Kids and the Culture War

Five years ago I gave my maiden speech in the Senate. Today, the term ‘maiden speech’ is politically incorrect.

During that speech I warned that Australia was being thrust into an environment where a competing agenda of ‘rights’ threatened the cohesiveness of our society. I also lamented the fact that our traditional celebrations like Christmas were being subsumed by this PC rights mentality.

This week set a new standard for stupidity in this counter culture movement.

The Australian newspaper reports that new regulations to be introduced by the Federal Government will impose penalties on child care centres that require children to participate in “religious or cultural activities, such as Christmas tree decoration or Easter egg hunts”! (The Australian, 4 April 2011)

According to the draft regulations, children cannot be ‘required to undertake activities that are inappropriate, having regard to each family’s family and cultural values’.

An Early Childhood Australia (ECA) spokesman said “common sense” would decide if activities were culturally inappropriate.

If we were to rely on common sense as a guide then dumb regulations like this one wouldn’t actually exist.

During my maiden speech I recalled that Christmas had been effectively ‘banned’ in my own children’s child care centre. This was despite their teaching and celebration of many other cultural and religious observances.

I supported the centre’s decision to teach my toddlers about the Aboriginal dreaming, Muslim Ramadan and Jewish Hanukkah – to name but a few. It would come as no surprise that I objected to the deletion of Christian traditions from the annual program.

In the realm of common sense, an area from which the PC advocates are completely removed, we should be celebrating the fact that our children are being exposed to our traditional celebrations and also to those of other cultures.

In fact all the parents I speak to, regardless of their ethnic or religious orientation, agreed that a culturally diverse pre-school education was of great value.

It seems the only people that don’t think so are those actually entrusted with setting the rules under which our children should be taught.

The ECA spokesman said that “If you have a centre with a high Muslim population, you’re not going to be asking them to decorate a Christmas tree.”

The problem with this well-meaning but incredibly flawed logic is that it suggests that all engagement of cultural or religious learning is some sort of propaganda exercise rather than one of extending learning and understanding.

While we can only wish that wasn’t the case, the reasonableness test suggests that is the direction in which we are heading. Given that an increasing number of families need government funded child care to make ends meet, it is alarming that this is the stance that our bureaucrats are taking.

At what point will we say ‘enough is enough’ and rally against the deliberate undermining of our social and cultural institutions by the PC advocates?

If the current path is any indication, the rebellion cannot begin soon enough.

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