Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Absurdity Day 2011

So here it is again - Australia Day, the day that Australians used to mark by taking a long weekend and now mark by taking a day off wherever that day falls in the week and doing whatever it is theat they would have done if it were along weekend Monday anyway. Although, now that  the Australia Day holiday happens on your actual January 26th and not on whichever Monday near it is most convenient it's widely considered proper to at least drape an Australian Flag over your shoulder while you hoe into the barbecued lamb washed down with VB.

Alongside that tradition, the meeja have long celebrated Australia Day by churning out a plethora of piffling punditry produced either in-house or by more or less distinguished persons from more or less fields of genuine professional accomplishment, that is, anything that isn't journalism or economics. Economists might get a look in but that's only because meeja editors generally haven't woken up to the fact that there are very few economists who have genuinely accomplished anything they're just very good at faking accomplishment.

Here's a quick round up of the most egregious of the patriotic pontificating on the subject of Australia Day that I've seen around the web:

At Quadrant, they're spruiking Michael Connor's annual Australia Day Hate List. This isn't, as you might expect from the title, a list of everything that Michael Connor hates about "The Left" that dark bogey comprising everyone to the left of Francis Edward De Groot of the New Guard, the bogey that stalks the nightmares of  every Quadrant contributor. It's a list of all the things that the bogey left hate starting, this year, with Andrew Bolt and "the Bolters" - Bolt's commenters. Why Connor's developed this habit of publishing this annual list, I don't know. I can merely speculate.

In the lead up to Australia Day, Andrew Bolt signalled his intentions for the day - how he planned to observe it - with a post posing the question "Who will be the first to whinge this time for Australia Day?" Now he's given us the answer and posed a new, heavily loaded, rhetorical question:
When did this tradition develop that Australia Day was to celebrate what divided us?
The answer to that one is - around the time that conservatives started insisting that the proper thing for dissidents to do on Australia Day was to just shut up and let people the flag-wavers get on with celebrating. In the words of Tony Abbott:
There are 364 days of the year to grizzle, but today is a day to rally around our country, including its symbols, and one of the greatest symbols of our country is our flag.
In other words, Australia Day is the day for a voluntary suspension of free speech so we can all get on with feeling good about ourselves and how great it is to be an Australian. Here's an interesting question: will Bolt endorse Tony's sentiments or will he do the opposite. After all, one of the things that supposedly makes Australia great is our commitment to democracy, free speech and all the rest of those Western Judeo (but not that Judeo) Christian values so the idea that there should be one day of the year when we celebrate those values by refraining from speech that is too free is simply bizarre. And stupid.

At The Drum, Dr Kevin Donnelly observes Australia Day by bagging the National History Curriculum. Because he can, presumably.

Finally, here's a much better piece than Donnelly's, also at The Drum, which might lift your spirits after you've waded through all the previous crap.

Update: Ex-pat  Stephen Brook has observed Australia Day by bagging the Brits for not doing patriotism as well as we Aussies do.I think that might be his way of showing that he, at least, doesn't suffer from any cultural cringe.

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