The right don’t own our nationalism or our history but it’s about time the left stopped being wimpy and equivocal about it as well.
If Australia were being invaded I would happily use every means human and material to drive them into the sea and protect our country. I’d buy war bonds, work for free and push gunpowder into little bullets if the government needed me to.
And in the end – if they were winning – I’d take a gun, strap it to my little wheelchair and fire (badly) at whoever was coming over the hill until I ran out of ammo before they claimed one frostbitten blade of Canberra grass. And then I’d throw pebbles or spoons or whatever was left in an effort to make them buy a return ticket. Alamo here we come.
I get sniffy when I hear the Skippy theme tune. The flag can stay as it is – although I wish Waltzing Matilda were our anthem. I like our egalitarian easy going culture (and I hate those who are trying to spoil it with bile and rancour). I am proud of the story of our traditional owners, our settlement, the way we turned Australia from a penal colony into a progressive society and the work of our earlier colonial thinkers like Macquarie and even Bligh, who was grossly maligned. I think it’s remarkable that people shoved out of Britain managed within one generation to form a society that was better, fairer and more open and that a forger became our printer of money!
I also think caring about Australia means we have to own and take control of our history That’s why it was right to say sorry and its right to undo the injustices to first peoples. Its also right to admit we got things wrong like child migration; stolen children; keeping children in special schools; Vietnam; bomb tests
Being progressive isn’t about endlessly apologising for who we are, its about making Australia better, believing in a positive future, righting wrongs and backing it up. Until we get that balance the far right will continue to wear the cloak of Australian nationalism despite the fact that it fits badly with their underlying messages of hate, intolerance and disregard of the core values of the Australian settlement such as a fair go and support for the underdog.
Craig Wallace is a marketing manager and project coordinator with Nican a national community organisation and has been a community leader with various organisations for more than a decade. He is the President of People with Disability Australia, a leading cross disability rights organisation in Australia and is a member of the ACT BLITS business group.