What an outrage:
"The desecration of dozens of graves at Commonwealth war cemetaries in Libya, in an apparent revenge attack by Islamic extremists, has left surviving Australian veterans of the bloody desert campaign shocked and distressed. Footage has appeared on the internet of militiamen uprooting, smashing and kicking headstones of the war dead, in vandalism the Returned Services League last night branded 'beyond the pale'. The attack last week at the cemeteries in Benghazi - the last resting place for more than 1100 Commonwealth troops, including more than 40 Australians - appears to have been orchestrated in retaliation for the burning of the Koran by US troops in Afghanistan." (Digger graves destroyed by Islamic mob, Mark Dodd, The Australian, 5/3/12)
This dreadful news literally catapulted me back to the deathless prose of one-time Australian columnist David Burchell, who sadly seems, to use his oft-repeated signature simile, to have "vanished like a wraith" from its pages.
You don't forget writing such as this in a hurry:
"Seventy years ago my father, along with 14,000 other Australians of the Ninth Division, was domiciled in the sleepy Libyan coastal town of Tobruk, where all year round the sky shone a fierce blue, the earth glowed red, and the ferocious heat of the day and numbing cold of night seemed drawn from some other planet, where the seasons spin by in a single day... Like others of that stoical and self-effacing generation my father said as little as possible about his experiences in that awful, gutted, fly-blown wreck of a town where so many of his friends and comrades are buried. Scour the photographs of that momentous siege today, though, and you are struck by the seemingly indefatigable optimism and self-confidence of that generation of young Australians, by the awful wreckage of their physical surroundings, in that pretty seaside town turned to rubble - and lastly by the absence of the local population, who seem to have vanished like wraiths." (Libyans failed by Left orientalism, The Australian, 28/2/11)
Burchell went on, by way of lashing Edward Said and his "soulmate" Noam Chomsky, to extol the youth of the Middle East (Palestinians excepted, of course) who were calling as one for "democracy, freedom, [and] women's rights."
"What seems obvious," pontificated our pundit, is that "the young Libyans in the streets of Tobruk, Benghazi and Tripoli... merely want to live... in a 'normal' country, where their persons will be treated with dignity and their views with respect."
In later columns, while arguing for Western intervention on their behalf, he hailed the rebels as the "young heroes of Benghazi" (Rebels live and die by Western ideals, 21/3/11) and asserted confidently that their 'revolution' aimed simply for "the restoration of sanity" (Carping critics betray ideals, 4/4/11).
And then he just vanished like a wraith!
As, it seems, have the "young heroes of Benghazi" - replaced with NATO-jihadis, who've taken time off from torturing perceived enemies, to trash David's Daddy's friends' graves.
David, revered pundit, in whichever etheric dimension you now flit, please, please come back and tell us what happened to the heroic, democratic, freedom-loving youth of Benghazi.