January 24

Flying the flag not racist


Drivers who fly Australian flags on their cars to celebrate Australia Day are "more racist" than people who do not, concludes Univeristy of Western sociologist and anthropologist Professor Farida Fozdar. These conclusions were reported by Todd Cardy in PerthNow (24/1).

 This rather curious exercise involved Professor Fozdar and a team of assistants surveying 513 people at the Australia Day fireworks on Perth's Swan River foreshore last year to find out whether there was a link between flag flying and racist attitudes. 

There are three points to make about this survey.  

First it is not, nor does it claim to be, a scientific assessment.  It should not be treated as an accurate assessment of the opinion of those who fly flags from their cars and those who don't .

Second, rather than racism, this survey is more likely to be an indication of the difference between those who are extroverts and those who are not.  People who fly the national flag from their car are more likely to be willing to declare their opinion on important issues.  The act of flying the flag is a public declaration of patriotism.  People who do not should not be assumed to be unpatriotic, there are more likely to be less extroverted.  They will be less inclined to declare their opinions to perfect strangers, and perhaps be tempted to give an opinion which they think will please the interviewer.

Third, an affirmative answer to most if not all of the questions should not be interpreted as necessarily racist.  For example, many people believe that the nation's most important values are in danger.  To believe this is not to necessarily racist.  It is a view held by a number of people of non-Anglo-Saxon origin. 

.…the survey….

Professor Fozdar told Mr. Cardy that the team found that of the 102 people surveyed on the day who had attached flags to their cars for the national holiday, 43 per cent agreed with the statement that the now-abandoned “White Australia Policy” had “saved Australia from many problems experienced by other countries”.

She informed Mr. Cardy that 25 per cent of people who did not fly Australia car flags, apparently 411 people, agreed with the statement.

According to the report, the survey also found that:

· A total of 56 per cent of people with car flags feared for Australian culture and believed that the country’s most important values were in danger, compared with 34 per cent of non-flag flyers.

· Thirty-five per cent of flag flyers felt that people had to be born in Australia to be truly Australian, compared with 22 per cent of non-flag flyers.

· Twenty-three per cent of flag flyers believed that true Australians had to be Christian, while 18 per cent of non-flaggers agreed with the statement.

· A substantial 91 per cent of people with car flags agreed that people who move to Australia should adopt Australian values, compared with 76 per cent of non-flaggers.

· A total of 55 per cent of flaggers believed migrants should leave their old ways behind, compared with 30 per cent of non-flaggers.

“What I found interesting is that many people didn't really have much to say about why they chose to fly car flags or not," Professor Fozdar told Mr. Cardy.

"Many felt strongly patriotic about it – and for some, this was quite a racist or exclusionary type of patriotism – but it wasn't a particularly conscious thing for many.”


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