Monday, May 13, 2013

Not singing the national anthem

By many accounts Australia has a rather innocuous National Anthem, Advance Australian Fair. [We ditched "God save the Queen" in 1984 and I have to confess I actually don't know the words].

But, I came to understand that it is not actually so innocuous by watching an episode of Redfern now, a recent TV series that deals with some of the struggles of urban indigenous Australians. In the episode a new scholarship student at an exclusive private school finds he is incapable of singing it because of what it represents. The episode highlights the inability of white liberal Australians [including myself] to understand the real issues and to make token gestures.
But I thought the episode ending was a bit too "fairy tale."

I think the episode also highlights a profound difference between Australia and the USA. Patriotism has a different dimension. Many Australians are quite comfortable with accepting someone being Australian and NOT singing the national anthem.

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