TOLERANCE IS A TWO-WAY STREET
There are editorials and opinion pieces like the one below popping up all over the world lately. The one below is by Des Houghton and appeared in the Brisbane "Courier Mail" on Saturday August 13, 2005
I'm getting a little tired of do-gooders preaching the virtues of multiculturalism. would like to see them espouse the virtues of integration with similar vigour. I'm not saying multiculturalism is a dirty word. But there is a risk that by over-stressing its benefits we may encourage some minorities to think their extreme beliefs are superior to the values of this country's majority.
More than 90 per cent of us still proclain a Christian heritage. We have welcomed no fewer than six million migrants since World War II, and more are arriving every day. The peaceful integration of migrants into Australian society is one of our enduring national achievements. I have friends whose parents were born in Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Italy and China, who retain many of the values of their parents' homeland while embracing the values of this grand land.
Most of us now have friends and colleagues from other cultures who have enriched our lives. We welcome newcomers, provided they come through our front door. And we need not apologise to any one for our record on immigration. This country's tolerance of different religious beliefs, social mores and political views is at the heart of what it means to be Australian and no one understands this more than migrants who have sworn allegiance under the Southern Cross.
For years, however, any politician wishing to court public approval - especially in metropolitan regions - has nailed his colours to the mast of multiculturalism. Terrified of appearing "racist", our dripping wet liberal commentators, ignorant schoolteachers and simpering politicians have bent over backwards to appease minorities.
Prove to me that this kind of "multiculturalism" has not encouraged branch stacking by political parties and electoral pork-barrelling that verges on corruption.
In welcoming migrants we also have opened the door to a few extremists who use our democracy to espouse an abhorrent political order which preaches violence and subjugates women. In Dubai recently I went to the mosque and took an introductory course in the six pillars of Islam. It was fascinating. To its true believers, Islam means peace. We must not fear Muslims; only a very small number of them are hellhounds bent on destroying the West.
When John Howard meets Muslim leaders next week he must remind them that while we value their cultural traditions, they must also respect ours. He must also make it clear that migrants of all faiths are welcome, but that our national unity and stability demands a high level of integration, not segregation. This can be achieved with tolerance. Tolerance is the core of civilisation, and it is a two-way street.