Jan 26, 2009

I Have a Flag

I co-hosted a radio show again on Saturday, and took great delight bringing up a police story about a giant 8m by 4m flag that got nicked from a flagpole outside a southside storage business that morning. I said I couldn't decide whether it was "unAustralian" or "totally Australian". After all, the modern Australia, the white Australia, was founded by a bunch of crooks of varying degrees of nastiness. Flogging a flag to celebrate that seemed somewhat appropriate.

Of course, I then remembered that listeners to the radio station I work for believe even looking at the flag inappropriately should be punished with a public lashing and a good six years of national service, preferably served on the Kokoda Track, with Sporting Shooters re-enacting the role of "The Japanese". I shut up about the flag after that.

They may not all weigh 10 kilograms and big enough to wrap a two-car garage, but geez there's a lot of flags around for Australia Day this year. They had them as giveaways on every seat at the Citizenship Ceremony I covered at City Hall this morning, and I believe various bottle shops and newspapers have been running flag promotions.

Now I'll admit to having bizarre bouts of patriotism at times. This morning's ceremony finished with a rousing version of "I Still Call Australia Home", and thanks to those damn Qantas choir kids, I can't hear that song now without a tear welling up in the peepers.

But I've never been a flag-waiver. I understand it's an important symbol of our nation, but I don't believe that it's holy, or sacred, or above all criticism. I don't believe people "died for the flag" and therefore any desceration of it is a jail-worthy offence. Surely they died in service of their country, and a flag is just a bit of material? I'd rather the flag be stripped and used as bandages than kept whole to drape over a coffin. And I don't believe flying the flag makes someone a BETTER Australian than me - in fact I believe that's often just a cheap gesture designed to make someone look patriotic without much effort.

But perhaps I'm wrong? Am I - gasp of dread, fear of all fears - unAustralian? After all, I do have a picture of Elizabeth I on my keyring. But then I am a filthy first-gen Aussie with a disturbing keen-ness for British history, after all.


  1. Australia is much more than a flag and you don't have to wave it or tattoo it to be a real aussie. In fact some of those people that do shove it down your throat, mostly concentrated at big days out, seem to lack some of the other better traits, like a laid back tolerance and hospitality, plus a healthy lack of wankerism.

  2. Patriotism is just an excuse to separate ourselves into groups of 'us' and 'them'. Maybe, one day, we'll be groups of 'us' and 'some more of us'. Until then, anyone who waves a flag or cheers a sporting team is just a half-arsed bigot.

    Curse these tiny monkey brains.

  3. It really disturbs me when I see people behaving badly in the name of patriotism, using the flag. Too many young guys roaming around wearing it like a cape using it as an excuse to abuse people who are "different" to them.

    And I'm REALLY sickened by that Sam Kekovich (sp?) ad for lamb, with everyone looking the same, behaving the same or they're un-Australian. What happened to this being a land of diversity and acceptance?

  4. i have to see that poster at 20 shops a day man it freaks me out its just wrong

  5. Well, for flag-waving, come to the States. You'll see more of the Stars and Stripes in the first two miles than Southern Crosses in all of Brisbane.

    Your point about flying a flag and patriotism is true. I DO have a problem with flag-burning as a method of protest, however. What kind of statement does that make?

    Oh, I know-freedom of expression, and all that. But what if you burn a flag in front of the VFW or Legion post and some old vet comes out and gives you a thump upside the head? I say in this case he's just exercising his freedom of expression.

    But that's here, and Australians may feel differently. I doubt you'll get hauled before your legislature's Committee On Unaustralian Activities.

  6. Ah Patriotism the last bastion of the Rogue (or something like that)

    You have to be concerned when you see those Wankers at Bondi and elsewhere draped in the flag acting in the most disgusting way and saying that they are true blue (My Flag I might add and I didn't give them permission to denigrate it)

  7. Flag-worship is cretinous, and hiding behind a flag is contemptible, particularly if you use it to justify bullying and intimidation.

    Burning a flag? YD, I can see where there's merit. Faced with a pack of yobs wearing Aussie flags as capes -- yeah. Actually, I can see where burning quite a few flags would do some good.

  8. Well, Dirk, I think I see your point there! That might be justifiable.

  9. I just feel it's overly simplistic - hold or wave a flag, you must be Australian. Burn a flag, or refuse to fly one, you're not.

    But then, maybe most people see in black and white.

  10. Your talents seem endless!
    Vinnie Newman

  11. I don't care if somebody wants to wave a flag. But please, stop using the hackneyed phrase "If you don't like it here, then leave".

    No, I won't leave. I do like living in Australia but I won't pretend it is perfect in everyway. We live in a pretty good country but it can be better.

    The real Un-Australian people (whatever that actually means) are those that refuse to accept the Australia and Australians have some flaws. If you don't see these flaws and try to fix them then you are the one killing this nation of ours.

  12. It's just the way we work – he hits them high and I hit them low. It’s very simple.

    Thank you and good night

  13. I'd call it (taking the flag) Australian, as long as it was a big business. Though they should take it back when they sober up.

  14. Turn the clock back 30 years or so and stealing the flag was a true larrikan act (Ah, Dawn!)

  15. I don't see blatent flag waving as being particularly "Australian". I thought the Australian psychy was more laid back and understated than that. Leave the brash flag waving to the Americans.

    It's the old story, the Americans THINK they live in the best country in the world and tell everyone so. Aussies KNOW we live in the best country and so see no point in telling everyone.

  16. That's what I fear is changing now TonyZilla - more people insistent that you KNOW we live in the BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, GOD-DAMNIT.

    I don't know what it is today, but I'm addicted to capitals. ;)

  17. I DO SO live in the best country in the world! :P

  18. Stealing an Aussie Flag == Totally Australian.

    "Still Call Australia Home" never never did it for me, but then why would you really wanna leave the God Zone for so long and far that your nationality was called into question, anyway?

    "I am Australian", now there a stirring song.