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Globalising the Christchurch Shootings: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Gallipoli and Invasion

Never let a bloody and opportune crisis pass. In New Zealand, there is talk about gun reform after attacks on two Christchurch mosques left fifty dead. There have been remarks made in parliament about unchecked white supremacy growing with enthusiastic violent urge in Australasia. In Turkey, the approach has shifted into another gear: the canny, even menacing exploitation by Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The election campaign is in full swing.

Spending his time, as he often does, whipping up audiences at rallies into feverish states, the sometimes-shrill leader hits form when he dons the gear of the fully fledged demagogue. With the massacre still fresh, and the unavoidable insinuations from the Christchurch shooter about the mortal dangers posed by Islam, both current and historical, the platform was set.

Using footage from the Christchurch attack as part of his campaign show, Erdoğan promised that he was on guard against anti-Islamic forces and keen to hold the shooter to account. He also found reference to Gallipoli – site of much slaughter between the Australian New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and Turkish forces in 1915 – irresistible. “What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way here?” He already had the reason: “we’re Muslim and they’re Christian.” As for those who came to Turkey with anti-Islamic sentiments, the promise was stern: they would be sent back in coffins “like their grandfathers were” during the Gallipoli campaign.

Senior aide Fahrettin Altun was left with the task of adding ill-concealing camouflage: the President’s “words were unfortunately taken out of context”, reassuring those coming to ancient Anatolia that “Turks have always been the most welcoming & gracious hosts to their #Anzac visitors.” A translation of what Erdoğan is meant to have said was quickly issued, though the thrust was similar. The difference here was the speech’s stress against the shooter and those of his ilk, with an unmistakable promise for retribution against any malcontents. “Your ancestors came and saw us here. Then some left on their feet, some in coffins. If you come here with the same intentions (to invade our land) we will be waiting and have no doubt we will see you off like your ancestors.” Softening the waspish blow slightly, Erdoğan also spoke of Gallipoli (Çanakkale) as both “the symbol of the dream of peace we all share, and the brotherhood that grows from common sorrows.”

As a gathering of the press on March 20, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison considered the remarks by Erdoğan to be “highly offensive to Australians, and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment.” The reason was rather elementary for the prime minister: the Turkish leader had attacked the sacred nature of the ANZAC tradition, insulting their “memory” and violating “the pledge that is etched in the stone at Gallipoli, of the promise of Ataturk to the mothers of our ANZACs.” Travel advisories to Turkey might have to be updated; the Turkish ambassador would be rebuked.

Morrison’s understanding, and, for that matter, that of many Australians, shows the latent contradiction inherent in the ANZAC tradition. Having invaded the Ottoman Empire in a daring, foolish and ultimately catastrophic enterprise in 1915, the Allied forces of the First World War, which did have a significant contingent of fresh faced Australian and New Zealand soldiers, were treated in death far better than most.

The slain ANZACs, in particular, were given soothing balm and reassurances by the victorious Turks. In 1934, a tribute was made by Atatürk, one that inscribes the Kemal Atatürk Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra: “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.”

Having removed the boundaries of difference between the men, the Turkish statesman posits a maternal image, one intended to reassure mothers that their lost sons had become the offspring of another land, to be cherished and remembered in their death. Images of soil and earth abound. “You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

These sons had a mission; they had attacked a sovereign entity as part of a great power play. Winston Churchill, then Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty, felt that knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the First World War was just the ticket to break the murderous stalemate on the Western front. To that end, the ANZACs had merely been another set of invaders in the service of empire. Instead of gloating, Atatürk showed a measure of modesty and humility.

Erdoğan should never be accused of such restraint and composure, just as the cult of ANZAC cannot be accused of being wholeheartedly receptive to the Turkish perspective of the Gallipoli campaign. For the Australian and New Zealand dead, their sacrifice is given the ghastly cellophane of freedom; they did so to protect liberties held sacred. It would be far more appropriate to see the Turkish effort as one for freedom. As Erdem Koç ruefully penned in 2015, “Had the hundreds of thousands of young men not joined the army and headed to Gallipoli, and the bravery displayed on the frontlines not happened, it’s without doubt modern Turkey would not have been formed.”

Did the Turkish leader have a point on Australian laxity in dealing with the shooting? For Morrison, misrepresentations had been taking place on “the very strong position taken by the Australian and New Zealand Governments in our response to the extremist attack in New Zealand that was committed by an Australian, but in no way, shape or form, could possibly be taken to represent the actions, or any policy or view of the Australian people.”

Morrison fumed that his response had been appropriate and swift, those of an “open, tolerant society, accepting all faiths and peoples”, embracing “our Muslim brothers and sisters in New Zealand and in Australia, quite to the contrary of the vile assertion that has been made about our response.”

Morrison’s programmed retort – Australia as tolerant, open, embracing – jars with the reaction within Australia in various, irritable circles. Waleed Aly, who wears academic, journalistic and broadcasting hats depending on the occasion, explained with regret on his program, The Project, that there was “nothing about Christchurch that shocks me.” Its ordinariness proved the most threatening of all.

Remarks from the tetchy, reactionary Senator Fraser Anning were then cited, ones insisting that the Christchurch killings were a product, not of white nationalist mania but permissiveness towards Islamic fascism and the tendencies of those who follow Allah. The comments were not part of the shooter’s manifesto, Aly noted, but placed upon “an Australian parliament letterhead”. As he continued to urge: “Don’t change our tune now because the terrorism seems to be coming from a white supremacist. If you’ve been talking about being tough on terrorism for years, and (on) the communities who allegedly support it, show us how tough you are now.”

Polemical and polarising comments will continue; there may even be retaliatory attacks to add to the bloodletting. It is not just jealousy that doth mock the meat it feeds on; hatreds will do just as nicely, ensuring that the Johnnies and the Mehmets shall part ways, man barricades and fill the coffins.

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  1. Alcibiades

    It is not just jealousy that doth mock the meat it feeds on; hatreds will do just as nicely, ensuring that the Johnnies and the Mehmets shall part ways, man barricades and fill the coffins.

    This is disappointingly casually inflammatory. IMHO.

    Perhaps more should have been said in regards to the ever increasing partisan political & commercial hijack by the coalition of ANZAC ceremonies, for decades.

    NOT in solemn remembrance of the fallen, but in rabid politically motivated jingoistic nationalism & commercialisation for profit..

    None of the events since 2001, including the ‘War on Terra’, were isolated events, which:

    Destroyed Afghanistan, the 20 year war continues.

    Destroyed Iraq, the 16 year war & occupation continues.

    Destroyed Libya, now yet another failed State, and continues to be so.

    Destroyed Syria, and the partial occupation continues.

    One could go on, but there is a common obvious thread … they were all muslim nations, at the mercy of the freedom & Democracy loving West.

    Just as our Australian home grown terrorist was formed in our nationalistic islamaphobic permissive society since 2001, so has the views of the wests victims. We should be trying to look through the eyes of those in Turkey & other islamic nations, and try to see what they have seen, again & again for the last two decades.

    Even back to post WWI when the UK & France literally arbitrarily drew lines on a map to carve up and out new nations in the middle east and created or installed new ‘Rulers’, ‘Kings’ & ‘Dictactors, all suborned, imposed by rightof might of arms, so 44 gallon drums of oil could be exported for a penny a barrel.

    There has been much to be aggrieved about by the suppressed & exploited for 100 years now in the Middle East, by their imposed ruling elites, for the commercial and geo-strategic benefit of the West.

    A mild, in context, reaction to yet another massacre of defenceless innocent muslims, on top of all the above should be understandable.

    Indonesia called in the Australian Ambassador for a rebuke, how was that missed.

    Murdochs Limited News, Sky News & & our Coporate MSM (except the ABC) deliberately ran footage of the livestream massacre, despite appeals from Sky NZ, even the NZ police.

    Demagogues ? Perhaps we should look to our own sins, the wooden beam in our eye, before pointing out the splinter in the eye & hurling rather large bolders at others ?

  2. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. the ANZACS withdrew form Gallipoli without loss for diverse reasons including orders from the Turkish High Command to let them depart peacefully. The ANZAC tradition has many other reasons.

    Ataturk pushed the ANZACS down from Lone Pine with his first attack in 1915 because the British High Command were “taking tea” on the beachhead, with troops lined up in inspection order, being picked off by Turkish snipers. No British re-inforcements meant that the freshly imported Turkish troops, having superior numbers took out the position that dominated ANZAC Cove and the Turks made effective military use of that position, at great mortal cost the ANZACS.

    When an objective history or biography of Winston Churchill (WC) is published in the future, doubtless the failure of his unthinking military strategies will be evident for all to see. Yes, WC inspired Britain in 1939-40 to resist the German Nazi war machine, Yes, WC was among the first upper class (Parliamentary) British opponents against Nazi imperialism. Yes, this “soft underbelly” strategy was a failure in both World Wars, in Gallipoli, and later in WWII in Italy where it actually extended German Nazi resistance by 9-12 months.

    I commend the Waleed Aly article to you all. It is very sensitive broadcasting from a thinking Australian.

  3. Alcibiades

    @New England Cocky,

    And dear old Winston Churchill planned and executed sustained chemical attacks by air & artillery on northern Russia in 1919 against those Russian Bolsheviks, Post WWI.

    Ordered the indiscriminate RAF strafing & bombing of essentially defenceless civilians in Iraq (British mandate) & Afghanistan tribal regions, as well as the egregious deployment (disputed) of chemical weapons, post WWI … to create object lessons … all in service of ‘Civilisation’ & Empire.

    An active champion & advocate for the use of chemical weapons, of which the Brits were & still are experts, all his life.

  4. Stephengb

    Just look up

    Myths of Golipili

    It is interesting reading. And what it says used to be in 1980 what was actually written at the Canberra War Memorial, but those words now reflect the current mythology.

    S G B

  5. Alcibiades

    Good point.

    When Abbott came to power Brendon Nelson, former deposed Lib opposition leader, was appointed director of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in late December 2012. At the expense and insistence of Abbots incoming government, the appointment of a former journalist by the outgoing government was withdrawn.

    He has, IMHO, presided over the promotion of said myths, the diminishment of factual historical record and context (former AWM researchers concur) in pursuit of ‘glitsy’ displays of superficial jingoistic nationalism. Not solemn remembrance. Not an anti-war message. The exact opposite.

    Since December 2016, the ­Inspector-General of Defence has been conducting an in depth & wide ranging investigation into claims that members of the ­Special Air Services Regiment and Commandos may have ­breached the laws of armed conflict, war crimes, during the war in Afghanistan. A secret, in camera investigation also involving the AFP.

    He has publicly spoken, prima facie in contempt, in support for those being investigated for war crimes by Australian servicemen in Afghanistan. Words to the effect,”We shouldn’t pay any attention or give any credence to any of that. They should be praised for their service instead. Heroes.”. (See: Militarism)

    He was only just reappointed director AWM this Jan 2019, before the LNP are wiped out (As for the AAT & other appointments. see:cronyism) for a further five year term. 🙁

    Memorial has clean sweep of top posts 2013

    The last major vacancy, that of deputy director, has been filled with the potentially controversial appointment of Tim Sullivan, now the deputy chief executive of the Sovereign Hill ”open air museum” in Victoria, due to be announced soon.
    Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson.

    Recruiting from a historical theme park has set alarm bells ringing in some quarters. A Vietnam veteran told Fairfax Media the AWM was ”already in danger of going down the historical theme park road” with the decision to project images of warfare on its walls before the dawn service this Anzac Day.

  6. Lambert Simnel

    The worm has turned.

    Now we know what it is like to be on the receiving end of dog whistle politics; what it is like to be a Muslim in Australia.

  7. Zathras

    Erdogan is a would-be tyrant in the making, seeking to consolidate as much power as he can by cracking down on the press, social media and any other possible sources of dissent but is facing an election in ten days.

    That speech was intended for Turkish domestic consumption to make himself appear bold and strong in the face of vague threats from supposed external enemies – no different from what Morrison or any other politician has been doing locally.

    Perhaps we should consider such things before we crank the Outrage Machine up to eleven and give the extremists yet more to campaign about.

  8. Lambert Simnel

    Which “extremists” do you mean, Zathras? Trump or Dutton? Hanson or Anning? or just Tarrant and his nuttish, armed to the teeth confrateres here and places like Europe and the USA?

    Yes, Erdogan’s speech was dog whistling. Given that it was OUR terrorist this time, we probably ARE uneasy about retaliation.

    Personally, I would be avoiding Morrison’s dog whistle photo-op at Gallipoli, because I now feel the same unease about irrational violence as do Muslim minorities in places like Australia.

  9. whatever

    Is it possible that the Christchurch shooter, along with others of the AltRight, believes Gallipoli was a battle against Islam?

  10. Alcibiades

    Almost certainly, yes. Our Oz terrorist was enamored with any and all battles between European(white) civilisation and Islam (his terms), throughout history. Every available space on his multiple firearms & magazines were covered with the names & dates of such battles as well as various neo-nazi supremacists codes & phrases. They define themselves as defending civilisation against Islam and the immigration of any muslims, as a ‘war’. 🙁

  11. Phil.

    I see the ‘ I’m not very smart but can lift heavy weights ‘ darling of the rancid right wing anti Muslim nut brigade Blair Cottrell, has been banned from Facebook and Twitter. About bloody time.

  12. Alcibiades

    Well we’ll still have the very real Fraser Anning, even post election, along with his coterie of empowered & emboldened stormtroopers. Hanson has another three years yet & Latham is a certainty in NSW.

    In other news :

    Fraser Anning has admitted on video he knew the person who egged him was a child when he struck him twice in retaliation, saying the boy “deserved it”.

    In one video filmed by a supporter of Anning and posted online, the senator acknowledged he recognised immediately that the boy was a minor.

    “Because he’s only a kid I only slapped him with an open hand but you know, he deserved that,” Anning said. “He needs to get a few manners.”

    Anning turned around and hit him, saying “don’t do you do that”, and appeared to call the boy a “f#cking mongrel”…

    Thuggish nazi slimeball.

  13. whatever

    I am not joking when I say these AltRight bogans are clearly Steroid abusers, muscle hypertrophy localised to the chest area because they can’t be bothered doing exercise other than weightlifing.
    Then you get Steroid psychosis.

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