I read recently a little commentary piece where someone was sick of hearing the pejorative “un-Australian”. It is something we read quite often in the press and although I confess its use grated with me I hadn’t given it much thought.
But when I come to think of it, it is a real cop-out!
I often see this terminology used to demean others and their activities. It is a lazy way of denigrating others.
It seems to me a way of vilifying others when we don’t have the arguments to substantiate our disagreement with their points of view. If I disagree with you or don’t approve of your behaviour I can simply put you down by saying your words or your actions are “un-Australian”.
Interestingly enough if you were born elsewhere (other than Australia) it is not likely that this pejorative will be used.
So going back to my original comment, once I label you as “un-Australian” there seems little more I have to say. I expect you to roll your eyes in tacit agreement and “tut tut” your disapproval of the villain so named.
I have a simple objection to using this deprecating terminology. If it is at all to be effective we must know what being Australian means so that we can label those miscreants that don’t fill the bill.
If we put the question to the population at large they would say that being Australian was to be generous, courageous, egalitarian, concerned, adept at sports and so on.
I suspect if I put a similar question to those of other ethnic backgrounds their responses would not be much different.
Therefore my premise is, if we don’t really know what it means to be Australian how can we possibly know what it means to be un-Australian?
The positive qualities of Australian citizens are probably no different from those qualities we celebrate in citizens around the world. The failings of Australian citizens are just as likely to be shared by the miscreants in other societies.
So what is the lesson here? Nobody is special. We are not special by dint of our nationality, our religion, our sexuality, our politics or our education or our up-bringing.
So let’s get over it. There is nothing special about being Australian. And perhaps if we were called un-Australian we should rejoice in being identified with most of humanity!