Wednesday, April 18, 2012

f*** off we're full

The first time I saw one of these bumper stickers I was stunned. Where does all this venom come from?
These seem to have popped up at the time both major political parties were using asylum seekers as a whipping boy. It might also be fair to say I saw it in a ‘most-likely-to-have-rednecks’ suburb. Thankfully, I’ve only ever seen them on about 4 different cars in as many years.

Does it reflect racism of the ‘every non-Anglo is scum’ variety, or is it simply an anti-immigration message?

The truth is Australia is, in a manner of speaking, full. Compared to other countries – developed or otherwise – we have an extremely low population density. We also have an extremely limited pool of natural resources.

Australia is not the driest continent on earth, that privilege belongs to Antarctica, but we do run a very close second. Despite its total land area, only a very small proportion of Australia is arable, or what most Westerners would call habitable, land.

Unless someone actually does some proper planning, we cannot absorb too many of the world’s 12 million displaced people without suffering a substantial reduction in our own standards of living. If we fling the gates wide open and place no restrictions on immigration, our population will eventually stabilise at a level where we are only marginally better off than those already living in displaced person camps elsewhere in the world.

We can benefit from some growth if that growth is properly planned, resulting in a win-win situation. With the current paucity of leadership or good government I doubt we could do this properly. The infrastructure we have is inadequate, falling into disrepair, and being steadily sold off to private enterprise.

The ‘go away we’re full’ sticker is so thought provoking I could go off on a thousand tangents, but I remember now which tangent I was originally planning to follow: Who or what is an Australian?

I would be a liar if I did not say that a sudden influx of Asians in the 70s didn’t shock me; or a sudden increase in the number of people from the Indian subcontinent; or a marked increase in the number of people who probably visit mosques more than the Westernised Muslims who've been here from the beginning.
I grew up in a white [or red haired/freckled skin] world.

I really do not care what people look like – unless they’ve got filthy fingernails, or their face looks like a bulldog’s collar.

A different physical appearance is simply a visual reminder to me that change is happening. 
I’m not totally resistant to change, but I would like some reassurance about what form that change might take. I’d like some reassurance that if the changes will be horrible I’ll be dead before they happen.

I’d like people to be a little freer to discuss important issues without being cut off by pc Nazis.

The other night on the train I was watching a half a dozen Caucasian gentleman playing their nightly game of 500. 
At some stop near Franger a bunch of Caucasian kids boarded the train. I’d say the youngest was about 14 and the oldest 16 or 17. They were dressed in a manner that betrayed no sense of any sort of style which, at the very least, Goths or Punks usually display. They were obnoxious potty-mouths, openly guzzling alcohol and were already drunk or under the influence of drugs [or both].

The chap that keeps the scores for the card game said to one young lady “Would you mind putting your cigarette out, please?” He was older, neater, and probably a CEO or close to it, and exuded authority.
The girl that was smoking replied “Would you mind getting fucked, please?”

At Frankston the Police were waiting and used the under-aged drinking problem as an excuse to instantly put pressure on them. As I passed through the turnstile, I saw the smoker, in handcuffs, being frogmarched down the ramp and, although she was separated from her friends, she still wouldn’t let go of her tough persona.

Continuing towards my car, I recalled another passenger’s automatic reaction had been "They should be at home with their parents” and wondered what on earth would be the point? I know parents take an inordinate amount of blame for the sins of wilful children, but I suspect home is where it had all started to go wrong a long time ago.

Where did these kids get the idea that tough and foul was an ideal to strive for, and that this is the very best they could hope to be? From the same sorts of parents I hear screaming  “don’t you effingwell talk to me like that you little $%*&^# ” to their kids at the supermarket?

And then I recalled the times I’ve been on a train and surrounded by people from the Indian subcontinent, or Asian looking people whose first language is not English, when yobbos like this have climbed in, shouting and screaming and dropping empty beer or spirit mixer bottles and throwing up.
I thought about how we have an Anglo Australian culture that’s long been obsessed with alcohol. I thought about the times I’ve heard young adults describe their first taste of drugs as a rite of passage.

These are not the Australians who “built” and moulded the country I think of as mine. These are not the values I think of as Australian. But the behaviour of a great many non-Anglo Australians seems far more Australian than that of these lost kids.

We’re not too full, and there is plenty of room for more good people.

In the car park, I noticed the ute parked next to my little matchbox toy had one of those “we’re full” stickers, and for the first time I began to get an inkling of how our first peoples have felt and, for the most part, still do. And I think I need a little self inking stamp so when I see one of these stickers I can attribute the message to someone who thought of it a lot earlier. Maybe someone like Jandamarra.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Windsmoke :) Thanks again for being agreeable.

  2. The problem is too many people from a single country. Understandably they want to be around those from their country, like the Vietnamese did in the seventies and eighties and because of their numbers, they can be.

    In my work canteen, people tend to sit with their own ethnic groups, so you have a table full of Indians, another of Indo Chinese etc. Once I was on a temporary transfer to another area which had many fewer staff and because there weren't large number from one country, people from different countries sat together and the place had a much more cohesive and friendly feel to it.

    While there were some problems with the Vietnamese, or rather their children, it is going to be much worse with the people from Africa as their children grow up.

    If there were less from one country, they might be mixed more evenly throughout the city and even the country, hopefully not next door to the real Aussies you wrote of.

    1. It’s an interesting puzzle, Andrew.
      To overgeneralise; where groups have settled to help each other cope with change, share housing costs, or build up small businesses together, things have not gone too badly and the next generation have been the ones to start integrating to a higher degree.

      Richmond’s Vietnamese seem to have fit in quite well [sez I not really having a clue]. But if you are talking, for example, about the Vietnamese drug gang culture that emerged in the Western suburbs, it’s hard to imagine where that sprang from. Did they cop too much schoolyard sledging? Is it because Footscray has a different socio-demographic? Did they live cheek by jowl with Aussie yobbos? Do people become like this because they can’t imagine a better or different future for themselves?

      As for Africans, especially after the lengthy civil war in the Sudan, I wonder how many will have the counselling etc they might need? One group in the W suburbs have complained for ages they are being targeted by local police.

      But yes, in the long run I agree mixing is the answer.

  3. I am a proud Aussie, but I never forget the privilege of living here when for so many it goes so horribly wrong without them lifting a finger to make it so. I'd like to think when our natural resources have all been sold off by greedy, cash-strapped governments and OZ thus becomes uninhabitable, there would be countries left to accept whoever was left.

    Your previous posts have talked (brilliantly) about anti-social behaviours - it would be difficult to preach an assimilation message without being forced to address the many offensive behaviours of people such as those you describe above. Other than that, I agree with Andrew (above) - when 'the menace' is someone you interact with in a pleasant way, there is no longer a menace!

    Nice to catch up after being MIA for awhile - love your posts, and this one's a great one!!!

    1. Hi Red,
      how do we drag the yobbos back into mainstream society? With the demise of organised religion and confusion about whether one becomes an adult at 21 or 18, I wonder just how we provide kids with some rite of passage that drums home the relationship between privilege and responsibility? Some secular homes provide it, but I expect total numbers are less now than in earlier generations.
      I’ve no idea what goes on in schools anymore – what’s wrong with tying kids to their desks and putting gaffer tape around their gobs anyway? But instead of putting more ridiculous expectations on teachers, how do we fill the vacuum created by poor parenting?

    2. Well, in my neighbourhood, kids become 'adults' at 16 - based on the un-childlike parties that abound. The problem is indeed no rite of passage - these same kids are not taught how to be adults, let alone expected to behave that way. I think that's the crux of the problem! But I keep my opinions on this to myself (generally) as I'm child-free!!

    3. No, no, no, no, no. Don't buy that you don't have kids crap. You were a child yourself, once [presumptuous of me, I know]. You come from a family of some description. You've probably changed a nappy or two [someone else's even]. etc. You pay taxes that support kids and you have to share the world with them. If the guy with that proboscis can have an opinion why not you?
      On the other hand I tend to keep my opinions to myself sometimes but only because only an idiot argues with an idiot.

  4. I think you should make your own bumper that says what you say in your post.

    "We’re not TOO full, and there is plenty of room for more good people."

    That would be much better than the fuck off one.

    Australia would probably be much better off if the people with those mean bumper stickers left and made room for nicer people.

    Maybe THEY can go to Antarctica. We'll see if the penguins are welcoming...or not.

    1. Dina, a new bumper sticker would just highlight the ongoing problem of asylum seekers of the sort who are not in danger but are simply in search of a better lifestyle. With 12.5 million displaced people out there, how do we tackle queue jumpers, or make sure we import good and more deserving people? In theory it might be wrong to pick and choose, but we’ve managed to accumulate some real duds

      And again, what do we do about Anglo generations being lost to poor parenting? “Charity begins at home” is a fairly reasonable motto, but I’ve often wondered why people automatically deserve help just because they live in Australia. There are people overseas who are probably more deserving than some Australians. The only reason I’m an Australian citizen is through an accident of birth. The only way I can earn my citizenship is by trying to be a good citizen.

      As for the yobbos, it seems these people are emerging not just because they are breeding, but because of the increasing gap between rich and poor and because of the changing nature of work. We have some thinking to do to stop them becoming or staying marginalised.

  5. I'll admit it. I get quite tired of being PC at times. There are times I feel like I wouldn't mind having such a bumper sticker. When I was in San Francisco I got really burned out on all the Chinese. Just one example should suffice; every time on a crowded public transit car, they would push aside older and weaker people to get on the train first every time. They don't bother to learn English and so you can't say anything to them. It is all very frustrating as they "take over" the city.

    If I immigrated to China, trust me, I would learn Chinese. Just saying I understand and sometimes relate to the "fuck off" mentality.

    1. Rubye, I think most of us get tired of the PC thing from time to time. One thing that makes Oz different from the States is that we have no real bill of rights as such, and absolutely no guarantee of freedom of speech. I'm not in any position to be sure, but I think we've become trapped here - to some extent at least - by an all or nothing mentality.

      For example, it is only in my lifetime that people have stopped openly and freely discriminating against Catholics. Therefore, I have a personal interest in hoping we cannot discriminate on the grounds of religion. [Not to mention gender or sexuality, or being short.] I've also met oodles of Australian Muslims who are westernised and they are top people. Our problems are not with whole cultures or every member of a single group of any sort, but we have lost the right to discuss individual values that concern us. This is not a constructive political correctness of the sort that asks us to question assumptions, but a quite oppressive form of censorship.
      Let me go out on a limb here: There are billions of people out there with an every man for himself mentality. There are sound historical reasons for it, and I don't give a toss if that is what prevails in another country, but I like queues and I like consideration. When in Rome...

      Perhaps another difference between Oz and the States is that despite the more evil/tragic aspects of our history, we are the beneficiaries of the White Australia Policy. People we might categorise as "other" have never arrived before in numbers significant enough for "us" to feel threatened, never in numbers too big for them or at least their children to assimilate. Although the Chinese who arrived in the 1850s or thereabouts more or less kept to themselves until recently, there has never really been enough of them to form a large ghetto - a ghetto so large they can exist without having to adapt to the values and ways of the rest of the population.

      I guess what is really conflicting for me is that I don't feel brave enough to tell feral whites to blow their nose, grow up, stop swearing or whatever. If we can't even keep our own on track, what hope have we got of getting "others" to adapt?

  6. You write such thought provoking posts. There are two problems here. One is immigration and the other is social. Both are mammoth issues to solve. Both of us are immigrants and we are proud to be Australian and we have been accepted by Australians as one of them, We strongly believe that assimilation is the best route for individuals and the country. We are still proud of our roots and are happy to mix with our countrymen but not exclusively and not often. I realise this could be difficult for some people especially if they are not readily accepted by the community. Then they will seek out their own kind. I have great hope for their children becoming the next generation of 'real' Australians. As for the dregs of society such as you met on the train, they are a worry or at least the cause of their being is a worry. It is a parenting problem and it has the domino effect. Most civilised countries seem to have similar problems. Education is probably the answer but how to administer social skills courses would be a nightmare. There is a certain amount taught in schools today but it often gets untaught at home. On a brighter note, I live near an ecumenical private school and the children there are a delight to be with and watch their conduct and follow their achievements in society. I often think the media dwell too much on sensational bad behaviour and hardly highlight the wonderful young people that are in our society. They probably don't travel on trains so as to stay safe.

    1. Diane, I think you are spot on with your comments about the media. For those from dysfunctional families, there are no real role models to be found anywhere. Most of the media input is about celebrities [totally useless as role models], or bad behaviour. In fact, I think we could do a whole new post about the topic.