Anzac Day

25 Apr

Jim Wallace, the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, said the following on Twitter today:

Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!

After a considerable barrage of angry responses, he tweeted:

Ok you are right my apologies this was the wrong context to raise these issues. ANZACs mean to much to me to demean this day, not intended

The Australian Christian Lobby are on the beige side of the Westboro catapaulting cranks. They want a net filter, to reduce the rights of homosexuals, to act as an influencer in the “corridors of power” and restore a booming voice for family ethics in Australia.

They also want to tell you that your grandfathers killed for and were killed because they were fighting for an Australia free from muslims and gays.

The Australian Christian Lobby is lying to you and insulting Australia’s contribution to the world.

World War 1 was a terrifying slaughter. Forget your mythologies, forget your jingoistic patriotism or declarations that World War 1 meant we have democracy, are allowed to talk like jerks and hate with uncorrected impunity.

The shy 18 year old boy from Numurkah, my Grandfather, didn’t fight for any of that. He didn’t fight for your politics or mine. He fought because his father told him to.

Much has been made of the Anzac myth, the towering silhouette of the digger. Those rakish boys filled with cheeky irreverence and bravery.  They didn’t fight for the right to make Australians’ feel more Australian, they didn’t fight for the right to make sure I never had to become a muslim, German or Japanese. They fought because they were told to. They fought because they wanted to. They fought for England. They fought because it was adventure, adevnture away from the farm and the local mechanic’s institute.

To the victors came the spoils and many Australian men returned spoiled from the War. The men who were never recovered. The men who returned with unimaginable injuries and diseases. The men who came back looking fine but were forever mentally altered, medicating themselves with drink and drugs. The women they bashed, the children they abused. The War didn’t end in the trenches. It came into our homes and continued to fight for decades.

These were the men deserted by us. The soldiers who needed greater rehabilitation than we knew to give. Spare me your Anzac pride and joy. Give me your shame for what we put them through.

Today is a day of collective mourning and understanding the true tragedy of the Anzac myth – that it has been hijacked by Right wing fundamentalists who abhor difference and cannot understand the value of working together for the greater good.

6 Responses to “Anzac Day”

  1. DCam April 25, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    Too easy for conservatives to confuse their views with the “correct” past, and forget that there have always been progressives. In both world wars, although more particularly the second, Australia (and Canada) were fighting for the right to be different, live different, live free, have one’s own country. All progressive causes.

    Though I think you make an excellent point that individual soldiers were probably not fighting for a cause in particular. The generations in my family fell such that not many (any?) of them actually fought in either war. As I understand it, my grandfather was working in Halifax harbour during the second world war because no one was getting hardwood floors done and the government wasn’t building new schools. My grandmother was working in signals because it paid well enough, allowed her to live with a bunch of other fun, single women and gave consistent access to social events with good-looking, eligible men. They thought “the Europeans” should be free from foreign rule, but never saw their own freedom as being particularly threatened at all.

    The poor treatment of returning soldiers is not an issue I feel equipped to comment on at all. They were treated no better or worse than others with mental illness, I think.

  2. DCam April 25, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    Oh dear, I said I wasn’t equipped to comment on it, and then commented anyway, didn’t I?

  3. RobC April 25, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    When it comes right down to it, the ANZACS weren’t fighting for Jim Wallace, or for freedom, or for me or my kids, or to keep Australia Christian and heterosexual. They were fighting so they wouldn’t be thought of as cowards, and because the British needed cannon fodder.

  4. Natalia April 29, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    Thank-you. I can’t agree more. I started a PhD on this topic, and frankly gave up because my blood pressure would go ballistic any time I had to deal with the ‘Aussie/ANZAC/our boys’ rhetoric for the nth time (as you know, I also have a personal stake in all this). Glad to see intelligent, talented writers like yourself making sensible comments about this!

  5. Robert Gray April 30, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    My Father was an ANZAC and he fought for my right to make my own mind up about any topic,FREE from pressure of any idiom, zealot ,homophob or any nutter ,who thinks that he/she knows what is good for me…opinions are like assholes…everyone has got one. Respect what freedom is…

  6. overstimulated May 1, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    To be fair, Os Gray was not an ANZAC as he was never at Gallipoli (nor WWII Greece). His stories about being a Rat of Tobruk were amazing though not everything is confirmed by his service record. The conversations I had with him impressed upon me how much he hated the ANZAC mythos, cared little about the politics, refusing to have anything to do with the day or the people. He may well have told us different stories, as is sometimes the case with such rakish raconteurs.

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