"I was born in Australia and I don’t want to assimilate"  -- but integration and assimilation are not the same thing.

Koraly Dimitriadis does make an important point below but it may not be the one she has in mind. For a start, she is clearly reflecting the views of her Greek parents. Greek immigrants of yesteryear typically saw Australians as a low lot with no morals or standards. They fitted in very well to Australian society with the fish-shops, greengrocers and milk bars that they set up (among other things) but were very strong on maintaining their cultural separateness. "Separateness" in Afrikaans is "apartheid". So they were clearly racists in a loose application of that term and Ms Dimitriadis clearly has a similar view of "old" (Anglo-Celtic) Australians.

Amusingly, as time has gone by, the lack of "standards" that older Greeks deplored in Australia has turned up in Greece also. So young Greeks who return to Greece to absorb their heritage tend to find that modern Greece is much more like Australia than it is like the Greece of their parents' description. I believe that even "hooking up" has arrived in Athens, which would be anathema to older Greeks.

But the underlying fact that Ms Dimitriadis seems not to realize is that integration and assimilation are not the same thing. Australia has absorbed vast numbers of immigrants from Europe and Asia with only minor frictions. The migrants concerned often did not assimilate in that they retained much of their own culture and customs but they integrated into Australian society by working for their living and not making waves. They rarely did break and enters and they don't go around shooting and bombing people in the name of Allah. So no-one was bothered by them and very little was required of them if they wanted to become citizens.

So the recently proposed citizenship test is not remotely aimed at Greeks, East Asians or Hindu Indians. Almost nobody is concerned about them gaining citizenship. There is nothing to be concerned about. What the tests are aimed at is the two groups of recent arrivals that I mentioned: Africans and Muslims. It is they whom the government wants to crack down on. But in an era of political correctness, they do not feel able to be frank about their aims. If they made the citizenship test applicable to Africans and Muslims only, there would be a huge uproar about "racism" from the Left. So a test designed to restrict Africans and Muslims has to be made applicable to all immigrants.

And, reasonably, some people, such as Ms Dimitriadis, feel the test is not and should not be applicable to her or her relatives. Ms Dimitriadis is undoubtedly a good citizen of Australia and deserves no special scrutiny of herself or her culture. So what she has highlighted in the difficulty that political correctness imposes. It causes her and her relatives to be treated like some very obnoxious groups are treated. It removes an important opportunity to make reasonable distinctions.

Just a small aside in conclusion: At the end of her article, she says:

"I’ll be proud to call myself Australian, to follow Australian values, when I see some values I’d like to follow, until then, I’ll stick to being myself"

She might more frankly have said, "I’ll stick to being a Greek Australian". And there is no reason why she should not do that. Greek Australians have made great contributions to Australia. The only difficulty is that political correctness would have made that statement racist

ASSISTANT Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke said something on the ABC’s Q&A this week that did not sit well with me.

When asked about recent swift changes to obtaining Australian citizenship, he responded:  “… if you want to become Australian you have to assimilate and integrate into Australian society.”

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I was born in Australia and I am not interested in assimilating.

Assimilate and integrate into what? Australian society? Isn’t Australia a multicultural society made up of different people, cultures and faiths? Maybe what the government actually means is Anglo Saxon Christian Australian society.

“Australian values” and fluency in the English language will be some of the revamps to the new citizenship testing. Anglo Saxon English migrants will do just fine then. Migrants where English isn’t their first language will be at a disadvantage.

Just off the back of the Senate rejecting the proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and racist Australians crying out “freedom of speech”, in conjunction with the recent skilled migration visa changes, it seems our government this year has adopted Pauline Hanson-style discrimination politics.

While the list of questions for the test has yet to be finalised, whether or not it is appropriate to hit your wife is an example being thrown around. Apart from the ludicrous idea that someone applying for citizenship would tick “yes”, wouldn’t appropriate police checks be done when applying for permanent residency and citizenship?

“Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.

Since when is knowing fluent English proof you’re a true blue Aussie? Isn’t the language of Australia the hundreds of indigenous languages? Lucky Section 18C is still intact and the words “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” were not replaced with “harass” because I am terribly offended right now.

Many members of my extended and immediate family who migrated to Australia in the 70s don’t know fluent English and they are prouder Aussies than I am and I was born here. From the day their ship docked, they have worked hard creating flourishing businesses, they have purchased their own home, educated their children to university level, and contributed not only to the economy but to the face of Australia’s multicultural society. It seems when it comes to appreciating different cultures, Anglo’s are good at appreciating the cuisine, not so much the customs and language.
Koraly Dimitriadis was born in Australia but will follow her own values for now. (Pic: Kaliopi Malamas)

See, this is why I don’t sing the Australian national anthem. Why would I want to pledge my allegiance to a racist country? The only Australia I am interested in is multicultural Australia. Not racist Australia, not Anglo Australia, but multicultural Australia. But all this government has shown me is they are interested in fuelling segregation. Just from the changes to the skilled migration visas and citizenship changes, racist Australians are getting validated by our government.

I can just hear it already: “Stop stealing our jobs, learn English or go back to where you came from, and give us our freedom of speech to offend you out in public rather than discretely behind closed doors.”

If the government really wants to keep jobs for Australians, maybe they could start by banning big companies from outsourcing their call centres to third world countries.

The government needs to realise that the words “assimilate” and “integrate” can be highly offensive to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Because assimilate means integrate into the dominant power and that dominant power is Anglo.

The entire parliament of Australia needs a lesson in multiculturalism, in unifying communities rather than tearing them apart. I’ll be proud to call myself Australian, to follow Australian values, when I see some values I’d like to follow, until then, I’ll stick to being myself.


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