AND I THOUGHT I WAS ONLY LEFT HANDED

BLOWN TO THE LEFT IN A COLD WIND OF CHANGE

The author, more at home in a garden than at a political demonstration.

Until recently the only concept I  had of  being ‘left’ in any sense was being left handed. Since I am not a violinist it has never caused me huge problems, except when signing books at author functions. Nobody wants an ink smudged title page.

It is quite a shock to suddenly find myself labelled a political  ‘leftie’ on social media.  Honestly, I have never   attended a political protest  or  a  demonstration  in my  entire (quite  long)  life. This is not something I’m proud of,  just a fact I have  simply floated along as  a far too complacent  ‘small l’  liberal.   My Facebook posts are usually about the birds and flowers in my garden. However,  I  now appear to be getting up  more noses than the musician in the cartoon.

What has caused this shift?   One issue is the feelings I expressed over Australia Day.  It has long been celebrated on January 26, the day of the arrival  in Port Jackson of the First Fleet.  Now understandably, many of  our indigenous people regard this in a very negative light.  For those who stood on shore  and watched them arrive , those ships brought all manner of horrors, which I surely do not need to catalogue here.

I  feel a responsibility  and yes, shame, for  the ongoing disadvantages  that  first Australians suffer.  However, I  don’t feel any  personal guilt  about  white settlement.  After all, it was the British  who  claimed the land as theirs, thereby  establishing a distant  dumping ground for their convicts.  But this doesn’t mean we have to perpetuate the celebration of January 26 as our national day.

What is  the big deal about changing the date?  I don’t mean in a practical sense, but ideologically?   I simply don’t understand.  We changed the White Australia policy.  We changed the words of  our national anthem to make it more inclusive and relevant. We overwhelmingly  voted in  the 1967 referendum to include Aborigines in the census ( dear me,  how shocking that this took so long).  The following is worth remembering too;

1994! I must admit I was surprised by this…… hardly an age old tradition.  I was  aware that my  Baby Boomer generation did not grow up celebrating January 26.

I found  Deputy Prime Minister  Barnaby  Joyce’s reaction to the suggestion of change  childish and offensive;

Just who was he referring to when he said, ‘They don’t like Christmas’?  I have a horrible feeling that I know.

More broadly,  I find myself speaking out against the rise of  nationalism and the far right around the world. There is  increasing support for people such as  Donald Trump,   Nigel Farage,  Marine  Le Pen  and our own Pauline Hanson.  It makes me  frightened  for the future, well perhaps not so much for my own future, but for the younger generation.  I understand that  the issues of immigration and the refugee  crisis  are complex , but surely we can try to act with  a bit of humanity.

THE FLAG

I am the administrator and founder of the Facebook site,  Australian Social History. If someone applies to join and their profile pic is an Australian flag I feel an immediate frisson of alarm.  With a bit of luck I am able to check their personal page.  All too often there are hateful, racist memes  posted there. It’s sad, but I no longer feel the  same  pride and affection for our  flag.  I am  tired of seeing  it wrapped around drunken louts  on Australia Day and ANZAC Day, or appropriated as  some  jingoistic banner.   Do I condone the radical element  who set fire to  the flag on Australia Day?  Of course not.  I was infuriated with them, and sick at heart.  I feel the same way when anti Australia Day protestors damage public property or scrawl hateful slogans on  buildings.

 

Comments under this repulsive  meme suggested that Pauline Hanson would get our country back.  Really?  Back from where …..and  from whom?? To be honest, I want it back from intolerant, jingoistic  people.

How times have changed since I set off to the 2000 Sydney Olympics proudly decked out in my Aussie gear.   I would never do this now, and not  just because I looked a bit of a goose!  By the way,  I’m not suggesting that other people should feel differently about the flag., just explaining why I do.

Olympic Nerd in more innocent times.

 

FOOTNOTE – Mr Joyce, sometimes you have to differentiate between political correctness, and simply the correct thing to do. And if you disagree, perhaps  you could do so in a more measured and respectful way.  Warren Mundine,  as chairman of the Australian Government’s  Indigenous  Advisory Council,  argued the case for    change in the date of Australia Day with contrasting  grace and dignity. Here is the piece he wrote, We must stop celebrating Australia Day on January 26.

 

FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A MESSAGE IN THE  BOX BELOW. BUT REMEMBER, ANY RACIST COMMENTS  WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED

 

 

3 Comments
  1. I, too, have also been rather “small l” liberal. But I’ve taken stronger stands of late, feeling it as a moral necessity when the rise of Trump has let a lot of hidden ugliness out into the light . . .and it’s seriously ugly. But we must take a stand when it it is right. @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  2. It’s a fine line, these days, being proud of your country and extreme nationalism. The extremists are everywhere and tend to paint themselves in a negative light. Unfortunately, like an unskilled child, they can’t stay within the lines the color and tend to paint everyone around them in the same light. Pride of country is now considered extreme, and the more moderate of folk now have to defend themselves from both sides.

    Sometimes being a moderate gets exhausting!

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