“The olive peril”

Cairns, October 1929

Ross criticizes Australia’s racial othering of Italian immigrants as non-white. He views them as a good alternative to Japan’s interests in Australian land.

“If there was one place in the world where the steadfast belief in the superiority of the blond and blue-eyed Nordic race still exists, that place is Australia,” Ross notes sarcastically. This article finds him in the usual position of openly poking fun at a racial stereotype. He can’t believe that the White Australia Policy even excludes Italians, and other Southern Europeans, from the white race. Recounting Australian resentments against Italian immigrants, he tries to make them sound ridiculous. Instructively, the objections he enumerates—Italians are industrious, they keep to themselves, they don’t give up their nationality, and support their nation of origin with the money they earn—are quite reminiscent of his own fears of Asian masses pushing into European territory.

Ross argues that Southern and Eastern Europeans are the Europeans most able and willing to lead pioneer lives of privation (See Space is not the issue!). Alternatively, he suggests a measure of miscegenation with Asian races for the benefit of white settlements in northern Australia. Ross’s language suggests an able bartender’s finesse of mixing in just the right amount of Asian blood: “even a sprinkling of Indian, Malay or Chinese blood makes the white race disproportionately more resilient against the tropical climate.”

This highlights the paradox of race in Ross’s geopolitics. While there is no question for him that the white race must maintain its predominance, this does not make racial purity a major concern. This line of reasoning clings to the concept of race while emptying it of meaning, and making it into something akin to a sports team you play for simply because it is yours.

Joachim Schätz

Colin Roß. Die olivfarbene Gefahr: Australische Beobachtungen. Vossische Zeitung: 1930 Apr 10; 170; 4.

Topic: Race
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30

See also

in Geo Map
The olive peril

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