[Editor: An article about a sermon by the Rev. G. E. Wheatley on White Australia. Published in The Daily News (Perth, WA), 23 July 1910.]
At the Leederville-West Perth Congregational Church last Sunday evening, the Rev. G. E. Wheatley delivered the second of the series of addresses on sociological questions, the subject being “A White Australia Policy, in the light of Christian ethics and America’s experience.” There was a large congregation, the preacher taking his text: “I will make of thee a great nation: and I will bless thee and make thy name great: and be thou a blessing,” Genesis 12-2. He said there are those who advocate a White Australia policy with all the ardor of patriotism, and all the fervor of religion, because they recognise that between Europe and Asia there is a great gulf fixed; a gulf, which has spelt disaster to every people, in every age, who have either ignored it or tried to bridge it over. Those people desire to cultivate on this continent a new family of European descent, which will grow up under the most favorable conditions known, so that Australia may fulfil its destiny without the handicap of tainted blood and clashing ideals. He denied that it was a choice between Christianity and a White Australia policy, or that the discussion was closed because Christ and his Apostles were Asiatics. The advocates of a White Australia policy were not speculating about hypothetical difficulties, they maintained that the question was not how to reconcile our duties in the twentieth century with the conditions which existed in the first century, but how to rationally and practically apply the principles of Christianity to life as we find it to-day. The presence of aliens, in any considerable number, was incompatible with the purity of the race; the sanctity of the home; the health of the community; the continuance of industrial progress; the elevation of social life; and the attainment of national efficiency and security. Are not these things the embodiment of Christian principles in the lives of the people? Will you allow ignorance to destroy these things? When we think of our children and of the Australia that is to be, we dare not allow opportunists to tamper with things which represent national health, national wealth, and national stability. The question is raised here, now, because of our geographical position; and, because our unoccupied lands look very inviting to our neighbors. The Asiatic is just learning of the existence and attractiveness of the outside world, and is responding to the spirit of adventure or enterprise; he is the ready prey of those who desire to exploit his labor. Now is the proper time for taking effective precautions. The proper time to begin to train a child, is twenty-five years before it is born, by training its parents. The proper time to lock the stable door is before the horse is stolen. And the proper time to enforce a White Australia policy is now, before the race is vitiated by either black, or brown, or yellow. The fear is sometimes expressed that the enforcement of this policy may cause irritation and feelings of resentment in Japan and elsewhere. The danger is not in that direction. A clearly defined and impartially administered policy will be respected by the governments concerned. This was seen in the attitude of the Mikado and his Government at the time of the San Francisco riots. They recognised the right of any one people to hold what views it pleases as to the life which shall be lived within its borders. They therefore accept exclusive legislation as acts of domestic policy. They impose restrictions, and they recognise our right to do the same. But there is another aspect of this question which is often lost sight of. Whilst the question is dealt with by legislation, it is in the hands of the wisest men of all the parties concerned, but when aliens are allowed to invade our cities, we have everything to fear from misunderstandings and mischief makers; these might at any time compromise their country’s interests, and then the question would be largely in the hands of the worst representatives of the nations. The trouble at San Francisco is an illustration of this.
It is sometimes asserted that the White Australia policy is only a wages question. Even if we admitted that, there would be nothing to be ashamed of in the fact, but it is a bigger question than that. In answer, however, to that assertion, he stated that every effort to introduce aliens into any country had been a wages question. Or, in other words, an effort to obtain cheap labor. What is the history and what are the results of every such movement? For what purpose and with what results are Indian coolies imported in Fiji? Let the missionary answer. For what purpose and with what results were Chinese imported into South Africa? Impartial observers tell of unmentionable horrors, and assure us that the full harvest has not been reaped yet. Recent cables have thrown a lurid light on the racial question in America, In early days, the colonists of Virginia and the Carolinas purchased English convicts and enslaved them, but they made unsatisfactory servants. In 1619, one year before the Pilgrim Fathers landed on Plymouth Rock, a Dutch vessel put into a Virginian port and exchanged for provisions twelve healthy, good-natured African negroes; these were found to be such docile and obedient servants that an immediate demand sprang up for more. It was thus that negro slavery obtained footing on American soil. It was a wages question from the start. In later years America shed seas of blood and spent mountains of treasure in order to wipe out its reproach and its sin. But, in spite of all, the consequences of that false step at the beginning will follow the American nation through all the winding years of its destiny. America can never reach her highest ideal; she can only be her second best, and to-day she is faced with a racial problem which is at once the despair of philanthropist and statesman alike. In the southern States the white man’s church doors are closed to the negro. He may not enter a white school, college, or library, for which black and white are alike taxed. He may not enter a theatre, the Young Men’s Christian Association, or the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. Under the Convict Lease System the negro convict is leased out to the highest bidder. They have sown the wind, and verily they are reaping the whirlwind. This is what comes of entering into a conflict with human nature, ignoring the teaching of history, and flouting the sober judgment of mankind. Profiting by the object lesson America has given the world, we inscribe on our banners a White Australia.
Some aliens are already in our midst, we must not allow the evil to increase. We must do all in our power to mitigate the evil. We have allowed aliens to come here without their women folk. Not more than 5 per cent. of them have wives of their own countrywomen. Fathers, brothers, take this one fact home and do a little hard thinking. You will then understand that cancerous growth on our body politic, which is represented by the opium den with its wholesale demoralisation. On the other hand, we cannot allow them to bring their wives here and settle in our midst, that would be sowing a big crop of sorrow for our children. It should be made a criminal offence for a white woman and an alien to cohabit together or marry; the law in this connection should be brought into line with that relating to aborigines. A white woman should not be allowed to teach certain aliens in schools on either Sundays or other days. The practical wisdom of this will appear if one recalls the position of woman in the estimation of the Asiatic. All offenders against certain laws should be summarily deported. To them exposure is no shame, and fines are not a deterrent. It is only a mawkish sentimentality that prevents the Commonwealth from using its only effective weapon, viz., deportation. The premises in which aliens reside should be registered, and the landlord should be held responsible for all offences against sanitary and other regulations. The property of offending landlords should be put in quarantine. Under no circumstances should aliens be allowed to sleep in apartments where food is kept which is for sale. The provisions of the Factories Act should be rigidly enforced all the time, and during prohibited hours the workshop or factory should be absolutely closed like a public-house bar.
This should apply to laundries as well. A heavy penalty should attach to anyone removing or effacing the brand of Asiatic labor from partially-finished furniture, or any other article, that is to be exposed for sale. It is well known that articles are partly made and then taken to other premises to be finished, the alien brand is then removed, and thus the public are fooled. In the name of Christian expediency and enlightened common-sense, let us do our utmost to create a healthy sentiment on this question. He said: I have sought to advance sound reasons and propound practical remedies for this evil; but before closing I must urge everyone to help to formulate and further a vigorous immigration policy, so that Australia may soon be in a position to defend her decisions and enforce her desires. As the representative of Western civilisation on this side of the globe our responsibilities are great. As the custodians of a religion which can heal and uplift the nations our obligations can only be measured by our opportunities. In the name of religion, in the interests of humanity, for the benefit of posterity, let us keep Australia White. To do this we may have to impose upon ourselves many a self-denying ordinance, but the blessing sought is worth the price asked. Let us be true to our convictions, let us not be afraid, for it is destiny that beckons us on.
The Daily News (Perth, WA), 23 July 1910, p. 8
Mikado = (archaic) the Emperor of Japan
San Francisco riots = anti-Japanese rioting which occurred in May 1907 in San Francisco (other anti-Asian riots also occurred shortly thereafter in Bellingham, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada, leading to restrictions being placed upon Asian immigration in both Canada and the USA)
See: 1) Pacific Coast race riots of 1907, Wikipedia
2) On this day (re. 10 November 1906), The New York Times
3) Mary Lane Gallagher, 1907 Bellingham riot sparked other actions against immigrants, The Bellingham Herald, 3 September 2007
vitiate = impair, spoil, or weaken the effectiveness, efficiency, or quality of something; to make something defective, faulty, or ineffective; ruin
[Editor: Changed “precaustions” to “precautions”; “fines are not deterrant” to “fines are not a deterrent”, “en forced” to “enforced”.]