Thursday, 26 January 2012

Are Australians Racist?

Today is Australia Day, a day to celebrate this great nation that we love. However, the question of whether Australians are, in general, inherently racist is something I have been wondering in recent years, and has been sparked again by a recent study that claims that people with Australian flags on their cars are more racist than those who aren't. 

Whilst there are many issues with the methodology of the study, it does highlight a trend that has been more and more prevalent in recent years. More and more, we are becoming a nation that is wearing the flag as a fashion item, and Aussie flags can be found on everything from thongs (that's flip-flops to our international friends), bikinis, cheap t-shirts, and tattoos of both the temporary and permanently etched into your skin kind. While this does seem to be following the American trend, I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. I love my country, and I would be proud to wear Aussie apparel, particularly (well, only) on Australia Day. 


The kinds of people who do tend to wear Aussie flags or have the Southern Cross tattoo are generally the kind of people I don't want to be associated with. The Cronulla riots in Sydney several years ago really highlighted this for me. 

File:Cronulla riots 2 - no lebs.jpg
Source: Wiki
Unfortunately, we have a checkered past. The White Australia Policy which restricted immigrants into Australia kind of started this off, and there have been varying policies and the like ever since. Pauline Hanson was a particularly sore part of Australia's recent political history.  The Liberal government's views on asylum seekers is also a worry. Despite having a ridiculously low number of people 'illegally' seeking asylum in Australia compared to other countries, the Liberal  government has exacerbated the issue in the mainstream media (started by ex Prime Minster John Howard and the 'Children Overboard' scandal which essentially won him the election), meaning that many people are actually supporting their current policy of 'just turn the boats back'. I could harp on for hours about that so I will stop there, but it does concern me deep down at my core.

Our potential leader, in a nutshell.
Australians are known for our 'She'll be right mate' attitude. We are known for embracing multiculturalism (Melbourne most of all). We'll give everyone a fair go (or as a previous Prime Minister said once "a fair shake of the sauce bottle". Please note Australians don't say this). To be an Aussie on Australia Day is to eat an English breakfast, have Italian for lunch, Chinese for dinner and a kebab after a big night out, not to start attacking Indian cab drivers and students. How can a multicultural country have so much hate? 

Something I find interesting about it all is that whilst some people hate an entire ethnicity, they have friends of that ethnicity, which suggests that they will give the individual a go, but not the entire group. What does this mean? I don't know, but perhaps it means there's hope for us all to get along yet. 

I love my country. Granted, I fall in love with every place I go, but I'm always so happy to come back home. Despite the actions of a small number of my fellow Aussies, I think we're OK. But I would like to be able to wear a pair of Aussie thongs and not be thought of as a racist fuck. 

Happy Australia Day. Let's make it memorable for all of the right reasons. 


I wrote this yesterday morning before I went out. As I was walking to the train, I went through the local park that was teeming with a range of people. A group of people were playing cricket, and the ball started rolling towards me so I picked it up and threw it back to the batter. I was going to yell out "Happy Australia Day!" but I thought that would be a bit lame. However, the bowler then called out "See? That's the Australia Day spirit right there". 

And so it was. 

I also would like to mention that on Australia Day I caught up with my Asian friend, went to an Indigenous Festival in the city, walked past some Chinese New Year celebrations that were finished (d'oh!), and ended up in an African-safari-themed bar drinking Irish cider and French Champagne, before having Japanese for dinner. These are just some of the reasons why I fucking love my city. 

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