CULTURE: by Senator Cory BernardiNews Weekly
How political correctness threatens Australian culture
, June 21, 2008
Australians should have the courage to stand up for their convictions and not live in fear of the PC brigade, argues Senator Cory Bernardi, who delivered the Adelaide University Democratic Club's James McAuley lecture on May 22. Here is a shortened version of his address.Today, I'm here to talk about the threat that political correctness and symbolism pose to Australia's culture.
You'll notice that I haven't chosen to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land - and here's why. It seems today that, at almost every event or occasion that people go to, they are forced to sit through an acknowledgment or a "welcome to the country" ceremony. But do I really need to be welcomed to my own country?
I was born here; I'm indigenous to Australia. This is my country too. And it is the country of many Australians who have built lives for themselves here.
So, today, I choose to acknowledge the people that contributed to the establishment of Adelaide University - in particular the Elder family, the Barr Smith family and Walter Hughes, whose donation of £20,000 in 1872 helped start it all.Legacy
Why should these people's contributions be ignored? And why do we ignore one contribution and make such a big deal about another contribution? Almost everything you see around you is because of settlers and the legacy they have left us.
However, the legacy of Judeo-Christian values, freedom, choice and strong social institutions are under threat from the politically-correct brigade.
But exactly what is political correctness? Some people claim that political correctness is about being nice to people, being tolerant and treating others with respect. But that's just good manners.
Political correctness is designed to undermine free speech, common sense and debate in the public arena. It is an instrument of the Left, who use it to push their ideas onto society.
Political correctness is not a concept that came about overnight. It has slowly been infiltrating our society and undermining our culture. And therefore we often fail to recognise the change that has occurred.
Let me just give you a few examples of the extremes of PC that our society already has to put up with:
• Santa was banned from saying "Ho ho ho", for fear of offending women.
• Sea World re-named fairy penguins "little penguins" to avoid offending the gay community (and even the gay community thought that was a bit over the top).
• A member of parliament's maiden speech is now called their "first speech".
• We have "chairperson" instead of chairman, and "female actor" instead of "actress".
• We shy away from saying "blackboard" and use "chalkboard" instead.
The list goes on...
A recent letter to the editor in The Australian
pointed out: "There are three kinds of people in our society: a small and driven group that seek to pull down and destroy, the complacent majority who are disengaged, and another small group who protect and build." (Ken Blakers, The Australian
, May 9, 2008).
The scary reality is that a majority of people in our society are disengaged from the debate on social issues. They are happy to just "go with the flow".
For thousands of years marriage and family have provided a firm foundation for Western civilisation. Aristotle once said: "The family is something that precedes and is more necessary than the state."
Yet this is all being threatened by modern political correctness and social engineering. Governments across the world continue to support the politically correct view that no one type of family is better than any other for raising children.
But this is just not true. Countless studies prove beyond a doubt that a family with a mother and father provides the best environment for raising children.
Here, in Australia, many children are being brought up in homes without two parents, or without a father-figure. In many cases, this has an adverse effect on children.
In the UK, the Social Justice Policy Group found that those not brought up in a two-parent family were 75 per cent more likely to fail at school, 40 per cent more likely to have serious personal debt, 70 per cent more likely to be drug addicts and 40 per cent more likely to have alcohol problems.Cohabiting parents
In Western Europe, by a child's fifth birthday, fewer than 8 per cent of married parents had split up, compared to almost 43 per cent of cohabiting partnerships (e.g. ,de facto).
The best family structure for children is to have two parents (a man and a woman) who love each other and care for the child. Family is the best form of welfare. Nothing that the government can provide even comes close.
PC is also attacking the family through the concept of "gender neutrality". This is a movement to deconstruct the male-female roles in society - an attempt to say that men and women are the same, that there are not two genders but many genders.
The debate on gender differences has been plagued by the accusation that those who suggest "difference" are also implying "inferiority". That is not true.
Just because men and women are different, does not mean that one is inferior to the other. And yet it is not politically correct to say this.
Apparently in today's world, middle-class values have also become politically incorrect. Take the example of two foster parents in Queensland. They gave up fostering children after they were told by social workers to stop forcing "middle-class values" on their foster kids. These "middle-class values" included telling their kids that they shouldn't take drugs or skip school.
Newspapers today are full of stories about the slaughter of whales, the clubbing of seals, climate change and a whole range of other things. And yet what about unborn babies? It seems that our society is more concerned about trees, baby seals and kangaroos than it is about the worth of unborn humans.
Saying no to abortion, cloning or embryonic stem-cell research, on the other hand, is costly. It means taking responsibility for our actions and not making the unborn scapegoats for our own irresponsible behaviour. It means acknowledging the fact that all life is valuable.
But speaking out about these issues often lands people in hot water, as Tony Abbott experienced when he came to deliver the James McAuley lecture at Adelaide University in 2004.
Our education system is not helping matters either. Australian universities in particular are consumed by political correctness and Leftist ideology.
Socially-conservative students are often uncomfortable about expressing their views in this environment of radical ideology.
Even kids in high school have been affected by this. One teenager wearing a John Howard T-shirt was told he was not allowed in the classroom unless he covered it up, while the teacher herself was allowed to openly ridicule George W. Bush in class and actively encouraged the students to participate in this.
In some tutorial rooms around Australia, conservatives are labelled as racist, homophobic, sexist, intolerant and Islamophobic.
Even our kindergartens and primary schools are feeling the wrath of PC and symbolism. A school principal in Queensland had to apologise to a family for over-using the word "Christmas" in school newsletters. In 2004, several schools and kindergartens banned Christmas celebrations, all in the name of "not offending" non-Christians.
Even children's nursery rhymes haven't escaped the PC onslaught. Some kids are now being taught "Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep".
The values and traditions that formed our culture are being ignored, forgotten and often forbidden in public debate - all in the name of political correctness and symbolism.
Mateship, the sanctity of life, free will, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, personal responsibility and respect for the common good are among the many elements that have formed Australian culture.
However, people who hold traditional values are being trapped in what US professor David Woodard likes to call a "whisper zone". Speaking out publicly about traditional marriage and family, or about religion or right to life, often results in an immediate backlash from the social engineers - those very people who claim to respect everyone's point of view.
This often takes the form of intimidation or ridicule, anti-discrimination legislation, equal-opportunity laws or hate-crime laws.
A few years ago two pastors from Melbourne's Catch the Fire Ministries were sued by the Islamic Council of Victoria for "inciting religious hatred" by quoting various parts of the Koran. By contrast, in 2006, former Mufti of Australia, Sheikh al-Hilaly, likened Australian women to uncovered meat and was not sued for it.
So Christians get hauled before a court for criticising other religions, but it's okay for a sheikh to liken women to meat!
The PC strategy is to divide and conquer, to make a public example of a few to silence the many. Many people therefore back off, scared of exposing themselves to more verbal abuse or adverse consequences should they continue to take a stand. So they are often reduced to whispering their thoughts and views with others.
Intimidating people by fear is something dictators do. There is no place for that in our country.
It is time to take a stand. Don't be afraid of speaking out about your beliefs and views. Don't be silenced by fear.
And chances are that if you speak out in defence of our foundational institutions and traditional values and morals, there will be a silent majority supporting you. After all, you have 2,000 years of history on your side.
Another way to try and curb the adverse effects of this radical social engineering is to know what your politicians stand for. You need to find out what their values are, what guides them.Voting
If you don't believe that homosexuals should be allowed to get married, why would you vote for a politician who believes the opposite? If you believe it is wrong to sacrifice human beings through embryonic stem-cell research and cloning, why would you vote for a politician who thinks it's okay?
One vote can make all the difference when it comes to these issues in the Parliament. Just one vote.
So take a stand. Stand up for your convictions. Don't live in fear of the PC brigade.
Because, remember, as Martin Luther King, Jnr, once said: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."- Senator Cory Bernardi (Liberal, South Australia) is the federal Opposition's Parliamentary Secretary for Family and Community Services.