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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

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 Australia. Thank you, here endeth the sermon.


Anonymous Kathryn Greenhill said...

As a tyke playing the anthem on a recorder, I used to think "girt" meant a combination of ground and dirt. Then I didn't think of it again until I was in my 30's and I found out what it meant.

Bit like only realising two months ago that a "fortnight" is a contraction of "fourteen nights"..well blow me down!

And..a Happy Australia Day to you too, Tom :)

8:56 PM  
Blogger ADHD Librarian said...

How do you tell when a plane has arrived from England?
The engines stop, but you can still hear the whining noise.
Complain about Australia day will you?
Rather be drinking warm beer and eating mushy peas?
Bloody whingeing Poms!

7:12 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodfellow said...

Thought that this post might draw a comment from you, ADHD. "Rather be drinking warm beer and eating mushy peas?" - yep.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Belongum said...

Tom I love being an Aussie... but I struggle with Australia Day too. If it's not one group, it's another - and all have their political wheelbarrow to push! I'm a blackfella of this country see - and the pressure I get to mark "Invasion Day" in this country is bloody amazing! I can't see why I should bemoan one side of my lineage, just to appease the other... I'm too damn lazy! ;-)

I mostly dislike it for it's hypocrasy. Touted about like it's the ants pants where this country (sadly) struggles with the ideals of a No Worries Mate, She'll be Right and Fair Go society - that for the most parts - just simply doesn't exist.

Not to say that their aren't Australian' who don't hold to these ideals - that wouldn't be true - I keep company with all five of them (and their West Australian lol ;-) ) - oops...

There are plenty of good people in this country who simply don't give a toss...

And sadly - that's where it all springs from... there ARE plenty of good people in this country - who DON'T give a toss! Black, white or brindle... it's all around us.

I'll settle for my Cold Beer AND Mushy Peas if you don't mind mate!!!

Cheers - ;-)

8:19 PM  

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