Thursday, December 23, 2004

White Australia; the West

Marilyn Lake has an interesting and fair review of The White Australia Policy by everyone's favourite academic outcast Keith Windschuttle in the latest SMH. I read with interest especially the bracketed note where KW mistakes the American historian Richard White with the left-leaning Australian historian Richard White. You know, you'd think as a professional Australian historian you'd be up to speed on just who was who, especially if apparently you've read their books.

As the subject of the book is uncomfortably close to my own thesis topic and to an academic paper I wrote earlier this year, I'm going to have to read it. Stay posted, comrades, for a review sometime soon.

Thankfully we don't live in the Australia of the early twentieth century, nor have we retained their explicit racism. We can conceive of a progressive nation that doesn't discriminate on racial or ethnic grounds--or at least some of us can.

I've been becoming more and more disturbed by the RWDB bloggers imagining the 'West' as a culturally unified entity, inherently opposed to an 'islamist' entity, existing only to challenge and destroy Western values. Melanie Phillips does it here with her take on the recent Victorian religious vilification lawsuit. She has probably never stopped to consider the famous graffiti poem:

How odd
of God
To choose
The Jews.
But not
as odd
as those
who choose
a Jewish God
Yet scorn
the Jews.

...or consider the implications for imagining 'Western' values that can only accomodate a few particular religious beliefs. Scorn for Islam with a defence of supposedly Christian, Western values is a particular brand of blindness that's growing, unfortunately.

Lastly, I swear I'll give you all a break from student political bullshit for a while.


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