Sunday, February 18, 2007

Under this flag

From The Australian

SENIOR Muslim leaders have called for the Australian flag to be flown outside the nation's mosques as an expression of the Islamic community's "loyalty" and commitment to this country.

Muslim clerics yesterday urged Australia's 300,000 Muslims to back the idea as a symbol of "integration" and pride.
Whatever you may think of putting flags on places of worship, this is surely a sign of the right people making the right moves in the current climate. It is also a confirmation that John Howard's hard-headed approach to the dangers of radical Islam is one that gets results.

Yet I can't help recalling my own childhood. More or less up to the generation before mine, Catholics in Australia considered themselves outsiders. The establishment was English and Anglican; 'we' were of Irish background and Catholic (somewhat muted in my case being only a quarter Irish and half Lebanese). 'They' had all the best jobs, made the decisions that counted (always in favour of the Empire) while 'we' stayed in our ghetto and thought more about what the Pope said than the Prime Minister.

There's a story, which may even be true, about Cardinal Manning of Melbourne and his relations with the 'Proddy' powers of the land. After the First World War, the Cardinal wanted to hold a procession for the Catholic fallen. He was told that the procession would have to be headed by the Australian flag. There was a bit of a kerfuffle, but in the end he relented. He found an acquaintance in a pub who had started celebrating several hours previously, put in his hands a flag about the size of a hat, and placed him at the head of the procession. He evidently made it to the end, though he needed some help. Not surprising really. He must have walked twice as far as everyone else what with the weaving and stumbling.

Even when I was young, the idea of putting up that flag with the Union Jack in its top left-hand corner could not even be considered. I wonder how it is now.

No comments: