Sport and multicultural Australia

Sometimes sport can seem to foster divisiveness as in the bad old days of heavily Euro-jingoist soccer clubs like Croatia, but it equally often is a growing point of integration and harmony. It can also be a site for improving the ordinary person’s perceptions and sensitivities, the recent stand against racism taken by Rugby League’s Timana Tahu, whom I greatly admire, being a case in point.

Today we learn that Australian cricket has a new rising star, Usman Khawaja.

USMAN KHAWAJA’S cricket career has collided with his religion only once, when he forgot to tell the NSW coach Matthew Mott he was fasting for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.


”He usually tells me when he’s doing Ramadan so I can ease up on him at training, but on this occasion he forgot to tell me and I thought he was loafing a bit,” Mott said.

”I put him through an extra tough session and by the end of it he was on all fours and a bit of a mess. He finally got around to telling me. I felt very bad.”

Khawaja, 23, moved closer to becoming Australia’s first Muslim Test cricketer yesterday when he was selected in the squad to play against the nation of his birth, Pakistan, in England next month. But for the elegant left-handed batsman, to be chosen as Australia’s 414th Test player would be more than enough.

There will be no torn loyalties. Khawaja has regarded Australia as home from the moment his father, Tariq, an information technology professional from Islamabad, moved the family to Sydney two decades ago. He said he had no reason to feel different when he entered the Australian dressing room. ”It never does cross my mind,” he said yesterday – ”until everyone else brings it up.”

Though his selection is significant for Australian cricket, Khawaja is exceptional for reasons other than his heritage. He gained his commercial pilot’s licence before he had learnt to drive because he was desperate to complete that so he could concentrate on his passion, cricket.

”He is a very disciplined person. He knows his priorities,” said Mr Khawaja, who woke yesterday to news of his son’s selection. ”At one stage he was playing [Australian] under-19s, doing his aviation degree and he was flying. He would study until two or three in the morning and he was the first one to get his commercial pilot’s licence out of the whole group. From day one he had this passion to play for Australia.

”He was also good in other sports as well but his heart was with the cricket,” said Mr Khawaja, who did the scoring for Khawaja’s grade club, Randwick, while his wife, Fozia, cooked biryani for the players’ afternoon tea…33_percent_landscape

There will undoubtedly be more such rising stars, if my observation of Sydney Boys High School cricket (right) over the past decade is any guide. Without the subcontinentals the school would have been hard up for stars.

More generally on Australian multiculturalism see Social diversity – the good news by economist Nicholas Gruen.

The standard result in the econometric literature on social diversity is that it leads to lower levels of trust in the community and lower provision of public goods. The experiment below confirms the former result in the short run, but not in the long run. This conforms with my own observation that populations – New York, Melbourne come to mind – can become very proud of their multicultural fabric, and the excitement it brings to life. My favourite interpretation of Australian post war immigration is the Philip Adams interpretation. “We started letting migrants in and found that it was a lot of fun”…

27 thoughts on “Sport and multicultural Australia

  1. I see what you are saying. Sure, they worship an evil and malicious god; most of them hate western civilization, and homosexuality; many of them blow themselves up to kill regular people (aka kuffars); all treat women like crap; but one of them plays cricket pretty well! Good point. Go multiculturalism!

    I wonder if you’d give a nazi such a pass if he was good at cricket.

  2. Yes, go Australian multiculturalism. That’s our everyday experience and it works. Kevin, have you ever met or spoken to a Muslim? Try it. You may be surprised.

  3. I have! And I was. I was surprised at how much they hate Jews, I was surprised at how lowly they regard women, and I was surprised at their goal of destroying the west and all non-believers in their unbelievably evil god.

    I have also spoken with a nazi. They are pretty bad too, but at least they don’t treat their women quite so horribly. Plus, they don’t blame a God for their scumbaggery. If I had to choose, I’d take a nazi neighbor over a follower of evil islam.

    Both groups would like to see you dead for your lifestyle. I understand why you rightly do not support nazism, but I can’t for the life of me understand why you support the even more evil islam. Are your hippie beliefs in the greatness of multiculturalism so overwhelming that you are willing to allow pure evil to exist in your midst?

    I find that appalling. But hey, you’ve got a pretty good cricket team!

  4. Islam is not pure evil, a wild generalisation that my experience alone reveals to be arrant nonsense, let alone more objective knowledge. Good and evil don’t know boundaries. To equate Nazism and Islam is fallacious, relying as it does on analogy pushed beyond reason. As well remember that the roots of Nazism were not in Islam, but in certain aspects of European protestantism, anti-semitism, ultra-nationalism and Darwinism misinterpreted.

    We live on a culturally diverse planet of which my culturally diverse country is merely a part. We could leave the planet, or perhaps better we could learn to live on it with a minimum of prejudice.

    As I have said many times it is just ridiculous to alienate yourself from around one-third of the people on the planet for no better reason than that you fallaciously equate a dangerous violent minority with the entire group. How dangerous is Fozia Khawaja cooking for a cricket team? Poisoning them, is she?

  5. “Islam is not pure evil…”

    Yes, it is. There is nothing redeeming about it. It’s evil incarnated by every explosion created in its name. If you had read the koran as you repeatedly say you have, you’d know this. In case I’m unclear, I’m calling you a liar. Neil, I can’t be more clear than this. You are either ignorant, or a liar. I prefer to believe that you are a liar. Stop lying about evil islam.

    It’s NOT ok to treat women as second class citizens.
    It’s NOT ok to blow others up for your god.
    It’s NOT ok to let this evil metastasize.

    It must be stopped. You, of all people, should realize this most. I’m completely confused as to why you support them. You do realize that sharia law demands your death, right? Yet you support them. Is this some kind of Stockholm thing?

  6. Side note to anyone who’s interested: If you are a Firefox user, you can right-click and AdBlock the naked gay guy. Sadly, it removes all three images, but I’m guessing that the other two weren’t that important.

  7. Firefox users: the only naked gay guy in the sidebar is in Kevin’s imagination. At the moment there is famous Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe whose sexuality is his business, and whose outfit is little different from what he has been seen in on TV.

  8. And on Islam, Kevin, you really haven’t answered by comment but have merely repeated your oft-repeated Aunt Sallies.

  9. I don’t speak Australian :(. What does ‘answered by comment’ mean? Also is the plural of Aunt Sally ‘Aunt Sallies’ down there? If so, that’s very funny! Lastly, is an Aunt Sally a type of statement instead of as person? I assume it is, but what does it mean?

    Sadly, I can’t respond to your comment well without understanding those terms. Nevertheless, I’ll try anyway! I believe that you are asking me to answer your questions posed in a previous comment. Here are the ones I can find:

    “How dangerous is Fozia Khawaja cooking for a cricket team? Poisoning them, is she?”

    Answer: Without knowing who the hell Fozia is, I’d guess that she is no more dangerous than a single nazi would be.

    Please let me know if I’ve repeated an Aunt Sally :).

  10. Aunt Sally:

    An Aunt Sally in its popular sense today is a person or thing that’s been set up as an easy target for criticism, abuse or blame, in political circles often to deflect attention from the real issues and waste opponents’ time.

    It’s English rather than Australian.

    Your views on Islam qualify as they suggest an impossible strategy — that is to eliiminate a religion we have lived with for around 1,500 years — instead of addressing the real issue, which is how to support the practitioners of that religion — agree with them or not — who offer no substantial threat to the rest of the world. To say Islam is “pure evil” is manifestly stupid and is of no use at all in the real struggle within and outside Islam against bigotry and, even worse, violent extremism.

    I am sure if we adopted your approach to our neighbour Indonesia, instead of working with them as we do, we would be in a far more dangerous position than we are now.

    Its only a few generations back that our ancestors were burning witches, on very bad biblical grounds, and were hanging drawing and quartering people. Much more recently both our countries were jailing homosexuals and imposing other legal restrictions on them. Progress in the world is uneven. If you don’t believe there are Muslims for positive change and human rights then you really haven’t been paying attention, even in your own country.

  11. Oh! Thanks for the explanation. It always amazes me how poorly the English speak English. I mean, they created the language, and then they ran it into the ground. They can’t even pronounce ‘schedule’ correctly anymore. And what’s with their hatred of the letter Z? Of course, Australians have some serious pronunciation problems when it comes to vowels, so maybe I’m not preaching to the choir here :).

    Anyway, off to the real issue we are discussing. When you say, “Your views on Islam qualify as they suggest an impossible strategy…” I don’t understand you! Is this a typo? I hope so. I can understand it if you remove ‘qualify as they’ from the sentence. Did you mean, “Your views on Islam suggest an impossible strategy…”? I hope you don’t think I’m just being pedantic. I truly am worried that I’m missing your point because of a language barrier. Ute. Heh.

    But no, my idea is not to eliminate a religion that we have lived with for 1500 years. It’s to eliminate a religion that Asians, Africans and a few million Europeans have been damned with for up to 1500 years. And at the very least, CERTAINLY my plan will not allow the evil to spread.

    As for the rest of your comment… ‘no substantial threat to the rest of the world’ for example… All I can say is O M G. You must be willfully suppressing your intelligence to say such a silly thing.

  12. Ok, one more comment and then I’ll stop. A guy from Surrey (apparently a town near London, which is a town in England… I’m told it’s pretty big by European standards) once explained to me that the British think Americans are stupid, fat, lazy, and our politicians are short-sighted idiots. Then he asked me what Americans think about the British. My answer: “We don’t.”

    also, islam is as evil as evil can be. Stop lyin’ about it Neil.

  13. Zed is analogous with the German “zed” (pronounced “tset”) to which it is historically related. “Zee” is just lazy American so-called “simplification” (simplifikayshun?)

  14. Hundreds of muslims don’t believe in jihad while a mere hundred or five of million do, and you think that is a good reason to support the rare non-jihadist muslim?

    That type of logic might make sense in your world, but not in the real one. Sheesh, do you think that clouds are made of marshmallows and unicorns spew rainbows from their horns?

    You’re of no use at all to the march towards individual freedom if you can’t even admit to one of the roadblocks in this goal (aka islam)

    I’m still creeped out and frankly quite angry that you are not as bothered by islam as I am. THEY WANT YOU DEAD, NEIL. Your life is haram to them. How can that not bother you? Why do you continue to obfuscate for them?

    *sigh* I am giving up. Not like the way I gave up on the mostly naked gay guy (I blocked the image and don’t have to look at him anymore). No. This is different. It’s your country, and you should be allowed to destroy it in whatever way you wish to. You appear to have chosen islam to be that destructive force. You’re on your own now. Bye!

  15. The rare non-jihadist Muslim — accepting for the moment the most extremely violent definition of jihad, which many Muslims do not, the assumption that such folk are rare is extremely doubtful — in the real world. Certainly this is absolutely and objectively true of the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, which Australians make it their business to know better than most. Kevin, your attitude in this case is damaging to the objective we no doubt share, a world where violent extremism declines rather than increases.

  16. Gee, it’s very big of you to accept that jihad is violent. What do you do for an encore? Accept that 40 degrees C is somewhat hot?

    Frankly, I don’t think we do share the same objectives, Neil. I’m not interested in a world where violent islam is on the decline. I’m hoping for a world where murderous islam is a thing of the past. And I’m quite happy to remain at war until that goal is accomplished. It’s too important not to do.

    I’m glad to hear you are keeping tabs on your indonesian neighbors. Were you aware that 19% of them (1 out of 5) approve of suicide bombing?

  17. War will not be the solution, though the war in Afghanistan is still necessary.

    Thanks for pointing out that more than 80% of Indonesians do not approve of suicide bombing. I think that constitutes a solid majority. 80% of 240,000,000 is a lot of people, even if we must remember that only around 200,000,000 of those are Muslims.

  18. You are welcome. I’m glad but somewhat disheartened that you find solace in the fact that only 45 million indonesians want to kill you. How many millions must want you to die for it to be a problem for you?

  19. My point is that insulting the 200,000,000 or so Muslims in Indonesia who do not support violent extremism by insisting their religion is totally evil is hardly the way to make ourselves more secure. Those 200,000,000 (especially those of them in power) have far more chance of restraining the 45 million than you or I do. Further, even of the 45 million many may approve suicide bombing in some but not all circumstances, some may approve it not wish to practise it, and others may be persuaded in time by their less extreme friends and coreligionists.

    You seem to suggest that Muslims never think.

  20. The same thing could have been said in 1938 in Europe. A large percentage of Germans didn’t want to pick a fight with the rest of the world back then either.

    This ‘don’t insult people’ crap is just another form of appeasement. It doesn’t work. It never has. muslims are in serious need of being insulted, so that they might realize that there god is evil as hell and probably lives there.

    You have to keep in mind that muslims are not evil. islam is.

  21. The core mistake you continue to make is to label Islam as evil in itself. While that is in place no intelligent consideration or even conversation is possible, especially with Muslims who would rightly react to “love the sinner but not the sin” hypocrisy as in another context gay people do.

    The second core error you make is to press an analogy between Nazism and Islam, and thence between 1938 and the present, ignoring the very different circumstances.

    And on appeasement. It so happens that The National Interest, hardly a leftish publication, just now offers historian Paul Roberts on the subject.

    SINCE THEN, the various occasions on which the words Appeaser and Appeasement have been used are as countless as the stars in the sky; this poisonous term can be thrown about, from town-hall meetings, to union wage negotiations, to handling IMF conditionality offers, at all levels.

    So, the broader question remains: can one distinguish between a “good” appeasement policy and a “bad” one? When the British cabinet, after very considerable debate between the pertinent ministers and their highest officials, decided to give way to Washington on the matters of Venezuela, the isthmian canal, the Alaska border—all very clear examples of “appeasement”—were they not good moves? Every one was a surrender, yet such concessions were going to help forge the famous Anglo-American “rapprochement” of the coming twentieth century. And that conclusion is not only wisdom in retrospect, but it is what senior officials like Arthur Balfour (prime minister), Joseph Chamberlain (secretary of state for the colonies), Lord Lansdowne (foreign secretary) and Edward Grey (opposition spokesman on foreign policy and later Liberal foreign secretary) argued at the time. It is sometimes very smart to step back. Yet consider a different possibility. What if the more rabid American expansionists had succeeded in their push to acquire Canada (a curious idea, I know, but some did argue that), and/or to seize British possessions like Bermuda, Jamaica, Trinidad and the rest? The result would have been to force London’s hand into war—and, without a doubt, to cause many British commentators to conclude that the earlier concessions over the canal and the Alaskan border were a folly, merely encouraging the Yankee appetite.

    Certainty about such matters only comes, I suspect, with hindsight; and there we are all wise, because we know what happened. It was wise, we now know, for the English to give up Calais to France in 1558 because they would no longer be tied to the Continent. It was wise for Stalin to stay on reasonable terms with the Japanese during the 1930s and early 1940s because he couldn’t afford a Far Eastern war while Nazi Germany was preparing to blast its own way eastward. It was wise, clearly, for then-President Charles de Gaulle to extricate France from the Algerian bloodbath in the early 1960s—though “clearly” was not a word used by the French nationalists who sought to assassinate the general. It was wise, very wise, not to go to nuclear war over the Korean, Hungarian, Berlin and Cuban crises. It was wise, we can now see, for the United States to abandon the colossal encumbrance of Vietnam.

    THE IMPLICATIONS—not conclusions—of all the above for current American world policies should by now be becoming clear…

  22. “The core mistake you continue to make is to label Islam as evil in itself. While that is in place no intelligent consideration or even conversation is possible…”

    I’m intrigued. How do you come to your belief that Islam is not evil? I don’t have a good description of ‘evil’, but I know of a few things the koran (which is the soul of islam) says that I consider evil without having to define evil itself. I will assume that you know that it commands muslims to kill jews, wage holy war until there are no non-muslims left, kill homosexuals, treat women as less than men in all matters, and take all of the women from the lands conquered in holy war. It doesn’t say that this type of thing happened in the past. It says that it should continue forever, or at least until everyone is a muslim. I hope you know all of these things are in the koran, because I really dislike quoting that evil book.

    So I’ve told you why I believe it is an evil book – much more evil than Mein Kampf or Marx’s book (which really isn’t evil at all, although is spawned quite a bit of evil). Can you tell me why you think it is NOT evil?

    So, the broader question remains: can one distinguish between a “good” appeasement policy and a “bad” one?
    There is no question at all. There is only bad appeasement. Each of those examples set up the appeaser as a subordinate to the one appeased to. He must have realized that as he was writing it. I certainly will not appease the evil that is islam, and I hope there is an ever-growing percentage of the world that will stand firm as well.

  23. You may have to quote from it because I don’t believe what you have written. And I have read it (in English translation, at least – and not one of the most flattering ones). I’ve also read Mein Kampf (again admittedly in English translation) and your comment suggests that you may not have (although your comments usually seem intended to be seen as jokes).

    It is no more or less evil than any other so-called “Holy book” I’m aware of. Though you profess not to really be a theist, you sound so much like a 700 clubber I can’t believe you’re not.

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