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Guest Notes

Immigration notes

24 September 2016

9:00 AM

24 September 2016

9:00 AM

This one’s a stitch: according to a recent Essential poll, 49 per cent of Australians believe Muslim immigration should be halted immediately, including 34 per cent of Greens voters. In other words, Australia’s two percentage points away from becoming a country where favoring Muslim immigration is a minority opinion. If we haven’t learned better than to dismiss the widespread concern over Muslims’ ability to integrate as an ‘extreme fringe’ position, there can no longer be any doubt. To be clear, I’m not in favour of a full-stop Muslim ban myself. But many of us who aren’t have been saying for a while now – at least since Donald Trump made the same demand, with about 52 per cent of Americans concurring – that we have no choice but to take such opinions seriously.

First and foremost, it’s dangerous and wrong-headed to say that anyone is ‘entitled’ to come to Australia. They’re not. It’s for Australians to decide who comes to their country, and the circumstances in which they come. Full stop. Immigrating to Oz is a privilege. It’s one I enjoyed for years, and would do so again in a heartbeat. But I never felt like it was my right to be in Australia. I was fully aware that it was the hospitality of the Australian people which gave me that privilege. And no one’s entitled to hospitality, especially if they abuse it.

Which is the second point. Any sane person will make certain demands of those who accept an invitation to come into their home. In a liberal country like Australia, that demand is simply respecting the fabric of one’s host-nation. But as Nick Cater points out in a recent column for the Australian, much of the Muslim community isn’t meeting that demand. ‘This is not immigration as we know it,’ he writes, ‘but transnationalism, in which the new arrival draws support from a self-contained cultural community that strongly asserts its own identity and would, if it could, operate under its own laws.’ And that transnationalism throws every principle of social and political cohesion into doubt: ‘It is an existence with a conflicted sense of belonging… in which citizenship serves as a flag of convenience rather than a pledge of loyalty.’

Of course, we can’t lay the blame entirely on those Islamic separatists. Thanks to our self-loathing elites, many Muslims feel entitled not only to reject integration: they believe Australia is their enemy. They believe Australians are predominantly racist and Islamophobic – that ‘Muslim integration’ is a contradiction in terms. One is either a Muslim or an Australian, and never the twain shall meet. In a cruel, Waughian twist of irony, multiculturalism has helped make mass immigration unattractive, if not virtually impossible.

But shifting the blame around doesn’t simply negate the problem altogether. The harsh reality is that too many Muslims aren’t integrating, and it’s causing the Australian people to feel displaced in their own country. They’ve heard the Left talk about Aboriginals’ and Palestinians’ rights to territorial and cultural sovereignty, and now they want a piece of the pie. They want to feel at home in the land of their birth – or (trigger warning) the land they lovingly chose to call home. I wouldn’t be surprised if immigrants weighed in strongly in favor of the Muslim ban. They – we – know what it’s like to not live in Australia. They – we – know better than anyone what it would mean to lose her.

Now the progressive elite has a choice. On the one hand, they can persist in their delusion that there’s no integration crisis – or, rather, that the problem is Australia’s lack of hospitality, which I know firsthand to be utter horseplop. There’s no more hospitable country in the world. Literally. 42 per cent of Sydneysiders and 41 per cent of Perth-ites were born overseas. Australia is measurably the most inclusive country in the world. You couldn’t pay Muslims to come here if it was half as xenophobic as the multicultis claims it is. But if they continue doing so, against all evidence to the contrary, that burgeoning majority of Aussies will get their Muslim ban one way or another. And no sensible person will blame them for doing so. If the elite can’t do their job of keeping the peace and upholding the common good, Aussies will hit the kill switch, ensuring things at least don’t get too much worse.

On the other hand, they can admit the disastrous failure of multiculturalism. They can accept the fact that integration and civic patriotism are non-negotiable in a healthy immigration system. They can finally come to terms with the fact that Australia is an oasis of freedom and hospitality in a region plagued by sectarian violence and vicious totalitarian regimes. Only by so doing can they ensure Australia remains a refuge for Asia’s (and the world’s) most vulnerable and persecuted.

Frankly, I don’t think they have it in them. Though I really hope they do. Having so enjoyed my stint as an immigrant in Oz, I wish everyone could avail themselves of the same opportunity. But if Australia makes itself uninhabitable for native-born Aussies in the vain hope of accommodating immigrants – immigrants who couldn’t care less if they found themselves in Australia, or the US, or Germany, or Denmark, so long as someone will let them on the dole – everyone will be the poorer for it. Either loving Australia just the way it is becomes a condition of immigrating here, or the entire immigration system will come undone. It’s that simple.

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