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A Massive Over-Reaction

What is Anzac Day to Australians and New Zealanders? As an Australian, I was taught to see it as a day of honouring the fallen, of remembrance and thoughtful reflection on bravery, self-sacrifice and brotherhood defiant in the face of adversity. This I believed.

I was also taught that it was a day to be grateful for what our soldiers did in WW1 at Gallipoli because they did it for us, that we would be free. This I have always struggled with. I struggled to see how an event that occurred 30 years before I was born could impact on me in that way. I struggled to see how my life would have been any different had these men not travelled to Gallipoli. I still struggle with that today.

As time passed, the Anzac legend broadened to include WW2. As I learned about this more recent conflict I came to appreciate the enormous implications the First World War had in the making of the Second World War. A clearer picture began to emerge.

WW2 may not have happened but for WW1. A ridiculous argument between a family of European cousins should never have been allowed to escalate to the extent that it did. To compound the error by exacting an overly zealous punishment inflicted on the losers was a huge mistake.

memorialCombine both these failures of common sense and the result was the calamity that became WW2. Call this an over-simplification if you wish, but in simple terms that is what happened. Having visited both Gallipoli and the monuments of the Western Front, the one thing that sticks in my mind is the shocking waste of life; our boys and their boys.

Today, in our fervour to honour all the conflicts of which we have been a part, it seems to me that we have forgotten the original intent of what I was led to believe was ANZAC, i.e. to remember, to honour the fallen, to reflect on bravery, self-sacrifice and brotherhood defiant in the face of adversity; something we should acknowledge of the boys on both sides.

As a consequence of that fervour, something strange and sinister has crept into the mix. The idea of nationhood emerging from the ashes of WW1 has taken on a dark side. It seems that anyone who dares to suggest an opposing view is to be vilified and typecast as un-Australian.

It seems that to voice dissent is treason. For those too young to remember, Anzac Day protests were commonplace in the 1960s. University students regularly tried to disrupt marches, calling for an end to the ‘glorification of war’.

The marches themselves were poorly attended by an apathetic public more interested in what a public holiday offered. If we are to vilify those who criticise our fervour today, what do we say about the way this day was looked upon then?

When we have come to the point where a television commentator expresses an opposing view that gets him sacked, we have gone too far. Scott McIntyre, a soccer reporter and presenter for SBS, tweeted that some Australians marking Anzac Day were, “poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers.” I could add rednecks and bogans to that list.

He also wrote “Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan,” to his 30,000 followers. And, “Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.”

These subsequent comments are not something I would have tweeted, but there is an element of truth in them both. In war there is always appalling behaviour by some that threatens to overshadow the more honourable exploits of the majority.

The Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been misrepresented as ending the war. They didn’t and weren’t a necessary act. It was mass murder. This act deserves closer scrutiny.

And to single out one person for expressing that, is a massive over-reaction. Those who would boldly claim that the Anzacs fought for freedom are hypocrites if they exclude freedom of speech in that cry. Are we no longer allowed to disagree when we feel the need?

Personally, I was somewhat relieved to be out of the country in the lead up to this year’s Anzac commemorations because I felt I would be subjected to a barrage of jingoistic marketing and merchandising campaigns that were riding the expected wave of national pride.

It turned out I was right. We are faking Anzac Day and have been for years now. Politicians have progressively hijacked the occasion over time to the point where it is now out of control. Spending $400 million on the 100 year commemoration was absurd.

dissentI fully expected that there would be some dissent, some call for a more rational approach to the way we commemorate this day. Someone did and paid the penalty. Welcome to democracy in action, or what’s left of it.

55 comments

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  1. Loz

    I agree with your comments whole heartedly. Though it cannot be proved the twittering voice of Malcolm Turnbull would have had some influence in this decision. Shame on SBS and those who brought this about.

  2. AndrewL

    Quite appropriate but at the same time disgraceful that the LNP spend half a billion dollars glorifying a poor military decision 100 years ago that led to so many unnecessary deaths in light of the same thing happening today by our military in Iraq/Syria. That less Australians are killed in the current invasions make it justifiable for the killing?

  3. jimhaz

    The LNP always acts to ensure public servants are obedient to the ideals of conservatives. Scott McIntyre’s comments were too far to the left for that mob and for them all things left must be crushed.

    I find the manner in which the political and media circus concentrates on Gallopi as appalling and take no part whatsoever. To me the RSL has “sold out”. I think there are returned soldiers who are actually alive rather than long dead as per WW1, that need public acceptance and more depth of understanding, than long dead men. Reality is not as appealing to TV producers – much harder to make up glorious mythical stories in more recent years where we see more of the effects of war.

  4. Andrew Robjohns

    Well said. Nice to hear a solid and rational defense. I suspect McIntyre was intending to be provocative with his 2nd and 3rd tweets. I’m sure he didn’t realise how much opprobrium he would provoke though.

  5. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    We suffer torture – bad. We torture others – pretend it is a lie and ignore.
    I am Australian as of 1975 but I am not and never will be a nationalist. My (then) husband came here in 1970 to take up a job so that our children would be able to see more of the world – as they have.
    There is much in the Australian culture that makes me cringe – ANZAC Day is part of that.
    All Australians, even our first people, are migrants. Increasingly they come from countries which were not major players in either of the World Wars and many were actually part of the ‘other side’ in days gone by.
    We need to stop glorifying exploits in war and concentrate on preventing war and supporting those damaged by past wars.

  6. Florence nee Fedup

    Spent day in hospital. Meant I also missed most. I respect Anzac day and what it really presents. The way it is now politicalised, is plainly disrespectful.

  7. diannaart

    Thank you for writing this piece, John.

    I needed to hear from someone else, that I was not alone in my thoughts that Scott McIntyre did not deserve to lose his job over some ill chosen words. His opinion of Anzac Day ‘commemoration’ is valid if not completely accurate – of course Scott is I, assume, a ‘progressive’ politically and, therefore, held to different standards to those of say, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones or the nauseating Larry Pickering – for them it is about free ‘speech’ AKA bigotry. That some in our community cannot see the difference between abuse and dissent is very troubling, that, on this occasion, it was the powers at SBS to cave into the lowest common denominator.

    All the best Scott McIntyre – stand by your principles – they are honest – we need such courage.

  8. Pingback: A Massive Over-Reaction – » The Australian Independent Media Network — Written by JOHN KELLY | winstonclose

  9. hemingway13

    Mr Kelly, this is an exceptionally cogent and insightful column, as it is a pity that our ANZAC Day commemorations have increasingly turned into an obsessive patriotic propaganda festival akin to the American Memorial Day and 4th of July parades which I witnessed as a California boy and then a Vietnam War Vet.

    It seems that Joe Hockey’s spruiking about a bogus budget “emergency” and Abbott’s silly sloganeering about a debt “crisis” got conveniently hidden from view by Murdoch’s militant news outlets when hundreds of millions were being splurged by their government in funding for war celebrations/memorials and, of course, in sending another generation of Diggers to be maimed or killed in wars that are just as much of a tragic waste as the Gallipoli campaign was.

    Australians are again being sacrificed so that the current global empires are able to exploit that region’s oil resources, which was also the prime objective of the Anglo-French agreement (Sykes-Picot) which shamelessly determined how the Ottoman territories would be carved up into nonsensical “Protectorates” after The Great War.

  10. Kerri

    Thanks for this article John Kelly. Yes dissent should always exist. If we don’t question, we succumb!
    Since I was a primary student I have been unable to get past the glorification of war that ANZAC represents.
    In it’s origins, it was a time where military exploits and the “us & them” mentality was de rigeur. Today and in fact when I was a primary student those beliefs should be anachronistic. As a newly minted secondary teacher 30 years ago I argued with an older staff member about the significance of “Lest we Forget”. She admonished me for my beliefs in the glorification of war and explained that the day was to remind us of the horrors of war so as not to repeat them hence Lest We Forget. But we have? War is still used these days to solve political problems that adults should be able to sort without violence. Except of course, for the U.S.A., where war is a business. War is essential to the U.S. Bottom line. War creates jobs for the masses as soldiers whilst the well heeled enter politics, assuring wars will continue and that their privately owned building enterprises will always win the tenders to rebuild the mess they have created. It’s a nice little cycle with the U.S. On the winning side and the underdeveloped nations constantly in debt to them.
    War stinks!
    And glorifying war feeds this stinking mechanism.

  11. Ross in Gippsland

    Twenty years ago while driving north on holidays we stopped for a break in a small country town. The Anzac Day ceremony was just starting so I took my 6 year old over to watch. At the end of a small, short and sombre ceremony the local RSL president explained that this was the long held commitment that we would never forget those that did not come back from war. Just a quiet lest we forget at the end.

    A far cry from the political, media and marketing frenzy the Anzac Day centenary morphed into.

  12. hemingway13

    Kerri,
    Sadly, your analysis is spot on. My younger brother recently retired with a golden handshake of lucrative benefits from Lockheed Martin, one of America’s largest military contractors, including the ultra-expensive fighter planes that Australia has signed to purchase. You won’t be surprised that my brother is a lifelong rabidly rightwing Republican who hates President Obama with a passion. Obviously, we never discuss politics!

  13. stephentardrew

    The only good war is no war.

    When the hell will we learn that it is those who refuse to participate who will end war and the absurd ritualized pomp and ceremony glorifying the unedifying brutality of killing others to support ones jaundiced opinions of oneself, ones nation, and the powerful corporate and financial overlords who make obscene profits coming or going; winning or losing.

    Grieve for the dead surely and in grieving for the dead show wisdom and intelligence by saying never again.

    War is an abomination with no justification. As you pointed out John the major wars were the result of stupidity and cruel revenge leaving a wasteland of suffering behind. Most are preventable.

    Kaye’s link says all there is to know about the dehumanisation of once reasonable humans on all sides.

    My experience counselling veterans demonstrates how easy it is to step across the line into cruelty and barbarity. War simply leaves the door wide open to such disasters.

    I despise war; grieve for the loss of life; support the victims and try to understand the perpetrators for that is the only way to stop this farce of self-immolation.

    Democracy justice, equity and utility are not achievable while we build weapons primed for war while learning to hate our fellow beings.

    As for freedom of speech we are a society of unbridled hypocrites.

    How often do we hear about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis children, women and men killed and mutilated by our unjust interventions.

    Many Vietnamese still suffer intolerably today from ordinance left behind, general illness and childhood deformities caused by poisoning their land. Let’s just sweep it under the table and move onto the next conflict.

    Are their lives worth less that the ANZAC’s?

    We live through, and are told, so many unconscionable lies by those who will send kids to war, while the politicians and corporates hide behind the barriers of privilege.

    So many questions so little willingness to search out the truth because we may well be thoroughly shamed.

    If only our children knew the truth.

  14. Jexpat

    hemingway13:

    Considering the immense extent to which Lockheed has profited under Obama in comparison to his predecessors, your brother should be thanking his lucky stars.

    But then, right wing ideologues tend not to be rational people in this (or most other) regards.

  15. Phi

    Anzac day now belongs to the political class on which to beat their nationalistic drums. Since it has no resemblance to the core purpose of quiet remembrance of war dead and wounded, and the contemplation of the futility of war, I won’t acknowledge Anzac day. The Australian flag is now so closely aligned with a prevailing narrow minded, bigoted and nationalistic mindset that I find it very difficult to accept the flag as representing the Australia that I live in. Abbott and his toadies has dragged Australia into the gutters.

  16. Kyran

    When McIntyre first made the news, it piqued my interest as I have always felt conflicted on days of remembrance. Like Mr Kelly, upbringing required “remembrance and thoughtful reflection”, but life’s experiences leave me with no respect for any war, with its inherent contempt of life and humanity.
    I looked up the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which occurred on the 6th and 9th August, 1945. Deaths are estimated at 90-166,000 in Hiroshima and 39-80,000 in Nagasaki. Half the deaths occurred on the day of the bombings, with the remainder, by various estimates, occurring over a four month period.
    “During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.”
    That war, having ended on the 15th August, became the prelude to the Korean War in 1950, which begat the Vietnam War. We have had no end of wars since, with the excuse for the wars becoming increasingly petty and/or hysterical. As an aside, whilst I was looking up the Vietnam War, on Wikipedia, a message came up “An automated process has detected links on this page on the local or global blacklist”. It would appear Big Brother wants to alter history as we read it!
    My point, whilst convoluted, is that genuine remembrance of the fallen, military and civilian, is a deterrent to future follies. The celebration or glorification of the folly seems only to encourage further folly. Thank you Mr Kelly. Take care

  17. mars08

    …we are the borg…

    Australia, 2015

  18. Zathras

    I remember a news story several years ago when a WW1 digger passed away and his family went through his belongings. Under his bed they found a wooden box containing the severed head of a Turkish soldier, which was solemnly handed over to the Turkish Ambassador.

    They were truly horrific times and despite all the patriotic hype, there is never any glory in war.

    My parents were WW2 European immigrants who saw atrocities first-hand and can’t believe how much we avoid telling the whole truth in favour of the sanitised version of history.

    As well as a nationalistic tool ANZAC day is also a recruitment vehicle for the next generation to continue feeding the machinery of war.
    I imagine there is a lot of blank space reserved on those war monuments for those yet to follow.

    In the end, here we are a hundred years later and still sending young men to die in other people’s wars in the Middle East.

  19. Stephen

    Least we forget should mean remember those that died and don’t let it happen again.

    Sadly it has become a nationalistic rallying call to pressure others to go and die in war without questioning the cause, Conscription was defeated during WW1 because many saw the futility of it all, now it’s used to pressure public opinion to blindly follow what ever dictate suits the government of the day.

    patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel used to be said, it has now become the first refuge of the hypocrite.

    Least we forget which politicians wanted to cut the service members remuneration, how long was it between that sordid little attempt and one of them getting his picture taken with them for the publicity and Abbot sending more back again.

  20. Jaq

    Thank you Mr Kelly. What I can’t get over here is it seem very few agree with this glorification. McIntyre hit a nerve with the Australia public,who, it seems, are sickened to death of the idea that war is character building, a time in which valour was present for all, the makings of “mateship” a given.The truth is very different.
    Every time, at this time of year comes around, I turn off the tv. Every time I see”Lest We Forget” I think, we have long forgotten.
    War brings misery, instigated by the fat cats smoking their cigars, drinking their whiskies.

  21. Jexpat

    Phi:

    Those are basically my sentiments as well, with the addition that it seems to me pointless to engage people -particularly those nationalistically or nostalgically inclined on the day or immediately prior to it, as tends to engender resistance, even among people who might otherwise, on other occasions, be sympathetic to your position.

    To use a military analogy, to do so not only fighting them on their home ground, but fighting the way your enemy fights best- and against superior numbers, which invites bullying and piling on if you’re at some social gathering or worse- sending it out to the world via social media.

  22. richard grant

    Four months ago i visited Gallipoli and also became very angry. From the geography of the place we did not have a chance. What a waste of lives.

  23. Kaye Lee

    My father served in WWII. He did not like talking about it but, over the years, a few stories came out.

    Dad had bad eyesight and when he volunteered, he was rejected to start with. He went home and learned the eye chart off by heart so he passed the eye test next time. I asked him why he volunteered and he said “we believed that Australia was under imminent threat and that we were fighting for our families.”

    On his last leave before heading OS, he was sitting on his parents’ verandah at Auburn. A troop train pulled up opposite and troops hung out the window yelling abuse at him and waving white feathers. His mother quickly went inside and got his slouch hat, came out and waved it at the train to a chorus of cheers – “see you there mate” etc.

    He told of fighting in New Guinea and how they couldn’t keep prisoners. Someone would take them for a walk, you would hear gunfire, and the diggers would return saying “they tried to escape”. The reality was that they had no facility to keep prisoners when they were fighting.

    He told of surrounding a Jap camp, cutting off their supply. After a protracted siege they stormed the camp. He found a Japanese soldier who had been wounded, now dead, who had been tied down to a table with steaks cut from his bottom.

    He told of going to do a wee one night and returning to find his tent, and all his mates inside, blown up. He then battled with survivor guilt and murderous rage for revenge.

    He was a very smart, compassionate, generous man who survived these horrors better than most but to think anyone can go to war and come back and resume their lives unaffected by what they have witnessed, and what they have been forced to do, is unrealistic.

    On ANZAC day you would definitely find him at the club, drinking and gambling, but to suggest he was a poorly-read bogan would be completely incorrect.

    War is horrific. There are no winners. There are no knights in shining armour, only victims. It debases all who are forced to take part.

  24. donwreford

    The senseless loss of life portrays the insanity of our culture, we say for freedom? what is this justification of those who were sent in front of machine guns? and if the troops did not get off the sea craft many to be shot as they entered the Turkish waters and would be shot by their own kind if they did not face being killed? and this monumental failure in every sense is what Australia, founded its nation hood on? what strange people Australians have become we must resist this propaganda and not be swayed by our popular media indoctrination.

  25. Möbius Ecko

    The Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been misrepresented as ending the war. They didn’t and weren’t a necessary act.

    Yes, they weren’t a necessary act and they had nothing to do with Japan except as the convenient excuse and location to drop the bombs. On the other hand they had everything to do with the Soviet Union.

    It was mass murder.

    Yes it was, especially in light of the fact they were dropped on a lie, just as Iraq was invaded on a lie.

  26. Graham Parton

    A very welcome comment. I heard to today on the Health Report about a study of Vietnam vets that found 5% were killed but 70% of the survivors now have a disability that can be attributed to that war. This seems to be a typical percentage and the cost of wars is borne for decades later. Our as yet unborn children may well be contributing to the costs associated with our current obsession with ISIS when the troops who are there now get older.

  27. stephentardrew

    Mars08 Assimilate.

  28. mars08

    Can we please acknowledge that, unlike the World Wars, the Australian troops serving in combat zones these days are at substantially less risk and live in better conditions than most of the indigenous people.

    All the right wing chest-thumping, and military fellation of diggers selflessly “risking their lives” for our freedom is so much tripe.We have an all-volunteer military which has been engages in conflict for over a decade. Yet people are still enlisting, and there is no vocal group of vets denouncing the war(s). Our ground troops are well fed, well equipped, and well armed. They have total air domination. They have access to state-of-the-art medical help. They have fast transport and good communications. And their actions in the field do not come under media scrutiny.

    As unfashionable as it is to say… to put the efforts current mob into the same risk category as those who served in the world wars… is bordering on the ridiculous.

  29. eli nes

    ww1 killing on a whim with no surrender between cousins and no thought of the fodder. The peace, total racist rejection of an ally, putting the boots into germany and reparation for us(jack lang??) and legal dealing for jews against arabs over land but really over oill??? Such pontification from the poms and the yanks allowed the lies of the right to rise and become truths. we sheep are definitely sheep. I have been arguing nannies all day with friends who think the policy is good but they are putting their positive spin into the policy which is little more than a private access to government money by babysitting agencies.
    ps where is billy? on leave?

  30. Wally

    I grew up in the 1960’s John Kelly and I do not remember “Anzac Day protests were commonplace in the 1960s. University students regularly tried to disrupt marches, calling for an end to the ‘glorification of war’. I do remember in the 1960s and 1970s, anti-Vietnam War protests were common even Labour politician Jim Cairns joined in. I marched in ANZAC parades but l also opposed the Vietnam War.

    Most of the war veterans at my local RSL in Footscray in that era opposed the Vietnam war and the acts of the US soldiers were undeniably horrific. We cannot blame the soldiers for the mistakes of government who started the world wars and ANZAC day is a great reminder of the tragedy of war reminding us that whatever we read that glorifies war or how good glossy prints may look all wars have a huge human cost.

    I do recall at different time people protesting that ANZAC day glorified war but that was late last century but back in the 1960’s and 1970’s the biggest protest movement was to stop conscription. I still recall when Normie Rowe was called up for National Service! it was a national outrage, for his female fans anyhow.

    http://theconversation.com/anzac-day-is-also-about-the-right-to-democratic-dissent-and-those-who-fought-for-it-40565

  31. John Kelly

    Wally, if you google, “Anzac Day protests in the 1960s” you will find plenty of evidence. I realise that much of it had to do with Vietnam and conscription, but the underlying tone was one of protesting the glorification of war. As a conscript soldier at the time I was tuned in to what was happening on Civvie Street. Anzac Day, was fairly low profile, almost apologetic compared with today.

  32. braindrainers

    LEST WE FORGET OUR GLORIOUS LEADERS

    Bang you your drums of war
    you foul drummers
    you pestilence
    you filth
    you rotting flesh
    in the shape
    of the living
    Shout you out
    your songs
    of hate
    you slime
    you craven cowards
    strutting rutting
    sending out
    your young
    to die
    for nothing
    March you then
    to your lowly rhythms
    your clarion caws
    invoking bogus
    patriotism
    your stagnant rhetoric
    debasing defiling
    all on whom
    it falls
    So know this
    your time
    is at an end
    your vainglory
    your avarice
    your oppression
    your cruelty
    will fall
    to ashes
    burnt by
    the flames
    of retribution
    leaving nought
    of you
    but
    rotting
    charred
    fragments
    and odorous
    memories
    of your
    lies.

  33. Jexpat

    Us and them
    And after all we’re only ordinary men.
    Me and you
    God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do.

    ‘Forward’ he cried from the rear
    And the front rank died.
    The general is sat and the lines on the map
    Move from side to side.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3OdanjBYoM&spfreload=10

    Black and blue
    And who knows which is which and who is who.
    Up and down
    And in the end it’s only round and round. And round.

    ‘Haven’t you heard it’s a battle of words’
    The poster bearer cried.
    ‘Listen son’ said the man with the gun,
    ‘There’s room for you inside.’

    “Well I mean, they’re gonna kill ya, so like, if you give ’em a quick sh…short, sharp shock, they don’t do it again. Dig it? I mean he got off light, ’cause I coulda given ‘im a thrashin’ but I only hit him once. It’s only the difference between right and wrong innit? I mean good manners don’t cost nothing do they, eh?”

    Down and out
    It can’t be helped but there’s a lot of it about.
    With, without.
    And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about?

    Out of the way, it’s a busy day
    I’ve got things on my mind.
    For want of the price of tea and a slice
    The old man died.

  34. Jexpat

    Or, for folks who like it a bit less refined- and more to the point:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GRR_n_yQGA&spfreload=10

    Generals gathered in their masses,
    Just like witches at black masses.
    Evil minds that plot destruction,
    Sorcerer of death’s construction.
    In the fields the bodies burning,
    As the war machine keeps turning.
    Death and hatred to mankind,
    Poisoning their brainwashed minds.

    Politicians hide themselves away,
    They only started the war.
    Why should they go out to fight,
    They leave that all to the poor.

    Time will tell them they are Power Blind,
    Making war just for fun.
    Treating people just like pawns in chess,
    Wait till their judgment day comes.

    Now in darkness world stops turning,
    Ashes where the bodies burning.
    No more war pigs have the power,
    Hand of God has struck the hour.
    Day of judgment God is calling,
    On their knees the war pig’s crawling.
    Begging mercies for their sins,
    Satan laughing spreads his wings.

  35. Jexpat

    I gather I’m a bit younger than most posters here, so also on offer is a Gen-X, Gen-Y perspective, which I hope you will find equally moving:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giaZnIr-faM&spfreload=10

    “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums”

    Don’t fret precious I’m here, step away from the window
    Go back to sleep
    Safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils,
    See, they don’t give a f*ck about you, like I do.

    Count the bodies like sheep
    Count the bodies like sheep

    Counting bodies like sheep
    To the rhythm of the war drums

    Count the bodies like sheep

    Go back to sleep
    Go back to sleep

    Counting bodies like sheep
    To the rhythm of the war drums

    *** repeat***

    I’ll be the one to protect you from your enemies and all your demons
    I’ll be the one to protect you from a will to survive and a voice of reason
    I’ll be the one to protect you from your enemies and your choices son
    They’re one in the same, I must isolate you…
    Isolate and save you from yourself …

  36. stephentardrew

    Jexpat:

    I was a hippy and lived on a community in Nimbin. Subsequently I was heavily involved in the antiwar movement, the ecology, alternate lifestyle, save the rain forests and anti-nuclear protests. It was standard fare amongst my peers to discus war and we were heavily anti Vietnam conflict. There were many good people trying to carve out a new future and, if not a little naive, we did have the benefit of exploring a broad range of alternatives. It was a life of discovery learning and strong opinions many of which have now been demonstrated to be prescient of the future.

    I miss much of the dynamism of the movement even though much was lived, by many, in an intoxicated haze. The pre-sixties era was one of brute ignorance and endless conformity. To build your own house and live off the land turned out to be incredibly difficult and many of us returned to the mainstream, not out of want, but necessity.

    The music of the time is reminiscent and fortunately has passed through to the current idiom. However the ball is now in the court of the youth of today who are indicating they do not want conservatism greed and inequality. I hope that, in the not too distant future, the youth will once again rise up and confront the injustice and brute greed of capitalism and endless wars.

    Thanks for the music.

    Sometimes its fun just reminiscing.

  37. olive

    Spot on John ….need to get this out there so that more can read …its scary being a dissident voice in the jingoistic patriotic hype of today.

  38. Denis Bright

    Anzac Day has become a day for the rewriting of Australian history. Thanks for reminding us, John Kelly. Ironically, the militaristic rewriting of history by John Howard, Tony Abbott and their advisers comes from Australians who have had no hands-on involvement with the Australian military forces.

  39. helvityni

    I’m already not pleased with our ABC, now my relationship with SBS has been soured… What’s the girl to do, as I have already rejected all Commercial stations..

    I’m still going watch the excellent Danish series, Legacy. Lost interest in Fortitude; too bloody and too sensational.

  40. Wally

    John I did a Google search “Anzac Day protests in the 1960s” before making my previous comment and the top 10 search results excluding the link to this article predominantly refer to Anti Vietnam protests but there may well have been an underlying tone was one of protesting the glorification of war but I believe this undertone was pushed more by the female protesters of the 1980’s.

    As for ANZAC day being lower profile back then I think this depends on the perspective you are looking at, ANZAC day is certainly more commercialised by the media nowadays but in the 1960’s and 1970’s the ANZAC parade was televised live by every television station. Hotels were closed until noon and shops were closed for the entire day. There were thousands more returned service people marching, (their decline is a natural thing), Every suburban RSL had there own march at a time that did not conflict with the main parade and hundreds of people attended. Every brass, concert and piped band in Melbourne marched in the ANZAC parade to the shrine and the crowd stretched from Latrobe Street to the shrine.

    I don’t think your original statement “The marches themselves were poorly attended by an apathetic public” is correct but from a commercial aspect it was a much lower profile. I do expect and also hope that now the centenary has past a lot of the commercialism will disappear but also hope that the ANZAC tradition lives on forever, not to glorify war but to show respect to those who made the sacrifice to go to war.

  41. stephentardrew

    Wally:

    Many years go when I was young (somewhere over the horizon) ANZAC Day was one day of the year people could express their attitude to war regardless of their opinions. ABC televised the march and there were a few relevant movies on TV and that was it. Though a staunch anti-war advocate I used to watch the march out of respect for those fallen soldiers left behind.

    Now days it is weeks of endless indoctrination, marketing and flag waving with little critical analysis and large doses of US Patriotism (for what destroying lives) and for Team Australia neo-con media control having lost the dignity and restraint of the origins of ANZAC Day.

    As today kids join up in naive expectation of glory when the whole military industrial complex has long gone past its glory days if there ever were any.

    We should grieve our losses and resolve to end war. ANZAC day in part still does the first yet fails miserably at the latter. Market forces once again take control of misery and politicians ride roughshod on the back of their abhorrent blunders and failures cynically selling their wares as masters of justice.

    what a travesty it has turned into.

  42. Dimmy

    I am a Vietnam Veteran and as such am against war.
    However my ANZAC Day was spent with fellow Veterans from my Unit. We have moved on , but there is an undefinable link between us that does not exist amongst many groups of people. Luckily we were not exposed to politicians who have hijacked ANZAC day and taken it away from a day of remembrance to a day of jingoism.
    It is the day we remember those that are not with us, not only from the Battles we had ,but from the aftereffects attributable to our service. Many of us were not volunteers and did not have the “army” slant on life.

  43. Wally

    @Dimmy well written I don’t think people who are anti ANZAC day give any consideration to what it means for people who have performed military service for their country and personally I find the anti ANZAC movement to be a very greedy overly loud minority.

    @stephentardrew like you I was an anti war advocate, lets face it if you listened to music of the day it was drummed into you, it would be quicker to list the musicians who didn’t oppose war than those who did, I doubt there was anyone at Woodstock who agreed with war. In my case I question if I was more concerned about the Vietnam war itself or being conscripted to fight in a war I didn’t understand or believe was mine to fight.

    I think we are unanimous in wanting politicians to keep their noses, media machines, propaganda and politics out of ANZAC day and the media need to stop trying to commercialise it.

  44. eli nes

    hear hear stephentardrew, I was a claytons’ hippie, 2000 miles from the action, with the weekend sarongs, antiwar, pro-Ho, anti yanks, anti french anti pommes,(never stood for the queen or bowed for god) anti suharto, anti marcos. Were we pro anything??? ‘Gurindji?Charlie Perkins/Aust civil rights??? Mao and chou?

  45. Kerri

    Incidentally for anyone posting here may I recommend “Anzac’s Long Shadow” by James Brown.
    Ex military he writes of the Anzac myth and the ridiculous notion that Australia breeds tough successful soldiers.

  46. Black Rhino

    ANZAC day has been prostituted…. more like BrandZac day now. As for the media lead up it was vulgar and self fulfilling. Australia Quo Vadis! Honour those who died, yes, in quiet contemplation. Commercialism and profiteering, no.

  47. mars08

    Wally:

    … I don’t think people who are anti ANZAC day give any consideration to what it means for people who have performed military service for their country

    Oh dear. You really aren’t paying attention, are you Wally? The people you so disingenuously tag as being “anti ANZAC day” are mostly very focused on the people who served. That’s why they take issue with what it has mutated into in recent decades. They would rather that the politicians didn’t use it to promote other pointless, needless wars.

    Do try to keep up sweety…

  48. Wally

    @mars08 I think you need to stop mixing up your meds and get back down to earth. Talk about taking a comment out of perspective???

    “I think we are unanimous in wanting politicians to keep their noses, media machines, propaganda and politics out of ANZAC day and the media need to stop trying to commercialise it.”

    Read the whole comment sweety or you make yourself look STUPID!

  49. mars08

    You purposely dumped on the motives of those who object to what ANZAC Day has become. You accused them of not caring about the people who served their country. It’s right there in black and white…. no amount of twisting or disingenuous retelling can change that.

    You need to get back under your rock.

  50. Wally

    @mars08 my comment states “people who are anti ANZAC day” no mention of “what it has become”, go and smoke a few more cones or pop a few pills. When are you going to Mars? Don’t rush back hey!

    Your comment “unlike the World Wars, the Australian troops serving in combat zones these days are at substantially less risk” reads like a bloody fairy tale. When you are at war you are at risk and enemies can destroy a target with more accuracy than they could in the world wars. Weapons are much more effective at killing and maiming than they ever were.

    Would love to see the response if you made your comment to soldiers who have served in Afghanistan, especially those who have lost limbs due to road side bombers or suicide bombers. As for living conditions even living in our suburbs is much better and cleaner than it was 60 years ago so why would you expect that the conditions armed forced live in during conflicts would not have improved?

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