With the national day now at hand, it seems we now have to go through the inevitable debates; the flag, the day and the future of the monarchy (although the republicans have been a bit quieter this year). Perhaps the most contentious one is the day in which we chose to celebrate Australia Day; January 26, the day the first fleet under Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney Harbour. Understandably, some Aborigines view this as the day in which their ancestors were displaced from their land. We couldn’t really be celebrating this, could we?
Well, how many people cast their minds back to that day 224 years ago, whether they view it as an invasion or a settlement? Very few. So if we’re not celebrating the landing of the first fleet, what are we celebrating? Of course, we celebrate Australia on Australia Day. It is a day to celebrate the fact that we live in a truly great country, not of our wicked colonial past.
So, are we chosing the right day to celebrate this our nation? Whether we like the events of January 26 1788 or not, one thing is certain. Everything that has happened in this great land in the past 224 years has been shaped from this day.
Neil Mitchell wrote during the week that for some, Australia Day has descended into “Kick an Australian Day“, where progressive cultural elitist snobs jeer at Australian boganism and racism. This years festivities were marked by a survey by a sociologist which concluded that people who fly flags on their cars are more racist. As such, Australians of all backgrounds have been smeared as racists simply for expressing pride in their country. Lorenzo Warby highlights the problems with this – ahem – research:
In what is wrong with this “research” effort, the only question is where to begin. First, 102 people is a tiny sample. Second, agreeing that the White Australia Policy “saved Australia from many problems experienced by other countries” does not demonstrate racism. One can agree that monoculturalism has advantages without being racist. Moreover, a majority of flag-fliers did not agree with the statement. So, tagging an activity which a majority of those engaged in where found not to be racist as associated with racism is slander by correlation. (As is typical, the media reporting is worse than the actual study.)
In another example of Aussie-bashing, the ever-so-enlightened Peter Gebhardt looks down on the average Australian.
Australia Day is, of course, an artificial fabrication designed by governments, the corporate world, media, Australia Day Councils and smug Anglo-Saxons to ensure that we forget real history.
That Anglo-Saxon smugness is a resilient child of hypocrisy and racism. The mawkish jingoism, the noisy triumphalism and trumped-up nationalism lead to the xenophobia that treats our humanity as something special and beyond the humanity of others who are not of these shores or of those, the original owners, who live within our shores but have been relegated as relics of history, beyond imagination.
Seriously, lighten up. We’re just celebrating our national day, as we should. Happy Australia Day.