This is an update of a previous post on senior Murdoch journalist Greg Sheridan, part of an inquiry into elite hostility towards Anglo and white Australia.
Sheridan’s writings over the last few months confirm his hostility towards Anglo Australia. Such views are normal in the mainstream media but Sheridan is perceived to be a rare conservative voice in the mainstream media, a staunch defender of the US alliance, border protection, UN scepticism,[i] Catholic values[ii] and a critic of pretentious intellectual fashions. Why is this conservatism suspended in relation to ethnicity? Why is it that Sheridan takes seriously views propounded by the far left during his student days? In the previous post I wondered whether he wished total demographic transformation on other nations apart from the historic Australian one. Some cases will be quoted below but first let us review recent confirmation of Sheridan’s hostility towards Anglo Australia.
In the Weekend Australian (16-17 May, 2015) Sheridan explains why he thinks Australia’s record on immigration and refugee issues has been “exemplary”.
“We run just about the largest per capita immigration program in the world and it is completely racially non-discriminatory. In the past 35 years, we have completely remade ourselves ethnically, and we have done so without any serious disturbances. We also run, per capita, one of the largest permanent refugee resettlement programs in the world.”[iii]
These are presented as independent benefits: (1) a permanent and very high level of immigration; (2) which is non-discriminatory by ethnicity; (3) resulting in the complete ethnic transformation of Australia; (4) but with little ethnic conflict (so far); and (5) acceptance of large numbers of refugees, again rare in the world.
Everyone can agree with number four, but the remainder are compatible with a thorough-going cosmopolitan that will leave many conservatives and patriots cold, an internationalism that renounces ethnic and national identities. Rejection of ethnic self defence is a recurring theme in Sheridan’s writings, showing a significant level of consistency. For example, when once-prime minister Malcolm Fraser died in March 2015, Sheridan criticised him for hesitating before accepting large numbers of refugees from Vietnam following the fall of Saigon in 1975.[iv] Sheridan and the Murdoch media in general have always maintained that refugees as well as immigrants should never be selected on the basis of ethnic compatibility. Likewise, cosmopolitanism is implied in Sheridan’s criticism of Australia’s formative British connection, the decline of which is part of the cultural transformation he supports. Despite admiring Tony Abbott, Sheridan savaged the Prime Minister’s decision to award Prince Philip with a knighthood. In support of this criticism, Sheridan ridiculed Australians who accept “British honours”, and repudiated what he saw as Abbott’s attempt to “shape our culture”, presumably because this would tend to roll back progressive “complete ethnic transformation”. This was a replay of Sheridan’s May 1989 criticism of the recently deposed Opposition leader, John Howard, for suggesting that during a recession Asian immigration be reduced in the interests of social cohesion.[v] The criticism was couched in cosmopolitan tones, assuming that ethnocentrism is inherently inhuman and unreasonable.
Sheridan has been presenting himself as a cosmopolitan citizen of the world for many years. In 2005, in discussing immigration to Europe from North Africa and the Middle East, he declared: “It doesn’t matter how many Muslims live in Europe if there is general peace and reasonable civic harmony. And nobody should ever be judged negatively because of their membership of a social group, race or religion.”[vi] This is the dogma applied originally by the radical left to oppose colonialism, white “racism” and indeed any national boundaries. The anti-discrimination mantra was then used as moralistic cover by minority activists. These two agendas were welded together to construct the ideological vehicle of multiculturalism. In an age of mass global transport, applying the dogma leads, inevitably, to “complete ethnic transformation”. Just a decade later Sheridan continues to declare that any number of immigrants does not matter, at least in the case of Australia, even if the result is the “cultural genocide” of the receiving nation.
Cosmopolitanism is also suggested in Sheridan’s criticism of nationalism in the recent British general elections.[vii] He praises loyalty to the state in no uncertain terms, as “honest, decent patriotism” on the part of citizens towards their country, but criticises the Scottish nationalism of the Scottish Nationalist Party that split the Labour vote and the “nutty fringe” nationalism of UKIP, which he sees as English nationalism.
Thus far, consistency of cosmopolitan principle can, with a little wishful thinking, be inferred in Sheridan’s columns. But one need not read much further to find a remarkable contrast between his treatment of Western and non-Western ethnicity. In the same article in which he praises Australia’s ethnic transformation due to non-discriminatory immigration, he describes India’s preference for refugees who are Hindus like themselves. At the same time that country is being tough on Muslim illegal immigrants, trying to force them to return to home.[viii] This observation is made without criticism, sarcasm or irony. India’s behaviour is presented matter-of-factly, as it should be given how normal it is throughout the non-Western world and in the West prior to the 1960s. In another article in the same issue of The Weekend Australian[ix] Sheridan not only accepts traditional ethnic selectivity in choosing immigrants and even refugees, but praises the cultural continuity this makes possible, “stretching back across the centuries”. He offers similar remarks about China, also in a matter-of-fact way. But China’s “cultural continuity and the distinctiveness of the way things are done” there would not last forever if the country opened its borders the way Australia has done. Since the last years of the Howard government Australia has been admitting the equivalent of about one percent of its population every year, the equivalent of China admitting over 13 million immigrants annually. If India emulated Australia its intake would be over 12 million.
A genuine cosmopolitan would believe that Hindus and Han could become minorities in their own countries without losing anything precious, so long as the transformation was peaceful. Sheridan’s failure to meet this perverse standard speaks well of his humanity and common sense, at least in relation to India and China. He has also long respected Israel’s wish to remain a Jewish state, paying respectful attention to demography.[x] Sheridan sees the obvious truth that a nation that allows itself to become a minority in its own territory must undergo loss of identity and autonomy. When it is a democracy, as is Israel and Australia, ethnic swamping will lead inevitably to loss of control over the state as well. Sheridan refers to the threatened “extinction of the Jewish state” and “destruction by the demographic time bomb”.
The importance of remaining in a clear majority is also acknowledged by Sheridan in the case of Northern Ireland. “[T]he Unionists appear to be losing the peace. For a start, the Protestants have lost their majority.”[xi] This is due to the higher Catholic birth rate. The loss of numbers means loss of control of councils, which are removing British symbols. Young Protestants are feeling out of place and beginning to avoid schools and universities in Northern Ireland. The writing is on the wall for Unionist Northern Ireland, Sheridan explains, and its all due to demographic destiny.
Sheridan’s empathy (for non-Anglo countries) is a moral, humane position consistent with moderate politics. A favourable comparison can be made with the centrist politician Malcolm Turnbull, now federal minister for communications. In 2003, before entering parliament, Turnbull, an Anglo Australian, expressed alarm at the prospect of low birth rates leading to national decline.[xii] His concern was not limited to his own nation. “[I]f current birth rates continue, in 100 years the descendants of the current inhabitants of Italy, Spain and Greece will number about 23% of their present day forebears.” (p. 1) “Many great cultures, Italy, Spain, Greece, Japan, Russia (to name but five) could become functionally extinct within a century.” (p. 7) Immigration is not a fix for low birth rates, Turnbull argued, because of the sheer scale needed: “Italy, for example, would need to absorb 2 million immigrants every five years if it wanted to maintain its current population size without increasing fertility.” (p. 25) Turnbull might have added that replacement by ethnically distinct immigrants is the same–genetically and culturally to a significant extent–as extinction. The solution? Turnbull declared the right to procreate to be “the most basic human right” and that it should be afforded to citizens. He saw the decline of any people or culture as tragic. Unlike Sheridan, he included Australia and the West in his sympathies.
Further evidence of Sheridan’s particularism is easy to find. “India is changing Australia, and for the better . . . Of Australia’s population of 24 million people, about a half million have an Indian background. There are 46,000 Indian students in Australia . . .” Would India or China be changed for the better by wholesale ethnic replacement? The statement is standard multicultural chauvinism, not what one expects from a conservative.
Why is immigration restriction in the interests of ethnic or cultural continuity good for India and China and Israel but not for Australia? It cannot be a matter of cosmopolitanism because Sheridan shows strong identification with Ireland.[xiii] He is a man of “proud Irish extraction”[xiv], indicating an ethnic sentiment surely not limited to fondness for Hibernian green fields or architecture or even Catholicism. Furthermore, he claims to be a staunch supporter of “Western civilisation”,[xv] especially the Christian faith that he believes provides the West’s “moral capital”. He does not explain how any civilisation can survive “complete ethnic transformation” which must reduce the standing of the original religion.
The case of Greg Sheridan raises the possibility that Australia’s hostile elite culture is not motivated solely by cosmopolitanism. There is an element of historical grudge nurtured by some citizens of Irish-Catholic descent towards Anglo Australians because they are seen as avatars of English overlords from the late Medieval period. Sheridan himself has referred more than once to “800 years of British persecution” of Ireland, ethnic history “taught at my father’s knee” as an Irish Australian.[xvi] In a 1988 article explaining why he supported Australia becoming a republic, Sheridan recalled that he was raised to have bitter thoughts about England and Australia’s connection to Britain.[xvii] The heroes of his youth were Irish (Catholic) nationalists. “I lived in the dying days of the old Irish-Catholic ghetto–a fiercely partisan, close-knit place.” “Therefore I had no instinctive or emotional sympathy for England.” Since then he had come to appreciate English literature and institutions. But his ancestral voices were Irish. “I was a republican kid . . . so I refused point-blank during my school years ever to stand for God Save the Queen or in any other way to acknowledge English sovereignty over Australia.” This extraordinary bravery indicates that the young Sheridan was a passionate tribal warrior. He would carry that passion through his life, his sectarian resentment ever on a hair trigger. “I wish those Australians with English backgrounds who tell immigrants and their children not to have dual loyalties . . . would apply this advice to themselves.” In another article in the late 1980s Sheridan again displayed ethnic intolerance, criticising the English for being “the only group of immigrants which has ever shown a significant degree of divided loyalty, and whose divided loyalty has actually done harm to Australia.”[xviii] The same article urges Australia to embrace multiculturalism, the argument predicated on a sustained attack on the Anglo identity of the majority population. In 2011 Sheridan was to withdraw his praise for multiculturalism, though only in the case of Muslims, who he accused of turning his Sydney suburb into an unfriendly place.[xix]
Greg Sheridan’s celebration of the cultural genocide he sees being committed against Anglo Australia using the instrument of mass non-European immigration indicates that he treats Australian Anglo identity as an extension of the Empire that dominated his ethnic homeland, Ireland. He has failed to grasp that he is part of the larger Australian Anglo culture.
Sheridan’s long destructive campaign against Anglo Australia is another example of the costs imposed by diversity, sometimes among kindred ethnic groups. It also punches a hole in the cosmopolitan theory of how multiculturalism arose.[xx] Was it with insincerity that ethnic activists accused Anglos of discrimination and demanded tolerance or was it self deception? Sheridan’s writings indicate that at least some of those demands, perhaps many, came from individuals who felt ethnic motivation more intensely, both positive and negative, than most Anglos. The Sheridan case illustrates how “subaltern ethnics” are often far more mobilised ethnically than the majority, which is relatively relaxed emotionally secure. It fits the view that in this instance anti-racism really is a form of anti-whiteness. It supports the view that multiculturalism is an inverted ethnic hierarchy in which a coalition of hyper-mobilised minorities deploying cosmopolitan rhetoric work to bring down a relatively tolerant and leaderless majority.[xxi]
All of which raises the question of scale: how much of the coldness shown by Australia’s leadership towards the historic nation is due to bitter Old World tribal rivalries being pursued in the New World?
[i] Greg Sheridan. “U.N. convention turns Australia into a magnet for asylum-seekers”, The Australian, 20 June 2013. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/un-convention-turns-australia-into-a-magnet-for-asylum-seekers/story-e6frg76f-1226666520365 “Sadly, like most things associated with the UN, it has grown into a sort of grotesque parody of itself, with vast unintended consequences.”
[ii] Greg Sheridan. “The forum”. The Weekend Australian, 13-14 April 2013, Lifelines, p. 2. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/catholic-mass-goes-from-the-sublime-to-the-bland/story-fn9n8gph-1226618203192 “It strikes me as quite wicked to deprive Catholic children of any encounter with the magnificent musical tradition of their church.”
[iii] Greg Sheridan. “Boatpeople crisis a global phenomenon”, The Weekend Australian, 16-17 May 2015, p. 17.
[iv] Greg Sheridan. “Fraser was no saint for Vietnamese refugees”, The Australian, 26 March 2015. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/malcolm-fraser-was-no-saint-for-vietnamese-refugees/story-e6frg76f-1227278655636
[v] Greg Sheridan. “Howard’s fatally flawed judgment”, The Weekend Australian, 13-14 May, 1989, p. 40.
[vi] Greg Sheridan. “Europe’s big challenge”, The Australian, 21 July 2005. http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=46318
[vii] Greg Sheridan. “Pity centrists, beware the nationalists and praise Australia’s good friend”, The Australian, 14 May 2015. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/pity-centrists-beware-nationalists-and-praise-our-friend-david-cameron/story-e6frg76f-1227353910795
[viii] Greg Sheridan. “Boatpeople crisis a global phenomenon”, op cit.
[ix] Greg Sheridan. “A geeks’ paradise in Mysore is among the most magnificent temples of a forward-looking India”, The Weekend Australian, 16-17 May 2015, p. 24.
[x] Greg Sheridan. “Israel: a simple case of an immensely comple context”, The Weekend Australian, 7-8 January 1989.
[xi] Greg Sheridan. “Northern Ireland’s peaceful progress cannot be taken for granted”, The Australian, 3 April 2014, p. 12. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/northern-irelands-peaceful-progress-cannot-be-taken-for-granted/story-e6frg76f-1226872689516
[xii] Malcolm Turnbull (2003). “It’s the birth rate, stupid! Facing up to fertility.” Speech to the National Population Summit, Adelaide, 21 November. http://www.apop.com.au/SAconfNOV03/M%20Turnbull.pdf
[xiii] See Kaufmann, E. (2004). The rise and fall of Anglo-America. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
[xiv] Greg Sheridan. “If only Enda was having a lend”, The Australian, 19 March 2015, p. 2. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/if-only-enda-kenny-was-having-a-lend/story-e6frg76f-1227268636941
[xv] Greg Sheridan. “Western civilisation at stake amid growing threats”. The Australian, 12 March 2015. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/western-civilisation-at-stake-amid-growing-threats/story-e6frg76f-1227258983681
[xvi] Greg Sheridan. “A brave move for Scotland”, The Weekend Australian, 6-7 September. 2014. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/independence-a-brave-move-for-scotland/story-e6frg76f-1227049493767
[xvii] Greg Sheridan. “Why Australia must forget foreign symbols”, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 January 1988.
[xviii] Greg Sheridan. “Cutting constitutional ties to Britain a good thing indeed”, The Weekend Australian, 19-20 August 1989.
[xix] Greg Sheridan. “How I lost my faith in multiculturalism”, The Australian, 2 April 2011. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/how-i-lost-faith-in-multiculturalism/story-fn59niix-1226031793805
[xx] Kaufmann, E. (2004). The rise and fall of Anglo-America. Op cit.
[xxi] Salter, F. K. (2012). “The war against human nature III-2: Australia and the national question, part II: Race and the nation in the universities.” Quadrant 56(11 (491)): 36-44. http://www.quadrant.org.au/magazine/issue/2012/11/the-war-against-human-nature-iii