What kind of a word is girt anyway?
Tomorrow is my least favourite day of the year – Australia Day. I am always deeply suspicious of overt displays of patriotism because the lines between patriotism, nationalism and racism are so perilously thin. It seems to me that flag-waving has an exclusionary rather than unifying subtext, which is deeply uncomfortable in a multicultural nation in which the indigenous people are so marginalised.
In December 2005, discussion focussed around the Cronulla riots, in which Anglo-Celtic drunken flag-waving idiots got into running battles with police whilst protesting against “lebos and wogs”.
This year, there has been a big fuss kicked up over a suggestion that people don’t drape flags over their shoulders at the Big Day Out music festival, which falls today (i.e. Australia Day eve). Now, I was at the BDO last year and I saw a number of flag-draped pissheads doing the “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” chant and demanding that people join in, all in a very intimidating and aggressive fashion. I was dreading being asked myself, a friend of mine saw somebody get whacked for not being sufficiently "patriotic", and there were reports of somebody copping a broken jaw.
Sadly, this sensible request from BDO organisers has been jumped on by media and politicians eager to pick up a few cheap votes. Insight and relevant knowledge has been completely absent in the debate, and the whole thing has been frustratingly awful. Sigh.
By the way, I should clarify to avoid offence. I hate Australia day because it emphasises all the things I like least about Australia (smugness, American-style uncritical patriotism, the godawful anthem) and de-emphasises all the things I like best (multiculturalism, vigour, curiosity, laid-backness, Nick Cave). I don’t hate