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31 Dec, 2020 14:12

Woke and free? Australia changes its national anthem to recognize indigenous history

Woke and free? Australia changes its national anthem to recognize indigenous history

In what may well be 2020’s last act of woke symbolism, or next year’s first, Australia will change the lyrics of its national anthem on New Year’s Day to recognize the country’s indigenous history and foster a “spirit of unity.”

In a surprise announcement on Thursday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that, from January 1, the line “for we are young and free” in Australia’s national anthem will be replaced with “for we are one and free.”

“While Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, our country’s story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect,” Morrison said in a statement.

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“In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our national anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation,” the PM added.

The change is minor, and was broadly supported by conservatives and liberals alike. It was first suggested earlier this year by New South Wales’ liberal premier, Gladys Berejiklian, who said she felt sorry for “Indigenous Australians who don’t feel the national anthem reflects them and their history.”

However, some commentators were less than impressed with Morrison’s decision to slap a “dollop of pink paint” on their beloved anthem.

‘Advance Australia Fair’ replaced ‘God Save the Queen’ as the country’s anthem in 1984. However, the song’s lyrics were written in 1878, and when the anthem was adopted, the line “Australia’s sons let us rejoice” was replaced with “Australians all let us rejoice,” with the government concerned about appearing sexist.

The change caps off a year of worldwide wokeness, in which anthems and patriotic songs came under new scrutiny. In the US, liberal pundits suggested it “might be time to finally replace ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ with a new national anthem,” as the writer of the iconic tune, Francis Scott Key, may have supported slavery. Some suggested replacing the anthem with John Lennon’s socialist paean ‘Imagine’.

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In the UK, the BBC ignited a storm of controversy when it chose to feature only instrumental versions of ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ at this year’s BBC Proms, due to their supposed association with slavery. The BBC eventually reversed course and included the two songs, but only after hordes of commenters online accused the taxpayer-funded broadcaster of being out of touch with its fee-payers.

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