Guest Notes

Diversity notes

26 May 2018

9:00 AM

26 May 2018

9:00 AM

Abstractionitis revisited

In its recently published survey, Leading for Change: A Blueprint for Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Revisited, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) asserts that there is insufficient ‘cultural diversity’ in Australia because of the statistically dismal over-representation of Anglo-Celts among Australia’s leaders.

The word ‘Revisited’ refers to the fact that as far back as mid-2016, the AHRC published a similar self-aggrandising item. On that occasion the AHRC released a video of what its Ten Year Plan for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership in Australia would have achieved on 29 July, 2026. It is to be hoped that the pomposity of the video explains why it is no longer available.

The skimpiness (35 pages) of the latest ‘study’ has the unintended consequence of pinpointing the main characteristics of the disabling effect of ideology on the AHRC’s approach to the discharge of its statutory responsibilities.

First and foremost, Revisited is a reminder of the nature and extent of penetration of the AHRC’s ongoing campaign of implacable opposition to diversity of ideas and opinion in Australia. Revisited refers to the articles of faith of the AHRC’s version of multiculturalism. The ‘blueprint’ is for the AHRC to guide the nation’s elite leadership class along the path of state-mandated transformational change. Australia will become a nation whose chief organising principle is that Australians are classified by ethno-racial-geographical descent thereby enabling representation of ‘proportionate cultural diversity’ to be achieved among the elite leadership.

Perhaps the AHRC has been inspired by Julius Caesar. In The War in Gaul, he said of Gaul: Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres. The three parts of Gaul were inhabited respectively by the Belgæ, the Aquitani and the Celts. The AHRC proclaims that all Australia is divided into four culturally diverse parts – Indigenous, Anglo-Celtic, European, and non-European.

That classification system binds everyone. No ifs, no buts! No dissent! It is the key to national success and prosperity in twenty-first century Australia because it will cure the perceived malady of cultural domination by that basket of ‘statistical dismals’, the aforesaid Anglo-Celts.

The closest Revisited comes to defining our national leadership defect is in the truly fascinating footnote 3: ‘Anglo-Celtic, as it is used here, encompasses “Anglo-Saxon”, which has been understood in historical terms to refer to settlers from the German regions of Angeln and Saxony, who made their way to Britain around AD 410.’

If, in light of that observation, there could be any doubt that the AHRC’s quadripartite formula is one confected for ideological purposes, it is dispelled by the following stand-out plain English sentence: ‘The vast majority of people who live here have a healthy sense of belonging to, and identification with, Australia.’ ‘Healthy’ and yet, simultaneously, ‘unhealthy’ because, no matter what Australians think, ‘cultural background is the key variable’.

The survey underpinning both the malady and its cure involves making five types of evidentiary inquiry for the assignment of an individual to her/his ancestral descent class. The fifth is photographs of the individual. What, pray tell, does a twenty-first century Australian Anglo-Celt (or Saxon) look like?

An abiding problem of ideologies is contradiction. The AHRC’s Pollyanna-like version of multiculturalism involves conferring privileged status on so-called minority, oppressed and vulnerable groups. The possibility that there can be both good and bad cultural ideas and practices in, or conflict between, such groups is not acknowledged by the AHRC.

As recent events have amply illustrated, religion – which is no more than ideas and a matter of individual choice or rejection – presents a particularly intractable problem for the AHRC. Australians have the right to express a belief that ancient revealed scripture warrants discriminating against women and/or that eternal Hellfire awaits those who engage in sexual relations outside the marriage of a man and a woman. Such views are incompatible with what the AHRC calls secular Australia’s liberal democratic values. To borrow its own language, the AHRC ignores the religion-related contradiction in its multicultural ideology by persistently resorting to the clever trick of conflating race and religion.

The distinguishing formal characteristic of Revisited is that all-pervasive postmodern linguistic conceit/curse, abstractionitis. There is no need for the AHRC to explain abstractions like ‘cultural’, ‘diversity’, ‘identities’, ‘backgrounds’, ‘nuances’ and ‘inclusive’. The vast majority of us, the vulgus, ought to know better.

The opening paragraph of Revisited announces that ‘Australia needs a diversity of ideas, capabilities and cultural intelligence to navigate technological, social, economic and geopolitical changes’. There is an Aesopian mention of a ‘perception’ that persons from non-European backgrounds may be drawn to fields such as information technology, finance or administration. Which backgrounds? Is that ‘perception’ to be applauded?

There is irony galore in the propensity of the AHRC to blow hot and cold simultaneously as, for example, its endorsement of the acceptability of the casual racism of Irish jokes, and its claim that human rights recognise the inherent value of each person, regardless of what we look like. Since Revisited appeared, the AHRC Race Discrimination Commissioner has been reported as saying that ‘There is never anything to be gained from focusing excessively on ethnicity and race around discussions around crime’, and has extolled the importance of patriotic duty. Revisited raises far more questions than it answers.

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