Attention, all you boat people headed Down Under: Australia doesn’t want you.
Knowing this, the two main candidates for prime minister in Saturday’s national elections each offered plans to turn away the tens of thousands of economic and political refugees that illegally arrive by boat in Oz yearly. It became one of the campaign’s main issues, with each side differing only in how they intended to repel the boat people.
In the six years since Australia’s Labor Party assumed power, an estimated 50,000 boat people have reached its shores, causing much consternation among a still mostly white and legendarily flinty electorate comprised in large part of the descendants of convict laborers. Realizing that any sort of pro-boat-peeps stance would lose him the election amid a largely hostile populace, incumbent Prime Minister Kevin Rudd—allow me to pause and note what an extremely exciting name that is—hastily cobbled together a plan in July that cruelly and amusingly diverted all boat persons intending to paddle toward Australia to Papua New Guinea, AKA “The Haiti of the Eastern Hemisphere,” instead. By the end of August, the mere thought of being permanently resettled in Papua New Guinea—where cannibalism and head-hunting are the only nationally recognized sports—had more than halved the monthly number of asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia via big mean hairy men smuggling them on rusty old leaky boats.
Regardless, Rudd had his ass handed to him in Saturday’s election, so the Papua plan may soon go poof.
Incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott, described as “a former boxer, Rhodes scholar and trainee priest,” says he will try and implement a sterner and more punitive approach to what he calls the “national emergency” of strange, unwanted, and often smelly people arriving on boats. Rather than merely diverting boat people to a hostile jungle island, Abbott’s plan involves using the Australian Navy to intercept the boats and return them to Indonesian waters. He will also require refugees already in Australia to carry temporary (not permanent) visas and to work for their welfare benefits. He will also, quite likely, call them nasty, hurtful, and unfair names behind their backs.
Abbott’s road to victory was largely paved with the support of the Murdoch media empire, which, as is their wont, willfully stirred up the anxieties, fears, insecurities, and paranoia nestled within the loins of every person on Earth who’s white and doesn’t feel bad about it.
But there were other voices in the media—more muted, exasperated, and pious voices—which assured us that “God loves boat people.” We heard of pregnant women vomiting in weather-beaten boats so crammed with runaway Muslims that people reproduced accidentally merely by dint of being packed together so tightly. We heard of them humbly nibbling on crackers and thoughtfully sipping from juice cartons as they made their way down from Myanmar to Malaysia to Indonesia and then finally Australia, dodging choppy seas and fighting great white sharks with their bare fists just for a chance to finally meet Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan in the flesh. We read that in its abject disdain for these humble and holy immigrants, Australia is a “morally backward place” that stinks of racism. We read that even the Jews are upset with Australia’s white redneck majority.
“What,” you might ask, “is the difference between these new boat people and the nearly one million Vietnamese boat people who relocated to the USA in the 1970s and the 125,000 or so Cubans who paddled to Florida in 1980?”
“The difference,” I would answer, “is that Australia is turning these new boat people away.”
Australia’s original boat people, the astoundingly unattractive aborigines who spend most of their time these days huffing spray paint and eating grubs, were said to arrive on the continent 50,000 or so years ago. They spent the next 50 millennia painting caves and running around in loincloths until “the white man”—I forget his name—began arriving on boats in large numbers during the late 1700s. From then until 1868, an estimated 161,700 white convicts were transplanted to Oz. Some of their descendants went on to form the multiplatinum-selling classic-rock band AC/DC.
With Australia’s federation in 1901, the White Australian Policy promoted immigration predominantly from Britain and other European countries. During World War II, Prime Minister John Curtin said:
This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race.
But by 1975, that sort of Old World white-is-right attitude had been gradually chipped away by legislation and changing public sentiment. Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act made it illegal to so much as think of the word “coon.” Immigration laws, especially the parts with racial overtones, were relaxed to the point where roughly a quarter of the continent’s population is now foreign-born.
I’ve been to Australia once, when I visited Melbourne for about a week in 2006. It is quite the land of contrasts. Never have I seen a country where on one hand the media incessantly bombard your eardrums and eyeballs with multiculti propaganda, while on the other its denizens are so openly and unapologetically “racist,” you’d think you were at an Alabama Klan cupcake sale in the 1930s.
I arrived about a month after the Cronulla riots, which the locals told me resulted from the public’s impatience that hostile Lebanese immigrants were routinely raping white Australian women for sport. One Aussie told me of how packs of young Muslim male immigrants loved to taunt and intimidate the white natives. As we got out of his car to go into the post office, a group of brown males brushed past me, deliberately making eye contact and sneering.
I had dinner with a friend’s crisp and cordial parents, who were in their sixties and told me all about Australian football and how aboriginal art consists mainly of “dots…just dots.” I assumed through their tone that they felt all aborigines are retarded.
The next day as their son was motoring me around Melbourne, he made a passing comment about how there are barely 20 million people in Australia, but due north of them was a giant Asian continent teeming with about four billion residents. Although the statement itself was ominous, he didn’t seem paranoid to me…only concerned.
The White Australia Policy officially ended in 1973, which was the same year that Frenchman Jean Raspail published his dystopian novel The Camp of the Saints, in which a fatally tolerant and naively universalist French nation is swamped with a million starving boat people from India who proceed to eat the country until there’s nothing left. Raspail lamented that the West became ripe for plunder because it “has no soul left.”
I suspect that modern Australia may have a little bit of soul left.
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