5.2 The Enemy Within
Year in year out it seem that multiculturalism is always top news, and everybody in the street have become experts on the topic and decided to pontificate on the merits and demerits of the concept of multiculturalism. Some even went so far as to question the wisdom of retaining the concept and the word itself.
To most migrants this is no surprise at all. They know that tolerance by the majority for the minority is a very superficial virtue - a face mask put on because it happens to be fashionable and expected of one. They know that deep down there is a great deal of intolerance, suspicion and mistrust. They faced this situation when they first arrived here thirty or more years ago, and it has not disappeared although it has gone into hiding. For a time indeed it appeared that what had been won over the last decade was suddenly going to disappear.
It is however with bewilderment and disbelief that one finds amongst our own community those who also believe that multiculturalism is dead - that we should not be proud of our culture, that teaching our language fostered a ghetto mentality and should not be tolerated. Our Maltese comrades cannot or will not see that there are thousands of our brethren who are disadvantaged and have missed out, and who cannot fend for themselves, particularly now that they are approaching retiring age. If some of our migrants are illiterate and cannot speak English adequately, is that their fault? Is that the result of multiculturalism? Or is it rather the effect of decades of neglect by authorities both here and in our homeland? And when we ask for culturally appropriate services, interpreters, Maltese-speaking nurses and other professionals, are we pandering to a lazy, ignorant mass that deserves no better? Or is it a question of social justice owed to those who have spend their working life often in the most menial of jobs with little opportunity for bettering themselves?
Let's hope that those among our community who think that multiculturalism is dead are only a tiny and shrinking minority. Let us also hope that those who have managed to elevate themselves form the bottom rung of society will show more tolerance and will find some time to contribute to the improvement of those who have not. Not by forgetting our roots and our culture will we as migrants be able to participate in this society, but by understanding the difficulties that those who have been here longest have gone through in making the Australia of today, and by making sure that they all have a "fair go" . And particularly as they approach retirement they are not forgotten as the flotsam of a by-gone era, but are provided for adequately, compassionately, not as a charity but because they have earned it and it is their due.
[ From: Il-Maltija, 1989]
Source: Maurice N.Cauchi - The Maltese Migrant Experience, Malta 1999