This article is a review of news stories in one issue of The Australian newspaper – for Tuesday 24th March 2015 – concerning national, ethnic and religious affairs. The article reports the presence, or absence, of themes of human nature and biosocial factors in general. In particular it searches for reports and opinion pieces that represent the interests of Anglo Australians in the context of political multiculturalism in which most ethnicities are licensed by legislation and elite political culture to pursue their group interests. Ethnicity is of special interest from a biosocial perspective because ethnic change due to immigration or differential birth rates is human evolution at the population level.
Jared Owens: “MPs’ insults ‘trivialise reality of life under the Nazi jackboot’”. Page 7, news, 43 column cms. Reports Jewish leaders’ concern that political rhetoric that draws examples from Nazi Germany is discounting the solemnity of the crimes committed by the Third Reich, 1933-1945. The issue arose when the Prime Minister Tony Abbott likened Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to the German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
Nick Cater: “Political correctness stifles vital debate”. Page 12, opinion, 108 column cms. In his comment, Cater calls for greater freedom in discussing racial and ethnic affairs. He begins by defending Tony Abbott against the charge of “casual racism” when he referred to drinking Guiness in his St. Patrick’s Day greeting. Trevor Phillips, former chairman of the UK Commission for Racial Equality, is beginning to criticise multiculturalism by pointing to its failures, such as the London Tube bombings of 2006 by British-born Muslim men. Cater criticises the race-relations officials for “policing the boundaries of acceptable speech”. The present Race Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, played the role of ethnic policeman following anti-terror raids, warning politicians against inflaming tensions. In Cater’s view such behaviour is inappropriate because it shuts down discussion.
Cater’s article portrays a conflict as between free speech and censoriousness, essentially a libertarian perspective. The ethnic-motivational dimension of the contest is overlooked, disappointing for an article devoted to ethnic issues. If one accepts that multiculturalism is, among other things, a system of ethnic hierarchy that subordinates Anglo Australians, then the Race Commissioner is an enforcer of minority interests against those of the Anglo majority. Soutphommasane is, in effect, a minority activist fighting for his people and allies at taxpayer expense. There would seem to be a conflict of interest involved.
Gary Johns: “Aborigines must face up to the hard questions”. Page 12, opinion, 74 column cms. Johns defends the Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent claim that many remote Aboriginal communities are not viable for financial reasons. Taxpayers cannot be expected to pay for lifestyle choices, Abbott maintained. Many commentators condemned this view but Johns defends it, and adds other reasons of health, education and jobs. “Almost every Aboriginal spokesperson has been blessed by three options: marrying out, migration and education.” Based on the Aboriginal experience, he states that “solidarity based on race is a curse”.
Phillip Adams: “The day I nearly killed Fraser”. Page 12, opinion, 50 column cms. Adams recalls an event at Sydney University that involved himself, Malcolm Fraser, John Howard and Nelson Mandela. Fraser and Mandela and Adams disliked Howard for allegedly opposing acceptance of Vietnamese refugees and defending Apartheid South Africa. The comment spiked Howard and commended Fraser and Mandela. The context was the recent death of Malcolm Fraser.
Nicholas Evans: “Artist with a language of her own”. Subhead: “Gabori taught us how to see”. Page 15, obituary, 186 column-centimetres, including two colour photos. Sally Gabori was an Aboriginal artist who died aged about 90. The article carried no political content.
Death of Lee Kuan Yew
The death of the founding leader of Singapore was treated by two pages of reports and tributes (790 column cms). This began on page 1 (ending on page 10) with an obituary (80 column cms) by foreign editor Greg Sheridan. Title: “We’re all the richer for Lion of Singapore’s leadership”. The obit was largely praiseful, though Lee was described as “ruthless”. Sheridan discussed Lee’s ethnic identity, reporting without comment Lee’s claim that he was not Chinese, despite being of Chinese descent. Chinese leader Zhou Enlai called Lee a banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside. Sheridan reports that Lee emphasised traditional Confucian social values, without noting that this is an aspect of Chinese identity. He especially praised Lee’s support for the strong U.S. military presence in region and his soliciting of Australia’s greater engagement with Asia.
Sheridan’s article does not register the important place of ethnicity in Lee’s political thinking. He does note Lee’s criticism that Australia’s economic policy risked making them the “poor, white trash of Asia”. But Sheridan does not note that this was a racialised conception of Australia, made at a time – 1980 – when the country’s political elite was busy dismantling the reality behind the conception. Despite large ethnic change, Australia is still viewed as a European society. The article describes Singapore’s separation from Malaysia but fails to note the extraordinary ethnic correlation of the two sides: Malaysia remained majority Malay while Singapore was mainly Chinese with Indian and Malay minorities. Led by its Chinese majority, Singapore’s secession represented the fragmentation of a multicultural society. Sheridan also overlooked ethnic differences. Singapore rapidly rose to become a commercial centre, while the Chinese minority that remained in Malaysia dominated that country’s economy. The same asymmetry in economic performance exists wherever Chinese and Malays live together, such as in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Sheridan’s failure to discuss the ethnic dimension of Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking and challenges is odd considering that Lee once explained to him the critical importance of overcoming ethnic fractiousness in making Singapore a united society. Lee said that his most important decision was to make English the common language, which was not the ancestral language of Chinese, Malays or Indians. This prevented any of them feeling privileged or insulted. Achieving unity from diversity was one of Lee’s greatest achievement and one necessitating major effort, yet is barely acknowledged in the Australian media.
The omission of ethnicity is set in high relief by a quote immediately below Sheridan’s article. Lee had strong views about individual and racial differences, indicating familiarity with evolutionary ideas.
“I started believing all men were equal. I now know that’s the most unlikely thing ever to have been, because millions of years have passed over evolution, people have scattered across the face of this earth, been isolated from each other, developed independently, had different intermixtures between races, peoples, climates, soils . . .”
Lee believed that the culture of a people shaped their destiny. But unlike Western intellectuals, he believed that culture was genetically influenced. Perhaps Greg Sheridan and all the other Australian journalists writing about Lee Kuan Yew ignored this aspect of his views because it clashes with their ideology. The puzzle is that they did not criticise Lee. The silence on Lee’s political incorrectness is astonishing given the emphasis he laid on it. In 1994 he gave an extended interview to the journal Foreign Affairs, in which he adopted a racial view of history and cultural difference.
“[The World Bank] makes the hopeful assumption that all men are equal, that people all over the world are the same. They are not.
“Groups of people develop different characteristics when they have evolved for thousands of years separately. Genetics and history interact. The Native American Indian is genetically of the same stock as the Mongoloids of East Asia — the Chinese, the Koreans and the Japanese. But one group got cut off after the Bering Straits melted away. Without that land bridge they were totally isolated in America for thousands of years. The other, in East Asia, met successive invading forces from Central Asia and interacted with waves of people moving back and forth. The two groups may share certain characteristics, for instance if you measure the shape of their skulls and so on, but if you start testing them you find that they are different, most particularly in their neurological development, and their cultural values.
“Now if you gloss over these kinds of issues because it is politically incorrect to study them, then you have laid a land mine for yourself. This is what leads to the disappointments with social policies, embarked upon in America with great enthusiasm and expectations, but which yield such meager results. There isn’t a willingness to see things in their stark reality. But then I am not being politically correct.”
Perhaps it is unpleasant for Australian journalists to admit that the man who forged a backward Singapore into an economic powerhouse rejected the premises on which Australia has based its immigration and multicultural policies. Lee Kuan Yew had more in common with Australia’s founders and political leaders up to the 1960s than with those from Whitlam onwards.
The editorial (42 column cms) was more realistic, acknowledging that Singapore’s expulsion from Malaysia was bound up with the latter’s Chinese identity. Lee is quoted attributing Singapore’s success to its Chinese majority: “Had the mix in Singapore been different, had it been 75 per cent Indians, 15 per cent Malays and the rest Chinese, it would not have worked.”
Rowan Callick: “Tiny island’s giant leader”. Almost a full page article by the Asia-Pacific Editor. Obituary. 328 column cms. Callick fleshed out Lee Kuan Yew’s life with economic and political detail, especially about Lee’s relationship with Malaysia and China. Again, the ethnic dimension was overlooked.
There were two other articles on LKY, both on page 10. A story headed “Singapore steels for life without Lee” was reprinted from The Wall Street Journal, part of the Murdoch media chain. An article by Melanie Kirkpatrick, “Father of city-state waged war against foreign press”, about the lack of press freedom under Lee.
A recurring theme in the comments about Lee Kuan Yew was his illiberal policies towards press freedom and democracy. Lee was known to suppress the media and opposition parties. He was described as a strong man, though a benevolent one. No comparison was made with Australia’s bipartisan policies on immigration and multiculturalism or the illiberal legal apparatus set up under the Human Rights and Racial Discrimination bureaucracies. Nick Cater’s article reviewed above is part of an ongoing controversy concerning this illiberal aspect of Australian politics. The Racial Discrimination Act, especially section 18C which allows prosecution for merely causing offence, has often been headline news for the past year. Greg Sheridan himself recently described Australia’s unrestricted immigration policy as amounting to “benign cultural genocide”. Yet no commentator noted the resemblance between Singapore and Australia’s illiberality towards ethnic affairs or the very different directions in which strong government is leading the two societies. Lee Kuan Yew used an iron hand to keep his country safe from replacement level immigration and the debilitating diversity it produces, while Australia’s leaders have done the opposite. The contrast represents the difference between Eastern and Western multiculturalism. The former protects the ethnic interests of the majority, the latter not.
Summary. In this issue of The Australian 1,250 column centimetres of stories and comments dealt with ethnic issues, more than three full pages or about 17 per cent of the news section. No reporter or commentator adopted an Anglo or Western ethnocentric perspective, one that represented in part the interests of a particular religion, culture or ethnicity. Apart from one mention in the editorial, no commentator discussed ethnic interests or competition as factors in current events, even in the case of Lee Kuan Yew, a consummate ethnic politician who resorted to sometimes harsh methods to quell the tribal discord of multicultural Singapore. Neither was Lee’s Darwinian view of ethnic and racial differences acknowledged, let alone commented upon. The coverage of this statesman was devoid of messages that might raise doubts about Australia’s experiment with diversity.
Even commentators more to the right – Cater, Johns and Sheridan – adopted perspectives based on values of free-speech, free-markets and anti-communism. They did not write for Christianity or Anglo or white Australia. There are no such commentators in the mainstream media. In the multicultural context, in which minorities explicitly advance their ethnic and religious interests, this is further evidence of an undemocratic ethnic hierarchy in Australia in which only the majority founding ethnicity is subordinated.