Alas poor bogan I knew him well
As we head towards yet another Australia Day, a lot is being raised and debated about how we see ourselves as a nation, as a people, and as a part of a global community. Tensions have arisen of late regarding topics of border security and the safety of foreigners on our shores.
But perhaps, most intriguingly, as an aside to these debates, there has been a strong suggestion that the Bogan identity, which has plagued Australians for decades, is no longer being worn as a badge of honour, but rather, and rightfully, as one of shame.
Could we finally be seeing the end to our redneck wonderland? Are Australians favouring intellect over yobbism, manners over crassness, compassion over blind patriotism? When articulated in these straightforward binaries, one can only wonder - why it has taken so long?
The Bogan community has been making some loud rumblings (or bloggings) of late; denying the racism in clearly racist attacks, demanding their flag waving is a display of national pride, not white pride, all while joining Facebook groups espousing ‘eff off we’re full’ - but alas, could these be the final screams of a crumbling empire?
Bogans see themselves as the victims of rising political correctness and leftist ideology - after all, they love their country, they’re protecting their way of life. Those who understand the theoretical underpinnings of hate crime will understand that it often originates from a form of love - a love of a culture or way of life, and inadvertently an often irrational fear that this culture is under threat. Racism stems from protectionism. Children are raised to fear the ‘other’, ensuring racism persists throughout the generations.
In Australia, this is all to often expressed through cries of ‘they’re taking our jobs’, ‘they’re crowding our cities’, ‘they’re draining our resources’, and even recently, ‘they’re out pricing the real estate market’. Who exactly are ‘they’? And, given that the majority of us descended from other lands (read: anyone who has arrived in the past 220 years), are we not they?
The sad byproduct of ousting Bogans has been the reductionist view that all white Australians are Bogans - and nothing could be further from the truth. A Bogan is not defined by liking a genre of music, dressing a certain way, or having a penchant for beer. No, a Bogan, plainly and simply, is a relic of our society who chooses to cling to hooligan type behaviour to express an exclusionist, uneducated opinion, which largely derives from fear - ie. ‘eff off we’re full’.
For those who feel saddened by an association between flag waving and racism, you have unfortunately been let down by a minority who has established that relationship through acts such as those at Cronulla. But, thankfully, as the figure of the Bogan falters, it provides an opportune time for a new Australian identity to be formed. An identity we can all enjoy.
If Australians are to carry forward and defend our so-called intrinsic values of ‘picking up the fallen’, ‘looking after your mates’, and ‘being a laid back society’, then why aren’t we keen to embrace those who flee their homelands in clear need of our help, and those who are attacked on our shores, and why are we acting so uptight about any suggestion that we are, as all cultures are and accept to some degree, racist?
Though many of us (lefties perhaps) dream of a day when we are a Republic, when we change the date of Australia Day to one that doesn’t evoke memories of an invasion, and a day when we have a flag that is not emblematic of a white Australia, for now I’d be just thrilled if we could agree as a society that we are better than prejudice and fear-mongering about other cultures - and, more importantly, if we could just act like it.
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