January 26...Australia Day...whatever that means in 2006. Whilst it is probably reasonable for me to suggest that today means bugger all else to many Australians than a Public Holiday, it is also fair to suggest that we think we know more about being "Un-Australian" than being Australian. We certainly bandy the term around enough to suggest that we know what it means.
The term "Un-Australian" has become one of the most overused adjectives of the last twelve months, and will probably continue its rise to prominance throughout 2006. Every one is using it; politicans, sports stars, police chiefs, journalists, commentators, people in the street, you name it. All pedal it out to abuse opponents, or to personally taunt them.
Here are some examples:
"I think associating with a terrorist organisation demonstrates that you are un-Australian" Tasmanian MP Michael Ferguson.
" It is not Australian to adopt a mob mentality and assult women. I have never seen anything as un-Australian" NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney (on the Cronulla riots)
"Labor will fight every day until the Howard Government is brought down for these vicious, unnecessary and unAustralian laws." Opposition Leader Kim Beazley on the Federal Government's Idustrial Relations Laws
On a basic level it is just another in vogue weasel word. But it has moved to another level now, to become a term that has a nasty, dark meaning. Used to try and tarnish the character of people who you don't agree with backed up by the assumption that the rest of Australia agrees with them. Make no mistake, it is a term of abuse. An attack on character.
You don't hear people (at least I never have) being called un-American, or un-French, or un-British. So why have we embraced un Australian so much?
I don't really know. Probably because it reminds me of our cultural cringe and our anxieties and suspicions about globalisation and all things (people, ideas) foreign.
I do know that I squirm every time I hear it.
Happy Australia Day.