Saturday, July 17, 2010

198. Scoundrels finding refuge

Is patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel? Samuel Johnson thought so. Was Kennedy being a scoundrel when he declaimed ‘My country right or wrong?’

As I travelled Australia recently , I had cause to reflect upon the increasing number of national flags flying in front yards. I am not referring here to green’n’gold swatches atop car antennae to encourage the Socceroos, but to the national flag, the one with the Union Jack in the corner.

What sort of person would fly this flag? I wouldn’t. But I am at a loss to understand the difference between the two types. Why wouldn’t I? I am moved to tears when I watch the ANZAC Day march. When I stood in the geographical centre of Australia, way out in the backblocks of the Northern Territory, tears streamed down my face.

But it would never occur to me to fly our national flag.


Joan Elizabeth said...

Must be American TV turning the young ones patriotic. I reckon it's unaustralian.

diane said...

They fly the flag in many places in Switzerland, Bill's home country. I like to fly the flag on Australia Day.

Mary Ann said...

It's funny you should mention this--the part about the land and how moving it can be. I'm currently in the US, and recently took a very long drive from my hometown to Detroit. I kept wiping tears from my eyes as I drove. It's my land; it's home and I feel inescapably welded to it.

I don't have any inclination to wave my flag while abroad, which is convenient, since I also don't have the courage to do it. But in the US, the flag is so common place--literally everywhere, that it is a thoroughly banal thing to do.