Blogging the 2010s — 100 — October 2016

The hundredth retrospect! Wollongong-centric….

When did the Port Kembla Steelworks start?

A friend at Diggers asked this the other day. He thought some time before World War 1. I wasn’t so sure. If either of us had had the right technology in our pockets we could quite easily have looked at Port Kembla – History where we would have seen there were coal-related developments going back to the 19th century and activity by the Electrolytic Refining and Smelting Co. (ER & S) by 1908.  However, the Hoskins’ Iron & Steel, later to become Australian Iron & Steel (AIS) / Broken Hill Pty Co Ltd (BHP), did not commence steelmaking at Port Kembla until 1928. See also A Brief History of the Steel Industry at Port Kembla.

I should have known as a family friend was closely connected to the top brass at the Steelworks for 40 years! See The woman I thought was my aunt’s maid.

Miss [Bessie] Foskett gave 40 years of service to the steel industry serving as personal secretary to Sir Cecil Hoskins and successive general managers. She retired from the steelworks in 1965 and opened her own secretarial service and was involved in many community organisations. She died in February, 1985.


See also Hoskins, Charles Henry (1851–1926) by George Parsons.

Thanks to Lost Wollongong two great photos:


Port Kembla from West Wollongong in 1910


Cringila and the Port Kembla steelworks in the 1940’s

And this classic from Wikipedia Commons:


Crossing the Bar: Tennyson

This was a favourite of my mother.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

I quote it today as yesterday at Diggers I learned that an ex-student from The Illawarra Grammar School, Peter D (Class of 1974), has passed away. He had been very ill for a long time. I used to see him and his wife at Steelers and, until recently, at Diggers. He was 59.


Munching halal and Japanese bikers again!

Chris T and I dined at the excellent Samaras again yesterday. The question of how long Samaras has been in Wollongong came up and is answered here.

A family that plays together stays together, and so does one that works together.

Mohamed Nemer remembers how, from the age of seven, his daughter Samara would plead for him to one day open a restaurant.

Keeping his promise, Mohamed opened a restaurant with his family five years ago [@2013] and named it Samaras.

Amid the array of canvas photos inside the Wollongong eatery is one of a woman making bread and another of a man picking peaches from a garden in the mountains of south-eastern Lebanon.

The Middle Eastern passion for food has been embraced by Mohamed and his children Omar, Macey, Alyca and Samara…

So eight years then.

Last time Chris T and I were at Samaras was in August: With the Japanese bikers in the halal restaurant…. Odd, but not quite so strange, that there was a pair of Japanese bikers of mature and beneficent appearance yesterday as this weekend Wollongong is hosting a sizable gathering of Harley Davidsons.

It started in the morning, a low rumble that could have been distant thunder. A 747 perhaps.

But workers across the Wollongong CBD soon realised it wasn’t going away.

It was an entire cavalry of Harley-Davidson owners arriving on their polished steeds for this weekend’s Harley Days festival.

By Friday afternoon there were thousands of bikes at Stuart Park as festivities got underway for Australia’s biggest Harley-Davidson gathering.

Ian Didlick had ridden from Beenleigh in Queensland for the event. He tried to explain a Harley’s unique appeal.

“It’s probably the roughest, most expensive, most ill-handling piece of machinery I’ve ever had – but it’s a Harley-Davidson,” he said…

The southern part of the region will roar again on Sunday when the riders go on their Thunder Run, which starts at Flagstaff Hill at 10am on Sunday and travels through Dapto to Albion Park then back via Windang to Wollongong.

Back at Samaras: we resolved on two items we had had before: grandma’s olives and the meat-lover’s platter. You may read about grandma’s olives on Munching against the fear of “the other”…

Yes, “Grandmother’s Olives!” The lovely young woman serving us assured us they were indeed from her very own grandmother, that in fact she had herself helped harvest them at one time. They proved to be delicious, not over salty. There was an enlarged photo on the restaurant wall of said grandmother in her olive grove…

I look back on Grandmother’s Olives now with even more wonder. Is not our world enlarged, even by a meal such as we had yesterday – and halal the lot of it too.  “Reclaiming” Australia = Impoverishing Australia, in my opinion. (See also Reclaiming Australia Persian-style in Wollongong.)

And the platter FOR ONE! You’d have to have some appetite!


What we tried for the first time was an entree called Za’ahtar.

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Also Romanised as Za’atar: see Wikipedia.

There is evidence that a za’atar plant was known and used in Ancient Egypt, though its ancient name has yet to be determined with certainty. Remains of Thymbra spicata, one species used in modern za’atar preparations, were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, and according to Dioscorides, this particular species was known to the Ancient Egyptians as saem.

Pliny the Elder mentions an herb maron as an ingredient of the Regale Unguentum(“Royal Perfume”) used by the Parthian kings in the 1st century CE.

In Jewish tradition, Saadiah (d. 942), Ibn Ezra (d. circa 1164), Maimonides (1135–1204) and Obadiah ben Abraham (1465–1515) identified the ezov mentioned in the Hebrew Bible with the Arabic word “za’atar”…

In the Levant, there is a belief that za’atar makes the mind alert and the body strong. For this reason, children are encouraged to eat a za’atar sandwich for breakfast before an exam or before school. This, however, is also believed to be a myth fabricated during the Lebanese civil war to encourage eating of za’atar, as provisions were low at the time and za’atar was in abundance. Maimonides …, a medieval rabbi and physician who lived in Spain, Morocco, and Egypt, prescribed za’atar for its health advancing properties.

The things you can experience without leaving Wollongong!

Blogging the 2010s — 94 — October 2010

Blogging–a side-track

Blame Marcellous! I was fascinated by the sites he linked to in his comment yesterday, so John Howard can wait.

As you will see someone has been mapping the Oz Blogosphere:

Axel Bruns has extracted some 2.6 million hyperlinks and come up with some very pretty data mapping the Australian blogosphere for the first time:

what we’re already seeing in the network is a relatively large cluster of sites on the left of the graph, made up of sites (MSM as well as blogs) that deal predominantly with news and politics. In addition to domestic and international news sites, various Australian political blogs (such as Larvatus ProdeoClub TroppoJohn QuigginPeter MartinCatallaxy Files, and the suite of Crikeyblogs) appear as prominent nodes in the network (on both the indegree and eigenvector centrality counts). Many smaller – that is, less prominent – blogs cluster around them, but receive comparatively fewer inlinks. There’s even likely to be some further subdivision within this overall cluster, but I wouldn’t want to speculate too much on this point until we’ve had a chance to further clean our data.

Don’t ask me what “indegree and eigenvector centrality counts” are! But these captures from the PDF file of the chart are fascinating.




Jim Belshaw and Adrian Phoon, please note. Smile

The following is evidence that I haven’t aged a bit in the past ten years — not!

New glasses

Here I am with the new multifocal glasses which I picked up from Teachers’ Eye Care in Sydney on Friday. You also can see how The Bates Motel has come up lately.


I also went by Elizabeth Street and saw the progress M has been making on the renovations there.

My African neighbour

Sat and talked with my downstairs neighbour D this morning. He is studying at Wollongong TAFE and lived five years in Surry Hills before coming to The Bates Motel.

He came to Australia via Uganda, but is originally from Southern Sudan.


Figures from this time last year say that Uganda hosts about 100,000 refugees from Rwanda, Ethopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya and Sudan. They live in various refugee camps scattered all over the country.


Makes you think, doesn’t it? Why on earth are we getting so uptight about 5-6000 “boat arrivals”?

On the other hand, maybe the people here aren’t all paranoid. Last Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald had a poll showing that “the government’s decision last week to allow asylum seeker families with children to live in the community while their claims are processed is supported by 47 per cent of voters, while 50 per cent are opposed. The decision to let the families out of detention was announced on Monday last week.”

D likes Wollongong better than Sydney; it’s more laid back and the people are more friendly.

Blogging the 2010s — 89 — September 2015

My 16th September as a blogger, and my fifth in Wollongong! Sadly the Shiraz is no longer in Crown Street. But its place has been taken by good different Soco Kitchen — Cajun!

Eating halal food again…

Yes indeed. See also Reclaiming Australia Persian-style in Wollongong and On being my own great-grandpa, and Shiraz again. Chris T and I returned to the wonderful Shiraz Persian Restaurant with a very clear purpose: to eat the one main on the menu we had not tried as yet: Lamb Neck. Melt-in-the-mouth slow cooked, it was a real winner. It looked like this, though the particular one shown may be found in Los Angeles. I am sure Wollongong’s version would be as good, if not better.


Our other main – we shared of course – was exactly as follows, given that the picture comes from Shiraz’s Facebook page.


What can I say but “Yummo!” Good to see yesterday quite a few non-Persian Wollongong people discovering and enjoying. Hope that keeps this great eatery going.

And yes – all halal. Not surprising really. But they do serve wine, if desired, including Shiraz.

Not at all surprising is this recent news item: No direct link between halal certification and Islamic terrorism, Senate inquiry told.

The evidence was given by both the Australian Crime Commission and Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the nation’s anti-money laundering intelligence agency, at the inquiry’s second hearing on Thursday morning in Sydney.

It is a common thread in the anti-halal movement to allege links between certification and terrorist organisations, but intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Australia do not think it is the case.

Sirdan at the Shakespeare

Surry Hills yesterday. And let me say the Wollongong train both to and from Sydney was absolutely on timetable and not too crowded! So take that, Sydney Trains: a compliment.


Shakespeare Hotel front bar

I was last there in July with M, when I wrote:

Yesterday I travelled up to Sydney, lunching in Surry Hills at The Shakespeare Hotel with M. $12.50 grilled barramundi and vegetables – excellent. M’s flatmate M2 came along – lovely man, former theatrical with a great fund of stories. It turns out he knew the late Stuart Wagstaff quite well, whereof (with other matters) we talked on over rather a lot of red wine after M left.

Yesterday after many a year I was there with Sirdan, who now lives in Queensland. He was passing through Sydney en route to a cruise commencing in Japan. B and later P joined us.

Sirdan and Mr R in the Shakespeare 2009: see I remember you well at The Shakespeare Hotel…


Sirdan yesterday


In the dining area

Blogging the 2010s — 88 — September 2014

My 15th September as a blogger, and my fourth in Wollongong!

Terror down under – and the Sichuan lunch

Yesterday I posted on Facebook:

Wonderful lunch (Sichuan food) at Steelers with Chris T and friends from Iran, Bangladesh and Cambodia (in part). How Australia REALLY is, should be, and will be if we are wise enough to resist the tides of panic and xenophobia…


Good food


Smart company: the two on the left were at our table

We did eschew pork…

In conversation last Wednesday’s episode of SBS’s excellent Living with the Enemy came up:


When Abraham arrived in Australia he knew two words in English, ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and he consistently confused the two of them.  He is now the Slam Poet Champion of Victoria and recently came third in the national titles.  He is also about to have his second book published and perform at the Glastonbury festival.  However, he still can’t get a job, is subjected to daily racism and won’t travel on the train after dark.

Nick is the founder of a fledgling political party who says allowing Africans like Abraham into Australia is asking for trouble.  He believes they can’t assimilate, are a welfare drain on the economy and have nothing to contribute to a society built on Anglo-Celtic foundations. This is one of the most explosive and moving episodes in the series.

Well, it sure was. Sad too, because you couldn’t really hate either of them and they ALMOST reached some empathy/understanding at one point – but it failed. Ironic that Nick turned out not to be Anglo-Celtic himself, but of Russian descent – but that’s Australia for you.

We did get to meet Nick’s guru, someone who was born in Canada, educated at Harvard, had a professorship at Macquarie University, and had his fifteen minutes of fame about ten years back. No, his name isn’t Tom Buchanan, though it could be. You know The Great Gatsby, of course, and Tom’s rant:

Civilization’s going to pieces. I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things… The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be–will be utterly submerged… It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.

Yeah, well…

The abolition of the White Australia policy has had similar consequences. Australians have been stripped of the ethnic monopoly over their antipodean homeland that the federation of the colonies in 1901 was designed to secure. The resultant damage to their genetic interests can also be understood as an attack on the foundation of their constitutional freedom. The word “freedom” is derived from an Indo-European root meaning “dear” or “beloved.” In its primordial sense, then, freedom is the right to belong to a community of dearly beloved people, the family being the first and most important model for every such form of association. (Significantly, slaves were denied the right to marry or to raise a family within the walls of their own household.) Every ethny is an extended family with a genetic interest in its own survival and enhanced vitality. Just as parents have a duty to care for their children, it might be said that every free person has a moral obligation to defend his own ethny.

Unfortunately, over the past half-century, governments throughout the Anglosphere have encouraged us to ignore the genetic interests of our ethnic kin through systematic campaigns of indoctrination and legal coercion….

That’s Professor Boofhead in full flight in a piece entitled Monarchs and Miracles: Australia’s Need for a Patriot King. I think you get the picture.

Next week’s episode of  Living with the Enemy looks most topical.

Almost half the Muslims in Australia live in south-western Sydney. The majority in just five suburbs centred around Bankstown.  Ben was born and bred in Bankstown, he’s seen his world change as Arab Muslims have stamped their identity on his home suburb, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

Ahmed and Lydia are a devout Muslim couple living in western Sydney. Ahmed is from Egypt, Lydia is a convert who grew up in a country pub. Lydia converted in the wake of the September 11 attacks after enrolling in a course on Islam to better understand the religion and the motivation for the terror attacks. She wanted to find out why they had happened, and what motivated the hijackers. Instead of discovering a religion of hate and war, she says, she discovered a religion of peace and justice.

Ben believes there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim.  Can Lydia and Ahmed convince him otherwise?

A must see, I’d say.


September 19, 2014: Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek join TODAY to discuss Australia’s largest ever terrorism raids yesterday when 15 people were detained by counter terrorism police.


The Federal Government and Opposition have seen eye to eye after Australia’s largest ever terrorism raids, agreeing it is a time to be “determined not frightened”.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek appeared on TODAY after anti-terrorism police foiled an ISIL plot to allegedly abduct and behead members of the public.

“We’ve got to make it very, very clear that we are not going to be intimidated by terrorists,” Mr Turnbull said.

Ms Plibersek said it’s important we remember extremists are in the minority.

“This group of people yesterday are nut-jobs for sure, but are a very small section of the community,” she said.

Mr Turnbull agreed, saying “we must recognise that the vast bulk of the Muslims in Australia are good, patriotic Australians”.

“We have to get our arms around them because they are our best allies in the fight against extremism,” Mr Turnbull said…

And stop reading or even looking at the Daily Telegraph!


I posted on Facebook yesterday:

I spoke to my brother in Burnie Hospital this afternoon. He is feeling better and is positive, but there is no hiding from the fact this is very grave. We share seven decades. I assured him I would be thinking of him every minute and I am.

His daughter, who lives in The Shire, had told me of Ian’s condition yesterday morning. Ian is eight years older than I. He lives in Devonport, Tasmania.


Ian in Surry Hills, April 2010

Thirty years on: my coming out, among other things

Actually I don’t have an exact date for my coming out, a torturous process that in fact took decades and cost me dearly psychologically and in other ways. But when around 1985 I actually ventured, having been out for less than a year, into a gay venue – the Britannia Hotel, then Beau’s, in Chippendale – this is one of the young men I met. With him I attended my first Mardi Gras Parade. For a while we saw a lot of one another.

Screenshot - 4_09_2014 , 8_07_59 AM

That is from a (linked to image) posting on YouTube which appeared in the Lost Gay Sydney Facebook Page. It is 1984 on a TV current affairs show which seems to have considerably more gravitas than the genre later developed. The people interviewed are very articulate. The occasion? Commemorated in NSW Hansard in March 2014 thus:

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE [7.19 p.m.]: On Saturday night I was proud to march in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with over 100 Labor members and supporters to commemorate 30 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in New South Wales. I want to thank the hardworking Rainbow Labor Team, without whom there would have been no float. Thirty years ago this year, Labor Premier Neville Wran introduced the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1984 as a private member’s bill, removing the criminalisation of homosexual activity from New South Wales law. Premier Wran’s bill was subject to a conscience vote for Labor members of Parliament and was passed with the support of a majority of Labor members and a number of Liberal members of the New South Wales Parliament. This was a monumental law reform from which so many other reforms have been made possible in the last 30 years. The significance of this reform cannot be overstated especially at a time where we are seeing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] people in Nigeria, Russia, Uganda, and closer to home, in the Pacific, becoming criminalised simply because of who they love. Premier Wran’s bill drew strong opposition at the time, with a conservative member stating:

    • What a pathetic and smutty epitaph this bill will be to a failing Premier.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile spoke of his concern that decriminalisation could mean that:

    • Those potential homosexuals, the confused teenagers or young people in our society, will assume that as this bill is passed by our Parliament it is lawful, normal and acceptable to engage in acts of sodomy in New South Wales.

But as the Australian newspaper wrote at the time:

    • Mr Wran took the bill into the House after virtually browbeating his troops into accepting that homosexual law reform was needed in New South Wales if the State was to be able to claim the title of most progressive in the country.

I pay tribute to Neville Wran for his courage as leader to bring this bill to the Parliament. I pay tribute to former Labor members such as George Petersen, Frank Walker and Jack Ferguson who had to fight within Labor and the Parliament to see this reform made a reality, yet were unsuccessful the first time. But I especially pay tribute to the gay and lesbian community members who showed true courage by campaigning against the criminalisation of homosexuality—at great risk and great threat to themselves and those they loved. Since the establishment of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution—better known as CAMP in 1970—gay men, lesbians and transgender activists had raised the profile of the issues faced by gay men and lesbians. In 1978 these same people, joined by many others, marched in what was a visibly gay rights protest to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. This protest saw the birth of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. People like me as individuals, and indeed all of the LGBTI community organisations who followed, owe these elders a great debt. During the debate in 1984 Premier Wran said:

    • I feel that New South Wales and the New South Wales Parliament will be completely out of touch with current community standards if some substantial reform of the law is not achieved. This approach seems to me to involve not only a recognition of the reality of contemporary social circumstances, but the implication of such important concepts as the freedom of choice, and the rights of the individual and freedom from discrimination.

I often wish we had more debates that put these freedoms at the centre of our laws…

Fred Nile has not evolved at all since then…

I recall exactly where I was when that hit the news in 1984: Boyce Street, Glebe. And I recall who I was with, but there is another anniversary this month, this time 25 years – more on the day. See my post In 1983 I learned more than I knew I was learning….

Last night I forewent the delightful ABC political satire Utopia in order to watch SBS Living With the Enemy.


The first episode in a series of documentaries, Living With the Enemy, produced by Shine and SBS, will focus on a gay couple that spends ten days living with a conservative Anglican minister who opposes gay marriage.

Gregory and Michael are gay activists and atheists and David is a father of three and an Anglican minister.

The film documents what happens when they become immersed in each other’s lives. The couple go to live in the minister’s world for five days then they swap and go to stay in the gay couple’s home.

“Living with the Enemy confronts major issues by bringing together a provocative clash of beliefs, ideologies and personalities that will have audiences shouting at the television”, Tony Iffland, SBS Director of Television, said. – Cec Busby, GNN/SX

Interesting that gay marriage was not the major topic among gay people thirty years ago, but in recent years it really has become a living area of change where we lag behind New Zealand, among other places. On that and other related matters see posts on this blogon my previous blog, and on the one before that!

I have to say that David on last night’s show – respectable reality TV – was not a total idiot like this guy. He was warm and loving, could listen, and modified his attitudes if not his beliefs – those fairly typical of evangelical Sydney Anglicans. The perils of proof texting became apparent when he cited Leviticus 20: 13.

If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Stoning such people to death was quite OK back whenever this was written, probably not by Moses but several centuries later. That text and similar ones are explored in The Bible and Homosexuality.

Most Christians do not apply commands in Leviticus to their lives. They believe these laws are not binding on Christians. They do not believe they are under obligation to perform ritual hand washing, to refrain from eating pork or to abstain from sex during a woman’s period.

Christian churches do not make much of an attempt to apply the commands in Leviticus to corporate life. The requirements in Leviticus was that no priest serve the Lord, unless he was physically perfect. That is no longer the case. Pastors and priests are not required to marry virgins, as commanded in Leviticus 21:13. Churches do not check potential pastors for blemishes, eye defects, physical disabilities and inspect a potential pastor’s testicles to ensure they are perfect before the pastor is hired (requirement in Leviticus 21:16 to 21). For Christians who feel Calvary wipes away the need to keep the laws in Leviticus, enforcing Levitical laws on homosexuals is grossly inconsistent theology. Those Christians who wish to enforce the laws of Leviticus upon gay people need to admit their theology is very inconsistent and is potentially flawed.

One question that comes to mind regarding Leviticus relates to the word abomination. Leviticus 11:7 talks about pork as being unclean meat. Most Christians do not take the numerous texts in Leviticus seriously where the word abomination is used. Leviticus 11:10 is one of a passages where unclean food is called an abmomination. Christians generally do not consider eating pork an abomination, but Leviticus (11:11) considers even the carcases of unclean animals to be an abomination. Clean and unclean meat laws are not something most Christians feel any obligation to keep, yet many Christians insist that being gay is an abomination, when eating they feel eating pork is not an abomination.

Leviticus 18:21 -22 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through [the fire] to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.

According to the respected Keil and Delitzsch Biblical commentary, Moloch was a Canaanite idol. These commentators believe going through the fire was a ceremony in which children were dedicated to the god Moloch. Immediately after a prohibition has been given to worshipping a pagan idol, by dedicating children to a pagan god, we see the what appears to be a prohibition of men having sexual intercourse with other men. The immediate context of this verse is worshipping other gods. Because the immediate context is worshipping pagan gods, one cannot be sure if this is a prohibition against gay relationships. This could be a prohibition against having sex with a man as a form of worshipping another god…

OK, some fair points and others that I find rather less persuasive, when the real point, I now believe, is that God has not written or caused to be written ANY books – Bible or Koran – that are in any way infallible, inerrant, and binding in all times and places. That is right: NONE. Though when considered as aspirations to be read respectfully, tentatively, and with scrupulous scholarship about origins and context, these products of earlier civilisations still have much to tell us.

Jesus himself said ZERO about homosexuality. Mind you he didn’t say much about computers, radios or ballpoint pens either.

Blogging the 2010s — 86 — September 2012

Second year back in The Gong.

Who is in favour of monoculturalism?

No-one in Australia in his or her right mind, or who has thought long enough about the issues, or who is simply capable of seeing with any clarity at all what Australia really looks like and who 21st century Australians really are.

This is not my Iranian neighbour here at The Bates Motel, but it is an Iranian citizen of Wollongong:

And this is the ground-breaking research he is involved in: Researchers Invent Tiny Artificial Muscles With the Strength, Flexibility of Elephant Trunk.

In fact, though, my Iranian neighbour is a PhD student in the same field. He is also now an Australian citizen, and just one example of the kaleidoscope that is today’s Australia.

Monoculturalism is, to say the least, a very dangerous path for us even to consider. At the risk of sounding like Cory Bernadi worrying about whether I may want to marry the sheep of my choice, whether ram or ewe, I would venture to suggest it is a path that leads in due course to the mind, if not the actions, of Anders Breivik. See Breivik’s ideology is all too familiar: that’s our big problem.

The desire for a monoculture may well be nostalgic but it can be heard from Folkestone to Bradford. The flight from state schools of many middle-class parents is a flight from “diversity”, the fear that dare not speak its name.

At its extreme, it incorporates a desire for a kind of re-masculation via the destruction of women’s rights and a simplistic nationalism. The collision of Breivik’s thinking with al-Qaida’s is a circle of hell. Such thinking is driven by an urge for purity and an absolute certainty. The cultural relativism of liberals crumbles away here. We cannot “respect” those who would gun down our children.

In life, though there may be “passive tolerance”, there is often aggressive confrontation between all kinds of people about who has priority. It is rough. And tumble. The excitement of difference. Edgy, if you are young.

And frightening sometimes, too. Breivik’s fear of being taken over was out of all proportion, obviously, but how are people to express their fear of change? Is voicing concerns about the modern world not part of multicultural discourse?

For to express such a fear is to be labelled racist, uptight, intolerant. Parts of the left are still arguing for a multiculturalism that superficially placates but never involves deep and actual change. Breivik’s “crusade” meant murdering children yet he still sees himself as a victim. He is indeed part of the modern world, after all, where the language of victimhood is paramount.

Surely not everyone who feels unheard or uncomfortable is an EDL headcase or will engage in a Breivik-style jihad. But we do need to listen to our fellow citizens instead of preaching this tired doctrine of cultures all fitting together in a beautiful mosaic. Multiculturalism too often means a kind of sampling, both musically and gastronomically, which is lovely for the bourgeoisie but leaves behind a huge and indeed ethnically diverse underclass who do not yearn for modernity and indeed oppose it. This is why we all keep talking about culture because we will not talk about class in a globalised economy. Modernity means we live without illusions but do not become disillusioned. Let’s discuss these illusions instead of wishing them away. This is cultural Marxism for you. This is the very thing Breivik feared.

That is of course all founded on the European experience. I have argued before that the Australian experience of multiculturalism is significantly different and much more successful. See one of my most popular posts and the series of which it is a part.

Everyday life in The Gong

As sure as night follows day events like the recent demonstrations in Sydney bring out the Islamophobes and the closet monoculturalists, as well as the genuinely perplexed and anxious. At such times we need to value even more what we have learned in this country about living with diversity:

AUSTRALIAN multiculturalism is bigger and stronger than what happened in Sydney last weekend. When people come together from so many cultures, it is inevitable there will be some discord.

What happened at the weekend was brought about by a combination of factors that all countries must now deal with, not just Australia.

While the protest was made possible because we have a multicultural society, this eruption did not devalue the powerful dynamic of multiculturalism developing here for more than 60 years. It did, however, remind us that multiculturalism is a work in progress and needs attention to meet contemporary challenges.

Our reaction, as a nation, to the weekend’s events made a good start. The police were there to monitor a peaceful protest, but met violence with resolve. Our political leaders were united in their condemnation of the violence. The leadership of the Muslim community, and the vast majority of Muslims in Australia, were dismayed at what had occurred and also condemned the violence.

And the community as a whole reacted with such revulsion that the perpetrators can be left in no doubt that there is no place for this kind of behaviour here, and never will be.

Far from being an assault on multiculturalism, last weekend can be seen as a sign of the strength and maturity of our multicultural society…

So said Jewish Australian businessman Frank Lowy in Canberra last night.

See also The Australian Multicultural Council  and an excellent book available as a free eBook from the Australian National University: Multiculturalism and Integration: A Harmonious Relationship (2011).

Multiculturalism is a public policy adopted by all Australian governments, with varying enthusiasm, since 1978. It has always been controversial and is currently facing new challenges, especially in the growth of a Muslim community in Australia. However, it has been defined and refined over more than thirty years as a method of settling a wide variety of immigrants from non-English speaking backgrounds and has been relatively successful.

Multiculturalism has always been seen as a function of the Commonwealth and has not concerned itself with Indigenous affairs. It has normally been seen as a concern of the Immigration Department and has been less interested in second and subsequent generations of immigrant parentage, who now form a substantial part of the population. Together with the overseas-born, they constitute 40 per cent of the population, although a substantial number are of English-speaking descent.

This study draws on a variety of academic disciplines and results from an ARC Learned Academies grant awarded to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, which has managed the business side. The disciplines represented here are Linguistics, Political Science, Sociology, Political Philosophy and Demography, rather than the central concern with economic factors which dominates official thinking.

The object is to inquire into precisely what is meant in practice by such terms as multiculturalism, integration, national identity and assimilation. The focus is not simply on the migrant generation in its early years but on long-standing social attributes such as language and religion. Academic studies of the long-term impacts of a diverse migration policy have been neglected in Australia compared with the situation in Europe and North America. While this may be due to the less acute problems here, it remains true that much more needs to be done to illuminate the ongoing issues. This work is intended to start a debate within the formal disciplines but also to suggest directions and issues which have so far been inadequately surveyed by academics and policy makers. To this end a group of academics known to each other for some time has come together to discuss the importance and impact of their disciplines on this important area of public concern.

In The Gong yesterday