Pumpkin seeds, angry minorities and race

The moral contortions of multiculturalism

Featured in

  • Published 20180501
  • ISBN: 9781925603323
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

DURING MY DOCTORAL fieldwork researching Islamophobia from the point of view of the ‘Islamophobes’, I spent many weekends in the town of Bayside on the Central Coast of New South Wales, where my parents had bought a holiday house. I had detected that Bayside’s unmistakable Anglo-Australian majority population was ‘disrupted’ in the holiday season and long weekends when many ethnic and religious minorities from Western Sydney descended on the town. Among the crowds was a highly visible and growing Lebanese Muslim tourist population. One evening I was walking with my father when a car slowed down beside us. One of its occupants, a young Anglo guy, leant out of the window, yelled, ‘Go back home you bunch of pumpkin seeds!’ and promptly sped off.

To this day, the incident is a source of amusement to my father and me. I think it is the originality of the reference to ‘pumpkin seeds’ that tickles us. (‘Go back home’ is not so new.) Racism is often frustrating for its banality, so the effort to at least be innovative was somewhat charming.

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