Your national anthem sucks, get over it

29 May 2019

A few years back, Joey Williams caused a bit of a stir when he made a point of not standing for the anthem when he won the Citizen of the year Award in Wagga Wagga.

A few years back, Joey Williams caused a bit of a stir when he made a point of not standing for the anthem when he won the Citizen of the year Award in Wagga Wagga.

He said that the song didn’t represent him or his family, and that he thought the date of Australia Day should be changed, and that a new flag and new anthem wouldn’t hurt either.

It caused a few conservative commentators to have conniptions and it reached its height with Joey going on The Project (I think?) against some conservative local politician from Wagga about it.

Aboriginal people not standing for the anthem or not singing the anthem has since become a story that gets a run a few times a year as a guaranteed way of getting clicks by pissing off racists who rush to their computers to join the endless circlejerk of racist and inane comments that invariably follow.

“I see they don’t mind taking the white man’s money though!”

“If they don’t like Australia they should leave!”

“They aren’t fully black anyway!”

“If they don’t want to sing the anthem then they shouldn’t be allowed to play footy!”

We’ve seen it with Joey, with Mundine, with more than half the Indigenous All-Stars team earlier this year, and just today with Cody Walker. Enough already. Just stop.

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You’d think these defenders of Australian-ness would have enough introspection to stop and think that if Australia is ‘free’ as the song suggests, then surely individuals are free to say that anthem sucks and that they don’t want to sing it, but apparently not. As many of us who remember the whole 18C debacle remember, free speech in Australia means that people have a right to be bigots, but it apparently does not extend beyond bigoted commentary or opinions though. If it ever does, then it isn’t free speech, it’s un-Australian or ‘PC gone mad’.

These stories, when they arise, provide an opportunity to look at why so many Indigenous people, and an increasing number of Indigenous sports stars specifically, are not interested in the anthem. It is rare that those who cover the story for the mainstream ever take this opportunity though. They just report it as stated, and add no context or opinion that would illuminate anyone who is still unaware as to why so many Indigenous people have a strained relationship with their place in the colony.

(Here’s a short explainer for any such people reading this: Where tf you been the past 231 years?)

So, for any media peeps reading this, how about instead of waiting for the next individual to put their hand up and say that they’re not keen on singing the anthem, maybe just do a quick survey of all Indigenous sportstars in a given sport and see that they are in fact not alone, or even interview a bunch of white people who also don’t care much for our anthem to show that it isn’t just Indigenous people who realise that Australia is not young and free, or that the boundless plains stolen from Indigenous people aren’t in fact being shared very well these days. Maybe take a look at all the other verses that we don’t sing anymore to get a feel for just how much of a shitty love song to Brittania and colonialism it actually is.

It’s not like anti-anthem sentiment amongst Indigenous people is new anyway, just take a listen to the 1996 Tiddas classic ‘Anthem’ if you’re not sure what I’m talking about there.

Either way, please stop running this story with zero context or empathy in order to score cheap hits on your programs by stirring up anti-Indigenous sentiment amongst people who already hate us?

That’d be great, thanks.

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