ON THE radio this morning, Andrew Bolt and Steve Price, the columnist’s Sancho Panza, chatted with Dr Christina Ho, senior lecturer in multicultural matters at Sydney’s University of Technology. The subject was “white flight” from elite public schools, as the headline in the Silly put it, and the specialist in societal frakking did not disappoint, least of all in her subjectivity. Of her research and conclusions, which hang on comparing the number of non-Anglo/European faces in specific schools with the ethnic composition of surrounding suburbs, she could quote chapter and verse. However, when asked if those disparities were no more than the consequence of some students working harder, being coached and coming from families that regard achievement as the norm, you could almost hear her little feet scurrying for the all-purpose cover of the personal impression.
“When you go to [elite schools’ entrance] test days, you do not see a lot of Anglo students.
Therefore “part of it is that there are a lot of Anglo-Australian families who aren’t sending their kids to do the test. There are probably a lot of reasons why that is the case . . . it must have to do with some level of discomfort about schools becoming Asian-dominated, therefore putting off white families.”
It must, must it? Hmmm.
Forget for a moment Dr Ho’s grievous slur on pale, round-eyed Australian natives like Young Master Bunyip, who has been gifted with generations of thoroughly Australian blood on his father’s side and, from his mum, una prima colazione di un maiale of Calabrian, Sicilian, Neopolitan and god-only-knows-what-else many centuries of invaders left behind. So incensed was he at being disparaged as “Anglo” – a term he associates chiefly with pale Poms and a Radio Birdman number -- it was all the Professor could do to stop him ringing up Judge Mordy and demanding that Dr Ho be strapped to a stool and dunked in a vat of David Marr’s spittle.
The fact that white people look alike to Dr Ho is a minor point. Of much greater interest is her timing, because there is absolutely nothing new about her research, the gist of which was published quite some time ago. Back in May she penned a little essay for the Australian Review of Public Affairs (ARPA), and it summarises exactly the points which saw this morning's Silly go off half-cocked about white intolerance. Could it be that departmental budgets and promotions are being thrashed out for the 2012 academic year, a process in which the benefits of a higher profile and a little fresh ink can be of great assistance?
The ARPA piece includes an observation that can only lead to the conclusion Young Master Bunyip’s furious reaction was the correct one: Dr Ho really does need a stiff dose of judicial intervention. When it comes to stereotypes, she is a champ, as an interview, also in May, with The Conversation makes pretty darn clear:
The high proportion of Asian students at selective schools was also helping to create student bodies with a cultural mix that do not reflect broader Australian society and was fuelling resentment by others that Asians were ‘taking over’, she said.If Andrew Bolt were to say something similar of Aborigines – that they are good only at football, dot painting and exploring their own culture – he would be heading back to court chop chop. But when those sentiments roll from the lips of a mistress of the multiculti, no problem.whatsoever.
That could be addressed by broadening the selection criteria to include more sports, arts and humanities topics, she said.