Dickeater, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

Red said...

"All you are saying is that you don't like John Howard. It really is drivel."

Sheesh, I would have expected something better than an ad hominem argument from a prof.

melaleuca said...
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Pavlov's Cat said...

Red -- Well, he's a prof of economics, I believe. The post was actually about the uses of language, which is my own field of specialisation. The difference is that it would never occur to me to turn up on his blog and splutter at him about how his right-wing posts on economics were drivel. I'd assume he knew more about it than I do.

melaleuca said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pavlov's Cat said...
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Pavlov's Cat said...
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Pavlov's Cat said...

I have taken it upon myself, this being my own blog and all, to wipe a rather undignified exchange of comments with "Melaleuca", who for reasons best known to himself seems to have declared war on me personally. Unresolved Oedipal issues, would be my guess. But in the meantime the whole exchange is quite unedifying, and any further additions to it will be likewise wiped.

Mummy/Crit said...

Oh my, the beloved will be thrilled. Since he started dealing with them in 2004 the dept has changed its name. We liked DIMA as a name, summed them up beautifully, but DIC takes the cake. (Nice editing there PC! BTW)

Duck - I hadn't got as far as Dickeater for DCITA someone I know went to work for them and was pronouncing it more like "DiKEEter" rather than "DICKeater" syllabic emphasis difference...

audrey said...

Ampersand, you ain't alone...

I'm amused in a simultaneously-utterly-depressed way that J.Ho thinks the cultureless dreck that formulates Australia today is worth recruiting more practioners of said culture too.

Give me Gouger Street anyday.

Helen said...

I must say, HC, that for an academic your sentences were badly constructed and I see numerous spelling errors.

The "Back to Basics" Howard administration really should send you for some re-education.

redcap said...
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dany le roux said...

I would love to see what hc's blog looks like and I have a feeling that he needs the purifying influence of someone whose name in part is "roux".Please tell me.

Pavlov's Cat said...

So, are you also the person identified here as 'Red'?

Actually, HC seems a gentle creature on the whole and is far more rational and literate than your run-of-the-mill right-winger, and I have learned quite a bit about economics from reading some of his stuff. If you click on his initials the link will take you to his blog, which is a welcome change from the more usual demented and semi-literate right-wing frothing.

dany le roux said...

"Roux" is red headed .The French press gave me this name in the 70s because I was a very left German student activist with red hair.The French tend not to have "red" hair and regard those who do have it as trouble makers. I am not the "Red" commenting here bless him.
I looked at HC's site and he is talking through his rectum about some technical stuff I know about because he did not read all of the data first.
Wonder why he did not go for me here?

Red said...

Hi pavlov and dany,

I'm another redhead, and the one who commented earlier.

My earlier comment was made after I looked at hc's blog. Given the quality of his work there, I was surprised that he was reduced to having a bit of a 'comment section' tantrum on someone else's blog instead of discussing the point in a reasonable manner.

Sorry to hear this post has caused a bit of static, pavlov. Love all your work, from the uses of language to the digital camera action. Those tomato plants are looking good :)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Greetings, Red. Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.

Harry is still cross, if the comments thread at the follow-up post is anything to go by.

Anonymous said...