Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Anzac Day

Anzac as  faux patriotism:

"Anzac Day has morphed into Australia's one day of the year when war is a fit place for heroes and not much else. The fact is Anzac Day now is appropriated from supermarkets to the arming of Australian history. The past is now largely seen through the periscope of a Gallipoli Digger and the visor of Ned Kelly. If you think that I am guilty of hyperbole, consider this: Woolworths is selling a Unibic limited edition tin of Anzac biscuits. The lid has an embossed image of shirtless labouring Australian soldiers at Balikpapen, Borneo, in 1945... Anzac Day has become an excrescence of national identity.

"In their 2010 book What's Wrong with Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History, professors Marylin Lake and Henry Reynolds argue persuasively that children in Australia's classrooms are taught, even at preschool level, uncritically, the Anzac story. It is a message of sabre-rattling nationalism under the guise of heritage. Their argument underscores the view that Australian history teaching at school level has become sycophantic and panders to populism. Or, as Lake's and Reynold's book, quoting one former soldier, puts it pithily: 'Australia needs to drop the sentimental garbage that Anzac Day has become. The soldiers of Gallipoli must be honoured; however, they are not apostles to be given religious reverence.'

"The contemporary reality is something else entirely. Australia glories in war and needs it as an assurance of who we are: patriotic and pugnacious. Anzac Day is now the country's annual nationalistic fix. It's an easy conduit for establishing national traits, from suspicion of authority to the mateship ethos. But surely it is time to rethink the heroic war message and disarm Anzac Day." (Anti-war poems can counter hero worship, Christopher Bantick, The Australian, 20/4/13)

Anzac as fetish:

The following text (with accompanying graphic) appeared as a full-page advertisement in the TV guide supplement to last Sunday's Sunday Telelegraph:
A little piece of beach a big part of history...
Make the ANZAC spirit part of your life
Bring it home with the sands of Gallipoli
The Battle of Lone Pine Collection Available Now
Mounted artworks and medallions contain actual sands from Anzac Cove
Visit to view the collection
Proudly supporting SOLDIER ON

Anzac as brainwashing:

"In My Australian Story: Gallipoli, Victor March... 14, sets off on the adventure of his life to defend his country... Victor is an unskilled mine worker forced to leave school to support his family. Like many, he views enlistment as as a chance for change and betterment. Readers follow Victor through his training, his formation of friendships, his landing at Gallipoli and the hardships he faces there. He... transforms from boy to man, from soldier to hero. In many ways, Victor represents every boy who fought at Gallipoli." (From Aleesah Darlison's book review, Tales of heroism for innocent minds, The Sun-Herald, 21/4/13)

Anzac as piss-up:

"Phuket in Thailand is fast getting the reputation as the bogans abroad epicentre, and the behaviour of a group of Aussie males on Anzac Day 2008 did nothing to dispel this. The pack of package tourists let the alcohol and the heat get the better of them in a bar on Patong Beach. The bar was wrecked. Other punters were forced to do a runner rather than get caught up in the melee and 3 locals took a bashing. Not content with this, the group decided to pin it on one of their number. The fall guy woke up in a police cell, unable to talk until nearly midday the next morning because he was so drunk, and had to phone his parents to get the money required to repair the bar. The others had all got their flight home, and left their cohort's luggage and passport at the police station. (Bogan behaviour abroad, David Whitley,