With all the furor over the Big Day out and flags, political correctedness and a great deal of poo slinging by poli’s and assorted jackasses, my personal favourite reaction came from Dr Clifton Evers.

So read it dammit. I shan’t regurgitate it for you here. (well maybe a little bit)

However it reminded me of why I find the flag disturbing and how I found a friend of mine having a Made In Australia tattoo also disturbing. Its because it becomes a symbol of proof, a marker of belonging and something that one can be challenged on. It legitimises that awful awful idea of UnAustralianess, because it is now defined. The new ‘thing’ is to wave flags, chant and sing the anthem, and if you don’t, or if you question it, then you are NOT AUSTRALIAN. It creates the whole ‘us’ and ‘them’ thought pattern again which is frankly unhelpful. A few thoughts on nationalism from far more eloquent and thoughtful people than I. (from wikiquote)

  • Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.
    Albert Einstein
  • Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. “Patriotism” is its cult.
    Erich Fromm,
    The Sane Society (1955)
  • Nationalism … is like cheap alcohol. First it makes you drunk, then it makes you blind, then it kills you.
    Dan Fried, US diplomat (Jan 07)
  • Our hearts where they rocked our cradle
    Our love where we spent our toil,
    And our faith, and our hope, and our honor,
    We pledge to our native soil.
    God gave all men all earth to love
    But since our hearts are small
    Ordained for each one spot should prove
    Beloved over all.
    Rudyard Kipling

It seems that in the enthusiasm to prove our ‘Australian-ness’ by displaying our patriotism, in someways loses, for me, the meaning of it. Democracy, about freedom, not about who some daft piece of cloth which silences dissent. It becomes mob mentality – belonging to a group to the exclusion of others. It strikes me as glib and hollow, contrived even, the latest in accessories to ensure one’s ongoing identification as Australian, righteous.

Another opinion by Tony Stephens. I’ll regurgitate a piece here, a proposal by the Victorian Australia Day Committee to have peopel recite this at some point during the day.

“We are Australian. We stand here proudly, brave, strong, open and tolerant. We stand here equal, fair, true and free. Together we will build the future but we will not forget the past. We will stand together. We are Australian.”

“There is something intolerable about the concept of tolerance and that if we concede a power to tolerate we logically concede the power to be intolerant”. Preston King in Evers’ Article above.

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As a humanist I found the ‘Strict Standards’ Proposed by Dednam to be frankly ludicrous. (SMH pg 3 24/01/07)

  • The flag should not be subjected to indignity or displayed below any other
  • It should not be allowed to fall or lie upon the ground
  • It should not cover a statue, monument or plaque, or be used as a table or seat cover
  • When the flag is raised or lwered, or carried in a parad or review,all present should face it. Men should remove their hats and all should remain silent.

What the American Flag Stands For
by Charlotte Aldebron

Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2002 by Common Dreams

The American flag stands for the fact that cloth can be very important. It is against the law to let the flag touch the ground or to leave the flag flying when the weather is bad. The flag has to be treated with respect. You can tell just how important this cloth is because when you compare it to people, it gets much better treatment. Nobody cares if a homeless person touches the ground. A homeless person can lie all over the ground all night long without anyone picking him up, folding him neatly and sheltering him from the rain.
School children have to pledge loyalty to this piece of cloth every morning. No one has to pledge loyalty to justice and equality and human decency. No one has to promise that people will get a fair wage, or enough food to eat, or affordable medicine, or clean water, or air free of harmful chemicals. But we all have to promise to love a rectangle of red, white, and blue cloth.

Betsy Ross would be quite surprised to see how successful her creation has become. But Thomas Jefferson would be disappointed to see how little of the flag’s real meaning remains.

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Happy Australia Day.

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