My great-grandfather, Hugh de Largie was a Labor senator in Australia’s first parliament. He followed Prime Minister Billy Hughes out of the Australian Labor Party in the conscription split of 1916.
Great-grandpa was a fierce advocate of the ‘White Australia Policy’. Something, that as a great-granddaughter, I feel incredible shame about.
The same type of shame that I feel, when I think about the Australian Constitution and the fact that in 2018, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have still not been recognised as Australia’s first people.
When I first heard the story about nine-year-old Harper Nielsen and her refusal to stand and sing the National Anthem during a school assembly — my heart opened.
I know for certain that I wouldn’t have been that brave in grade four.
If my memory serves me correctly, the only thing I was doing at age 9 was lusting after Bros and New Kids On The Block and begging my parents to get me some new spokey dokies for my hot pink bicycle.
Nielsen is a brave hero — more heroic and courageous than Pauline Hanson will ever be. Any person that wants to attack an innocent child for standing up in protest for what they believe, is suspect, yeah? And a Senator, no less.
Goddess help us!
Screw patriotism and nationalism. They are what led to WWI and WWII. Screw governments who haven’t got the heart, grace or humanity to recognise our first peoples in the constitution.
If you believe in democracy and freedom of speech, then you believe in a child’s goddamn right not to sing the national anthem. Any child’s strong beliefs and opinions should not be ostracised by the herd.
Neilsen told the media that she protested because the national anthem ignored Australia’s indigenous. “When it says ‘we are young’ it means that it ignores the Indigenous Australians who were here before the English for over 50,000 years,” she said.
That’s right Harper, we are not young.
Nor are we free.
The national outrage directed towards you this week is proof of that.
Vanessa de Largie is a freelance journalist and sex columnist who divides her time between London and Melbourne.
Illustration: National Library of Australia.
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