Wednesday, 25 April 2012

actual anzac day post

i wasn't going to do an anzac day post, having said pretty much all that i wanted to say yesterday.  but then other people have been linking to some good stuff, and i felt the urge to put all these links in one place.  so here you go:

When our politicians lay claim to the sacrifice and bravery of our soldiers on Anzac Day, let's not forget most of these men didn't have much choice. New Zealand troops were a conscripted army and our then government allowed British firing squads to execute New Zealanders who wouldn't fight. Many members of the first Labour Cabinet in 1935 actively opposed this war and went to jail for it. Several prominent Maori leaders were also imprisoned because they actively campaigned to stop Maori being conscripted. Much of the bravery shown was by people who refused to join this insanity and suffered mightily for it. It's a reflection of the real mood of New Zealanders when, after the war, they elected these war opponents to Government....

If we really take the Anzac message seriously we should be campaigning to get Western troops, including ours, out of the Middle East now. Ninety years ago we supported an invasion of the Middle East for oil. We still are.

there's this piece in the guardian, not strictly anzac-related, about the denial of the casualties caused by colonisation - a huge trigger warning though if you click through as the piece graphically describes torture:

Last week's revelations, that the British government systematically destroyed the documents detailing mistreatment of its colonial subjects, and that the Foreign Office then lied about a secret cache of files containing lesser revelations, is by any standards a big story. But it was either ignored or consigned to a footnote by most of the British press....

The myths of empire are so well-established that we appear to blot out countervailing stories even as they are told. As evidence from the manufactured Indian famines of the 1870s and from the treatment of other colonies accumulates, British imperialism emerges as no better and in some cases even worse than the imperialism practised by other nations. Yet the myth of the civilising mission remains untroubled by the evidence.

there's this article about an australian veteran's group that opposes the way anzac day is celebrated:

“ANZAC Day has become a nationalist circus with little real reflection on why governments sent soldiers, sailors and airmen to their deaths. All we get is glib cliches and a perverse ‘cult of sacrifice’ where we’re told that it doesn’t matter why you are sent to war, whether your government lied to you or not, the greatest thing an ordinary Australian can do is die in a war....

“Which war gained women the right to vote? Which war gained the 8-hour work day? Which war gave people the right to hold public demonstrations? There isn’t one, our freedom has always been fought and won by the people, civilians, standing up to their own government!"

a clip from one of my favourite australians (how could i resist) with some truly edgy comedy:

julie does a great job of listing all those we forget to comemmorate on anzac day, including the turks whose land was invaded.  and more wonderful writing from annanonymous - please do go and read the whole thing:

Injecting the feel good factor into World War One - taking out the gloomy bits so we can feel comfortably nostalgic a century later - puts war on the same footing as good-natured arguments between kiwis and Aussies about who invented the pavlova.  It asks us to suspend our intellect and morality once again.  It mocks the suffering of the soldiers, civilians and conscientious objectors who were killed, maimed, raped or psychologically destroyed by war.  Being glib about militarism is self-evidently dangerous.  It's also self-centred: the luxury of people who experience war only through their TVs.

all of these pieces reiterate for me why i no longer feel comfortable taking part in anzac day ceremonies.  this is not a day that unites us as nz'ers - how can it be, when it misses out so many important issues. when our events on anzac day start dealing with the truth behind wars, which of course includes the large numbers of lives lost, then maybe i'll feel that i can be a part of them again.

finally, one link that has nothing at all to do with anzac day. it has 5 essays related to the "war on women" in the middle east.  while i don't agree with everything they say, it's still a very useful read.


Annanonymous said...

Superb round-up, stargazer, and I can't say how surprised and overjoyed I am to see that statement from the Australian veterans' group. Is the tide beginning to turn a little bit against the unthinking nationalism of the last few years?

The McCarten article was good, although I had some unease about the use of 'geezers'. I don't like being disrespectful to the individuals who served. That's not to say that they are necessarily noble or did anything glorious - it's really just marking the hardship and suffering they experienced.

stargazer said...

thanx annanonymous. i agree with you regarding mr mccarten's piece. in the first paragraph i quoted, i would have preferred the point be framed around the lack of acknowledgement that these men had been forced to go, along with what you say ie "the hardship & suffering they experienced". he was unnecessarily harsh, and i wonder if talkback/paul henry/michael lhaws is influencing our public discourse way too much. on the other hand, i thought his underlying points were really important so decided to include it.