Last week, Malcolm Turnbull’s announced move to put Australian values front and centre in our citizenship process was lampooned by sections of the left media as a cynical dog whistle. Less than a week later, celebrity Islam-apologist Yassmin Abdel-Magied has shown us exactly why Australian values are a lot more than a jingoistic catchphrase.
Abdel-Magied’s claim that she deleted the post after it was brought to her attention that it was disrespectful is disingenuous guff. Having lived in Australia from an early age and served as a member of the ANZAC Centenary Commemoration Youth Working Group, she knew full well that taking partisan potshots about asylum seekers meant thumbing her nose at a day devoted to honouring the memory of our fallen soldiers.
Far from a verbal misstep, Abdel-Magied’s Facebook status sheds penetrating light on the Australian values of the identity-politics obsessed left and those of the rest.
As Malcolm Turnbull put it last week:
We don’t define ourselves, like many other countries do, by race or religion or ethnicity. We are defined by a commitment to a common set of political values. They are, as you had me saying on the introduction – freedom, equality of men and women, mutual respect, the rule of law, democracy, a fair go.
On a day like ANZAC day, that means putting aside the opinions that divide us and commemorating the sacrifice of those who fought and died in our country’s name. At a time when even Australia day has fallen under sustained PC siege, most still agree the ANZAC legend is a unifying tale that deserves its place in our national psyche.
Yet for Abdel-Magied and her ilk, the notion of a common set of Australian values that transcend race and culture is grating, mainly because Australia is really nothing to be proud of. Commemorating our past is an undeserved indulgence – energy that could be better spent remodelling our country into the bastion of identity conscious virtue it ought to be.
A deeper dive into Abdel-Magied’s short history as a state broadcaster media darling brings these resentments into sharp focus.
After her government-sponsored tour last year took her to seven of the most regressive Islamist regimes on earth, Abdel-Magied said she was frequently asked if Australians really are as ‘racist’ as they’re made out to be. But between swapping stories about Australia’s gross intolerance, she has uttered not a word about the institutionalised racial segregation and subjugation of women in the myriad countries she visited.
Abdel-Magied is happy to use her considerable taxpayer funded media platform to complain that her hometown of Brisbane is ‘white as F***’. Yet she chose to shed no light on the fact that most her speaking tour locations explicitly divide society along medieval ethnic and religious lines.
One would think someone with the self-professed passion for helping women – particularly, ‘women of colour’ – would have a thing or two to say about the fact that in four of her tour stops; Sudan, Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait, more than 90 per cent of women undergo forced genital mutilation.
Instead, Abdel-Magied returned home to produce ‘The Truth About Racism’, an SBS doco on Aussie racism which participant Nick Folke’s panned as a ‘stitch-up from the get-go’ that was ‘skewed to find the white guy a racist.’ She also penned a piece for the Guardian accusing Malcolm Turnbull of breaking her heart for reaffirming that Australia believes in a non-discriminatory immigration system without outright condemning Donald Trump.
That’s right. Unless, and until the Prime Minister of Australia condemns the leader of the free world for temporarily banning people from the world’s main terror hot spots, Abdel-Magied says Muslims will continue to be ‘made to feel like our citizenship and Australianness is conditional.’
As a first generation immigrant, Abdel Magied was made Young Australian of the Year, proudly embraced by the government as an ambassador for our nation and handed a plush gig at our national broadcaster. She has benefitted more than most from the egalitarianism that defines Australia’s success as the world’s most successful multicultural nation. So why then did she take it upon herself to pour scorn on quite literally the most patriotic day of the year?
Another of her articles detailing her walk out on Lionel Shriver’s epic takedown of identity politics polluting fiction provides some helpful clues. The main take-out is that white people who write about the lives of races whose experiences they haven’t lived out are committing a kind of copyright infringement by capitalising out of their misfortune. As Abdel-Magied puts it:
The attitude drips of racial supremacy, and the implication is clear… Your experience is simply a tool for me to use, because you are less human than me.
When you view the world through this sort of dichotomy of racially designated victims and villains as Abdel Magied does, the idea of a majority white country taking a day to look proudly upon their history is just a little too self-congratulatory.
After all, who are we to revel in the noble sacrifices of our forbears while we remain willfully blind to the injustices we’ve brought to bear upon Indigenous Australians, the scores of refugees we’ve locked up in detention centres and the 200,000 displaced Syrians who we aren’t bringing to our shores?
The identity-left don’t like patriotism for the simple reason that it threatens the elevated status enjoyed by their favoured spread of state-sanctioned victim groups. The essential sameness that underpins the idea of citizenship and a shared national history denies the overriding emphasis on differentness that sits at the heart of the identity-left’s credo.
The beleaguered state of continental Europe provides a working example of Abdel-Magied’s brand of Australian values. In Paris, Brussels and Berlin, Muslims live predominantly in enclaves of ethnic isolation, beset by high unemployment and eye-watering rates of welfare dependence. Migrants tend to be treated not as new members of the nation they’re joining, but as constituents of their own tribe.
On the other hand, the United States’ successful history of integrating migrants is the picture of what Turnbull’s Australian values look like when put to practice. While cultural heritage is recognised and celebrated, it is done so within the context of a unified national identity that subsists below the narrow divisions of race and religion.
The idea of Australian values isn’t just a mealy-mouthed platitude. They are principles, with real and significant consequences. I thank Yassmin Abdel-Magied for bringing this to light.
John Slater is Executive Director of the HR Nicholls Society.
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