I one of his books, Paul Theroux throws out a line about how its easy to hate a race en-masse, but not so easy in person.

I think your dad exemplifies this — as do many of the commenters here, inadvertently. It’s easy to be wary of the unknown “other” but the flight attendant who lives next-door is immediately a person — a dog-person at that — so she must be OK.

The shifting of his prejudice onto Muslims is amusing. Here in Australia, a young nation built on waves of immigration, where half the population is related to someone born overseas, we experience the phenomenon of “everyone hates the latest arrivals”. So, in the 1940s, racism was directed towards the refugees from Europe — Hungarian Jews, in large part. In the 1950s everyone teamed up against the Italians and Greeks, arriving from poverty-stricken Mediterranean islands. In the 1970s, Vietnamese boat people. More recently, Lebanese. Every wave comes in, we benefit from its culture and food, absorb the bits of culture we all like, then turn it on the next arrivals.

And, under that, of course, is the unresolved sorry business of our Aboriginal people —our first people and, in may ways, the most marginalised of all.

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I’m a writer and publisher working in Sydney, Australia and London, UK. I specialise in finance, technology, insurance, property, medicine and sustainability.

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