/ Australia

The Non-Ideology of Harmony Day

A guest post by VS Prickskin

Harmony Day is held every year on the 21st of March. It isn’t a public holiday and if you don’t have small children then the whole day may well pass you by. But it doesn’t pass the children by.

The heart of Harmony Day is at government primary schools particularly in multicultural areas. The kids wear orange shirts or ‘national garb’ and participate in various activities celebrating other cultures (ie non-Anglo Saxon cultures).

High schools and private schools often have speeches by ethnic speakers on approved subjects.

Some local councils hold events also. For example in 2016 Moreton Bay Council organised the following —

This year, Council is teaming up with local community groups, sporting organisations and schools on the following activities and projects:

  • One Family Touch Tournament - organised by the local rugby union football club
  • Healthy Fun Day - with bush tucker foods and traditional games
  • Harmony Cookbook and stories - by local high school students
  • Diversity is Our Strength Harmony Day mural - by local primary school students
  • Harmony Day Fashion Parade - by a local multicultural association

At this local level where Harmony Day is actually implemented the explicit message of Harmony Day is simply that ‘everyone belongs’.

“Celebrate Harmony Day at Ashfield’s Carnival of Cultures. The message of Harmony Day is that everyone belongs.”[1]

There isn’t a lot of point trying to search for any deeper meaning or purpose of Harmony Day at this low level. At every point of analysis you meet with a vast layer of goo and jargon.

But of course Harmony Day wasn’t invented by local schools and local councils, rather it is an invention of the Federal Government.

“Harmony Day, 21 March, celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. It is a day for all Australians to embrace cultural diversity and to share what we have in common. The central message for Harmony Day is that ‘everyone belongs’, reinforcing the importance of inclusiveness to all Australians.”[2]

Harmony Day is imposed by the Federal government from above in an implicit rather than explicit fashion.


Official government Harmony Day propaganda

It is purely a creature of the government. At first instance the Federal Government provides resources (but apparently not explicit funding) for Harmony Day. Basically if you want to hold a Harmony Day event you register with the Department of Social Services (DSS) and then receive a pack of promotional products. The DSS houses the Australian Multicultural Council (AMC), staffed by the sort of people you would imagine and part of the AMC’s brief is to encourage and support Harmony Day. These products are lame in the extreme – templates for Harmony Day paper chains and ‘paper’ balloons, various print out infographics (such as a tree with multicultural people growing out of the branches with the logo “We identify with approximately 300 ancestries”).

The important issue is not the provision of these puerile daisy chains and hot air balloons but rather the imprimatur that the Federal Government has given to the celebrations of this Day, and the background pronouncements by the Federal Government in support for it. The actual implementation of the Day has been left to the local councils and schools which hold the various events. Most schools hold a Harmony Day (although some schools, usually in non-multicultural areas, combine Harmony Day with a Grandparents Day or an Easter Hat Parade).

Why do schools hold Harmony Days? They apparently receive no direct funding from the Federal Government for the Day. The reason is more underlying and more pervasive, the Federal Government has prepared an atmosphere whereby celebration of the Day has become approved. By sheer weight of precedent most local public schools now have an accepted program for Harmony Day, and it is presumably part of the background training for bureaucrats and teachers. And in the background for all schools and councils is the reality of the Federal Government funding which they all receive. Councils also receive Federal Government funding. Of course Harmony Day is also celebrated by state governments to varying degrees, but the Federal Government is the prime mover.

In essence, councils and schools (and this applies to a lesser extent to private schools) and the people who work in them swim in the sea of government culture and the mores of that culture determine how they act.

One thing which goes without saying is that Harmony Day is not really celebrated outside the government arena. Even the corporations which are usually happy to fall in line with soft left initiatives do not appear to celebrate it. Some sporting bodies (such as the NRL) provide Harmony Day related activities in matches (involving teams from the western suburbs). Above all there is no grass-roots celebration of the Day. Clearly if Federal Government support was removed then the Day would disappear.


Hiding the pain nearly as well as Maurice, the City of Tea Tree Gully librarians celebrate Harmony Day

Strangely enough Harmony Day doesn’t appear to be celebrated in other Anglosphere countries (of course it would not be celebrated outside European countries, the very thought is laughable), and is apparently an Australian invention. However the fact that it is held on the 21st of March gives a hint of its internationalist flavor. The 21st of March was the date of the Sharpesville Massacre in 1960 when 69 black protestors were killed by South African police. That day is celebrated every year in South Africa as Human Rights Day.

So how did the Australian Federal Government come to alight on that day? As you might imagine the path leads directly to the United Nations (UN).

Harmony Day derives in an indirect way from The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) which was proclaimed by the UN in 1965. The history of how and why the Convention came into being is a story for another day. The salient point is that ICERD was explicitly political and theoretical.

Among other things it requires signatories to —

condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races

condemn racial segregation and apartheid and undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature

when the circumstances so warrant, take, in the social, economic, cultural and other fields, special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of certain racial groups or individuals belonging to them, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (ie affirmative action)

to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups

These are radical and far-reaching political measures. They specifically require action in the form of legislation and policy. However as with most UN measures there is little in the way of concrete action done by the UN itself. There is provision for disputes over the application of the Convention to be referred to the International Court of Justice, but this has been done only once. There is provision for individuals to make complaints to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the basis that their rights under the Convention have been violated, this has only been used 50 or so times in total. So, it is clear that the essence of the UN action here is in the form of speeches and words with the actual concrete implementation of ICERD to be done by member states. For example Australia ratified the ICERD in late 1975 (in the final days of the Whitlam government) and used this ratification as the constitutional basis for passing the Racial Discrimination Act shortly afterwards.


Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon

Associated with ICERD was the establishment of The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD) which was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1966 to be held on the 21st of March. The day of the Sharpesville Massacre. In 1999 in Australia that morphed into Harmony Day. I have no idea as to how that occurred. A more diligent researcher than me may be able to find a record of this. It possibly arose from a university research paper which was later used as a proposal when the original writer was working in the Federal Government.

Again, IDERD is explicitly theoretical and high level. Each year the day has a specific theme, for example 2015 “Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today”. Speeches, messages and events issue from the UN along the lines of the theme. In 2015 Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued the following message —

Every day, people of all ages endure hatred, injustice and humiliation because of their skin colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, or other supposedly racial characteristics. Such discrimination has underpinned oppression, poverty, slavery, genocide and war.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an opportunity to renew our commitment to building a world of justice and equality where xenophobia and bigotry do not exist. We must learn the lessons of history and acknowledge the profound damage caused by racial discrimination. That means carefully preserving the memory of historical wrongs so we may use our knowledge to eradicate prejudice and teach tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for diversity everywhere and for all.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the launch of the International Decade for People of African Descent.  In the past fifty years, there has been progress in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. We have seen the end of colonialism, the dismantling of apartheid and the rise of a global movement for equality. Yet, as history and current events attest, racial discrimination still presents a clear danger to people and communities in all regions.

Lasting peace can only be built on the premise that all people have equal rights and dignity – regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, social or other status. To that end, I urge all nations to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to promote historical accuracy and put in place robust policies and laws that will end all forms of discrimination as enshrined in the Convention.”

This is an explicitly political document. It calls for ratification, policies and laws. It applauds decolonisation and liberal global equalism.

I haven’t bothered to reference any works of leftist scholarship relating to IDERD and ICERD. Insofar as these acronyms merge with issues of racism and other related leftist buzzwords there is obviously a mountain of highly theoretical and abstract scholarship.

So we can chart the progress of the implementation all the way from the UN to your local school. At each descending level the message becomes less theoretical, less political, less intellectual and less explicit.

But none of those things are apparent at the local level, at the actual level of implementation. At the local level the emphasis is just on getting along.


Harmony Day at Cabramatta High, everyone belongs, indeed

“We all need to get along”. And who could object to that? In a school where the children come from many varied backgrounds, the mores of which may be in almost violent disagreement, it is difficult to object to this. Particularly when most of the actors at the school level are female (teachers, the parents present at pick up and drop off). The feminisation of mainstream culture plays into this. Nowadays the reduction of conflict is the overriding motivation in all public interactions.

The Federal Government has created this situation of conflict and now insists that we face it by ignoring the existence of such conflicts and simply insisting that we all need to get along. There can be no discussion of history or the specifics of culture. That will lead to conflict. Rather the soft aspects of culture such as dress and food (always food) are the only ones which can be touched upon. The once dominant Australian culture cannot be discussed for the simple reason that this undercuts the whole theme of respect for the difference of foreign cultures. Australian culture is the monolith which others are compared to, and therefore any examination of Australian culture negates the whole exercise.

Above all at the local level there is no discussion of the explicitly political nature of Harmony Day, such as the fact that it is an important part of multicultural policy, which itself is steeped in an ideology of globalism and leftism. There is no discussion of the significance of the date, even that could lead to conflict.

Looking at Harmony Day is an instructive exercise in the strength of the leftist enterprise which has so effectively taken over our societies. There are numerous examples of this approach. Drug awareness policies, the current Safe Schools policies, other aspects of multicultural policy, many others which I don’t have the stomach to examine. All follow along the same lines.

Above all those of us who object to the leftist enterprise need to understand that it is difficult to maintain a serious, principled opposition to it at a local, grassroots level. To take aim at Harmony Day as an exercise in cultural Marxism is both correct and futile. Harmony Day is so dumbed down that this is like shooting a fly with an elephant gun. Many normal people will wonder how anyone can object to such a harmless exercise. Perhaps a better form of criticism is to highlight its artificiality, its recent invention, its lame slogans and its lack of any high level explicitly stated principles or objectives.

Endnotes

About the author: VS Prickskin is a dick. But he's TheDingoes' kind of dick.


  1. Ashfield Council – Carnival of Cultures website ↩︎

  2. Federal Government, Department of Social Services website ↩︎

The Non-Ideology of Harmony Day
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