Amazing reason for Aus Day outrage
ISN'T it incredible what some people find offensive these days?
Take the following statement.
"I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey."
This is the pledge when people become Australian citizens. The words were uttered by thousands on Sunday at Australia Day ceremonies around the country.
Pretty uncontroversial, one would have thought. Wrong!
Labor MP Tanya Plibersek managed to provoke a furious backlash from her own supporters by making a short speech at a Sydney Opera House ceremony that celebrated the values enshrined in this pledge.
Ms Plibersek even went as far as to suggest the pledge, and what it means, should be learnt by "every Australian school student".
Oh dear. Apparently democracy, liberty and most especially, respecting the rule of law, are not values that a federal Labor MP should be espousing.
The backlash was vicious.
One critic recommended to Ms Plibersek that the pledge be "shoved where the sun don't shine," while appearing to be upset that a commitment to respecting the rule of law might hamper his ability to "throw bricks" during political protests.
Another told Ms Plibersek she found the whole business so offensive she "can't wait to rid myself of this country."
Ms Plibersek was also told she had "lost the plot", was a "right-wing nutter" and accused of "disgusting behaviour".
As is so often the case, the complaints revealed far more about the complainers than the target of their ire.
Ms Plibersek's speech - about what it means to be Australian - was excellent.
The pledge, she said, was "an elegant expression of what it takes to be a good citizen - of the rights we hold and the responsibilities we owe".
"Contrary of what some people seem to think, patriotism is not about exclusion. It's not about policing the boundary of who does or doesn't count as Australian.
"Patriotism, like mateship, is about solidarity. It's about what we owe each other as citizens."
In a possible rebuke to the sort of people who ultimately cried foul, Ms Plibersek said it was possible to love your country, while working to improve it.
"To love your country is not to assume that it's perfect," she said. "Patriotism is not above self-reflection and self-improvement.
"You can be proud of your citizenship and dedicated to progress. You can cherish this nation and want to make it better.
"You can be a progressive and love your country: I certainly do."
The fact that so many people took issue with all this illustrates the scale of the challenge leader Anthony Albanese faces in redirecting federal Labor back to centre ground without causing civil war within his party.
We can only hope that he succeeds, with the help of colleagues like Ms Plibersek. As this summer has proven, the Federal Government needs the sort of scrutiny that only a proper, grown-up opposition can provide.
What we don't need is more of the sort of self-loathing and needless antagonism common among the sort of people that objected to Tanya Plibersek's fine words.
As she also said in her speech: "Australia is strongest when we all embrace the high standards we set for citizenship."