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There are a few dates in the calendar that I admittedly dread

By Cally Jetta

There are a few dates in the calendar that I admittedly dread. Invasion Day is number one. ANZAC and Remembrance Days also. Don’t get me wrong – I honour the fallen and pay my respects and in no way are my aversions about them. It’s more the fact that I really feel the division between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. They are strong reminders of the ongoing exclusion and injustice experienced by our people and they produce angry and aggressive comments often thinly veiled as patriotism.

My grandfather was born in Poland and in 1939 at 13 years old was deported by cattle truck at 1am by Soviet forces. His father, a policeman, had already been executed by Nazi forces. As soon as he was of age he joined the Army cadets and eventually became a pilot sergeant. He lived so long at war that he became fluent in several languages and travelled the world. Soviet occupation of Poland meant that citizens such as my Pop who had fought in opposing forces were labelled traitors and faced death or jail if they returned home. The kindness of a few Australian troops in the Middle East was what made by Pop choose Australia above the UK and US. He arrived in Fremantle by ex-troop ship Austurius before working his way round to NSW and eventually Nungar country in SA.

He was proud to become an Australian citizen despite being called a wog among other things and like the FNP and other ‘ethnic looking and sounding’ migrants in the town – he was treated with contempt and disdain. He worked hard to set up an RSL for migrant servicemen as they had not been welcomed into the mainstream one.

Despite all this, he still could see and acknowledge that he was not treated as poorly as the Aboriginal people and servicemen and women around him. He had received medals and he marched in the ANZAC parade each year. Something the other side of my family was not able to do.

If there was one thing he made sure I knew, it was that there is no glory in war. He was aware of the propaganda and rich, powerful men behind the scenes. He had lived the desperation, hate, cruelty and grief. For him it was not a matter of choice, he could join the war effort or remain slowly starving and freezing to death in the concentration camp in Syberia. It was about survival. He never was able to return to his birth place and see his mother again. Yet he harboured no hate or intolerance.

When Australians insist that their countrymen sacrificed everything for glory or for their loyalty to a flag and distant monarchy I feel that a sense of romanticism is clouding their judgement. They fail to acknowledge that from another perspective … certain acts were not deemed as heroic but as invasion.

Egotistical fools sending countless fathers and sons to their death out of arrogance and public perception is not glorious. And the vast majority of Australian soldier anecdotes point to the reasons of adventure, income, friends, expectations and travel for enlisting rather than the flag or the Queen.

From my perspective, the Aboriginal frontier wars are the most honourable conflict in Australian history. It wasn’t about power and greed, imperialism or fascism. It wasn’t about allies and enemies and political strategising. Our fierce leaders and soldiers did not recklessly sacrifice countless men as they watched on from a safe distance. They fought for their land, their freedoms and their precious earth mother.

Yet because they wore no uniform nor enlisted formally, no proper recognition is given.

Sometimes people get so angry and aggressive when Aboriginal people bring such matters up on ANZAC or Remembrance Day. ‘How disrespectful! This is not the day to bring this up’ they blast. They give the impression that they’re seriously open to discussing it the other 363 days a year- yeah right!

It makes sense to raise the topics then. It’s in people’s thoughts and our people are reminded of the injustices and lack of recognition again. I guess we feel that people so outwardly proud of their war heritage would have respect for another group of people’s feelings about their own soldiers and sacrifices also. Apparently not for some.

Wanting recognition of our Frontier resistance fighters and human sacrifices does not detract from any other Australian’s history or recognition – it completes it. I am not being disrespectful of your history, ancestors or soldiers by asking you to acknowledge and respect ours.

Now to prepare myself for Invasion Day.

34 comments

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  1. Patrice

    Thank you for this thoughtful article.

  2. Andrew Smith

    Good article, since Howard and his backers let the genie out of the bottle (neo white Oz policy based on eugenics), adopted from, or coopted by, corporate backed nativist influences from the US which weaponised Australian icons, history and events for nativist sentiments, one has been challenged by the general lack of ethics. For example, had my face rubbed in ‘Gallipoli’ and African gangs beating up Ozzie’s in Melbourne by a member of the younger generation ten years ago in Europe; exasperating dealing with the ignorance of young and old, while politicians and media pretend they are not responsible.

    NB I too have several family experiences and mixed heritage that don’t fit the narrative; once wrote a letter to Tim Fischer about LNP neo nativism, he knew my father via CP branch, and got a wishy washy response.

  3. Robbie

    Cally, great – wearing them down with insights one article at a time.
    Tomorrow is Australia Invasion Day.
    How many times will MSM mention Treaty?
    A few times? I’d be surprised if even once.
    Australia is the only Commonwealth nation without a treaty.
    Without a treaty, Australia Day will always be Invasion Day by another name.

  4. james mason

    Patriotism is the evil tool that fascist imperialist/capitalists use to selfishly dignify their greed and power lusts .. it will die, my only hope is that it will happen soon .. consciousness raising is sometimes a slow process.
    Cally, your writings are a consciousness raising read every time I have read them .. please keep writing.
    I have never noticed hatred, anger or whinging in your missives, but truth, hope and understanding are always there .. thanks heaps ..

  5. Zathras

    Cally,

    I’m the descendant of European “immigrant wogs” who saw most of the war out as prisoners in a labour camp in Munich and my father in particular had very strong views about the glorification of war. He believed it to be the worst possible thing that people can do to each other.

    Those who get their sanitised history from Hollywood or watch safely from a distance can’t appreciate the personal suffering behind it.

    As a result and from the stories he told me, behind the sad remembrance of those needlessly sacrificed for political and economic reasons, I see ANZAC day as a soft recruitment tool to perpetuate the myth that there is something noble and glorious about war while deliberately ignoring or recognising the cultural destruction and dispossession it creates.

    I can understand the sense of dispossession and loss felt by native Australians and also stand with them.
    I has to be “all or nothing” for a national day have any meaning.

  6. Spactakells

    Listening to ABC Melbourne radio 774 talkback….
    So much dissention….
    My call? Couldn’t Australia Day take the place of Queens Birthday…which of course is not on the Queen’s Birthday

  7. A.W.L.

    “Yet he harboured no hate or intolerance.”

    Your pop clearly was a bigger man than me. I harbour a positively gut-wrenching hatred for cynical manipulators in senior positions, foremost amongst them The Thin Controller With Character Issues, Peter Dutton.

    And I do find it increasingly difficult to muster even only a pretence of tolerance towards drunk lager louts wrapped in Australian flags.

  8. cjward2017

    OK, so you think it’s Invasion Day rather than Australia Day. I’m a migrant who voted for aboririginal rights in 1967 and what has happened to the spending: where are the audits? Both major parties are to blame and snivelling by the left is only making a bad problem worse. January 26 should be NSW Day and the can either take the holiday or not, leaving the day to aborigines, nationwide. Let us see this Day removed from the white community with one of 2 options. The first is total abolition for the majority and it becomes just another work day. I would prefer Foundation Day on January 1. As most people take leave on that day, it is entirely appropriate. Then the mob can howl about losing a public holiday and should satisfy the majority.

  9. Cassandra

    This article, I hope, will reach those who have convinced themselves that they are not racist and enduringly hurtful to defend the 26th of January, as “Australia Day”. Thank You for your articulate insight. I stopped recognising 26th Jan. as anything other than “Invasion Day” years ago. I am sorry that the First Australians have to endure this indignity.

  10. Kronomex

    “Australia Day” became just another day off after the right wing nutters, rabid nationalists, just plain neo-nazis, etc, took it and made it into a very unpleasant and downright hate fest against anyone isn’t white, and therefore can’t be considered ‘strayan. Scrap it and come up with something better.

  11. king1394

    There are other dates more appropriate for Australia Day (if we even need such a day). In my opinion, the most reasonable is 3rd March, to commemorate the passing of the Australia Act in 1986, which finally established Australia’s full independence from Britain in 1986

  12. jimhaz

    The left is as bad as the right. This change the data business is pointless polarisation.

  13. Roswell

    Thank you for this article, Cally. I reckon it must have taken a lot of courage to write it. Well, not so much to write it, but to publish it.

    I have seen so much racist bullshit the last week or so. Every time a First Nation’s person speaks up about what is important to them they get howled down by racist arseholes and told to stop complaining.

    Keep speaking up, Cally. I’m listening.

  14. Jack Russell

    Whether you have a little more to say, or a lot, please say it all Cally. We’re here, reading and thinking, and talking to others. You are making a difference.

  15. johno

    Thanks Cally, totally agree with you. The aboriginal people fought for every inch of this country, they are heroes.

  16. Kronomex

    And now the latest rabid nationalist LNP cretin and budding fascist, Matthew Guy, has to stick his nasty grubby oar into the water –

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/25/victorian-opposition-leader-tells-councils-to-celebrate-australia-day-or-face-the-sack

    Guy has the perfect credentials to be a LNP politician and I can also see him jumping into a federal seat in the future –

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Guy

    The LNP never fails to make me feel sick. Roll on election.

  17. Kyran

    So well said, Ms Jetta. That these days are represented as inclusive, uniting, commemorative (as opposed to celebratory), etcetera is absolutely galling.
    Somehow we are meant to believe that any dissent from the narrative of these sanctified days as published by sanctimonious gits is not just disrespectful, but positively heretical. These days seem to have more of a religious fervor, or favour, than Christmas Day and Good Friday combined.
    May your god forgive you if you express a view outside the sanctified pre-prepared spiel.

    “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)”. Yassmin Abdel-Magied

    And we all know how that went down.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-11/yassmin-abdel-magied-says-she-feels-betrayed-by-australia/8699138

    The irony that so many representatives from various ‘Australia Day Councils’ are being trouped out at the moment to state categorically that NO ONE has ever mentioned to them the day is offensive to others is staggering. As for the protests today, the Guardian posted details of most rallies yesterday.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/25/invasion-day-rally-where-protests-will-be-held-across-australia

    It probably runs counter to the narrative that this is a uniting celebration when police have to be deployed to make sure the crowds behave. It is absolutely devastating to the narrative when Human Rights Observers see fit to monitor the behaviour.

    “Human rights observers are to attend the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne on Friday to monitor the way police respond to the protesters, Amnesty International has said.
    The Melbourne rally is the largest of those held around the country on 26 January and is expected to attract more than 30,000 people.
    Interaction between police and protesters in previous years has been confined to holding the rally back from interrupting the official City of Melbourne Australia Day parade, which begins at 11am on Swanston Street.
    The Invasion Day march meets at the same time at the steps of Parliament House, three blocks from Swanston Street.”
    “2018 marks 230 years of Indigenous resistance against colonisation,” organisers Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance said. “It marks 80 years of protest against the celebration of genocide by the rest of this country. We march to recognise the ongoing struggle of our people and call on this country to rectify the wrongs, teach the truths and finally make amends.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/26/invasion-day-protests-human-rights-observers-to-monitor-melbourne-rally

    Mandela and Tutu were the perfect people to organize a ‘truth and reconciliation’ process in the 90’s. It wasn’t designed as a retributive process, but a frank assessment of the truth, which is always required before any genuine reconciliation can take place. This should not be confused with living in the past. It is only after a process of recognizing where you have been that you can fully appreciate where you are going.
    Drawing those three days as similar is incredibly apt, as they are all shrouded in an almost religious zeal against detractors whilst the observers, often cloaked in flags and partaking to excess, are celebrated.
    Thank you Ms Jetta and commenters. Take care

  18. helvityni

    Where is Yassmin Abdel-Magied? I miss her bright presence on our rather Anglo- heavy ABC.

    I believe she was born in Oz,( in Brisbane ?) so sending her back where she came from would not have worked for them…

  19. Meg

    I agree – Yassmin does upset those racists so. Their necks are too red from too much working in the sun.

  20. diannaart

    Cally

    As others have expressed before me on this article, thanks and and keep ’em coming.

    I remember, in my early childhood being taught something along the lines of Aboriginal people did not fight back the way Maori people did and, therefore, are to blame for losing their land. Sounds even too silly to write today, Invasion Day. Have been on a learning curve for so long now – since being taught about the “passivity” of First Nation people I have learned so much more, the massacres, later the proud service in the wars of the 20th century by Aboriginal people (to zero acknowledgement). I also learned that First Nation people were not even acknowledged as people until 1967, even though the right to vote was granted in 1850’s (for men) and details not exactly provided about how to vote, First Nation people weren’t permitted (or encouraged) to vote until 1962!

    Skipping a few decades, to another significant point in my own consciousness raising; the Tall Ships (rah-rah) – heralded by no less than Bob Hawke in the 1980’s… skipping to 1994 – Australia Day was determined as being the same day British Imperialists sailed into Botany Cove – Australia was not even a name it was the convenient lie of “terra nullius” – WTF?

    Nothing has improved, the carefully discussed and prepared Uluru Statement – just tossed aside, I know I needed no convincing that Turnbull is turd from the sewer of the LNP, but really?

    Words are failing and must take a break.

  21. Roswell

    Dianna, I’m not an expert on Aboriginal Australia though I do like to read stuff.

    I once read that the reason the Aboriginal people didn’t violently oppose the first batch of British settlers was because they never guessed that they’d be here permanently. They wrongfully assumed the British would be leaving any time soon.

    It was just one historian’s opinion, so don’t quote me in it.

  22. Terry2

    After discussing this issue with a visitor to this country , he summed it up as follows :

    So, you still want a long weekend in January and you still want to call it Australia day but you want to move it from the 26 th because of connotations associated with that date.

    OK, have Australia Day on the last Monday in January each year.

    Problem solved ?

  23. Kyran

    I’m not sure if this makes the day any more bearable.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-26/invasion-day-protests-in-melbourne-and-sydney/9364940

    There are a few people who do understand the importance, the significance, of moving forward, with due regard for the wrongs, and respect for the survivors. The Guardian is running similar copy.
    Is there enough prima facie evidence for a ‘you beaut’, ‘dinky di’, ‘true blue’, postal survey yet? Apparently our politicians need surveys to tell them what to do. Regrettably, Malcolm is probably recovering from handing out awards for mostly newly arrived Australians. He gets a survey reality check at #30, doesn’t he?

    As for Ms Abdel-Magied, I’m not sure where she is.

    https://twitter.com/yassmin_a

    Thanks again. Take care

  24. diannaart

    Roswell

    Yeah, I’ve heard that one before, do you think the locals may have wised up when the Brits started building permanent structures in Sydney Cove?

    My POV, for what it’s worth; don’t underestimate the ability of people of whom you have zero understanding.

    I mean these are the claims from the people who (directly or indirectly) supported the idea of terra nullius.

  25. Kaye Lee

    Another aspect about Australia Day….

    Five of my direct ancestors were shipped here as convicts. It was not a joyous day for them either when Britain decided to send people to be incarcerated half way around the earth, if they survived the trip that is. Changing the date would be a good move for all of us.

    As for ANZAC Day

    My father fought in WWII

    He never marched and it took many years to slowly collect some stories of the horrors he endured. He didn’t go for glory – he went because he truly felt he needed to do his bit to protect his family. The guilt thrust upon those who didn’t go was dreadful. They would wave white feathers at them implying they were cowards. All wars are dreadful. We should remember that as we turn away or incarcerate those who fled wars we continue to wage.

  26. Roswell

    Dianna, just an uneducated guess, but I’d say they wised-up as soon as they were booted off their traditional lands.

    There’s a certain amount of permanency in dispossession.

  27. johno

    @ Helyvityni, so agree with you about Yassmin. Sick behaviour from anglos to demonise her re her anzac comments.
    @Kaye, yes war is so brutal. To not be labelled a coward kept american civil war soldiers walking into a hail of musket balls. A common theme through all wars probably. Men need to say no and stand down, lay down the weapons.

  28. diannaart

    Roswell

    No disagreement from me. Many lies of convenience continue regarding the original inhabitants.

    Kaye Lee

    Damn straight. Although my ancestors were, um, from settlers in both S.A. and Victoria – I do not know how they treated the locals, suffice to say, my family no longer own any of the properties but neither do the original people….

    ANZAC Day, you will recall some similarities when we discussed the effects WW2 had on our fathers, for those who are unaware, my father also refused to march for the same reasons. I am sure many men felt the same, even some who, perhaps, did march in ANZAC parade, simply because that was thing to do. I understand why military nurses would march – women’s brave contributions tend to get overlooked… but that’s another story.

    Put simply, days that celebrate triumphalism do cause great sorrow among many people. It’s time we really took a good hard look at ourselves and what are termed “values”.

  29. diannaart

    helvityni January 26, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Where is Yassmin Abdel-Magied? I miss her bright presence on our rather Anglo- heavy ABC.

    I believe she was born in Oz,( in Brisbane ?) so sending her back where she came from would not have worked for them…

    @helvityni

    Yassmin was not born in Brisbane
    You can find out more, if you wish, on Yassmin’s twitter feed, where she is very active.

    https://twitter.com/yassmin_a/status/956681358612619264

  30. Andrew Smith

    I agree, what was quiet commemoration of fallen comrades etc. has become an almost hysterical celebration of old Australia to co-opt youngsters to the WASP nativist cause, thanks to John Howard. It’s not just in Oz, locals in Canakkale/Gallipoli have been quite perturbed by not just the obsession of Australians but the behaviour of backpackers etc. needing an ‘event’.

    Collective narcissism is joined at the hip with xenophobic nationalism and/or nativism versus positive patriotism, aka Brexit and Trump.

    I found it impossible to have a normal conversation with many British, especially English, friends who supported ‘remain’ (precluded from voting) yet their own nationalism made them paranoid and shouty…..

    Research was conducted by Goldsmith’s London:

    ‘Scientists from the UK, Poland and Portugal measured the effect of xenophobia on voting behaviour, and found that it was strongly related to voting in favour of Brexit.

    Led by Dr Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, from Goldsmiths, University of London, the researchers then tried to establish what kind of people believe that immigrants threaten the UK.

    They found three distinct groups: authoritarians, who fear other groups will threaten the status quo; people who compete for their group’s dominance over immigrants; and collective narcissists, who believe the UK is entitled to privileged treatment but complain this ‘true importance and value’ is not recognised by other countries.

    Importantly, the research also found that people who just valued their British identity were not more likely to reject immigrants or vote for Brexit.’

    https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/research-links-brexit-vote-xenophobia-narcissism/27/11/

  31. diannaart

    Andrew

    We are witnessing the success, worldwide, of a perverted, exploitative and unjust version of capitalism. Trump being the most glaringly obvious example with his drive to “put America first” – by which he means the USA, of course, not ALL of America… however I digress.

    I am sure we all value our sense of identity with our home country, but that does not have to be at the expense of every other nation, or within our own nation, at the expense of the most vulnerable and marginalised. There IS room for all, just not room for greed.

    We thought we left feudalism behind, not so, it has (to use a populist phrase) rebranded itself and the self-entitlement of the ridiculously privileged continues, with ideas of egalitarianism firmly trodden down as a form of communism.

  32. Andrew Smith

    And it’s manifested in many and various ways, especially Anglo world, not limited to visible or audible nativism of extremists, or even the likes of Trump and Bannon. Have been living elsewhere for decades, including a study sabbatical, and shocked to see related ideas presented as academic ‘liberal and environmental’ presented in social science academia and curricula (aka the Koch’s preferred method).

    To understand the manifestations one has to go back to Malthus, Ricardo et al the old preachers with their economic principles; and Darwin’s cousin Galton, the founder of ‘The Science of Eugenics & Racial Hygiene.

    The old ‘oilgarchs’ et al. learnt, especially after the Nazis’ overt research and active eugenics, to fly under the radar; but there are simple ways to spot their influence, which JD Rockefeller would not have been happy about 🙂 Discourse analysis.

  33. diannaart

    Extensive travel away from the familiar often results in veils falling from eyes and an observant form of politicisation – this is perceived as subservient and dangerous by the likes of the authoritarians.

    I imagine, keeping the masses from mixing in foreign cultures or at least confining them to managed tours or cruise ships is the preference of our uber-lords.

    Doesn’t even have to be a culture of extreme differences, I lived in Arizona for over 12 months, did a bit of spot travel to Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco. After 6 months I realised the distinct and troubling difference between Australia and the US, back then in the 80’s. Returned home with the desperate hope Australia would not fall to the American mantra of individualism to the point of narcissism.

    Well, look at us now…

  34. Matters Not

    We now have The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation chaired by the Rodent himself. Rebecca Wesser is one of the first paid employees and is the media contact. It has plenty of funds ($3 billion) and might be coming to a University near you in the coming months.

    http://www.ramsaycentre.org/

    Unfortunately it has some Labor luminaries on the Board as well which would cause Ramsay to roll in his grave, given he never donated to Labor over the years – confining his generous donations to the Liberals.

    http://www.afr.com/news/politics/national/paul-ramsay-donation-paves-way-for-new-centre-to-study-western-civilisation-20171117-gznuba

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