The Peking duck arrived on a platter the size of a solar dish and the party of prosperous retired couples tucked in with gusto. Conventionally leftish, comfortably superannuated, ‘Yes’ voters (though they would have thought gay marriage an absurd fantasy five years ago, and weren’t that keen on gays in general not many years before that), they all liked dining out in the exotic restaurants they considered one of the manifold benefits multiculturalism had bestowed on the dull old Australia of their youth. Less welcome, perhaps, were the real-life representatives of the multiple cultures who had supposedly brought about this happy change.
The Chinese in particular were, well, a problem. Not on account of their being Chinese – perish the thought – no one at the table was going to say that, since that would be ‘racism’ and utterly abhorrent to these enlightened diners, chatting away as they took on board another helping of Peking duck big enough to feed ten Chinese peasant families for a week (if they were ever able to get it). In fact no one said anything when the word Chinese was first tentatively introduced, but a little frisson of mutual acknowledgment that there was a difficulty with persons of that race was audibly thought, if one can put it like that. Then someone mentioned a survey which showed that, of the city’s expensive eastern suburbs, only the distant hills on the metropolitan fringe had remained almost exclusively ‘Anglo’. Elsewhere, apparently, ‘the Chinese’ were consolidating their long march through the kind of desirable residential districts Barry Humphries immortalised. This then was the ‘problem’, its final emergence into the open coinciding with a ‘palate-cleanser’ of jellies and watermelon: the Chinese have an excessive zeal for real estate acquisitions.
‘They’re ruining our streets,’ said someone. In other words, impeccably anti-racist whites don’t like their suburbs being disfigured with the ostentatious mini-mansions the new owners invariably put up when they buy a site and pull down whatever was there before. No mention was made of the equally hideous houses that new-rich non-Chinese build. Perhaps because these owners blend in with their longer standing ‘Anglo’ neighbours.
The irony of this manifestation of genteel racism taking place in a Chinese restaurant went unnoticed. It’s a conversation you can hear all over Melbourne’s upmarket east, and anywhere else in Australia that attracts rich Chinese, whenever two or three well-to-do home-owners gather together. Yet these same people would have nothing but contempt for ‘racists’ whose racism consists, not of residential snobbery, but of opposing the unconditional arrival of ‘asylum seekers’ or voting for Pauline Hanson or Trump.
Ah, Trump. No evening of this sort would be complete without the ritual denunciation of the bien-pensants’ Great Satan. What particular outrage he was being deplored for on this occasion wasn’t specified, apart from some vague murmuring about the Las Vegas massacre being what you’d expect in ‘Trump’s America’. I don’t recall anyone blaming Orlando on ‘Obama’s America’ but my mind must have wandered because I found myself thinking how artificial these preoccupations of the socially concerned middle class are. They are luxury worries.
It’s as though these almost uniquely privileged citizens of a peaceful and prosperous country are looking for things to worry about. Trump’s being President adds not one jot or tittle of a real worry to their lives. Were they not blinded by media-concocted prejudice they would realise that, among other advantages, they’re safer with him there to stand up to a real menace like Kim Jong-un than they would have been with Hillary, whose mendacious faffing around helped make such a mess of Libya and Syria and who did nothing towards de-nuclearising that other international nutcase, Iran.
The left-leaning class whose political and social views constitute the centre ground in this country should get real. First, the objects of their worry are largely chimeric. Take climate change. Has anyone been personally affected by any change they can point to? Has the water at their favourite beach crept further up the sand than when they were kids? Have the snows of yesteryear vanished never to return? The worry is factitious, brought about not by observation but by grant-seeking scientists talking up the alleged rate of change (the more honest of them now admitting that they did, so to speak, cook the books). The futility of this worry will become evident when, in a few years, scientists read in their teacups that the planet is cooling and everyone becomes terrified that instead of frying they’ll freeze and that rivers and reservoirs, rather than drying up, are about to turn into glaciers.
Second, there are plenty of real things to worry about, things that could threaten the tranquil existence most Australians take for granted. If you want to worry about the Chinese, worry that communist China, behind the mask of its vast ‘aid’ programme, is insinuating itself throughout the Pacific, intent on replacing the US as the regional superpower.
Worry that the world is a cruel and hostile place and that our armed forces are becoming more concerned with modish nonsense about female ‘empowerment’ than with defending us. Worry that politicians here and throughout the West seem not to have grasped the risk to our civilisational survival of assertive, philoprogenitive Islam, and that suicide bombs and death-dealing trucks, now almost the order of the day in Europe (‘an irritant’, according to Fairfax’s favourite Muslim apologist, Waleed Aly) are now in Australia too, only a wily terrorist’s ability to outwit the security forces away.
Worry about the misrepresentation of our past as a saga of shame and the attempts to import American-style racial division and lies about ‘genocide’. Worry that even kindergarten kids are now indoctrinated with toxic fantasies about ‘gender fluidity’ designed to rob them of their innate sense of biological identity. Worry about how many emotional crises and suicides that will lead to.
Worry about the vicious intolerance poisoning the wells of public debate in a country once famed for the ‘fair go’. Worry about assaults on individual liberty by taxpayer-funded bureaucrats and by gangs of leftist thugs that materialise out of nowhere to shout down free speech. Worry about creeping politicisation of the judiciary. Worry that unless we all forget our imaginary worries and start insisting that governments deal with real ones, the Australia we know could soon be as dead as the lobster in the Chinese restaurant cruelly plunged into boiling water for the delectation of the next table.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues