News, September 17, 2014
Nick Folkes is married to an Asian woman and is the son of a refugee so definitely doesn’t see himself as racist.
But the Sydney father-of-two, who openly says Australia needs to turn its immigration policy on its head, reckons he is a race realist.
Mr Folkes who describes himself as a “passionate Australian with strong political opinions” said he believed the country had been taken down the “wrong path” in the past 40-50 years.
“I don’t believe immigration has had the huge benefits we are told and has instead changed us dramatically,” he said.
Mr Folkes appears alongside Sudanese-born Abraham Nouk in tonight’s explosive episode of SBS’s latest show, Living With The Enemy, which tests both men to their limits.
Mr Folkes, the founder of a fledgling ultranationalist political party said while European immigration had worked well; Asian, and in particular African and Middle Eastern immigration had failed and had done nothing to contribute to a society built on Anglo-Celtic foundations.
Mr Folkes said filming the show, which airs tonight at 8.30pm, had been an amazing experience but admitted it got very heated with his fellow guest.
“It was amazing, but it was very confrontational,” he said.
“We are both very passionate men so we clashed.”
Mr Nouk, on the other hand, who only knew two words of English when he arrived from war-torn Sudan 10 years ago, had an entirely different take on things.
Mr Folkes said he learned a lot from Mr Nouk, including their refugee links so understood the emotion behind the whole immigration argument.
But he insisted Africans and Muslim immigrants had not assimilated like other groups such as Greeks and Italians “who were more like us culturally.”
“I think Australia has been very generous and accepted a lot of people, but I want Australia to remain European,” he said.
“People from Africa and the Middle East are completely different and not like us.”
Mr Folkes said these groups had created problems for Australian society and many remained on welfare, “which wasn’t fair.”
And despite constant confrontations during filming, Mr Folkes said he had nothing against Mr Nouk personally and that he was a great person who he learnt a lot from.
But his notion of “race realism” was completely and utterly flawed, according to University of Technology sociology Professor Andrew Jakubowicz.
Prof Jakubowicz said a race realist held the belief that “this thing called race determined our behaviour”.
“He believes race has a scientific meaning when the broader scientific meaning actually is that we are all born of the human race, just with many biological variants,” he said.
Prof Jakubowicz added the view that multiculturalism had failed was also false given that the majority of refugees and immigrants had not only assimilated here but had flourished.
He acknowledges some first generation refugees did struggle initially due to conflict or trauma but that didn’t stop them assimilating into society, and had nothing at all to do with race.
The multicultural affairs expert also said indigenous Australians were the only ones who could argue immigrants weren’t assimilating into their society.
Neville Roach, patron of the Australian India Institute and former chairman of the national Multicultural Advisory Council, said a race realist was a thinly veiled twist on racism.
Mr Roach said underlying racism does occur in Australia, “but it doesn’t take much to come to the surface.”
Mr Roach said the view that multiculturalism and diversity didn’t work was flawed given we were already a successful multicultural society.
“The reality is we can’t go back on that,” he said.
“The view that Africans don’t contribute is simplistic given the whole idea of multiculturalism is diversity.”
He added Australia’s compassion towards refugees and immigrants as well as what they had contributed here had stood us well in the eyes of the international community.
And while Mr Folkes said he found filming the show amazing, Mr Nouk said he found it numbing and probably won’t be watching tonight.
Melbourne-based Mr Nouk, who arrived in Australia with his mother and eight siblings, said he found the entire filming confrontational and difficult to sit through.
Mr Nouk has since gone on to become the Slam Poet Champion of Victoria and recently performed at the Glastonbury festival.
But he told news.com.au that he still struggles to get a job, has racist slurs thrown at him, and won’t travel on the train after dark.
Despite that, he said he didn’t believe the majority of Australians were racist and was so grateful to be living in a peaceful country where hate didn’t rule.
However, he said views such as those held by Mr Folkes were dangerous and he advised Australians not to listen or take them on board.
“I stopped trying to communicate with him in the end,” Mr Nouk said.
“All I did was allow him to talk, but having a person like that with those views, just doesn’t add up.
“It just showed a complete lack of awareness, fuelled by wrong perceptions of other nations.”
Mr Nouk said he found the whole thing numbing because he could neither take flight or fight and the whole experience was impossible to verbalise.
“My only advice to people watching is don’t buy into emotional racism, it’s a dead argument,” he said.
“People like him want to protect, but you can’t protect what’s in the future.”
Hakan Harman, Community Relations Commission Chief Executive Officer said the fact remained that Australia is a nation that is built on Migration–from the first fleet and beyond.
“We are one of the most multicultural countries in the world and we are proudly very successful as a result of our cultural diversity,” he said.
“Cultural Diversity is one of the most significant assets of our nation”