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Anthony Mundine

I have never been much of a fan of Anthony Mundine and I don’t really agree with his call to boycott the national anthem, but I do see where it comes from. Issues of inequality for indigenous Australians are not being addressed with any urgency, despite repeated shocking findings by NGOs, government committees and the UN. And aside from a momentary outcry over youth justice facilities in the Northern Territory, it does seem difficult for these issues to get much cut through with mainstream society.

And whilst I accept that perhaps Australia needs to be shaken out of its complacency, I don’t see this having the desired effect. I have said before that I believe attacking institutions that many Australians treasure, such as the national anthem, the flag or Australia Day, is not going to hasten reconciliation processes. It puts many Australians on the defensive and it is hard to actually change someone’s perspective when they are in this state.

The vitriolic backlash Mundine received from many corners was hardly surprising, with the outspoken boxer described as being ‘unaustralian, racist and attention-seeking alongside many more personal attacks. However, Mundine’s comments were not even close to the stupidest public statement I have heard recently. It is not like he suggested that renewable energy was to blame for the South Australian blackouts for example, but the energy and belligerence of the response to Mundine outweighed the responses to much stupider statements by Malcolm Roberts and government ministers in the same week. This isn’t a surprise though. The Adam Goodes saga showed how aggressively reactive a significant section of the population is to indigenous Australians bringing up the issue of race.

No stranger to polarising opinions and criticism, I doubt it phased Mundine much – perhaps he was happy to have the issue being talked about more widely. He certainly wasn’t the first person to suggest boycotting the anthem, but his support for the idea brought it much more publicity.

I would say, some of the criticism of Mundine is certainly valid. I have spoken about freedom of speech and I have said it cuts both ways. He is entitled to state his opinion and others are entitled to critique it. But this situation raises a scenario for some of Mundine’s critics that I found interesting.

Only a few months ago, Sonia Kruger came out with a much more inflammatory, factually incorrect statement. Quite rightly, her comments were the subject of much ridicule, but many of her apologists reacted with self-righteous indignation towards this criticism, claiming it somehow was against freedom of speech.

It obviously isn’t, but those who made that argument have made an interesting ideological position for themselves.

How many of the same people who argued Kruger should not be criticised for exercising her freedom of speech, ripped into Mundine’s use of freedom of speech without a second thought? Any that did are blatant hypocrites.

 

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14 comments

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  1. mark delmege

    I’m a long time ALF club member. For the first few years of my membership I refused to stand during the anthem – now I just stay out the back till that event is over. I can see no useful reason why the anthem is played during club games. None whatsoever.

  2. mark delmege

    thats AFL of course

  3. Ben Smith

    Careful, your white privilege is showing.

    “Let’s discuss how Mundine raises the ire of white Australia when he joins thousands of voices of his people and comments about inequality in Australia.”

    “I mean, how dare he? For whatever reason, he has been spared the trouble of all his direct ancestors being wiped out during Australia’s frontier wars, and he’s obviously doing alright for himself now, he’s got a voice in the media. And so, when he uses that voice to bite the hand that feeds, we’re going to slap him back down every time.”

    The treatment of Australia’s Original People is a problem that effects every single one of us. Australia’s Original People are treated worse than animals by this country and as long as this goes on, it will be a blight on each of our legacies and/or souls.

    “Yeah, wrote some great articles, but when he got the chance to speak out about inhuman inequality, he jumped on the bashing Anthony Mundine bandwagon”.

  4. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    A very interesting one. I’ve generally not got much time for Mundine, and am never sure whether his actions are simply self-serving. Given he seems to thrive on divisiveness, this action will always be interpreted from that perspective, which is unfortunate because I believe that if we are really to become an inclusive nation, perhaps it is time to reset some of those “icons” and “institutions” more associated with “white” Australia, such as the national anthem, the flag etc.

    There is good reason why symbols are important, and every so often they need to be challenged. Having been born overseas, and lived also in the States for a year, I’ve realised that “nationality” is not a key part of who I am. Whilst I am proud of my Scottish heritage, and the 10 odd years I was a “Londoner”, I didn’t feel any desire to vote in the independence vote, or take my opportunity to vote in the Brexit one. I no longer consider that my right as I’m not well and truly domiciled here. I have not, however, rescinded my European (soon to be just UK) citizenship, and it is one reason why I can’t, and thus won’t, ever stand for federal parliament.

    But I’m very intrigued by people who get very angsty about it. And I’m particularly intrigued by my fellow pom migrants who castigate those Muslim migrants for not showing loyalty to Australia, whilst they continue to support England in the Ashes, and don’t see the sheer hypocrisy of that attitude. Astonishing.

    What is concerning however, is how anthem singing (or more actually not anthem singing) is now deemed to be unpatriotic. Forced, blind allegiance to a concept, which is really all a nation is, rarely ends well.

  5. king1394

    When I was young the National Anthem (God save the Queen) was played before concerts and film showings, but I can’t remember it being played before football matches. You were supposed to stand, but many did not.

    Now we want people to sing and place hand on heart a la the USA. Yet even now few know any part of that song except ‘Advance Australia … Fair” , a sentiment that is becoming totally meaningless. Some people even think the rest of us should fly the Australian flag in our yards. Then they cut down the gum trees and native plants in their gardens and place a ‘love it or leave’ sticker on their letterbox.

    No thanks. Displays of patriotism are not necessary. We know who and what we are and a second-rate ditty from the late 19th century is not necessary to reinforce that. It reflects the thoughts of a time before Australia was even Federated (1878).

  6. Peter Mccarthy

    I’m with you Mark. I refuse to stoop to copying US group think by standing for the anthem, but to avoid offending the sensitivities of those who feel it’s important, I wander in after the girt song.

    Having actually served in the Aussie military, I believe that was more valuable to Australia than helping pollies wave flags and pretend war is something to be promoted and proud of. That the AFL get away with linking footy to laying down your life for your country still irritates me greatly. Their claim of the “ultimate sacrifice” is kicking or preventing a goal. Mine is losing your life in service to your country.

    The old Diggers came back from Gallipoli telling us the war was a tragic waste of time but somehow the pollies have swept that under the carpet and rushed out an ever increasing number of flags. They run the narrative now.

  7. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    king1394 – it used to be played at the end of films when I was a kid, and whilst everyone stood, it was generally to walk out… But then it was only really popular with Glasgow Rangers fans and Tories. But how many “patriots” know the second verse?

    “For those who’ve come across the seas
    We’ve boundless plains to share,
    With courage let us all combine
    To advance Australia fair.”

    Yet that is generally exactly the opposite of what those demanding it is sung actually support. You really couldn’t make it up.

    Maybe we should all join in demanding people sing it, and then always ensure that we sing the second verse loudly and with passion!

    If you can’t beat them, join them… and I bet it wouldn’t be long before they would be then demanding that we stop! Imagine if every school that sings the anthem had to sing both verses? Perhaps we should be DEMANDING this. Might make an excellent GetUp campaign…. 😉

  8. Noel

    I was a school principal for thirty years. When the Advance Australia Fair became our national anthem the children in every school I was in sang two verses, including the one about those coming from overseas. I think it is actually about the 5th verse of the original song that makes those statements.

  9. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Noel – I’ve googled a few of sites, and those lines appear to be in the 2nd verse. But the fact that we don’t know exactly shows how well it is etched into our memory. I suspect many people that sing it haven’t even thought about the words and what they mean – it is just something drilled into them at school.

  10. Phil

    I’m all for any show of contempt toward jingoism and nationalism. I don’t care if millions of Australians treasure their stupid anthem, their pointless flag or their ill timed Australia Day – that’s their prerogative, but its not mine even though I’m an over 60 year old male of anglo origins. In fact the more disrespect shown toward these symbols of chest thumping pride the better. I grew up in an Australia that understood without question, that authority had to be challenged, and challenged mercilessly, lest those in power became arrogant and self-serving. All that seems to have passed. Now we toe the line lest the powerful, the bigots, jingoists, the stupid and the self serving conservatives and their evangelical zealots get all in a tizzy. Well stiff shit for them – try empathy for once – spare a thought for the indigenous Australians who have been copping it in the guts for more than 200 years so why wouldn’t they have had enough?

    Poor little mainstream Australia, all sensitive about its stupid anthem and foreign flag.

    Good on Mundine for speaking out – better and braver to speak out against injustice than wrapping himself in the nationalists flag, mouthing the words of the most inane and embarrassing anthem ever adopted, and waiting in the corner until dithering mainstream Australia makes up its mind.

  11. wammm

    the pommie god save the queen also contains odd lines like the rebellious scots to crush’ my mum is a scot and I never stood for god save the queen from 15.
    Mundine may not be my cup of tea but nrl isn’t my game and boxing is an amateur sport for me.
    His call to disrespect the anthem fits with my attitude but at golf I got zero agreeing with me. He certainly brings out the ‘uncle tom’ syndrome of white Australia

  12. Annie B

    King1394 ….

    I am old enough to remember “God Save the Queen” being played and also sung by the supporters, at AFL Grand Finals … then before the end of the last line of the 1 verse anthem sung, the crowd would roar with great gusto. …. They still do today, when our current national anthem is played.

    Can never recall however, any home and away matches ever beginning with a national anthem, old or new.

    A lot of truth in many sides to the argument about Mundine and his real agenda in pursuing this subject. …He has always been a bit of a notoriety / publicity junkie. I am no fan of his, [as a former sporting personality. ] …. that has nothing whatsoever to do with his race or colour btw. There are more white blow-hards than Mundine, floating around.

    Being controversial appeals to Mundines’ ego. … but no matter how he uttered his objections – and whether or not they were rational, or acceptable in form – he had a right to state them. …. anything that advances the cause of the indigenous Australian, should be listened to – and understood.

    I note however, the more disciplined and well educated Aboriginal ( Uni. graduates etc. ), does little to advance their cause – in public utterances. … They may well work superbly behind the scenes, but are rarely seen or heard from by the general public.

    Which is a damned pity.

  13. paulwalter

    Mundine is not the sharpest tool on the rack,imho.

    Also, re god save the queen, i’ve always made a point of sitting during it. This pastime has had recent parallels in the USA, where people were persecuted for not observing their anthem in a certain way, creating a sharp reaction to the bullying from others.

  14. Sir Scotchmistery

    Who treasures the national Anthem? What rubbish. Try singing the second verse without gagging.

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