race (2)

Let’s go on now to some issues between cultural nationalism and multicultural nationalism.

The old idea of assimilation is very much a cultural nationalistic view if an extreme one. Is this in itself racist? i dont believe so because beliefs and cultural practices can be changed whereas the colour of one’s skin cannot. The fact that one believes one’s own culture is preferable in one’s country and that newcomers should adopt that culture is, IMO, fair enough. It doesnt mean that one believes other countries and other cultures outside of one’s own country should adopt it. However, is assimilation (ie the argument i just put forward) used as a cover for racist sentiments and beliefs? Definately. Multicultural nationalists tend to be very suspicious of cultural nationalists for that reason because racial nationalists tend to sound very much like cultural nationalists especially when it comes down to assimilation.

The result is that it is very difficult in Australia to have a debate about cultural nationalism and assimilation in general without being called a racist by multicultural nationalists. All too often, multicultural nationalists have used the racist tag to gag debate on very real issues and concerns of cultural compatibility. Ethnic minorities with a preference for keeping hold of their cultural practices have also found that the easiest way of defending them is not through debate on the principles of their cultural practices and beliefs but through representing all attempts of debate in terms of racism and oppression. To be fair, I believe that the majority of the time, they are entirely justified.

Note that I have distinguished between multicultural nationalists and ethnic minorities because I dont believe that all ethnic minorities are multicultural nationalists. There are segments of ethnic minorities who exist on a very defensive level and when examined in greater detail are the equivalent of extreme cultural nationalists in the sense that they have no wish to change *any* of their cultural practices and beliefs. I’ll use the term minority culturalists from now on to describe them.

As cultural nationalists firmly believe that it is the right of every culture or society to define the underlying belief system on which it prefers to operate, cultural nationalists have become very suspicious of multicultural nationalists especially of the use of the racist tag.

Again, I’m generalising because in reality, there isnt that much of a divide between thoughtful cultural and multicultural nationalists. Both agree that there is a certain base level of cultural beliefs that are essential for Australian society to exist harmoniously. Where that base level is at is really where intelligent and rational debate should be centred.

The problem is that all too often racial nationalists and minority culturalists hijack the debate. I would also say that extreme cultural nationalists (ie assimilationists) dont help either. None of these types are willing to compromise because none of them are at the end of the day willing to examine their own core beliefs or change them.

With all of that defined, I’d definately say I’m a multi-culturalist. I believe that every culture within Australia should be respected and supported within limits. The limits being the following:

– English as lingua franca
– support for the Australian constitution and the liberal democratic system
– support and believe in women’s equality and women’s rights
– respect for all sexual orientations and practices between consenting adults
– EDIT: respect for other cultures and practices that do not conflict with the above
– EDIT: respect for all religious beliefs that do not conflict with the above

EDIT: NOTE: I’ve include political beliefs and religion as part of culture.

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