| May 6, 2009

Education, and understanding history is essential to combatting racial discrimination  

The manifestation of insecurity and fear, especially when a threat of competition from individuals or groups is perceived and exacerbated by the natural laws of ‘survival instinct' and ‘survival of the fittest', can become a cause for discrimination. Overcoming the negative effects of these natural laws in a developed society is achieved by social conditioning and the imposition of laws which promote equality and social harmony.

This blog build on ideas I raised in an earlier blog Nationalism Vs Patriotism

Historically, humanity progressed by overcoming ignorance through acquisition of wisdom and education. Teaching of tolerance from childhood can be an important way to minimise human fear and insecurity. This can be achieved by objective social psychologists producing carefully structured (commencing at pre-school level) curriculum of benefit to parents and children, to ensure that future generations are developed as a psychologically stable, free from prejudice and able to live in harmony. Eventually, the country with a progressive concept of education could produce better quality politicians than those who often play the race card by exploiting people's fear and insecurity for their own political survival.

This way, Australia can avoid the repeat of our experience during the John Howard's years and the earlier White Australia's policy. Political leaders, who are blinded by prejudice, may appeal to the ignorant section of the community, but they lose their creativity and become divisive. In the best interests of the country, these abhorrent leaders should be rejected. Other divisive community leaders and extreme media and press commentators, who exploit their power of influence to spread division, prejudice and hatred, should also be rejected. The business of these commentators appears to be based on shocking, rather than aiming at the national interest. Playing on peoples ignorance and promoting prejudice cannot serve the country. How can anybody claim to be patriotic and serving the country by dividing its people?

"Majority VS Minority" is a common battle. As a result of wars, migration, the slave trade and occupation by various tribes of foreign lands and countries, mixed societies with different races, languages and religions are formed. In this mix of cultural and biological diversity, majorities and minorities are formed. The majority become the dominant force in society (with some exceptions in countries like Syria, and Iraq-before the invasion, South Africa under the apartheid, etc.). Throughout history, when assimilation of the minority has taken place, no major social conflict resulted. The opposite happened however, when the minority insisted on maintaining their religion, traditions, language, customs and territory within the same country. The peaceful integration usually results in a positive social outcome, prompted by the exchange of culture, knowledge and wisdom, which enhances the development and the unity of the country. The fanatical adherence and imposition of religion and nationalism on each other by both the majority and minorities is often the source for social conflict.

An extreme approach by minority groups can be construed as disloyalty to the moderate majority of the host country. A discriminating approach by the majority on the other hand, can put the minority on the defensive and lead to their isolation. This usually results in social polarisation within society that leads to hostilities and acts against the national interest and ultimately disadvantages both groups.

Therefore, a display of patriotism by migrants to the host country, rather than their country of origin is essential for the harmonious survival of society. Equally, the embracement and the genuine acceptance by the majority of the migrant population is necessary. The survival of society may dictate the deliberate and planned integration of all its citizens within the framework of enhancing individuality. This may contradict the multicultural and human rights principle, but in the long run, it saves the country from unnecessary conflict and results in the protection and the survival of the minorities themselves.

I am not advocating that migrants abandon their culture, customs and traditions that benefit and enhance the culture of the host country, because these elements are essential part of the mutual cultural exchange between all citizens.

Racism  is the ugliest form of discrimination, when a group of people assume that they are superior to others because of their ancestry, the colour of their skin or other racial features that make them entitled to social and political privileges.

Migration, colonisation and wars resulted in inter-marriages and the production of as many races as there are genes. The reason people are not the same is only because of their different genes and environment. Genes dictate the hereditary characteristics and the environment dictates the psychological and social aspects of each individual. This however, is not an excuse for discrimination, because society is made up of individuals with complementing roles to advance the society.The dissimilarities are only to be viewed in a positive light and to be a reason for extending every opportunity to all individuals to reach their greater potential.

Education should be a constitutional human right and should be free to ensure that equal opportunity is afforded to all individuals to help them reach their goals. The investment in free education can have a huge benefit in the long run, because it results in social and skill development, which is a necessity for a better society and for the technical advancement and the competitiveness of the country. The key to eliminating discrimination and institutionalised racism is education.

This is what Australia is learning from its past racial discrimination of Aborigines who were disadvantaged by the neglect of the white majority. For many years Aborigines were treated differently to other Australians, which have resulted in their current plight of poor health and education.

Born in Iraq in 1939, Hani Montan graduated with a Masters of Science Degree in Civil and Industrial Engineering in 1966. Prior to that, he was a primary school teacher. Arriving in Australia in 1969 he acquired citizenship in 1973. In addition to his extensive travels around the world, he has studied and worked in Iraq, Russia, Algeria and Australia. Hani worked at Sydney Water as a project engineer and group leader for twenty years, which was followed by fourteen years of managing a retail business and a further four years of study and writing. Hani Montan's book titled "Thorny Opinion" can be previewed on Google Book Search and, and can be purchased from and 



  1. rucus76au

    June 19, 2009 at 5:59 am

    A few thoughts

    A good article overall. One cannot go wrong with articles filled with motherhood statements though – no offence intended.

    Successful societies are those that harness the talents of ALL its individuals – racism and / or ostracisation leads to the exclusion of a whole block of people whose talents may not be put to good use. This of course comes second to the equity factors involved in denying a human being his /her right to seek a normal life free of inteference based on race.

    Racism in Western countries no longer institutionalised. The doors have been opened wide to people of all races and backgrounds.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about assimilation: there has to be an effort on behalf of migrants to assimilate and there has to be broad recognition that migrants need time to adapt and grow which means that they very well have to stay in enclaves commonly referred to as ethnic ghettoes for support and comfort from their erstwhile colleagues. Problems begin to arise when ethnic minorities do not make the effort

    Problems develop when the second generation of immigrants do not involve themselves in local communities or stick firmly to oudated beliefs or religious practices/dogma 

    One thing that you do not touch on much with your article is the constant discussion about an Australian Bill of Rights. While am I am not a constitiutional lawyer and do not pretend to know much about the constitutional law, I am of the opinion that to solidify rights and responsibilities in a document  leads to open ended problems about interpretation . British common law has served Anglo based countries well over the past few centuries and in Australia over the past one hundred years so to tinker with that would only invite problems. Further, cultural norms change over time and a document written at one point in time for one generation might be suited to another 100 years on.

    This is particularly poignant when it comes to racial matters. It brings to mind the legal suit brought out against that Victorian pastor with his comments about Islam which were deemed culturally insensitive.

    The right to freedom of expression should not be stifled by sensitive individuals using generous anti vilification laws in a democratic state.

    • sally.rose

      June 19, 2009 at 6:10 am

      Hi rucus76auJust thought I

      Hi rucus76au

      Just thought I should clarify that Hani's blog isn't part of the National Human Rights Online Consultation, which may explain why he didn't bring up the bill of rights.

      Anybody is welcome to send in an article or blog to Open Forum for our consideration for publication.  We welcome any topic that is of relevance to Australian public policy, social, community or business issues.


      Sally Rose