While in the shower this morning (the place where I do all my serious thinking), I was thinking about a conversation I’d had with a friend the other night in regards to political views and patriotism. We were discussing how in the US, it appears that not showing blind (and often ignorant) love for every aspect of your country results in you being branded an anti-American lefty hippy communist terrorist, or something to a similar extent. While we had a good laugh about that at the time, it did get me thinking that we here down under aren’t all that much better.

As I described some time back, I regard myself as being patriotic. I love my country and I proudly call myself an Australian. But this does not mean I am blind to its faults. For instance, I think there are times when we (or more specifically, many Australian people, not all) can be as bureaucratic as the British and as ignorant as the Americans (apologies to the efficient Brits and observant Americans whom I’ve just offended). I think there are many things which our government has managed that I am not proud of, and there are many aspects of our society that I am not proud of. Yet it seems if I publicly express my feelings, I too am labelled with the rather unflattering title of “unAustralian”.

I tend to agree with Francis Leach on radio station SEN (of all places), who said that:

Anyone who uses the term unAustralian is, in my view, an intellectual midget.

Nonetheless, there are many people who do use the term, and I guess it’s that patriot inside me who still finds it offensive, regardless of who suggests that I am, and whether their opinion is to be valued in any way.

To those who often dish out the term, to be a “fair dinkum Aussie”, a strict set of criteria must apply. You must be a sport fanatic who worships Aussie Rules (or league if you’re north of the border) in winter, and loves cricket in summer. Tick, anyone who’s met me knows there’s no problems there. You must enjoy downing cold beer while watching said sport, again tick. That beer should be VB – a big fat cross, VB is in my opinion possibly the most vile product to be marketed as beer, and I’d rather stay sober than drink it. You should support Australia in any sport they compete in, regardless of whether you actually care about that sport – tick. You should enjoy wearing green and gold coloured clothing on warm days chanting slogans about the masturbatory habits of a former English test captain – a hesitant tick. But still, in the sporting bogan department of being Australian, I probably pass.

However, when societal issues come to play, I start to fall off the pace. To keep your Australianism up, you must enjoy making fun of others – a tick I guess, I do have a sense of humour that does play upon other people. You must claim not to be racist, but you actually don’t really like Poms, Kiwis, Wogs, Lebs, Asians, Indians, Aboes, or anyone else not of Anglo-Australian descent, and you think they (especially the Asians and Indians) are taking over our country – big fat cross. Yes, we’ve had an influx of immigrants from certain areas of the world, but how that affects anyone here is completely beyond me. I maintain a healthy rivalry with other countries per the sporting discussion earlier, but I don’t dislike a race, or anyone from it purely based on their race.

You believe that political correctness is overrated and taking over, and that you should be able to make any form of disparaging remark about any race or gender – another cross, though slightly more hesitant. I do agree that political correctness can go too far (a black coffee for instance, is a description of the colour of the coffee, not a racial insult). However, too often is the racism and hatred that I mentioned earlier disguised in the form of humour. I don’t agree with the suspension of all rights to make jokes, but I also don’t like humour being used as a vessel for racism.

You think boat people is a massive problem for the security of the borders of this country, and if we don’t lock up all these “illegal queue-jumpers” or send their put-put boats back to where they came from, they’ll take over the whole country – I’m not going to bother answering that one, I’ll just direct you here.

And finally, as much as you pretend that events like the Cronulla Riots were bad, you actually think it was good that those Lebanese bastards got what they deserved for bashing those lifeguards – sigh, I don’t condone what those men did to the lifeguards, but the Cronulla riots disgusted me as an Australian. Watching young white-skinned thugs running around half-tanked bashing anyone who even appeared Middle-Eastern is as bad an example of racism as we’ve seen in this country. Worse yet was them claiming to do it to “protect Australia”, and draping our national flag, the very symbol of this country, over their backs while they did it. That day shook my confidence in this country, and the people within it, like no other.

So, I guess my comments will put me at odds with those “fair dinkum Aussies” who drive their V8s around with those stickers that read “Australia – if you don’t love it, leave”. To them, my criticism of this country’s faults makes me “unAustralian”, and I should probably leave, but let me put it like this. I do love Australia, but I am not blind to its faults. Every country in the world has faults, and ours is no exception. Moreover, why is it such a bad thing that I want to diagnose and repair or remove these faults from our country? Why is it a bad thing that I want the country I live in to be an even better place than it was before? And why is it a bad thing that I don’t think having an exclusively white Anglo-Australian population will achieve that goal?

I didn’t intend this piece to be an anti-Australian rant, like I’m sure some will perceive it to be. I actually intended it to highlight what the term “unAustralian” has come to mean. To me, it should mean anything that goes against the ideals of creating a better and stronger country for us all, yet it seems to have been hijacked by the racist bogans to mean something completely different. It is these people who are, in my view, the ones who are really unAustralian.