Swimming Between the Flags at Cronulla

flags #3By Mike Welsh I had no say what so ever in my conception and birth, nor in that of our nation but I’ve always felt special to have been born on January 26. A birthday I proudly share with the late actors Paul Newman and Eartha Kitt, WW 11 hero, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and a bunch of Australian Test cricketers including ex skipper, Kim Hughes, with whom I share the same birth date, Jan 26 1954. Traditionally not a red-letter date such as Dec 25 or New Year’s Eve, but Jan 26 is still a momentous day, and one which would be difficult to forget, especially if it was your birthday. Yet back in the day I actually spent most of one birthday, blissfully unaware of its importance. The penny dropped when our GG came on the radio to deliver his Australia Day address. But it was too late. Fifteen hours of my birthday had already disappeared.  How could I forget my birthday? How could I forget Australia Day? These days I would have been primed for the big event weeks in advance thanks to Australian flags fluttering from all points of all manner of vehicles in traffic and the ubiquitous TV commercials warning of a tsunami of beer, BBQs and backyard cricket bashes. kekka My birthday has not only been comprehensively commercialized by “slammin” Sam Kekovich but it has morphed into a dangerously jingoistic mentality of… “If you don’t eat lamb or drape the flag you are unAustralian”. A surprisingly articulate, fat, former full forward  succinctly “taking the piss” out of vegans has, sadly  become as familiar in January  as the flag flogging  racists who first poked their  ignorant and shockjock tutored heads over our backyard fences on Australia Day 2005 at Cronulla. The day the fuse for the December 11 2005 explosion was lit which gave birth to the “Cronulla Cape” (a term coined for mindless drunken Bogans who drape their naked upper bodies in the Australian flag). An Australian stand-up comedian described Australia Day to a group of international tourists thus… “the day Aussies get drunk and racist” and academics decided to drill into the causes and consequences of Cronulla. A “loose” University of W.A. study on Flag Waving V Non Flag Waving, found racism embedded in the Flag wavers. The team discovered that most of the 513 people surveyed from several hundred thousand gathered to watch a fireworks display, were fearful of losing their identity. One in five said they had attached flags to their cars. While the study results were neither conclusive nor solid, the basic inference was, “those who are flying flags on their cars do express more racist opinions with 43 per cent convinced that the now defunct White Australia Policy had saved Australia from problems that other countries had experienced”. flags #2 I love Australia Day and most of what goes with it. I don’t have a problem with a brewery promotion of an Aussie flag for your car when you buy a “slab” of beer, but the “FUCK OFF WE’RE FULL” stickers I find  highly offensive. Australia Day is my birthday but I don’t have to swim between the racist flags fluttering at Cronulla.

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