Wednesday, February 01, 2017
'The best country in the world' and Australian patriotism: Contrasted with some other countries
A typically Leftist scorn for patriotism below. He gives no real reason for scorn. He just says at length that he dislikes it.
But he is right that there has been an upsurge of it in Australia in recent times. Why? It's of a piece with the rise of Trump in the USA, Pauline Hanson in Australia and dislike of the EU in Britain. It's a reaction to the political correctness that's been forced down out throats since the '90s -- with its fundamental assumption that all men are equal.
Australians, Americans and Britons DON'T feel equal to everyone else. We feel that we live in countries that are a blessing compared with most of the rest of the world's countries and we are pleased about that. And why not? It is we who have made our countries what they are.
The author below hints that patriotism could morph into nationalism and racism but the evidence is against that. Various surveys have found patriotism and racism to be uncorrelated. And let us look at the inevitable comparison with prewar Germany. Nazism arose not from a patriotic culture but from the decadent rejection of all values in the Weimar republic
And national pride is low in Sweden. Why? With the huge crime problem that they have as a result of their admission to their country of large numbers of aggressive Muslim immigrants, I wouldn't be very happy with my country under those circumstances either
Patriotism is on the rise in Australia. Australia wasn't always like this. You would only have to go back 10 years or so to find a time when patriotism was something you kept pretty much to yourself, when flags were only waved at the cricket, and chest-thumping zeal was laughed at.
But it seems like the country is different now. We used to shake our heads at the Americans with all their flags and their sincerity, but now the same thing is happening here. As we approach another Australia Day, as people ready their fake Aussie flag tattoos, and their Aussie flag beach towels, and their Aussie flag bikinis and boardshorts, and even the odd Aussie flag cape, you can't help but wonder why patriotism has become so overt, and so necessary.
There's no shortage of people who do, either. A survey by the market research company YouGov last year found that 34 per cent of Australians thought their country was the best in the world. Compare that to five per cent in France, or six per cent in Vietnam.
Patriotism is on the rise, and it's not confined to Australia country. There are plenty of places you can travel to and find people devoted to their nation: the USA, the bastion of patriotism; New Zealand, where All Blacks jerseys are fashion items; Chile, with its fierce devotion; and even England, where St George crosses seem to be increasingly popular.
Is this a problem? Definitely, if you agree with the old quote from Briton Samuel Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." You only have to look at Donald Trump's America, or Rodrigo Duterte's Philippines, to be troubled by the rise of hardline nationalism.
It doesn't have to be this way though. While many Australians, and many more around the world, seem keen to find some sort of pride in their nationality, there are a few refreshing examples around the world of nations who aren't obsessed with their own greatness.
Only seven per cent of Swedes claim their country is the best in the world. Travelling to these places is a joy. There's no need to pretend to locals that this country you're in is perfect - you can engage in critical discussion without worrying about offending anyone. And sometimes these places are great purely because they aren't so obsessed with themselves.
Take Germany, for example. Despite the recent rise of far-right protest groups such as Pegida, Germans as a whole remain fearful of patriotism. This is due, unfortunately, to a horrific modern history of events that were powered by a "Germany first" mentality. However, that lack of nationalism these days makes a refreshing change.
German flags are confined to sporting arenas. The nation's culture is celebrated, but not in a way that says to the world that it's better than everyone else's. You're free to enjoy things like beer festivals and Christmas markets and musical performances without being made to feel that your own culture is inferior.
An unpatriotic country can be a beautiful thing. Sweden - prosperous, perfect Sweden - is far from nationalistic. That YouGov survey found only seven per cent of Swedes would claim that their country was the best in the world. That's the same as Singapore.
As a traveller, that lack of patriotism means no sitting through endless conversations about how amazing Sweden is and how the rest of the world is worse. You can just enjoy it for what it is - and there's plenty there to enjoy.
Rather than demonstrate a shortage of pride, the absence of all that flag-waving in Sweden is indicative of the country's easy confidence, of its citizens' quiet belief that everything there is all right. That's far nicer than having everyone scream at you that they're the greatest.
Other countries might not have the same levels of confidence, but still, the lack of patriotism is equally welcome. Vietnam is still ideologically split, in many ways, between north and south, and hence is not a place where national pride is taken too seriously.
Slovakians, despite only having been able to call themselves such for a relatively small amount of time, are also notoriously reticent to wave the flag. Latvians are the same.
It's nice to spend time in these countries, to see an alternative approach to the business of existing in this world. It's less about tribalism, and maybe more about just getting on with your life and not defining yourself by where you happened to be born.
Australia used to be more like that. Let's hope we return.
Pauline Hanson praises Trump's immigration ban - but says it doesn't go far enough because Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan aren't on the blacklist
Pauline Hanson says Donald Trump's migration ban doesn't go far enough.
The One Nation leader has weighed into the U.S. president's executive order banning citizens and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
'President Trump's protections against Islamic extremism are a good start but I would go further and include Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia,' she tweeted to her 19,800 followers on Monday.
Senator Hanson said President Trump also needed to target states with known links to Islamic extremism in a bid to reduce the threat of terror attacks.
'The people of America have elected Donald Trump because they wanted to regain control of their borders and protect themselves against the influence and threat of radical Islamic terrorism,' she said in a statement.
Travellers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya and Somalia and Yemen are already being banned from entering the United States for 90 days.
But Afghanistan was excluded, even though it is home to Taliban militants.
The list also fails to include Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich nation which been accused of having close ties with Islamic State, which the Kingdom denies.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on the planes that crashed into New York's Twin Towers in September 2001 were from Saudi Arabia.
Another two came from the United Arab Emirates with Egypt and Lebanon each contributing a hijacker but none of these nations are on President Trump's blacklist, even though the terrorist attack was in his home city.
The public policy Cato Institute released analysis last year showing no American was killed on U.S. soil by citizens from the seven nations named in President Trump's order.
President Trump has been accused of excluding from his list countries with ties to his global hotel business empire.
Like President Trump, Senator Hanson last year campaigned to ban Muslim migration.
'Our politicians can no longer sit by and ignore the fact that unless we do something like ban Islamic immigration, Australia will continue to face an ever increasing threat from radical Islamic terror,' she said.
Senator Hanson received an invitation to President Trump's inauguration last week but she declined, with her New South Wales Senate colleague Brian Burston going in her place.
People on terror watch list ‘should be kicked out of Australia or thrown in jail’, says Jacqui Lambie
It's not just Pauline who wants to rid us of Jihadis
INDEPENDENT Senator Jacqui Lambie has renewed her call for the deportation of all immigrants who support sharia law and any immigrants who appear on ASIO’s official terror watch list.
She said she believed the 190 people on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s list were Islamic and called on Federal Attorney-General George Brandis to release details.
“The Government must stop the cover-up and political correctness and release full details on our official terror watch list,” she said.
She said the Attorney-General was sitting on ASIO figures which strongly supported US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban on some Islamic people.
Senator Lambie called for tougher anti-terrorism policies. “The 190 on ASIO’s list shouldn’t be just watched,” she said.
“Unfortunately we’ve seen in the past innocent lives taken by a terrorist and sharia law supporter [Lindt cafe siege gunman Man Haron Monis] who ASIO was supposed to be watching.
“All of the people on ASIO’s terror watch list should be kicked out of Australia or thrown in jail. At the very least Australian citizens should be charged with treason or sedition, which are serious crimes with long jail sentences.
“Other countries in our region are telling the truth to their citizens. Singapore has graphic national ads which bluntly say it’s a matter of when, not if a terrorist attack will happen.”
PC culture ‘muzzling free speech’, says poll
Australians are resentful of a culture of political correctness preventing people expressing opinions on sensitive cultural issues, says the chairman leading the parliamentary inquiry into freedom of speech, as a new poll reveals increasing support to remove the words “insult” and “offend” from controversial section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Liberal MP Ian Goodenough, a migrant of Eurasian heritage who is heading the inquiry ordered by Malcolm Turnbull, said his objective was to simplify the law to protect ethnic and racial minorities while preventing “reverse discrimination” against mainstream Australians.
Mr Goodenough said resources should be directed at stopping material racial discrimination and serious conduct resulting in harm, violence or incitement to violent acts and “not cartoons and trivial matters”.
“What we are trying to achieve is to protect ethnic and racial groups from harm and detriment but it is not the role of government to police petty social misdemeanours,” Mr Goodenough told The Australian.
The committee has received more than 11,000 written submissions and is this week conducting hearings in five capital cities. Today in Melbourne it will be given polling by Galaxy Research commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs showing rising public support for changes to counter criticism that the campaign is a niche or fringe issue.
The poll of 1000 people taken last month shows 48 per cent approve of calls to remove the words “insult’ and “offend” from section 18C, an increase of three points from the previous survey in November.
Some 36 per cent of people were opposed to the change, down from 38 per cent. The Galaxy Poll found 52 per cent of men approved of the change to remove the words compared with 44 per cent of women.
Section 18C makes it unlawful to behave in a way that is reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity. Among the states, support was strongest in Western Australia where 54 per cent were in favour and in NSW where 50 per cent agreed while 49 per cent approved in Queensland. Support was weakest in Victoria and South Australia where 43 per cent agreed with the change, although it remained higher than the number who disapproved.
The change was most embraced by people aged over 50 with 53 per cent in support and those aged 25 to 49 were also more likely to approve than disapprove. However, people aged 18 to 24 were the strongest opponents with 49 per cent against the change, with only 39 per cent in support.
IPA director of policy Simon Breheny said the poll also showed that 95 per cent of Australians rated freedom of speech as important with 57 per cent saying it was very important. “Much to the surprise of some members of the media and the political class, free speech matters,” Mr Breheny said.
“It is time for our elected representatives to listen rather than trying to tell the public it is a niche or fringe issue.
“On top of the incredible overwhelming support for freedom of speech, support is also growing for changes to be made to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act so that it is no longer unlawful to insult or offend someone.”
Section 18C was used successfully in a legal action against Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt and unsuccessfully against three Queensland University of Technology students. A Newspoll last year found 57 per cent of people opposed the action against the QUT students. Complaints against a cartoon by The Australian’s Bill Leak were dropped.
The Prime Minister asked the parliament’s human rights committee to look at whether the Racial Discrimination Act and section 18C imposes unreasonable limits on free speech and to recommend whether the law should be changed and the role of the Human Rights Commission altered.
Mr Goodenough said 20 years had elapsed since section 18C was introduced and the inquiry was about allowing constructive criticism and facilitating robust debate of sensitive cultural issues and for disputes to be settled with minimal impact from the referee in a manner that was affordable and timely.
“It is misleading to say that reforms to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act will promote race hate speech, because there are already laws in place which prevent abusive or threatening speech,” he said. “Many mainstream Australians are resentful of the emerging culture of political correctness, which prevents them from expressing their opinions on certain sensitive cultural issues in workplace and social settings where minorities are involved.
“Anecdotally, there is a perception that certain ethnic minorities are afforded greater protections from constructive criticism than mainstream Australians through political correctness. Rightly or wrongly, this perception does exist, and I would like to see the playing field levelled.
“There is a distinction between expressing a view that you disagree with a certain cultural issue or practice in a respectful manner, and being abusive or vilifying a group.”
Mr Goodenough said the challenge for the committee was to find the right balance in recommending changes to the legislation. “As a migrant of Eurasian heritage I see the need to protect ethnic and racial minorities on one hand but also the duty to protect mainstream Australians from situations of reverse discrimination. The sentiment in the pub often is resentment that sometimes ethnic minorities use the provisions in the law to take things too far. Our challenge is to make the law fair to all.”
But the deputy chair of the inquiry, Labor MP Graham Perrett, said evidence given to a hearing in Hobart yesterday from Equal Opportunity Tasmania, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the University of Tasmania was “overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the current protections” in section 18C.
“The committee heard that racism, including ‘everyday racism’ caused widespread damage to Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse Australians and their communities,” he said.
“As parliamentarians in positions of relative power, it would be arrogant and irresponsible for us to assume we could have any understanding of what it is like to face the type of racism experienced by many Australians every day.”
Outrage after high school students were asked to analyse EMOJIS in national exams instead of classic literature
Concerns have been raised over new NAPLAN online exams asking high school students to examine SMS chat using emojis instead of classic literature.
The Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority this week posted new public demonstration 'mini-tests' as they prepare students to transition to online testing.
But one of the questions, which asks Year 9 students to analyse a text message conversation about a drama teacher's facial hair, has been slammed by the education industry.
NAPLAN is an annual test undertaken each year by students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, covering basic skills in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and numeracy.
The reading test for 14 and 15-year-old students asks the students whether the word 'mo' refers to Mr Grigg's moustache in an image of the screenshot conversation containing emojis - the smiley faces used in electronic messages.
An ACAA spokeswoman was defiant against the controversy, saying the tests show a range of questions 'from traditional to contemporary.'
They said the exam analyses 'various types of other media texts, such as newspapers and film.'
'Test items need to be as relevant and engaging for students as possible. As a result, test developers include a range of passage types, from text messages to more traditional ‘literature-type’ passages.
'The SMS question is a very simple item, however, based on data to date we expect that it would challenge about 10% of Year 9 students.”
However the exam has been slammed by education industry figures who believe it has over simplified the curriculum.
Jennifer Buckingham, the Centre for Independent studies, told Daily Mail Australia the question was a troubling reflection of current literacy levels. ‘It certainly represents a very basic level of comprehension. It would be on the lower end of the range, she said.
She said it would only have been included in the demonstration if students in the vetting process had answered incorrectly.
‘It’s a reflection of current literacy levels, and it is troubling this is the standard across the board.’
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