Friday, July 29, 2005


Excerpts from an article by Australian conservative columnist Janet Albrechtsen

The 1960s, the decade that became a state of mind, is finally over. With each new terrorist horror in London, as we learn more and more about British homeboy terrorists, it seems safe to declare that age of innocence is dead. It was an age where wide-eyed all-you-need-is-love romanticism inevitably spawned moral and cultural relativism. But when boys, born in British hospitals, develop allegiances that demand death to their countrymen, you know that the utopian vision of multiculturalism, urged on us with the best of intentions, has not gone as planned.

Three years ago, to suggest that multiculturalism was slowly killing us, or at least killing some of us, brought down a heavy rain of criticism. Back in September 2002, to mark the approaching first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, I wrote on this page that the West's multiculturalism created conditions that encouraged the West's fanatical enemies. We were so busy being inclusive, denigrating our own culture, that we were not noticing what was happening. I suggested that Multicultural Man and his lazy cultural relativist thinking needed to be dismantled. A few others were saying the same thing. But not many.....

How times have changed. When four young British Muslims set off from Luton, detonating four bomb blasts in London, most people were shaken out of their reverie. Eventually, it seems, reality bites. Sometimes slowly. Sometimes cruelly. Now, more than a few people are saying that tolerance is not as safe as it seems. That too much of the stuff can be a problem because it suggests to those who detest our values and our societies that we will not make judgments about what is right and what is wrong....

Now, even long-time supporters of multiculturalism, such as The Age's Pamela Bone, wonder aloud whether it is time for us to lay down some ground rules for those from different cultures who wish to live side by side with our culture. "Couscous yes, child marriage no?" she asked....

Advocating multiculturalism for people from cultures with similar values was never going to be problematic. But when cultures differ sharply, multicultural policies that promote all cultures as equal lead us in all sorts of wrong directions. A young Aboriginal woman points to tribal law to excuse her for killing her philandering husband. An educated man, the father of a group of Pakistani gang rapists, claims they did not understand our culture.

Finally, more of us are saying "Hang on, some values are non-negotiable." Perhaps we can draw a shade on the '60s view that all cultures are equal.


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