Last night, Hansen said Australia was in danger of being swamped by Moslems. Leaving aside the details she used: their incompatibility with democracy, halal, sharia etc, etc, it does not hurt to remember that 20 years ago when she was previously in parliament, she said we were in danger of being swamped by Asians. The conclusion I would draw without having to use words like racism or hate speech, was that she is simply unable to deal with cultural change. Perhaps there is a therapy for such a mental problem. When I went to a catholic primary school in the 1950’s my Irish classmates picked on my ethnic difference and became stroppy. I may have spoken with a slightly German accent.
What intrigues me is that last night on Lateline ex-PM John Howard said that 20 years ago during Hansen’s first speech about being swamped by Asians mistakes were made by demonising her. This involved walking out of the chamber en masse. Since then, he has had a change of mind, his party as well. Since then, Abbott and Brandis have quite proudly asserted that they had the right to be bigots. As part of that state of mind, attacking 18C, the Act that protects against hate speech has been an ongoing thing.
The thing about Australian culture is that, given time, we get used to things and lose interest in being judgemental about strangers. Like English folk who have enthusiastically taken to fiery curries, Aussies already love the kebab or Turkish meat roll, also Lebanese food. The start of the process of acceptance is a long one: back in the 1970’s a group of western guys were walking through a newly Lebanese area; one guy commented “they sell homos here”. A guy on ABC TV talked about 2 drag queens with reference to Turkish culture, Barbara Ganouge and Dawn Service. I think there’s hope for us really.