A Multicultural Celebration

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The feature article, “A Multicultural Celebration” by Australian radio host, Paul Murray presents a meandering critique Australia’s multicultural history and our search for a national identity. Whilst I agree with the picture that he paints of the constant cycle of opposition to the various waves of migrant types throughout our history, and how he shows that despite this, multiculturalism flourishes, I disagree with how Murray tries to tie this with our search for a national identity. In this article the Australian citizen who searches for a national identity is silenced by Murray’s dismissal of the search as, ‘navel-gazing’. He goes on to say the search is futile. He seeks to supplant the values built up by generations of Australians of ‘egalitarianism’, ‘mateship’ and ‘freedom’ with his own notion that we be defined by multiculturalism alone. Murray uses a photographic montage, a main body and a concluding statement to persuade us that for over a century we have been looking in the wrong place for our national identity, and that we should, like “America”, define ourselves by multiculturalism. I think Murray fails to win the argument. What the article should have done is show us how multiculturalism can define us. It should permit us one day of the year to ‘navel-gaze’, or reflect on who we are and why must it be either multiculturalism or the three values stated previously, egalitarianism, mateship and freedom, why not all four? Murray, for the purpose of this article, uses a carefully constructed photographic montage to include proponents, Gough Whitlam and Harold Holt, and opponents of multiculturalism, Sir Henry Parkes. He has pictured Australia and its place in the world overlaid on the Australian flag and tied it in with the emblem of American migration, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. The crowd pictured on the right hand side being supervised by police may well be those crowds that gather for the...
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