A few years ago, I actually gave serious consideration to getting a Southern Cross tattooed on my shoulder.
Thank god I didn't. At the time I just thought of it as a cool design, a constellation I liked to look at. It didn't mean then what it does now. Now it means "Hi! I'm a racist thug. Kiss the flag or get bashed".
It's the great Let's Not talk About It: that Australia is a racist country, and it getting worse. At Circular Quay on Australia Day the blogger witnessed crowds of drunken teenagers, draped in the Australian flag (isn't wearing the flag illegal?) yelling about the country being full and loving Australia or leaving it. There were police everywhere but none did anything to stop any of this although most of the offenders were clearly intoxicated and underage.
Things got even worse over at Manly, where crowds went on a rampage, jumping on cars with "ethnic" occupants, smashing shop windows and generally acting like little shits. But perhaps the worst aspect of this was hearing figures such as the Manly Mayor, denying the riot was rascist!
So here then is the Howard government's legacy to Australia's youth: thuggery, fear, intolerance and mistrust. These sorts of incidents were unthinkable even five years ago, but we now have a generation on our hands who can't remember life before the Howard government and think this sort of behaviour is fine - they grew up seeing the goverment do it on a grander scale. They've turned the Southern Cross in 2009 into what the Union Jack was in the U.K. in 1985, and turned Australian pride into something all thinking Australians should be vaugely ashamed of.
For once, the Telegraph actually published a thoughtful piece on this issue. Well worth the read and no offensive comments.