Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Morning Musings - Multiculturalism and Blogging Imperfections

I am prone to errors of spelling and grammar. While I have improved from my first ever spelling test in primary school - a score of minus 10 out of 100 - the problem remains.

I also find that errors get worse as I get tireder. When I get very tired, my hand-eye coordination vanishes, as does my capacity to do simple maths.

I remember arriving at Heathrow from Germany to catch the plane back to Australia.

Over the previous week I had been to Yeovil by train, spent the day on a factory visit, back to London by helicopter, then to Edinburgh by plane, another factory visit, back to London and then from there to Munich for another factory visit.

Coming on top of an already exhausting schedule, I was absolutely wrecked by the time I arrived at Heathrow. Anything that required the capacity to think was beyond me.

I know my own weaknesses. When working on a job, I print out to check my English word by word, line by line.

This is hard to do when blogging or otherwise composing on screen. Yes, I use the preview, facility with my own posts. Even then I make errors, more so when I am commenting in those tiny comment boxes.

Another problem with blogging is simply keeping track not just of posts, but of comments on posts - mine and others.

I was reminded of all this this morning because I commented on a post of Neil's. I was trying to write a substantive comment, but found the comment format limiting. I also wanted to check material in previous posts and comments on both this and Neil's blog, but could not remember where they were!

Now how does all this link to multiculturalism? Well, this was the area I wanted to check.

I find it interesting how my own ideas have evolved since I started blogging. To set a context, two quotes. This one from Paul Heinrichs' obituary of Al Grasby, April 24, 2005.

It was to Grassby's eternal credit that, through political vision, his wit and some outrageous stunts, he turned this into a plus, helping to bury the discredited White Australia policy of the Menzies era ....

Grassby's policies began the transformation of an Anglo-centric, or at least Euro-centric Australia, to one that welcomed Asians and people from every part of the globe.

When they got here, they were no longer pressed into jettisoning every bit of their culture to "assimilate" into the mainstream Anglo-Celtic community.

Now this one from Keith Windschuttle.

All that social democrats contributed to Harold Holt’s reforms was to impose on them the doctrine of multiculturalism, that is, a government program to encourage immigrant communities to preserve the cultures of their old countries, no matter how irreconcilable they might be with Australian mores. Fortunately, apart from a number of publicity-seeking spokesmen and the members of Middle Eastern subcultures in a few urban areas, the great majority of immigrants have shown little interest in such backward-looking ethnic compartmentalisation and have opted to join the mainstream.

Heinrichs' comments are a historical travesty and represent the intellectual position that used to make my blood boil, especially when my kids came home from school with it.

Windschuttle's views come from the other side of fence and are a response to the type of position that Heinrichs articulated. To my mind, the Windschuttle quote is equally a historical travesty.

When I began blogging I was fighting against what I saw as the still overwhelming influence of the Heinrichs position. I have moved on from this. Now my interest lies not in debating the virtues or otherwise of different definitions of multiculturalism, but in understanding just how the different positions emerged.

To my mind, the best way of managing debates that purport to be based on Australian history is to look at the history itself.

You don't need to be an intellectual giant to demolish some of views that are around. Checking a few historical facts is often enough.

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