360: “I Identify The Australian Flag With Racism”

Rapper Matt Colwell, known by his stage name 360, has come under fire after a controversial appearance on ABC’s television program Q&A last night, during which he suggested that “racist bigots” in Australia have led him to identify the country’s flag with racism.

“There’s so many racist bigots in this country and they’re everywhere… The Australian flag to me… I now identify that with racism,” Colwell said during the episode (footage below).

When asked why he aligns the flag with racism, Colwell responded, “On Australia Day you see a bunch of dudes walking around with their tops off, they’re getting on the drink, they’ve got an Australian flag wrapped around their neck, I’ve seen it so many times.”

Colwell then called these flag-wavers “dickheads”, citing an experience in which he witnessed people racially abusing others whilst being draped in the flag. “It’s pathetic,” he told the ABC audience.

The public’s reaction to Colwell’s Q&A appearance has been mixed, but many fans and viewers have condemned his stance on the flag because it supposedly disrespects war veterans.

“For you to say the Australian flag is racist because of the act of a small minority (one group of guys yelling at a taxi driver) makes you the bigot,” a now ex-fan posted on Facebook. Another shared an image of the Australian flag alongside the caption “IF YOU DON’T LOVE IT, LEAVE”.

Colwell has taken to both Facebook and Twitter this morning to defend his anti-racism stance, after receiving such negative comments. “Unfortunately a select number of bigots have tarnished the Australian flag for me,” he tweeted. “If you are not racist then you have nothing to be offended about.”

Colwell also noted that he has been hit by an “influx of Aussie pride fellas” on Facebook, saying that he those who have fought under the Australian flag.

“No one fought for the actual flag,” Colwell posted in response. “They fought to keep our country free and democracy and not for the racist bigoted place it’s become… I think those who fought under the flag for this country would be ashamed of the racism under the guise of patriotism in Australia.”

Colwell reassured readers that his comments were not an attempt to disrespect Australian war veterans, but noted that his conception of what the flag means has changed somewhat.

“I would never disrespect the diggers,” he said. “I appreciate all they did for our country but I feel the flag has been re-appropriated… and doesn’t represent the same values as it used to.”

Some individuals have spoken out in support of Colwell’s stance, with one Facebook user posting, “I was very impressed with how you spoke last night… Australian music need far more artists who are not afraid to talk equality.”

Colwell has emphasised the his hopes for equality, posting on Facebook, “I just believe in equality – no matter the colour of your skin & your sexuality you should be treated the same as everyone else. I believe in being a good person and would love to influence others to feel the same way.”

Watch Q&A‘s episode from Monday, 20th October, featuring Matt Colwell, in full via the ABC website, or a section of it, below.

Watch: Australian flag represents racism: 360

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