This is a followup to my previous post on the Australian government’s proposal that immigrants should have to undertake (amoung other things) a citizenship pledge in order to become Australians.
Call me a back-flipper if you want, but I’ve changed my mind. I believe that there should be a pledge because I’ve found the perfect candidate: Affirmation by Savage Garden.
It’s Australian. It was performed for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. It contains messages addressing all current social and health issues including obesity, equality, mental health, reconciliation, religious moderation, and financial security. Above all it carries an overriding message of peace and unity. Isn’t this exactly what we want for Australia?
Let’s imagine what would happen if the song is adopted. For a start, citizenship ceremonies would become a lot more fun. Imagine people from all backgrounds energetically singing and dancing along to the music of one of Australia’s greatest musical exports. This could help reinvigorate Savage Garden record sales and bolster the Australian music industry. If we’re lucky, the band might even decide to get back together. What a boon for the nation that would be!
The Australian federal government is proposing that, in order to become Australian citizens, immigrants should have to pass a number of Australian language and history tests and sign some sort of pledge to adopt Australian values. The reason given for this proposal is to improve national identity, but the implied reason is to also bolster national security.
The government believes that immigrants are refusing to assimilate into Australian society and forming their own insular groups. They are concerned that this behaviour results in immigrant communities that do not contribute or hold allegiance to Australia. In the worst case, they worry that such groups may present a danger when their beliefs constrast significantly with wider Australian society.
There are a number of a serious flaws in the logic behind the government’s proposal. Primarily, the government fails to differentiate between culture and ethics. Secondly, the proposal is necessarily divisive contrary to its purpose. Finally, full implementation of such a policy would be incredibly difficult as “Australian culture” is almost impossible to define.