18 January 2008

Funny nationalism

Earlier in the week, we had a funny thing happen at the Australian Open tennis tournament where a bunch of fans got a bit rowdy after too many drinks and had to be ejected by the police.

Normally, this wouldn't be blinked at, however, during the incident, the police had to use capsicum spray, and in a grandstand environment where people are seated closely together, quite a lot of other fans ended up getting doused.

What caught my attention, was that the fans making all the noise were predominantly Australian, were waving Greek flags and were cheering on Marcos Baghdatis who is a Cypriot, born and bred in Limassol.

I'm sure that I'm not the only person who notices that something is a little bit wrong with this, so let's put it in it's correct context for a moment.

Imagine that Justine Henin was being cheered on by a bunch of fans waving French flags. This would cause a bit of diplomatic embarrassment in France but in the current climate in Belgium could cause serious grief.

Belgium is going through one of those problem periods where some within the French-speaking part of the population - the "Walloons" - are talking about separating from the Dutch-speaking part - the Flemish.

So I thought I'd take the time to look at other potential situations to see if this behaviour should be considered appropriate:

  • An Australian player of Anglo-Saxon parentage is cheered on by a bunch of Englishmen waving the cross of St George. This would be merely considered wrong.
  • A US player of Irish extraction is cheered on by fans waving the tricolour of Ireland. Again, ditto.
  • A Taiwanese player gets the royal treatment from fans waving Chinese flags. Approval from China. Disapproval expressed by the USA.
  • A Tibetan player is greeted with fans waving Tibetan flags. Certain diplomatic incident.
  • A Macedonian player of Greek extraction has fans in the crowd waving Greek flags. Certain riot, police called in.
  • A Bosnian player has a bunch of fans waving Serbian flags thanks to his Serbian heritage. Riot, stadium burnt down, police call in army for back-up.

So I would think that, based on all of that, the Australian Open organisers are playing with fire in allowing this to continue.

Has anyone in the media called for this practise to be banned yet?

6 comments:

Paul said...

Probably can't do much about it; any attempt to ban flags would have to include the Australian flag (or risk allegations of favouritism), and we've all seen from last year's Big Day Out what happens when you try to do that.

Hopefully, though, now that the previous government is history, Australia's current obsession with flag-waving nationalism and rioting on beaches might finally fizzle out.

(BTW, what did the police do before capsicum spray? What happened to the time-honoured practice of just bludgeoning the offending idiot(s) with a truncheon?)

Dikkii said...

G'day Paul,

Probably can't do much about it; any attempt to ban flags would have to include the Australian flag (or risk allegations of favouritism), and we've all seen from last year's Big Day Out what happens when you try to do that.

I wasn't specifically suggesting banning flags entirely, perhaps just ones that didn't relate to the players nationality.

So in Baghdatis' match on Monday, you had a Cypriot playing a Chilean. Allow flags of Chile and Cyprus, certainly. But flags from Greece, Spain and anywhere else, for that matter should certainly be banned.

(BTW, what did the police do before capsicum spray? What happened to the time-honoured practice of just bludgeoning the offending idiot(s) with a truncheon?)

I think that truncheons only come out during riots, now. I'm guessing, based on a 4 Corners episode that I watched last year, that someone selling capsicum spray has convinced the police that their product leaves no ill effects. I wonder if Taser International also makes capsicum spray?

Plonka said...

I must admit, I wonder why people bother with flags at all at events like these. It isn't a Davis Cup so it's not like they're playing for their respective countries or anything. These guys are playing for cash and personal kudos, pure and simple.

It's a bit like Schumaker. People would sometimes say he was doing it for Germany with no thought at all to the Italian car, Italian team, Italian sponsorship and USD pay packet. Weird...

Dikkii said...

Weird, but then again, our young bogans love the V8s - because their Aussie.

Never mind that the cars are German designed with American engines. And then there's the Fords.

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

I've never been much for nationalism. Maybe it's because I realize that nationalism (and most patriotism) is just a circumstance of birth (or immigration), but it's mostly because I consider myself a human being FIRST and, as it just so happens, a person born in America.

Hell, I refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance (and, doubtlessly, deeply offended the Freedom Eagle, my Mom, Apple Pie, and Baseball) in school for the simple fact that I don't subscribe to mandatory patriotism.

I don't take my hat off or put my hand over my heart for the Holy "Star Spangled Banner" because that makes no sense. That seems more like a bullshit religious ceremony than anything else.

Sure, I like America (mainly just because my beloved Virginia countryside just happens to be within the borders), but I have no illusions of superiority. I'm sure I would have just as much freedom if I lived in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, or a number of other countries.

I'm partially Irish by descent, but I only use it for comedy purposes (i.e., "I'm not white. I'm Irish. There's a difference."). I'm also partially French Heugenot (Ick! Calvinists! Ew!), but you don't see me standing up proudly because someone I'm related to came from a certain place and was a deterministic prick.

I have no problem with someone trying to connect to a respective heritage but...

Shitfire.

Why the fuck does it matter? You are who you are (and can be who you want to be) regardless of where your parents, or their parents, or THEIR parents, or anyone's parents came from.

Dikkii said...

Jenner, the problem is, in Australia, anyway, that a lot of people with ethnicities other that Anglo-Celtic identify not as the country of their birth, but as the the country of their ancestry.

This is problematic. Especially when, say, a bunch of Australians with Serbian blood happen across a bunch of Australians with Croatian blood. A lot of that blood is going to flow. And it wouldn't, if they identified as Australian from the outset.