January 10, 2011

Racist or Patriot?

Not every young person draped in the flag is a racist.

On Australia Day over 50% of Australians will attend public events or get together with family and friends for the specific purpose of celebrating Australia Day. In recent years we have seen a surge in young Australians celebrating Australia Day – and often they drape themselves in the flag or paint it on their face. Is this a happy expression of benign patriotism or is it an expression of xenophobia?

While Australia is not a racist nation there is no denying that some Australians are racist. It is a genuine concern that some use our national day to promote their narrow view of what it is to be Australian.

If a true patriot is someone who loves and defends their country, then a true patriot will stand against racism. We all have a responsibility to ensure that our national day is inclusive for all of our 22 million fellow Australians.

Some people wear the flag to claim it exclusively for their narrow and exclusionary view of being Australian. Others wear the flag to celebrate a nation which is an overwhelmingly open and inclusive society.

We must be careful not to assume that all young people draped in the flag are racist xenophobes.

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