Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Well Barack certainly drew a bit of a crowd the other day.

It's at times like these that you realise how different we are to America in this way. Less excited, more cynical and less patriotic. Maybe you disagree with that, but that's how it seems to me.

I wonder why this is the case? What are the contributing factors? In a sense we are descended from similar 'stock', so when did we part ways so significantly in our attitudes?

I think it is very easy to say one is good, one is bad, but I personally think there were things to both cringe at and envy on display the other day, and likewise things to cringe at and be proud of in our own country. I think Australia in general is too quick to scoff at patriotism in ourselves, and in other countries.

So where does this fervour and patriotism come from? Would you consider yourself patriotic? Any American readers out there, would you consider yourself patriotic?


Bonnie said...

we both started out as English colonies but HOW we became English colonies was very different.

America was settled by English people looking for a new life, free from religious persection in England. Australia was a penal colony.

People in America wanted to be there, saw it as a new beginning, a new opportunity. People were sent to Australia, they didn't want to be here.

This probaly a bit over-simplified but I think is still true and probably one of the reasons for our different outlooks.

Simone R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
onlinesoph said...

maybe it's also what Obama represents for so many people - i.e. a black man becoming president. That's why they're so excited.

Australian humour and culture is pretty self deprecating. That's pretty unique I think, and why a satirical show like Kath and Kim works here, but not in the States. It has good and bad points.

onlinesoph said...

come to think of it, my dad is also pretty patriotic. He loves his "motherland" (china) and I think he sometimes wishes his kids - who are Australian - felt that same sense of pride for their country. so maybe its not just america.

Ben McLaughlin said...

Bonnie, I think that's an important distinction you draw. Even though those are old events, I guess there is something permanently ingrained from that, in both countries.

I wonder then if new migrants to Australia feel a deeper patriotism to the country than people born here, because as you say, they wanted to be here, saw it as a new beginning and opportunity.

Simone, I love Australia too. It seems a bit sad if we feel stupid admitting that. I agree though that my feelings of patriotism don't really extend to a love of the countrie's leaders. Maybe that's a problem?

Soph, I think a big part of the excitement is because in Obama being black that represents a pretty massive point in history. Still, that aside there is a stack of patriotism in the US that doesnt seem race related. Yeah it probably isn't just America, but I guess it's just that they are the ones always in public view.

Simone R. said...

[I deleted my above comment because it contained about 16 errors. Let's try again!]

I love Australia. I feel stupid admitting it, but I do. And I think I'm being objective when I say it's better than any other country in the world... like a mum who truly thinks her kid is the brightest in the creche.

But I don't express my patriotism in leader idolisation. Nope. Not me.

KR can feel loved because I voted for him (well, his party anyway). That's enough.

lu said...

So, as an American, I'll give you my opinion on the Obama frenzie and patriotism.

I think that some of what you all are seeing, and us here as well, is the fact that the media in the US tends to be democrat and loves democrats so it portrays democrats in a sometimes over-idealized (is that a word?) light. There are plenty of us in America who have noticed the idolization of Obama by the media. The media really hates George W. Bush and blames him for all our country's troubles so Obama has been lifted up almost as the one who can "save" our country. It is really quite alarming to me.

The actual inaguration ceremony and other events yesterday were the same as it has always been. Its just that since Obama is the first black man to be president of our country it had special signifigance to our country. There have never been near that many people who actually attended the inaguration in our history. For many Americans, particularly those who are considered minorities, this was a very emotional event and has begun a new era of what "all men are created equal" means.

As far as patriotism. I saw a dramatic rise in patriotism beginning on Sept. 11, 2001. Since declaring our independence from England, the mainland United States has never been attacked and it was a big wake up call for us. Although the patriotism we feel the past few years is not nearly as intense as it was right after 9/11 it is still raised.

And us Americans do get more patriotic during election years when we get the opportunity to express our political opinions through our votes.

Hope this sheds some light. I guess I have to admit that we Americans are proud of our country and what we stand for - democracy, freedom.

Ben McLaughlin said...

Thanks Lu, that is a helpful insight. I didn't really know about the extent to which the media favours the democrats.

I guess in the scheme of things it is easy to pin all your hopes on the new thing and pin all the blame to the old thing, sort of as a way of having hope for the future. It will be interesting to see how people repond when time shows that Obama is not Superman or the messiah, just another man.

Also, I can imagine that the 9/11 events would also boost patriotism, and make the country want to cling together, and also be a really sobering thing.

kristina said...

This kind of Presidential hype is not normal - even for the US. I guess I consider myself patriotic. I thought everyone did.

Bonnie is right. Many black Americans were forced here against their will. That is why this election is so important. I am proud of our country for striving towards race equality. (Not enough to vote for a socialist though.)

The media here is very liberal. So is Hollywood.

Martha said...

I will have to agree with Kristina. The really scary thing though, is how many people outside of the United States are so excited. I am still baffled because few people really know who this guy is or what he really intends to accomplish, and those who do aren't talking.

Thanks for stopping by.

Giraffe Pen said...

I thought the same thing:


Ben McLaughlin said...

It's been good to get more of an American perspective on it all-- your oppinions were different to what I'd expected.