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Australia for the . . .

September 27, 1987

Few Australians, and perhaps none who are over thirty-five and native-born, can avoid a tangle of mind and emotion on the race question. 'I approve totally of the multicultural path,' says a Sydney publisher who is an old school friend of mine. 'Our parents' generation missed a lot, which we have got from the migrants.' A moment later he remarks, 'But, you know,' don't like seeing all these Chinese kids running round with my kids' . . .

Australia for the . . .

I myself have stiffened upon seeing a large group of Asians happily treating Australia as home, as if this native land of mine were their kitchen table. Given a majority, I say to myself, with a certain sadness, they will naturally and rightfully take over the direction of the country. In America I never experience such racist pangs. In America the immigrant comes to a society that is sure of itself (at times perhaps too sure), and possessed of a tradition of independence and liberty that gives Americans a definition of themselves. In Australia the Asian immigrant enters a more inchoate realm.

The American takes it for granted that the immigrant will become Americanized; many Australians in the late 1980s are not sure that the immigrant to Australia will--or even ought to--become Australianized. To an Australian, the sight of a black American athlete standing with his gold medal on a dais at the Olympic Games, his face shining with pride as 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is played, is a remarkable one. The strong, open love of country, even on the part of groups not always well treated in America, is a thing of awe to a traditional Australian.

--From The Australians

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