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Yassmin Abdel-Magied

I’m not going to equivocate about this. In my view Yassmin Abdel-Magied made a serious error of judgement yesterday and her words were in poor taste. Some of the reaction was hyperbolic and confected, but that doesn’t change my opinion of the original post.

I have said in the past I really don’t like seeing significant national events used for political purposes. And just as I have criticised right wing ideologues like Roberts, Leyjonhelm and others, I have to use the same standards when judging the behaviour of left wing activists who at other times I have found myself supporting.

ANZAC Day is an important day to many Australians when they feel greatest connection to those lost in war. Abdel-Magied misjudged that badly and her perceived indifference to the sacrifice of our soldiers and their families caused varying levels of unnecessary offense to many. ​

I fully expect some heated responses that ANZAC Day is already politicised and that the consequences of war, such as refugees, should very much be part of the conversation on this day. I don’t deny this and wholeheartedly agree that the grim reality of warfare is an important and easily neglected chapter of the ANZAC Day story and some of the best occasional addresses I have heard at dawn services have focused on just this. But if you want to have a serious discussion on such a solemn day, don’t be glib or inflammatory about it. Start the conversation in a respectful tone that is mindful of the fact that many of the people you may be talking to may have lost loved ones in war, and consider whether doing it on the day itself is of any benefit.

Whether or not you think she had a right to make the statement in the way that she did, in this case I would say Abdel-Magied has done a disservice to her cause. Her actions feed a false narrative that those of us who do care about refugees do not care about Australia’s history or the sacrifices of our soldiers. She could easily have alienated many with wavering opinions around refugees, pushing them towards the gleeful right, when a more respectful approach might have had the opposite effect.

So I totally get why there is a level of anger towards Abdel-Magied in wake of her actions.

However, amidst outraged calls for her sacking, this should be kept in context. She was disrespectful and insensitive, but she also acknowledged her mistake by deleting the tweet and apologising for causing offence (unlike the doubling down behaviour we usually see in these type of situations). She wasn’t intentionally fostering hate or being derogatory in the style of Pauline Hanson, nor was she dishonest like our Ogre for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton.

It will also be interesting to see how eager ‘champions of freedom of speech’ such as Bolt and Leyonhjelm are to defend Abdel-Magied. If we look back twelve months, Sonia Kruger made highly offensive (and inaccurate) public statements in her position as a television presenter on air, not on her private social media account. Unlike Abdel-Magied, she did not apologise and received considerable public support for her right to exercise her freedom of speech.

This juxtaposition of what does and doesn’t count as ‘political correctness gone mad’ is a valid comment and criticism of the hypocrites who so proudly champion the rights of racists and homophobes to say what they like, but are quick to howl their outrage at a refugee advocate. However, it is not a defence of Abdel-Magied’s actions, unless one actually accepts these flimsy freedom of speech arguments when they are offered in defence of bigotry- and most of us don’t.

I have written previously, I believe freedom of speech does not protect you from criticism for your words so I feel no personal contradiction in criticising Abdel-Magied, but if you have previously excused or defended bigotry on the grounds of freedom of speech aren’t you being a hypocrite? Similarly, if you support Leyonhjelm’s arguments against section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and his assertion that it is our choice whether we take offense, once again can you hold Abdel-Magied to blame for being ‘offensive’ or did you choose to get offended?

I won’t be signing any petitions to see Abdel-Magied fired (Mark Latham has set the bar pretty high for what it takes for a journalist to get fired) and I would be disappointed (but not surprised) if the ABC did capitulate, but that doesn’t mean I condone her actions. When I was a similar age to this young lady I made a few decisions I am not proud of. I can’t undo that, but I learned from them and deliberately became a better person. Abdel-Magied has already apologised and hopefully she has learned from the experience, as I won’t be forgetting it and neither will many Australians.

This article was first published on quietblog on 26/04/2017

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  1. Jaquix

    I have a different opinion from the author. I do agree, as Yassmin did on reflection, that it was an error of judgement. However she quickly realised it was, and apologised. There was no malicious intent, or nastiness involved. In fact, she was making a legitimate statement, it seems to me. Yes, by all means remember the dead. But do not ever forget the injustices that continue in this world.

  2. Athena

    Reflecting upon the current victims of war on ANZAC Day is neither inappropriate, nor is it mutually exclusive to reflecting upon those who fell in previous wars. Australians don’t own the phrase “Lest we forget” either. Rudyard Kipling used it in a poem written in 1897. And I’ve not seen one single outraged person express any concern for disrespect shown by the many Australians who used the day to get drunk and watch football. If Yassmin’s comment had been made by a white Christian male it would not have attracted this level of outrage. ANZAC Day has been turned into a political event since the days of John Howard as PM. I recall every year during my school years learning about our participation in WW1, Gallipoli and ANZAC Day. The general consensus of my peers was that Gallipoli was a great tragedy for our troops, we participated in a war that wasn’t ours, Australia was not under threat and the outcome of WW1 demonstrated that as a nation Australia had a lot of growing up to do. I have never met a single Digger who would approve of the current common attitude in Australia to glorify war and not recognise the ongoing tragedies playing out before our eyes. ANZAC Day was and still is a day of sadness for me as I learned through my many years of genealogy for my own family and the family of others that many underage boys falsified their age, fueled by the belief that it is noble to die for one’s country, and went to their deaths in Europe. Every year the words of Wilfred Owen come back to me on ANZAC Day. If we knew the true horrors of war we wouldn’t be telling our children that it is noble to die for one’s country. The outrage at the thought of reflecting upon the current victims of war is merely an indication that we are extremely slow to learn from past mistakes.

  3. Keitha Granville

    I have commented a few times in the last 24 hrs to FB posts about the futility and obscenity of war, and that politicians should be picking up their guns instead of sending our young off to throw their lives away. Yes, say that, but NOT on ANZAC Day.
    Jassmin makes a perfectly good point as well. Yes say it, but NOT on ANZAC Day.
    I am appalled at the tragedies of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, just as I am appalled at the atrocities of the Holocaust, of Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Joseph Kony, and any other tyrant in our history who wages war on innocents to further their own megalomania. But NOT on ANZAC Day.

    ANZAC Day is specifically a day of remembrance, – not glorification of war – remembrance of those who went off to war for duty and service to their country. Not because they wanted to kill people, not even because they supported the reason for the war. Simply for service and duty. To their country and its people.

    They deserve our respect and our remembrance.

    I choose personally to remember an uncle who was killed in the Middle East, a father whose life was shortened by his service in the Middle East and New Guinea, an uncle who suffered on the Burma Railway. My feelings on ANZAC Day are for them. I refuse to allow anyone with different agendas to hijack this remembrance.

    Lest We Forget.

  4. Anthony Element

    I disagree.
    As a twenty year veteran and the recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia for my military service, I do not see Anzac Day as somehow sacred and above political, or any other comment.
    If you feel so strongly about it, then you might like to direct some of your energy towards those retailers who routinely use Anzac Day memes and symbols to flog products.
    Furthermore, the subjects of Yassmin’s tweet, Nauru, Manus, Syria and Palestine are real live obscenities, where people are, as we speak, suffering atrocities. And they are suffering as a direct result of war, which, in my view, makes their plight a perfectly reasonably topic for discussion in the Anzac Day context.

  5. Matt

    I thought Anzac day was just the day the pollies used to get their faces in the press, tell us how great Australia is, and drum up nationalism in preparation for the next war. You don’t need a special day to remember your lost loved ones – any day is good for that, and private reflection probably is most appropriate – thus I am more in favour of the 1 minute silence on rememberance day.

  6. Athena

    Thank you, Anthony, for the sobering view from a veteran, and thank you for your service.

  7. Mick Byron

    “but NOT on ANZAC Day.” I totally agree
    I am in agreement that Yassmin is entitled to free speech and can understand those so vocal in support but where is the outcry from the same over the deliberate attempts to stop Anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali from coming to Australia and speaking at the Think Inc.event appearances in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland?
    I’m all for free speech and I am willing to accept that opponents to my views also have a right to air their views
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali cancelled her tour after saying among other things,she feared for her safety .
    Anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali protesters met with radical sheikh

    A Muslim leader whose group planned to rally 5000 protesters outside a talk by anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the basis that she “condones violence and radicalises people” has previously met with a radical sheikh who promoted suicide bombing.

    “Ayaan Hirsi Ali regrets that, for a number of reasons including security concerns, she must cancel her upcoming appearances in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland. She wishes the event organisers, Think Inc., success in their future endeavours and hopes to be able to return to Australia (and New Zealand) in the not too distant future.”

    Her opportunity for free speech never eventuated

  8. Matters Not

    While I am somewhat ‘torn’ I tend to come down on the side of Anthony Element. There’s real live people suffering here and now and the responsibility is down to us. The people who ‘gave their lives’ did so in the hope of a better world and that should not be forgotten – daily, weekly or whenever. Nor should the pursuit of same.

  9. John Ward

    Churchill and Menzies tampering, gave us Crete, Greece, Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia, Timor and the burma Railway. Turnbull slid past this history while in PNG recently, suggesting these POW’s were…… ‘Overseas’.
    Lest we forget

  10. paul walter

    No. We have to stop seeing ourselves through rose coloured glasses and deluding ourselves into believing we are something we are not.

    The best of the ANZAC traditions is part of us, but so is the petty greed and spite exhibited through Manus/Nauru, petty wars sucking up to Big Powers and cuts to humanitarian aid to poor countries. Hansonism is as much a part of us as Simpson and his Donkey, we have to stop telling ourselves stories and see life and human nature as it is.

    We are neither the Master race or demons although both are part of our nature. We are just mug humans like all the rest. Let’s stop pretending we are something we are not at worst to justify on false grounds how we behave toward others in the world

  11. Hettie Lynch

    I too disagree with the author. To the point of saying, “Especially on ANZAC DAY” it is appropriate to draw attention to the suffering of all people damaged in any way by war, and to the betrayal of the diggers who fought for freedom that is Australia’s abhorrent, illegal, sadistic treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

  12. kerri

    I do not agree with Yassmin’s comments and found them misdirected.
    The more pertinent truth about ANZAC day has been highlighted in both the article and the comments.
    Lest We Forget?
    I was told from a very young age that Lest We Forget and Rememberance and ANZAC day were to remind us of how many lives were lost in war and to never let that happen again. It appears we have well forgotten the tragedies of war as we so willingly and self righteously dive into war whenever possible.
    War for the USA is both a way of life and an integral part of their economy providing both business and employment.
    This should not be an Australian aspiration.
    We have no such need and should be aiming, as many smaller countries do, to have no involvement in war.
    Note I say aiming.
    May I strongly recommend that anyone finding their thoughts split over the ANZAC legend take the time to read “ANZAC’s Long Shadow” by James Brown.
    It is a short but pertinent read from a soldiers point of view.
    And no! The author is not the musician but the future politician and son-in-law of Malcolm Turnbull.

  13. kerri

    Maybe we have all misread Yassmin’s comments?
    Maybe she intended us to see the results of wars anywhere in the world?
    Refugees! Homeless. Stateless. Unwanted. And very much the consequence of modern warfare.

  14. helvityni

    Paul Walter, I agree with you when you say: ” No. We have to stop seeing ourselves through rose coloured glasses and deluding ourselves into believing we are something we are not.”

    When I think of what a bashing little Dastyari got, and compare that with what the Morrisons, Duttons and others get away with. There’s no comparison…It seems to easier to attack the foreign born, the Muslims, dark-skinned, the ones who are not able to express themselves as eloquently in English as OUR Pauline….. 🙂

  15. Athena

    The bar is set very low if Pauline is a model of eloquence.

  16. Jillian Carroll

    Any informed dialogue which makes us think about the notion of war and whether in some circumstances it is just or unjust and whether nation states should commit their often grossly misinformed or uniformed populations to support wars which reflect the imperial battles of constantly warring nation states (First World War) or civil wars (example Vietnam) should be encouraged in a bid to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives resulting from the pursuit of a grand narrative by some nationalistic grandstanding, egomaniac and psychopath like Hitler.
    However, like some of the other commentators on this page, ANZAC Day has a deep significance to those Australians who lost family members in past wars in which Australia participated (whether justly or unjustly). For this reason, cheap shots on twitter by grandstanding and immature activists, who actually make a living out of being provocative about other people’s beliefs, should be avoided. This is especially so if the provocateur, in question, loudly claims great offence when their own cultural tradition is subject to public scrutiny on a well known TV panel they most flamboyantly participate in. Some degree of sensitivity towards the customs of others is not a dirty word in a multicultural society.

  17. helvityni

    Dear Athena, I put a smiley to indicate that I wasn’t serious about Pauline being eloquent, (or elegant for that matter…) 🙂 🙂

  18. Athena

    Helvityni, I don’t for one moment think that you were serious when you described Pauline as eloquent. 🙂

    Jillian, the provocateur in question is entitled to be offended when ignoramuses express their views of Islam on a well known TV panel. Several of our politicians erroneously attribute distasteful activities to Sharia and as the provocateur rightly points out, they are confusing a regional culture with religion.

  19. stephentardrew

    Freedom of speech? She made a valid point. Having worked with veterans for many years I have come to despise war and everything it represents. All voices need to be heard and in an intelligent and equitable society given appropriate recognition. Knee jerk responses simply demonstrate the immaturity of those who cannot see there are other reasonable and valid opinions.

    Australia you are being led politically, and through the media, by blind emotional bribery. Think for yourselves. Where is the sorrow and recrimination for those civilians we have unjustly killed in our fawning to US lies, illegal wars and gross incompetence. Meanwhile we are still following the US into damnable wars that are none of our business. The hypocrisy is palpable.

    The history of the first and second world war demonstrate how the so called good guys were implicit in their emergence. It is always more complicated than simple flag waving. The truth is much more useful than heroic pretence however if we were honest maybe we could avoid war all together. Remember the past often reflects the future and we need to reshape the future free from war. What politicians are taking up the mantle?

    Imperialism has caused endless suffering and brutality so is not it time to get to the cause factually and honestly. This country is not an innocent victim.

    I want solutions and the truth not endless flag waving to cover the corruption of war. Our politicians ride on a wave of nostalgia while most of them will not, and have not, joined the defence services.

    Form a very young age we are all taught to live the lie. Well time to wake up.

    Spend a day in a room of veterans and find out what war is really about.

  20. helvityni

    Top post, stephentandrew !

  21. paul walter

    Helvityni; Athena.

    What actually is in very bad taste is the rude grandstanding by infantile, self serving attention seekers like Hanson and Jones.

    “Lest we forget”.

  22. Garry Bickley

    Nothing Yassmin Abdel-Magied wrote in her tweet diminished any personal sacrifice that may be remembered on Anzac Day, or any other time.
    She merely extended the respect and tributes paid on this day to others whom our Government and current Opposition have deliberately tried to make us ignore and forget, but who are nonetheless worthy of empathy, respect and consideration.

    To argue but “NOT on Anzac Day” is mistaken. What better day to consider the broadest aspects of who is sent to war, who sends them and for what purpose, to what end and who suffers as a result? Democracy is surely 24/7 365 days a year.
    “Lest we forget” has been appropriated and narrowed by much of Anzac Day celebration to First World War defence forces. Diggers and members of the ADF are to a large extent excluded by this narrow focus. Year after year we hear repeated the same stories, myths and even distortions about Gallipoli and France. Little is said about the wars we have been involved in since, like repelling Japan in Asia, and the men and women who died in those battles. Little is said about why we went, should we have and what good or bad resulted. Anzac Day, whatever it means to individuals, is in danger of being subsumed by nationalistic political leanings, a strict limit on conversation, a bending of history.

    “Lest we forget” has broader meanings than remembering the dead. If we must mythologise ANZACs we must never forget how thousands of good men were simply used as cannon fodder as part of a deliberate strategy of attrition by British Gen Haig. We must not forget the madness of “all the way with LBJ”, of joining the insanity and horror of The American War on Vietnam.

    Nor should we forget the victims of war beyond our own dead soldiers. Others died too, innocents among them, right now in Mosul. If we can be magnanimous about Ataturk and his men, how is it so difficult to empathise with the few victims of our wars who have found their way to our shores, by whatever means, seeking refuge? They are abandoned and abused on Manus Island and Nauru, out of sight and the hope is out of mind. Lest we forget is totally appropriate.

    To close down any raising of these issues on Anzac Day is to deny the very value of the lives given by those we remember who believed, in many cases wrongly, they were fighting for freedom.

  23. jim

    War must be avoided at all costs.

  24. Alexander Dariush

    I am not sure why you make such a big fuss about ANZAC? Young kids were send to wars to protect Britain not Australia, Vietnam and Korean wars were American wars , we did not need to be there. I dont blame the veterans of wars because as far as they understand they are protecting their country and they do as a good soldier does, take orders. but those bastards who send our kids to wars, their own kids sit at home and enjoying their lives. Pauline Hanson abuses Muslims every single day but no one ask her to apologize. You can’t say a word about Jews before you get accused of anti semites and holocaust denier then they shut you up for life. She did nothing wrong, she used a simple english word to bring to our attention what this ruthless government is doing to innocent refugees , sending them to concentration camps. if you think that’s wrong then you have bloody rocks in your head.

  25. Dave Chadwick

    Firstly, in the original text I spelt Ms Abdel-Magied’s name wrong in several places. I have tried to fix it up everywhere I can, both on my own site and here but I would like to publicly acknowledge the error and apologise.
    Since I’m here I will add a secondary comment in response to some of the comments.

    It seems that public opinion on this issue is very binary. Abdel-Magied is either worthy of public vilification for her disrespect or praise for her courage.
    I don’t subscribe to either of these views.

    The girl has apologised and that should be the end of it. There is no need or justification for personal abuse or the kind of witchhunt we have seen so far. But that doesn’t mean I don’t she made a mistake.

    I wrote in the article that I accept the premise that ANZAC day is already exploited by many and that a mature conversation about our attitude to war and its consequences is not inappropriate. But as one of my friends said to me, “ANZAC Day is one of two days of the year that the country pretends to care about veterans.” I accept that to many of you, ANZAC Day has a very different meaning, but to many Australians it is still very significant. Do we have to take that away from them or can we give them their day and have the conversation on any other day?
    If you want to argue Abdel-Magied had every right to use ANZAC Day to deliver her message I get where you are coming from but I would ask, did she need to? Did it enhance or detract from what she as trying to do?
    My follow up question then becomes did she deliver her message in a suitable tone? Once again, I would suggest not.

  26. king1394

    Why is such notice taken of private tweet?. The medium prevents reasoned argument and promotes little more than sloganising. To attempt to analyse such simple sentences very quickly becomes a characterisation of the tweeter, possibly leavened by circumstances. A prominent Muslim woman tweeting almost anything on ANZAC Day would probably be criticised by some people.

    On a separate but related aspect, we might remember the Diggers (such as my uncle) who fought on Nauru and Manus Island among many other places in the Pacific theatre. Perhaps they would be horrified that their suffering to secure these places from the Japanese, who they were sure would do monstrous things there, has now succeeded in providing places where the Australian government can do equally monstrous things. Abdel-Magied’s comment starts to make a high level of sense and relevance on ANZAC Day.

  27. RonaldR

    She Done the right thing and chose the right day to talk about victims of war ,especially when they are being held in Concentration Camps. Reason those liberals are up in Arms it rubbed their noses in their own shit. The way these people have been and are being treated is a disgrace on all Australians. At the End of WWII when the German Concentration camps were Liberated the German Citizens claimed to be innocent -But they were not as they did not speak up – No way would they have not known there was something terrible wrong the way the Jews were rounded up and shipped by rail like cattle.

  28. Athena

    Dave Chadwick, nwho said that ANZAC Day should be taken away from our veterans? Aren’t footballers and their supporters taking ANZAC Day from them? Why is that ok? Don’t forget that Yassmin has no ancestors who fought for Australia but she chose to spend the day reflecting upon current victims of war. So she still took the opportunity to partake in the solemnity of the occasion, rather than indulge in personal pleasures. Do victims of war stop suffering or dying on ANZAC Day? Therefore why should we suspend our thoughts of them?

  29. Anthony Element

    Dave Chadwick, thanks for clarifying your position. It’s well thought out and is a perfectly valid position.
    You pose the question, did Yassmin need to post that tweet.
    I think she did.
    Because the obscenities to which she referred are getting worse not better.
    Today as we debate this, each refugee in Manus and Nauru spent another day in immoral, illegal detention; children in Syria died; and another Palestinian who has lived their entire life in a giant prison camp killed himself or herself.
    And today, like every other day, Australia shrugged its collective shoulders.
    After all, we’re okay.

  30. Zathras

    I don’t feel offended by what she posted. I thought it was one of the freedoms that were being fought for.

    “Anzac Day was originally meant to remind us of the horrors of war before Howard turned it into a weird adulation of sacrificing young lives. Our detention camps are living proof of our sacrificing young lives for political ends”.

  31. 2015terryy2

    A strip club that said staff would be in uniform for the night. A regional Victorian beer brewery, the Blizzard Brewing Company, which posted yesterday “mashing out our ANZAC Day brew – Avalanche Amber Ale, Lest we forget – the taste of Great Alpine Beer”.

    Public drunkeness in our streets is OK but a thoughtful tweet by a young woman brings out the Rowdy-right who a couple of weeks ago were howling about their inability to be bigots and express their racism because of the restriction placed on them by 18C.

    Have we got our priorities all topsy-turvey ?

  32. Weary

    As a veteran I am glad that Yassmin said what she did. Those that are complaining generally are the ones that have never had to hold a dead kid in their arms. Dead as a result of bigotry, racism, religion and intolerance. I am now on a TPI pension as a result of my operational service. That operational service was to allow people to live free from oppression and I would do it all over again. I find it galling though that having served to provide freedom for people in other countries, who are far less endowed with comfort than we are, that our polity thinks it is right to lock these same people up for trying to escape oppression. Speaking out against cruelty and trying to give the underdog, in this case the people in detention, a leg up are values that I think are Australian. Remember that many of the WW2 diggers fought against tyrannical powers that thought nothing of locking up and killing people for their religion, race or political beliefs.

  33. Kaye Lee

    There is no right day to deliver that message. Gillian Triggs tried. She too was vilified for her timing. Sarah Hanson-Young tried. She was labelled “an embarrassment to her country.”

    Yassmin was a member of the Federal ANZAC Centenary Commemoration Youth Working Group. I do not believe she meant any disrespect at all.

  34. townsvilleblog

    She is far too big for her boots, she should receive the sack if she can’t respect Australian culture she should be sent back from whence she came.

  35. Kaye Lee

    In what way did she disrespect Australian culture?

  36. Sean Stinson

    “I have said in the past I really don’t like seeing significant national events used for political purposes.”

    WTF do you think ANZAC day is then?

  37. Sean Stinson

    “lest we forget Manus, Nauru, Palestine etc”.

    If you find something irritating about this, it’s probably your conscience.

  38. Anthony Element

    Townsvilleblog Yassmin tweeted that we should also remember the victims of war in Nauru, Manus, Syria and Palestine.
    I think that is perfectly respectful of Australian values.

  39. Athena

    townsvilleblog, please define Australian culture.

  40. Max Gross

    ANZAC Day was bastardised by John Howard for political purposes and became a media circus. It’s farcical. Scrap it. Let’s commemorate our war dead with Australia’s victory over Japanese invaders on the Kokoda Trail instead! And keep the feckin politicians out of it!

  41. Sean Stinson

    Why do we “commemorate” sending our best and bravest to die on the beaches of Gallipoli to protect British oil and trade interests in the Middle East and Asia? We should hang our heads in shame, or rise up in protest.

    “For God’s sake do not glorify Gallipoli – it was a terrible mistake and young people should be told that everything went wrong because of those fool British. Australia should never serve under a foreign power again and never use conscription for overseas service.” – Albert Edward (Ted) Matthews, last surviving ANZAC of those who landed on April 25, died 101, 1997.

  42. diannaart

    I would like to know how the veterans feel about the use made of Anzac Day. Since John Howard managed to stir up nationalistic feelings and popularised this day, there has been little sacrosanct about Anzac Day – seems to me any John, Tony or Malcolm can get to make themselves heard on this day. As a daughter and granddaughter of returned vets – my family became very anti-war, followed by support for restricted gun ownership (at least Howard got one thing right).

    If the likes of Bolt, Jones, other media big mouths and the usual pro-libertarians among our politicians get to say whatever they like, whenever they like… I don’t see why Yassmin Abdel-Magied is perceived as out of line.

    We very much need to have a discussion about war; how much it costs in, not only lives, but our economies (only private for profit organisations benefit from the military machine – oh, and the USA). We cannot feel sorrow for the brave men and women who lost their lives in various wars and then expect to hold our heads high while own own concentration camps remain hidden to public scrutiny and honest, objective appraisal.

    Nor can we honourably tag along with the USA into its many forays into other nations and, simultaneously deny aid for refugees.


    My father NEVER went to the RSL nor walked in any parades, he rose to the rank of sergeant in the RAAF and served in North Africa and New Guinea. He would not speak about any of it.

  43. Athena

    This is a passage from an ANZAC Day speech on the Australian Army website.

    “Today is a special day when we remember all those, whether service personnel or
    civilians, of every nation, who suffered or continue to suffer through war. In particular
    we remember those who served in the Australian defence forces on active service from
    the Boer War to Afghanistan, including those currently serving with the United Nations
    missions. We remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice so that we, and the
    people of other nations, can live in peace. We remember those who continue to suffer
    through their physical or mental scars, including those next of kin whose grief and
    sense of loss can never be eased. ”

  44. Kaye Lee

    Many Australians send out similar messages to Yassmin’s on ANZAC day. This one is from the Army.

    “Today is a special day when we remember all those, whether service personnel or civilians, of every nation, who suffered or continue to suffer through war.

    This is also a day of thanks and quiet reflection on what a wonderful, lucky nation we live in. It is a time to reflect on Australia’s commitment to continue to contribute to peace in other parts of the world. We cannot isolate ourselves and ignore these

    Or this one…..

    “But it is about sadness, and grief for young lives cut short and dreams left unfulfilled. It is about the horror and carnage of war. Ceremonies held all over the country send out a very clear and strong message to me, and that is to try by all means possible, to avoid war and conflict in the future.”

    Are we just angry with Yassmin because we don’t actually consider her Australian? Or is she just too vocal for a young woman? All she was doing was the same as many others did in their speeches.

  45. Kaye Lee

    snap Athena 😉

  46. Athena

    diannaart, you mention the cost of war. There are, of course, some aspects of war to which a dollar value can never be attributed – the loss of life, body function, relationships. I attended a presentation by someone from the National Archives a few months ago, who talked about the records held there that are of value to family historians. When he spoke about military records and rehabilitation files for returned servicemen and women I don’t remember the dollar value, but I do remember that the cost to Australia post-WW1 was far greater than the cost of the actual war. There were pensions paid out to bereaved families, ongoing rehabilitation costs for soldiers with disabilities, retraining costs for those personnel whose injuries prevented them from returning to their pre-war occupations, and more. And those costs continued for several decades.

  47. jimhaz

    There was nothing offensive about what Sonia Kruger said.

    Abdel-Magied is just a typical Muslim stirrer – but she didn’t say anything actually wrong either. I don’t really see much difference between death/harm to soldiers and civilians in relation to international conflicts – no reason why civilians should not pay physical costs.

    I do like to draw a line about religious or power based civil wars (as opposed to rebels against dictators) so in that regard Abdel-Magied’s comment was a bit dicey – but not wrong as such.

  48. Kaye Lee


    My father also served in New Guinea and North Africa. New Guinea was dreadful but I think it was mostly over by the time he got to North Africa. The Aussie diggers went on a drunken rampage and dad got injured playing football over there.

    He also hated talking about the war and never marched but he would go to the club, drink a lot and play two-up. As I got older he told me a couple of stories. It is no wonder they don’t want to talk about it. There is no glory – only horror.

  49. paul walter

    jimhaz, even from you that is tragic.

  50. havanaliedown

    Freedom of speech, freedom of criticism.

    The ABC is biased to the left – hence they hire people of such shallow talent as Ms Abdul-Magied… only because she has all the “correct” identity politics credentials. All we need to know about her was her recent utterance about Islam being the most “feminist” of all religions. Verily I laughed out loud.

  51. diannaart

    Kaye Lee (and Athena because I believe some of the following is relevant to your comments)

    My father caught malaria in New Guinea and I think that was where his wartime service was honourably discharged.

    As for the drinking… dad was an alcoholic who died at age 52 (I have been informed that I have been getting it wrong for years saying “53”). Due to the anachronistic drinking laws dad couldn’t down a few (a lot) of ales after work, wouldn’t go to the RSL, so joined the Bowls Club, one of the younger members, where he could drink to midnight if he chose. Although he was usually home by 10 PM. Mum would leave his dinner on a plate over a steaming saucepan of water – this happened in many homes.

    But we don’t talk about the real effect of war nor the generational impact clearly enough.

    ‘s far as I’m concerned Yassmin has the same right to freedom of speech as does Andrew Bolt.

  52. Sean Stinson

    Kaye Lee

    My old man was the same. Never spoke of the war, until he had his stroke and lost all but his very long term memory. Then we began to hear the stories. Horrific. I think what really broke his spirit was our abandonment of the East Timorese. Another reason why as a nation we should hang our heads in shame.

  53. Kaye Lee


    Dad also got malaria and he too joined the bowling club and got home late most nights. It seems a very common story.


    Dad talked about how they couldn’t keep prisoners. Someone would take them for a walk….

  54. diannaart

    It doesn’t feel such a common occurrence, when growing up though does it?

    Kaye Lee, thank you, wish I’d known you many years ago.

  55. Christian Marx

    No, sorry I have to strongly disagree with the author on this. Sadly Anzac day has of late
    becoming nothing but a recruitment drive for more cannon fodder and a propaganda campaign,
    to glorify imperialism. I have even had veterans saying they felt “groomed” by parades such as Anzac day.
    Enlisting for a war they later regretted participating in, after they had matured somewhat and finally found out the true
    nature of these campaigns. In this case the Iraq war of 1991. War is a rich mans genocide. Never forget that.

  56. margcal

    I agree with Anthony Element (10.57 am).
    My son is in the Army. I have never felt so afraid, so constantly, as when he has been in Afghanistan.
    When he joined and I wasn’t happy, he kept saying over and over, “Mum, it’s the Australian “Defence” Force” …. except as far as I’m concerned it has only ever seemed aggressive and always so at the behest of the US.

    And here in the electorate of Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg uses ANZAC Day as a Liberal Party advertising opportunity.

  57. Kaye Lee


    No. It was different to most of my friend’s families. Mum worked too. On the rare occasion dad would have to look after us, he took us to the club and we played in the park until it got dark when we locked ourselves in the car. He would bring out free chips from the bar in a brown takeaway bottle bag and a bottle of blue bow soft drink. He taught us how to do SOS on the car horn should anything go wrong.

  58. havanaliedown

    A few years ago, a smart young fellow I know told me he was leaving his current employer (H.N.) to re-enlist in the Army. He said he wanted to “go BACK to Iraq”. Of course I thanked him for his service (I was unaware of it until that point). When I tell other employees of that same company they split their sides laughing at the idea of being shot at in Iraq being preferable to working at said employer.

  59. Michael Taylor

    My Dad was in New Guinea for 20 months but I couldn’t get a boo out of him either. He said a couple of things a few years ago not long before he died, but not much.

    I didn’t understand my Dad, and could never come to terms with his heartlessness. He was a hard man.

    It wasn’t until I read “Kokoda” that I realised what he went though, why he was the man he was. And once I’d had an idea what it was like for him, I must admit that I cried.

    I’m very proud of him for fighting for his country, but even more proud for what he said to me about 10 years ago: “The moment the war ended … I forgave the enemy”. He was fighting soldiers who were just doing their job.

    Another story … On Kangaroo Island one of our family friends was in Gallipoli during WW1. Sometime in the mid 1960s one of my older brothers asked him what it was like. He couldn’t answer. All he could respond with was tears. I still remember thinking to myself, “What in a man’s life can be so horrible that it reduces him to tears 50 years later?”

  60. diannaart

    @Kaye Lee

    Mum went back to work when dad’s gambling got beyond basic survival of the family. He never interacted much with me at all (although I wished he’d taught me S.O.S., given some of the situations I got myself into). I would come home from school and prepare dinner for myself and my sister and then hope mum’s train wasn’t too late. However, my younger sister (by 6 years) got some attention from dad, when he died she was still too young to understand many of the issues I had with him. I do believe he was brave and tried to do his best, which is difficult for a depressive and an alcoholic.

    @Michael Taylor

    The only thing I remember, after I had pestered him with questions such as “Did you kill anyone?” He answered that “He could not tell if he had”, but the final words were, “I believe in fate”. He wasn’t religious and I never got the chance to discuss what he meant when I was a mature enough adult for philosophical discussions.


    As far as Yassmin Abdel-Magied is concerned, she believes her version of Islam IS feminist. Just as there are many Christians who believe their version of Christianity treats women as equals.

    As far as I am concerned, no religion treats everyone as equals – this applies to men as well. They are hierarchical structures which are inherently biased.

    However you have as much right to your opinion as Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Andrew Bolt (and the rest of us).


  61. Regional Elder

    I didn’t realise that Australia has exclusive mortgage on the words ” Lest we Forget ” first given currency 120 years ago by British imperialist Rudyard Kipling. Nor was I aware that the phrase has a culturally- prescribed patent on it as well such that the phrase should only be used in relation to Australian war commemoration about the enormous and sad losses this young nation experienced in the first half of the 20th century.

    With the loss of 100,000 casualties of the flower of youth in the two World Wars, our young nation has barely recovered from that buffeting, even now. For many of those who returned, their war-affected trauma transmuted into corrosive family relationships, self-abuse through drugs or alcohol and suicide. Yes we should continue to recognise this and mourn this.

    But like financial interest, cross-generational grief can compound and take different sometimes alarming forms. After all, many the original inhabitants of this land, dispossessed by our British-European culture continue to experience massive personally dysfunctional grief, 7 generations on. Or consider the case of North Korea. The strident militancy of that nation against the West and the USA in particular, has to be seen when we understand that in the early 50s, their land became an arena for Cold War power plays between the USA, China and the USSR, that resulted 1.2 million casualties. Though the conflict was complex and multi-faceted, North Korea was razed by 650, 000 tons of bombs and thousands of tons of napalm, and this country with a population now similar to that of Australia, lost more than 300,000 citizens between 1950 and 1953. These memories have concentrated the minds of the North Koreans in their fetish for nuclear armaments, and loathing of their conquerers. Lest we forget how such circumstances came to be.

    In a personal and ostensibly semi-private blog, Yassmin Abdel-Magied in my view, showed no disrespect to Australian mourners or the Australian mainstream community in my view.

    What she did however was give the the phrase ‘ Lest We Forget ‘ , immediacy in terms of the contradiction between the harshness of our policies towards asylum seekers, and the ideals long and vigorously attributed to the motives of those who volunteered for military services for overseas conflicts over the past 100 years. That action is to be applauded and we should be strong enough as a nation not to act reflexively against her deft association of the precious phrase and four locations on this planet where war has displaced people or is currently making their lives intolerable. I have worked with psychologically damaged Australian war veterans for 20 years, and Yassmin’s perspective as articulated, would accord more squarely with many of those who were trauma affected, than with the stridency of those those seeking to exercise a delusional rage at her alleged audacity as a young woman of different ethnic background and religious affiliation from their own.

    Though yours is a well considered view Dave Chadwick, I disagree with it.

  62. Kaye Lee


    Dad was a gambler too. I feel like we are sisters. But he would give mum money for the mortgage first. Her entire wage went to us living while he spent the rest of his on drinking and gambling. I have no animosity towards him and I have had a good life (or I concentrate on the good bits is a better way to put it). He apologised to me before he died saying he was sorry for living his life “like a single man”, taking basically no responsibility for the home and child rearing beyond paying the bills. I told him I understood and that I thought the war had affected many men similarly – live for today, forget responsibility. He was smart, charming, witty, and a wonderful teacher. But he bore the scars.

  63. Kaye Lee

    Regional Elder,

    I applaud your comment.

    It seems to me there is a pattern emerging. Veterans and their families, and those who deal with them professionally, understand that Yassmin was carrying on the same values and ideals in her fight to make today’s world a better place. She is being proactive and passionate while her critics are, I feel, being jingoistic.

    She is an Australian woman asking us to remember the trauma of war continues. Lest we forget.

  64. ausross

    The line comes from a poem by Laurence Binyon, a non-combatant in 1914. He was mourning the loss of life. I suspect Yassmin’s intention was much closer to the intent and spirit of the poet. Australia does not have any sort of ownership over it or the rest of the ode used in the military and the RSL. I do not for a moment think Yassmin meant any disrespect. She made an error of judgement and on realising it, removed the item and publicly apologised. The calls for her sacking by the ABC (she did some part-time work for the ABC and as far as I am aware is not currently on their payroll anyway) are ridiculous. The racial abuse she is now being subjected to is disgraceful. Absolutely ridiculous that the free speech champions are now out for her blood. If anyone is interested, she has a contact page on her website. I sent her a message of support. I suspect she could do with a few of those.

  65. Ricardo29

    Having just read all of the comments, I find myself most supportive of those of Regional Elder, not least because that is a good description for me. As 71 year-old, white male, I am having great difficulty with the idea that this young woman (not a girl!) has somehow expressed an opinion which is offensive or disrespectful. I have even more difficulty with some of the downright disgusting responses to that comment. I don’t think she needed to apologise, and didn’t need to take down her comment. I am one of those disgusted by the jingoism of our politicians, and so many of those who inflate the significance of ANZAC Day beyond the simple message of remembrance.

    Like so many other commenters I am the son of a returned serviceman. My father joined the Navy at age 17 and served on every ocean. Three ships on which he served — including the famous HMAS Perth — were sunk, all after he was posted on. He served briefly with the RN, while waiting for his Australian ship to be refitted, and did convoy escort duty on the Murmansk run. More than 30 years after the war he was one of a handful of Australians tracked down by the Soviets and awarded a medal for that service. He was also at Tobruk during the siege, which qualified him to call himself a “rat”. He was in Japan at the signing of the surrender, and subsequently did onshore security duty in Tokyo.He did several tours of duty to Japan.

    Like so many he didn’t speak much about his war and, when pressed, would tell us the “funny bits”. Late in life he started to open up but much of the family’s knowledge of his service came after his death. One just has to read Nicholas Montsarrat’s book, Ulysses, for an idea of life on Corvettes protecting the Murmansk convoys.

    In the 50’s my father became a commercial traveller selling Bosch motoring products. He was always surprised when a buyer would chip him for ‘working for the krauts’ while wearing his RSL badge. He never carried any animosity to our ‘enemies’ after the war.

    I am pretty sure he carried internal scars but we were a fortunate family in that while he could be hard, he was not much of a drinker and only violent to the point of giving me the belt or the slipper if I provoked him. I don’t think my siblings ever felt that but I was the oldest and probably not manly enough for him preferring reading to boxing. Our relationship got better the older we both got.

    I think there was a poignancy in the timing of the ABC’s excellent program, “you can’t ask that” exploring the lives of veterans last night.

  66. JeffJL

    Very much my thoughts. Well put.

  67. wam

    The woman is not new to using confronting opinions. She, in recent times, has had experience in firing up sections of Australian society.
    However, she was on the youth ANZAC committee which meant she had no excuse for misjudging the importance of the day for Australians, New Zealanders and Turks. Such a deliberate action deserved most of the answering comments she received.

    My dad was a gentle lovely man before and for most of the time when he came back from the war. For many years, every six months we would trek up to daws road for a week of him wired up to clear his head.
    We. the whole family, were frightened of the day till the mid-sixties, but since then we have revered 25/4 and 11/11 to remind us of the damage done to a lovely man, the horrors of wars and the politicians who profit from them.

  68. Matters Not

    I’ve read all of the above. So many different views. So many different conclusions drawn from the same events. So many facts. Yet, so many ‘different constructions of reality’.

    Now all we have to do is arrive at the ‘truth’ – label it ‘history’ – and then transmit that ‘history’ on to our offspring. Just like we have done in the past and probably will do in the future.

    Isn’t ‘history’ so simple? Or maybe not?

    On the Gallipoli Peninsula there is a plaque that contains these words – attributed to Ataturk:

    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 … 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.

    The current ‘history’ that most students are ‘taught’ incorporates that ‘pleasant’ view and proceeds as though it’s unproblematic. Yet we now have Erdogan who describes the Gallipoli campaign as an example of a continued Crusade against Islam that began centuries ago. Is he right or is he wrong? Or is it a silly question? Regardless of your answer, should we include Erdogan’s view when we talk about Gallipoli?

    Or when it comes to ‘history’ should we just give the students the ‘facts’? Tell the truth and all that?

    And in so doing completely disregard discussions like the one above?

  69. helvityni

    Diannaart, Your reply to me above is totally confusing I have not written about Yassmin, nor about feminism…
    I tried to understand it and read some posts to find out who you are answering to. It looks like you are answering havanaliedown…

    April 27, 2017 at 6:30 pm
    A few years ago, a smart young fellow I know told me he was leaving his current employer (H.N.) to re-enlist in the Army. He said he wanted to “go BACK to Iraq”. Of course I thanked him for his service (I was unaware of it until that point). When I tell other employees of that same company they split their sides laughing at the idea of being shot at in Iraq being preferable to working at said employer.

    Diannaart, I can’t say I’m impressed, her views are totally opposite of mine.

  70. havanaliedown

    It could be that my new(ish) hairdo is causing confusion.

  71. Frank Smith

    This is just another example of Islamophobia by the the Murdoch Press and various shock-jocks – I bet that Yassmin’s comment would not have attracted any attention if made by a white Christian celebrity who happened to have a small part-time presenter’s job on commercial radio or TV. These people have no shame – exemplified again by the fake news story they are peddling about another Muslim woman, Anne Aly, and her role in Anzac Day. What a disgrace! How can these people stoop so low?
    I guess as low as Dutton and his vilification of refugees providing fruit and food to a boy on Manus Island.

  72. Athena

    Yassmin’s comment was made – by Army Chaplains – and no one is upset about that. These people are clearly showing themselves to be misogynists, racists and bigots. The attacks on Anne Aly are equally as disgraceful. Even after people stated that they saw Anne laying a wreath at another location, the bogans continued peddling their lies.

  73. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    Dad was a gambler too…. I have had a good life (or I concentrate on the good bits is a better way to put it…

    Maybe, had I known someone like you, I might have held a more productive frame of reference. No doubt, there were others in my town just like me. But no-one really liked to discuss the more difficult things. Mum was (she did change) a real buttoned up lip, ‘what would the neighbours think’ example of her generation. We did reach a better level of communication after dad’s passing.

    I would like to share a couple of positive things my father did for me – he wasn’t all bad and was very witty and charming so long as he had not even one drink.

    I bought my first motorbike on credit, Dad had one single good win on the races in his life and used part of that to pay off my bike loan for Christmas. When I moved out of home at 18, at the airport he came with mum and my sister to say farewell, just before I was due to board the plane, he gave me the front door key, saying there was always a home for me.

    I am not going to apologise for being off-topic. Kaye Lee and I and many other contributors to AIM are children of returned soldiers. We need to talk about it all more openly and more broadly. Thank you Kaye Lee.


    Yassmin was right to remind of the present, while remembering the past.

  74. diannaart


    I apologise if my comments were confusing to you. I realise what happened, I thought a post made by havanaliedown was made by you, given your similar disapproval of Yassmin.

    havanaliedown April 27, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Freedom of speech, freedom of criticism.

    The ABC is biased to the left – hence they hire people of such shallow talent as Ms Abdul-Magied… only because she has all the “correct” identity politics credentials. All we need to know about her was her recent utterance about Islam being the most “feminist” of all religions. Verily I laughed out loud.

    … and verily I am laughing at my mistake.


  75. paul walter

    Nicely put, Regional Elder, a little while back.

  76. paul walter

    Helvityni, no surprise you endorsed Yassmin Abdel Magied, but we are aware that Havana has co-opted your pic somewhat and that may have led to some confusion, given the identity theft aspect,

  77. helvityni

    Paul, I know it too well, you too must remember her from Ellistable, the troll that was banned, but kept returning, and you and diannaart must be also be well aware that she pops up on the Sheep as well, that’s why I left…who wants to be harassed, not I.

    Diannaart, I’m a FAN of Yassmin; I don’t know whose posts you are reading,obviously not mine. Anyhow we been frequenting the same blogs, so you ought to know by now my views on Muslims, on asylum seekers, on our Liberal Government etc….

  78. diannaart


    If I had been smoking something, I would say I had been smoking something. My only excuse (if I am even entitled to one) is my stupid illness (ME) – I often frequent these pages when too tired. However, mea culpa, I apologise for any confusion.

    The upside is that I will not be making the same mistake – “havanaliedown” is well and truly on my radar. No more “identity theft” for him/her.

    Walks away, not a little embarrassed.

  79. Michael Taylor

    If I’m not mistaken, I’d say that havanaliedown is stalking helvityni.

  80. Kaye Lee

    It is very odd to take someone else’s pic and doctor it.

  81. Michael Taylor

    It’s a bit creepy, actually.

  82. Christine Farmer

    Surely ANZAC day is just the right time to have made such a comment, in hope that our actions of today are seen for what they are. Interfering and, and often destroying, other countries and their way of life. Because we want the military assistance, if needed, of the US – but they will only come to our aid if it suits them. Or because our humanity and imagination are so lacking that we can’t imagine, and don’t care, what it would be like to be in such terror that we’d leave everything we knew and escape however we could. But we’re so precious we can’t possibly be expected to give asylum to such unfortunates.

    Where is our humanity?

    Lest we forget what? Those who died and suffered in war, not just the serving forces, but the families whose lives were horribly altered? The futility and horror of war? We remember the first, but not the second. How many wars has Australia take part in since the Boer War which weren’t aggression against us? Lest we forget, indeed. Not just what happened in two world wars, but what is happening today.

    It seems that it’s because Yassmin is who she is that she is attacked for making what to me is a completely reasonable statement. What happened to free speech?

  83. Greg Wood

    ‘Lest we forget’ our dead is sacrosanct. But we will forget those that we kill, along the silly, often deceitful, reasons that we and our allies go to war in the first place. That seems to me what Yassmin was getting at. Shame we are too precious to grasp that nettle. Maybe that’s a bit of the reason we so readily go to war every time our ‘senior partner’ nations tell us to.

  84. babyjewels10

    I’m with you Jaquix and I agreed with her. Remembering our fallen diggers is important, remembering the tortured souls, at the hands of our government is equally important. I don’t understand the hoo haaa about the words “Lest we forget.” They don’t “belong” to ANZAC Day. They can equally be applied to issues other than ANZAC Day. Seems to me, those who scream loudest about Yassmin’s words are those who mostly support our Government in its appallingly cruel and illegal behaviour. And my father spent 4 years in the Middle East in the NZ Army in WWII and my grandfather’s lungs were burnt out in Germany in WWI. They would turn in their graves if they knew the cruelty which our government uses on desperate people.

  85. Zathras

    I wonder – what would the media and public reaction have been if she wasn’t a Muslim and/or wasn’t employed by the ABC?

    Would the Deputy PM still have threatened to financially pressure her employer to have her sacked?

    I saw this comment on another blog site and it seems to be a good fit here as well.

    “It’s quite simple, freedom of speech is all about white people saying things ABOUT Muslims and people of colour – not the other way round!”

  86. Matters Not

    all about white people saying things ABOUT Muslims and people of colour

    Only part of the story. Don’t forget the bit about how the defamation laws are used by the rich and powerful to silence those who can’t afford to go the legal distance.

  87. Athena

    “I wonder – what would the media and public reaction have been if she wasn’t a Muslim and/or wasn’t employed by the ABC?”

    We already know that. They don’t mind that the Army’s chaplains said the same thing.

    “Would the Deputy PM still have threatened to financially pressure her employer to have her sacked?”

    Probably. Look how hysterical he was over Johnny Depp’s dogs.

  88. havanaliedown

    Lest we forget Pistol and Boo. Now they’re Elon Musk’s problem, apparently.

  89. diannaart

    Another good article from PC.

    Turnbull has all the backbone of rotten lettuce.

  90. paul walter

    No pride and no shame whatsoever, to be used by Abbott and Murdoch like he is.

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