Twenty years ago Pauline Hanson told us we were in danger of being swamped by Asians. Today she is warning us we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims. What happened with the Asians? Did they swamp us?
But methinks Pauline needs to go back to school and learn some Australian History. We are a country that has always been negatively obsessed with the current intake of migrants. As Annabel Crabb said in her excellent article in the Sunday Age yesterday:
Read George Megalogenis’ excellent book Australia’s Second Chance. It reminds us that the first ethnic immigrant group to attract a concerted public and media campaign was the 4000-odd Irish orphan girls who were brought to Australia in the late 1840s fleeing the Great Famine.
The Sydney Morning Herald led a campaign against the girls, who were feared to be stubborn, lazy and of bad character. But the settlers quickly assimilated them and turned their hatred on the Chinese, only to turn on the Irish Catholics, and then on the Italians (whom we threw into prison camps during World War II), and then on the Jews. Then the Vietnamese. Then the Chinese again. And now Muslims. Often, the fear is of lawlessness (Irish Insurrection, Italian Mafia crime syndicates, The Triads, Lebanese crime gangs, Islamic State). Always, it’s of otherness, of cultural incompatibility.
Time to wake up Pauline.