TUMBY BAY - Just like Australia, the USA is a migrant nation. In both cases the racial and cultural diversity of both populations has contributed to both the wealth and vibrancy of their societies.
While Australia is home to the world's oldest continuous culture dating back at least 65,000 years it is now also home to a people who identify with more than 270 different ancestries.
As in Papua New Guinea – equally diverse with its 850 different ancestries dating back at least 50,000 years - this rich, cultural diversity is one of its greatest strengths.
In contrast to Australia and PNG, the indigenous population of the USA and the rest of the Americas dates back only about 15,000 years.
While there were at least three migrations into the Americas, the majority of the original inhabitants are descended almost entirely from a single group of migrants that crossed over a land bridge, called Beringia, between Asia and America during the last ice age.
During the last census in the USA in 2010 over 500 different ancestries were recorded. Data from the current census is not yet available.
Within both Australia and the USA, there is also a huge diversity of race and culture.
While Australia attempted for a long time to develop a purity of race and cultural characteristics (known colloquially as the White Australia Policy), after World War II it finally succumbed to the inevitable and began welcoming people of many ethnicities to its shores.
It is a change that has led to a remarkable richness of diversity and immeasurably improved the country.
This is not surprising. Difference is a great thing.
Imagine if there was only one brand of car you could buy. Imagine if the place in which you lived was exactly the same as all the other places in the world.
Or if we all looked the same. The same coloured skin, the same coloured hair and the same eye shape.
The blandness would be overwhelming.
And yet it seems there are many people who yearn for such a world. They look back to ancient times when nation states were largely homogeneous, both physically and culturally.
They also imagine that the values and ethics of those times were somehow better than the disparate and widespread social ethos present in many places now.
Little do they realise that the old values they think were better were largely the product of repressive political and religious systems.
This ignorance of reality and sense of oneness can morph into a sense of superiority and become a point of envy and then a source of hatred.
There is a curious irony that the epicentre of this sort of racial and cultural hatred is the USA, which is a migrant nation so big and wealthy it probably couldn’t have avoided being multiracial if it tried.
In the USA cultural and racial differences are still being weaponised for political purposes. This is evident in the polarisation brought about by the Black Lives Matter protests but it is also evident in the anti-China rhetoric that is steadily growing.
China is a fairly homogenous country with comparatively little racial and cultural diversity. The Chinese government is actively working to elevate this sameness and lack of diversity with programs of suppression.
It can be argued that what the proponents of racial and cultural homogeneity in the USA (sometimes referred to as ‘white supremacists’) want to achieve is very akin to the state-sponsored racism and cultural uniformity that China is prosecuting under President Xi.
What has boiled over in the USA is still, thankfully, suppressed in Australia but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Australian government might one day find it convenient to openly weaponise (instead of just dog whistling) racial and cultural differences. It has done this before.
After all, the Australian government is well aware that a significant minority of Australians think multiracialism has been an abject failure.
This minority points to urban ghettoes of certain races and high crime rates in some areas as ‘proof’. They talk about being overrun by Muslims and Asians and even Africans.
They complain about rich Chinese businessmen buying up the best real estate and large swathes of productive land.
The push for greater uniformity, including racism, tends to only gain traction when it is linked to politics. Some politicians see advantage in this.
I recall that between 1959 and 1964 there was a television series called The Twilight Zone. In one episode it featured a fictitious world where the people were black on one side of their bodies and white on the other.
Some of these people were black on the left side and white on the right side. Others were white on the left side and black on the right side.
This difference led to violent racism.
It seemed an absurd thesis, but it depicted a situation perhaps no more absurd than what we see in our own world today.