Entertaining read (for a non-Aussie) of an Aussie beating up on Australia on Australia day in The Age Today.
Here are some edited excerpts for your Aussie bashing pleasure:
Australia’s preoccupation with simplistic national symbols borders on being infantile. The nation’s young country status revisited annually on Australia Day in mantras of achievement – chanted by ruddy-faced civic leaders in community breakfasts – is anachronistic and increasingly irrelevant.Australia makes much of its Akubra-wearing mateship tradition. It is touted every year that there is something quintessentially Australian about being a mate. But cobbers in Australia are no different from American, English, German or just about any other nationality where companionship is configured through mutual dependence.Such easily defined national symbols remind us of what we like to believe our antecedents to be and what we like about ourselves. The truth is we are some far distance from the lucky country.Australia is increasingly and worryingly more bellicose and jingoistic about expressing its national identity. This is not just in Aussie green and gold shirts at sporting events. The Cronulla riots reflected much about national contemporary identity that Australia actively encourages.Where is the difference between a boozed-up sunburnt ocker who drapes himself in an Australian flag at Cronulla and wistful backpackers similarly attired at Anzac Cove?… the xenophobia that has typified much of Australian history and was the dark undercurrent at Cronulla, is now part, for a significant number of Australians, of what it means to be Australian. This is borne out in the acceptance of mandatory detention and in suspicion displacing charity towards asylum seekers.…Back then [uberkiwi: the 50’s], there were no wire fences in the desert keeping new arrivals from the rest of Australian society. Never did I think I would have to explain to my young son why people were locked up in camps. Never did I think I’d feel ashamed as an Australian when there was so little that apparently could be done to save Nguyen Tuong Van. Or so utterly shamed that Australia remains for many indigenous people a Third World country where children are born into unspeakable disadvantage.The barbecues and festivities on Australia Day need to be put in perspective. Recognising identity is one thing. Rock concerts, parades and legions of flag-wearing, stubby-guzzling mates are the distillation of a culture that cringes from looking beyond irrelevant symbols of itself.