Catholic activists and racism

Interesting to note the incorporation of Australian Catholic conservatives into the Australian conservative movement. This is apparent in the recent anti-Muslim rhetoric of Greg Sheridan and Kevin Andrews which echoes themes of less prominent Catholic activists such as Bill Muehelberg and Cory Bernardi. This is an interesting shift. Defence of White Australia was a core radical right cause from the early 1970s. The real end of White Australia came with the decisions of the Fraser Liberal government in the late 1970s to accept substantial numbers of Indochinese refugees. At the time however conservative activists were traumatised by the memory of the Whitlam government and this distracted them from the defence of White Australia. At the time however Catholic conservatives, represented by groups such as the National Civic Council and the Democratic Labor Party were persistent critics of White Australia. Thirty years on however the old anti-Catholic prejudices of the radical right have almost completely collapsed and Catholic conservatives have been welcomed into the radical right. One aspect of this has been that Catholic conservatives have mostly come to conform with the racism of the right that they once deplored (Gerard Henderson (mostly?) and Tony Abbott have remained more faithful to the older tradition perhaps). Oddly the trajectory of Catholic activists mirrors those of Catholics in the early twentieth century when Catholics became aligned with Labor. This alignment certainly contributed to the defeat of radical socialist forces within the Labor Party as Patrick Ford and Bede Nairn argued. However it was also the case that Catholic activists had to conform with the Labor mainstream, specifically Catholic ideas on social policy were given little attention by Labor governments, at the most Catholic rhetorical denunciations of laisser-faire were cited to support conventional social-democratic policies. Conservative Catholics today will find that they have become little more than foot soldiers in the old ethnocentric right but most of them will be entirely content with this. It is also noteworthy that the radical right are flirting with ‘environmentalist’ arguments against population increase, see the specches (including one by Andrews) at the recent conference of the astroturf Australian Environment Foundation (an organisation Paul Austin apparently takes seriously).

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  1. [...] Dal Khalsa forKhalsa president Harcharanjit … Mail (will not be published) (required) …Catholic activists and racism Geoff RobinsonOddly the trajectory of Catholic activists mirrors those of Catholics in the early … to the defeat [...]

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