Friday, 23 April 2010

The bard and battleflags

To tear or not to tear - that is the question
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to respect
The bookshelf contents of outraged parents
Or to take down amid a sea of protests
And while ignoring, rend them.

Well, not outraged, but on this, the anniversary of the death (and traditional birthdate) of William Shakespeare, I note that my daughter seems to have developed a predilection for his work - in the sense that a not-yet-one year old child ever appreciates the printed word.

There are other reports of icons taking a beating on their special day. This day is also St George's Day, and as usual its (lack of) celebration raises the questions of whether there is a positive form of English nationalism which is missing in action. One of the stories that seems to pop up every year is the idea that the patriotic Englishman may be somewhat ashamed to fly the St George's Cross flag (unless the football is on), since it has been appropriated by the racist extremists.

The racist extremists at the back of Leichardt Town Hall could certainly be said to have appropriated the cause of defending the Australian national flag at this week's debate on changing it, filmed for a 60 Minutes segment to be aired this Sunday, being Anzac Day. The timing itself drew criticism, seen as an attack on a flag 'sanctified' by the military on the day sacred to them.

I expect the loudmouths and tv producers see the dramatic results as mutually beneficial - I was to some extent expecting more of the rational discussion, but I guess those with more reasonable views are less likely to involve themselves for the sake of a flag, old or new.

I would question the trends regarding nationalism and the use of flags on the day of remembrance, whether the flag is constant or not. With perhaps a more mainstream comment, I also suggest that the values often ascribed to both the diggers and the flag are more important than which symbol is used for our nation. O for a debate that actually reflects this.

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