Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On Aussie pride. In many ways Darp was ahead of his time, fighting those abhorrent white supremacist organisations. Back around 2000 I thought they were wacko fringe groups, but then along came Cronulla, which marked not just the mainstreaming of Australian racism, but also its wilful misrepresentation as national 'pride'. The Howard government was especially culpable in encouraging this slippage between racism and pride (or, conversely, between the rejection of racism and shame).

Suddenly there was no more joy in kitschy symbols of Aussieness - they became creepy signifiers of a particularly mindless and chauvinistic assimilationism. This isn't new - The Bulletin in its fin-de-siecle heyday espoused a virulent, exclusivist nationalism that was expressed through literature. I've really sought to do my bit to reject it: writing about how stupid the flag-capes that seem to have infected music festivals make you look; refusing to publish photos of people with links to some fairly worrying white 'pride' organisations.

So I learned to think shamefully of Australia: its joyless, victory-obsessed cricket team, its hick towns where people I know get bashed for saying "Happy Invasion Day"... but most of all, its immorally populist government. I have been almost stunned in recent weeks to see the new Rudd government doing and saying things I actually believed in. Today's apology felt like a landmark because it was the first time in many years that I felt proud of my government's actions.

It was infuriating, then, to go on MySpazz and see various people's status updates along the lines of "XX is not sorry". Then there was the abusive message from one of these 'Aussie pride' characters, telling us we were "un-Australian" and that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Not today, bucko.

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