Via LP, I learn that there were several ‘mini-Cronullas‘ this Australia Day, the worst taking place along the Manly Corso in Sydney. No-one dead or seriously injured this time, but people abused, people showered with broken glass, drunken nongs running around wearing the flag like a superman cape (something I find extraordinarily disrespectful), racist epithets flying thick and fast etc etc.
Various people at in the comments at LP saw other examples of similar silliness, and putting the differing left and right versions of ‘appropriate’ patriotism to one side (there is a little bit of argy-bargy on this point, but not much), one thing all agree on: this carry-on is new. I certainly don’t remember any kind of stupidity attached to Australia Day when I was a kid. If there was going to be trouble (more often of the ‘drunken idiot’ variety) in times gone by, then it happened on Anzac Day. The One Day of the Year (a play I suspect most of us have read at some point) was partly on this theme. Not very much happened on Australia Day except cricket (Adelaide Test) and a day off. One commenter makes the following telling remark:
I only own one Australian flag. It’s a little enamel lapel pin no more than 15 mm across and it was given to me ten years ago when my wife and I gained our citizenship. I’m immensely proud of it, not so much because of what it is but because it represents, symbolically, what my citizenship certificate confirms officially. That a better country than that of my birth had weighed me in the balance and found me worthy of acceptance.
I used to wear it on the waistcoat that passes for formal wear chez Bogan. Still do, for that matter. but, somewhere along the line, and I’m not sure where exactly, I’ve become quite uncomfortable about displaying it. It still means the same to me, but the potential for misinterpretation by others worries me, and that makes me a sad panda.
Now I haven’t been to a dawn service in years, and so I don’t really know what happens after Anzac Day parades these days, but it does seem that Anzac Day has gained in stature of late while Australia Day has lost ground — and this despite the best efforts of charitable groups, local councils and RSLs to do ’something nice’ for Australia day (even if it’s just a free BBQ). There is something more going on here than just simple racism and loutishness. It may be convenient to blame John Howard (as many lefties do) but I suspect that really is a gross oversimplification. This tendency has been around for a long time, and figuring out why it’s ‘changed days’ and morphed into something truly ugly would be an interesting exercise in itself.
The Americans have somehow managed to be flag-waving and patriotic, but you never see stuff like this attached to their flag; as one American points out, if it happens there it’s the Confederate Flag that gets ‘claimed’ by various drunken nongs. And I just can’t imagine any American using their national flag as a superman cape.
UPDATE: It seems I spoke too soon. One dead on the Gold Coast; the dreaded ‘youth of middle-eastern appearance’ strikes again. I know we’ve got to get over ourselves, but for Chrissake can’t immigrants check their baggage at the door too?