Thursday, April 28, 2016
On Anzac Day Dissent And Political Correctness
Michael Brull is a far-Leftist Australian Jew. So he hates Israel and Australia in roughly equal measures. But he is always good for a laugh. His talent for missing the point is unfailing. As with many Leftist articles, his article below is very long-winded. I have however reproduced it all so that people can see that he just doesn't get it.
Yet his basic point can be expressed quite simply. He says that Leftist criticism of the ANZAC commemorations is somehow disallowed or suppressed. But he quite spoils his own argument by listing towards the beginning of his article all the Leftists who HAVE criticised it, some of them quite prominent.
And if such criticisms have been suppressed, how is it that way back in the benighted early '60s my junior High School curriculum included a study of what is probably the most anti-ANZAC story ever written -- Seymour's "One day of the year". And that was during the Prime Ministership of Sir Robert Menzies, an archetypal conservative. Brull is talking through his anus.
He seems to have realized that his article lacked point and was wandering all around the place like Brown's cows so he concluded it by saying: "We are entitled to different values, and we are entitled to say so". It's a conclusion that is quite detached from the rest of his article. If he had shown that someone has denied him those entitlements, it might have made sense -- but he did not. All he shows is that conservatives sometimes criticize criticisms from Leftists. Is it not allowed to criticize Leftist criticisms? Is it only Leftists who are allowed to criticize? He seems to think so: Typical Leftist bigotry.
The big thing that is totally missing from his article is any awareness that ANZAC day is a day on which we remember the premature deaths of our relatives. I had relatives who died in both world wars. I never knew them. I was too young at the time. But I know the families and know they must have been people like me who felt like me and I know how grievous their deaths were at the time. An uncle Freddie of mine in particular was much loved and I regret that I never got the chance to know him.
And most people who attend ANZAC day ceremonies are like that. Their degree of closeness to the dead will vary but they will all be mourning relatives. And the ex-servicemen who march will be remembering close friends who were lost.
And enlisting in the armed forces is an heroic act. We walk into great danger. We offer to put our lives on line to defend our families from an enemy. And on ANZAC day we honour that heroism
And, Yes. I myself did voluntarily enlist and serve in the Australian army in the Vietnam era. I never got to Vietnam but I did apply to go
Go beyond the tedium of mainstream Anzac Day coverage and you’ll see the meaning ascribed to the Day, and the way the history around it is constructed, remain hotly contested. In a fundamentally political disagreement, shutting sceptics out should be seen as an act of political correctness, writes Michael Brull.
Once again, Anzac Day has sneaked up on me. For those of us who are unpatriotic, it is easy to feel like we’re a negligible minority. It is easy to think that your feelings of ambivalence, indifference, or even hostility to Anzac Day are totally marginal and isolated. It is just you and a few of your friends, while the rest of the nation patriotically gets up early and cries on cue at the heroism of our diggers. Yet the truth is that there is plenty of dissent about Anzac. The only reason you don’t hear about it so often is that it’s usually shut out of the mainstream media.
Right-wingers are perfectly aware of this. Since 2009, right-wing historian Mervyn Bendle has been complaining about academics trashing the Anzac legend, in a series of long and tedious essays for Quadrant. The “intelligentsia and the Left”, he complains, offer a perfunctory nod to the bravery of the Australian soldiers in World War One, only to follow by emphasising what they think really matters: an approach which is “always critical, debunking and even denunciatory of the legend, applying a form of methodological nihilism to allege that at the core of the Anzac legend there is nothing—only meaninglessness, futility, error, ‘a nightmare happening in a void’ as George Orwell remarked of Great War literature. Alternatively, if there is something at the core of the legend, it is shown by the revisionist to be unworthy, wicked and iniquitous—militarism, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, masculinism—and therefore can and must be condemned and ridiculed.”
One summary of a collection of academic writings by Adrian Howe, an Associate Professor at RMIT University, identifies the Anzac legend as “a masculinist and British imperialist military tradition”; a “nationalistic, militaristic tradition [that is]class-based, race-based, ethnocentric and male-centred”; while Anzac Day is “a day celebrating Anglo-Australian manhood, militarism and a bloody defeat in an imperialist war [and]should be abolished”.
The list of offending scholars is long. They include Anthony Burke, Mark McKenna, Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake, James Brown, and David Horner. Military historians come in for a particular scolding, including Joan Beaumont, Brown and Horner again, Peter Stanley, and two books edited by Craig Stockings. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating is also counted among the unpatriotic. Bendle grumbles that in a speech, Keating “largely regurgitated the nihilist view that the conflict was pointless and futile, which has long been the default ideological position of the Left.” Alas, Keating dismissed “the war as the lamentable product of European tribalism, ethnic atavism, nationalism and racism in which Australia had no stake”.
Bendle assures readers in the tiny, largely unread magazine of the aggressive, purportedly highbrow intellectual right that Keating’s “facile, unhistorical ramblings” are wrong: “the Anzacs who sacrificed their lives or their health in battle did so for a great cause. To pretend otherwise is to betray their memory.” Thus, to doubt the cause of World War One, 100 years later is to betray the soldiers. It turns out that to be properly patriotic, we must not just mourn the dead. We must also celebrate the reasons they were sent to die.
In a sense, Anzac Day isn’t just about remembering suffering of soldiers. The sanctification of their memory is done with a political intent, with particular political aims.
The parallels to today are not hard to find. Many people thought it was really terrific how there were such widespread demonstrations around the world before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Even if they didn’t stop the war, at least they showed anti-war sentiment. Was there any precedent for such anti-imperialism?
Yes, there was. Adam Hochschild reminds us of the large anti-war demonstrations across Europe before World War One. As Austria declared war on Serbia, 100,000 protesters converged at the heart of Berlin against war. The French Socialist leader Jean Jaurès stood with his arm around Hugo Haase, co-chair of the German Social Democrats, before an audience of Belgian workers. In Britain, Keir Hardie spoke to an enormous crowd at Trafalgar Square, “the largest demonstration there in years”. To wild cheers, according to Hochschild, he urged a general strike in the event of war.
As is known, these protests more or less ended as the war started. As in 2003, the media decided to “support our soldiers”. Like Bendle, this support for the soldiers in practical terms meant stifling any doubts or criticisms about the cause for which they were sent. Though the interests of soldiers and the politicians who command them are not necessarily the same, they are conflated by leading political figures. The loyal scribes of these politicians assure the public that to doubt the politicians is to doubt the soldiers, and how dare anyone cast aspersions on those risking their lives to keep us safe and defend our freedom? How dare anyone belittle the sacrifice of the soldiers, by questioning the values and wisdom of the politicians who send them into harm’s way?
Last year, Scott McIntyre was fired from the SBS for his blasphemies about Anzac Day, at the behest of Malcolm Turnbull, then, judging by Turnbull’s own words, the Minister for Right-Wing Communications. Though McIntyre’s tweets were condensed due to the nature of the medium, his supposedly inflammatory comments were duly analysed by academic specialists on the Anzacs. Professor Phillip Dwyer, Director of the Centre for the History of Violence at University of Newcastle, agreed that the Anzacs were “no angels”, whose members included those who behaved in “overtly racist manner”, and also rapes and summary executions. Geoff Lemon observed that it was hard to argue that Gallipoli was “an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with”.
Recording historical facts about wrongdoing by Anzacs makes it harder to valorise the soldiers. They shift from becoming our heroic diggers, to human beings, many of whom acted in the flawed ways armies often act in conflict zones. Yet historians have not just challenged the factual basis for hero-ising the soldiers. They are also resolutely sceptical about the value of worshipping the Anzacs. Frank Bongiorno commented that “Anzac’s inclusiveness has been achieved at the price of a dangerous chauvinism that increasingly equates national history with military history, and national belonging with a willingness to accept the Anzac legend as Australian patriotism’s very essence.”
Academics are not infallible. Academic specialists can be wrong, just as academic specialties can function to mostly serve power. Anyone who has too much reverence for academic specialists should revisit the performance of all the economists who failed to predict the 2008 crash. They may know more than the rest of us about what happened during the war, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily more right about the reverence with which the Anzacs should be treated.
My point in reviewing their Anzac scepticism is not to suggest that academics verify or vindicate such suspicion. It is to suggest that jingoism tries to pretend a moral or political disagreement is somehow inherently illegitimate. There are many different ways to approach history. Trying to sanctify one approach to one aspect, and acting horrified at those who dissent from this particular approach is a political act.
As noted by Jumbunna researcher Paddy Gibson, in response to Aboriginal protests of Invasion Day, Prime Minister Bob Hawke started to push Anzac Day as an alternative to Australia Day as a way to cement Australian nationalism. This support for Anzac Day since the late 1980s has revived and reshaped Anzac Day, as the government has sought to push Anzac Day, and the particular values of its modern incarnation, on the general public. This culminated in the extravaganza of last year, when the government spent over $300 million on Anzac commemorations. Yet there were signs this had limited effects. Australians didn’t tune in to the World War One documentaries. Attempts to flog Anzac merchandise were increasingly seen as tacky. Everyone tried to cash in. Woolworths and Target put the Anzacs in their marketing. Now folded soft-porn mag Zoo featured a woman in a bikini with a poppy to mark the special day.
This kind of marketing was seen by some as exploitative. But using Anzac Day as a way to promote the virtue of World War One while hiding behind the political sanctity of Australian soldiers who died seems comparably cynical.
If we’re going to remember the past, and celebrate parts of it, why single out Australian soldiers? Why not celebrate Aboriginal warriors, who died resisting the invasion of their land and the decimation of their peoples and cultures? Why not celebrate trade unionists, who secured some of the best working conditions and entitlements across the world, and kept Australia one of the more egalitarian Western countries until the 1980s? Why not celebrate the suffragettes, who earned white women the vote in Australia before most of the rest of the world? Why not celebrate the activists for Aboriginal rights, who fought for land rights, treaty and sovereignty? Or those who won Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the vote, and dismantled most elements of formal racial discrimination in Australia? Why not remember and celebrate the Australians who fought against World War One? Or those who successfully campaigned against conscription in Australia during World War One, or those who successfully ended Australian involvement in the war on Vietnam?
We can imagine a conservative response to these suggestions. Ah, but you see, these are political choices. Celebrating feminists, anti-imperialists, Aboriginal resistance and trade unionists doesn’t reflect the entire political spectrum. We couldn’t base nationalism on the political values of a segment of the population. It would leave out the rest of us.
Perhaps that’s fair enough. But what about those who feel left out by Anzac Day? Honouring those who fought in a war, while refusing to permit reflections on whether the war was unjust or not, is political. And so are nationalism and patriotism.
Some people may be proud Australians, who think ours is the greatest country on earth, with a largely, if not entirely unblemished history. Those who disagree are not committing a crime, they are simply engaged in a political disagreement. Australians who are horrified at Anzac sceptics are simply trying to enforce their political correctness on the rest of us. We are entitled to different values, and we are entitled to say so.
Police close down Facebook page exposing Police bullying and suicides
NSW Police have abused their power and in effect directed Facebook to take down a support page for police, former police and their families who are dealing with mental health problems such as stress, depression and to help with suicide prevention. Posts on the page were broad and allowed people with mental health issues to reach out for support while other posts gave families and friends the opportunity to pay tribute to deceased officers.
It seems the only reason that the Facebook page (The Forgotten 300) was taken down is that a few posts criticized some serving officers and other posts were critical of the lack of support within the police force for officers and former officers suffering mental health issues.
The police have admitted that they had Facebook take down the page (18th March 2016) yet there was no allegation that any crime had been committed or anyone had been defamed. There was no legal basis given to have the page taken down so one has to assume there is none.
The NSW police say they did not like the fact that a number of serving officers were criticised on the page:
“With regards to the Forgotten 300 Facebook page, I can confirm that the NSW Police Force did contact Facebook regarding concerns over numerous posts considered offensive and detrimental to the wellbeing of particular serving officers.”
“My understanding is that Facebook independently reviewed those posts and has taken action in accordance with their own terms and conditions.”
“The NSW Police Force respects the privacy and wellbeing of all its employees. If content appears on social media channels that is offensive and causing distress to current officers, we have an obligation and responsibility to ensure these officer’s wellbeing and will act to provide advice and support.”
They say “posts considered offensive and detrimental to the wellbeing of particular serving officers”. Where is the evidence supporting that statement? And where is the concern, when the page was deleted, for the stress and duress suffered by people who used the Ther Forgotten 300 page for support?
You can’t close down the internet
The Forgotten 300 Facebook page had over 54,000 followers and was started in 2012 when the NSW state government capped compensation claims for injured police. The 300 related to the number of officers that were short-changed the compensation they would have been previously entitled to. The page was started by the wife of a former police officer.
In 2013 the administration of the page was handed to former police officer Berrick Boland. The Forgotten 300 page was deleted by Facebook on the 18th March 2016 and while it did get some media coverage (Click here to read) it should have been a lot more.
Berrick Boland has not sat idle since the page was taken down and another page has been set up called The Forgotten 000’s which has been broadened to cover all emergency services people such as Firefighters and Ambulance Drivers etc. Mr Boland has also set up a website https://theforgotten000s.com which is still under construction awaiting a first post but will be up and running soon.
Labor’s child care ‘crocodile tears’
Labor’s rank child care hypocrisy was on stark display in an astonishing press release today that ignored the work the Coalition has done to reduce the ballooning child care fee growth that became the norm under Labor.
“The reality is that this Government hasn’t done a single thing to help families access affordable child care.” - Kate Ellis, Media release, 24/4/16
What the Opposition spokesperson for early childhood Kate Ellis has hoped no one would remember is that child care fees grew at an average of 7.8 per cent per year during Labor’s time in government and spiked up to 12.5 per cent in 2009.
That’s compared to the Coalition’s record where we’ve brought that growth under control, with child care costs increasing by only 3.6 per cent in the last year.
What this shows is that we have reduced the growing cost burden for families and taxpayers by taking action to cap certain types of hourly fees and streamline payments to parents who are studying.
In an act of startling admission, Labor also confirmed that their stalling and blocking tactics have prevented almost one million families getting more accessible, affordable and fairer child care.
“This is nothing but a cruel promise to hard working families – to pretend to offer help and get their hopes up…” - Kate Ellis, Media release, 24/4/16
At every turn Labor has stood in the way of the savings required to fund the Coalition’s more than $3 billion additional investment in child care that will give more children access to early education and care and will support families and parents who most depend upon child care in order to work, or work more.
Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis have zero credibility when it comes to child care and pre-school education. Their mistakes in government left a legacy of accelerating fee increases.
Labor’s 2008 change to the Child Care Rebate, without a check on what providers could charge, was described by the Productivity Commission report into the sector as having “accelerated” the climb of child care fees (Page 391), meaning families and taxpayers pay more.
Where the Turnbull Government has tried to fix Labor’s mistakes, the Opposition has only sought to play politics and cry crocodile tears while families suffer.
The Coalition is the only party with a plan to deliver the flexible, accessible and affordable child care system that today’s modern families require.
Press release from Sen. Birmingham
Anti-Islam parties after your vote on election day
THEY’RE the far right wing parties hoping for a Trump-style revolution in Australia at the federal election.
From a party calling for an end to the “Islamisation of Australia” to another whose leader has a criminal past — how much do Australians know about these parties?
After being deposed as prime minister last year, Tony Abbott warned that a splinter right-wing movement could damage the Coalition.
“The last thing we need is another conservative party, particularly a rogue conservative party that is raging against the world. That’s the last thing we need,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax last year. He also said the emergence of One Nation almost led to defeat for John Howard in 1998.
Will the rise of Donald Trump in the US, some Coalition voters disenchanted with Malcolm Turnbull and the rising threat of terrorism lead to a groundswell of support for these extreme parties? What realistic chances do they have on July 2 or are they just standing for election to make some noise? News.com.au went to find out.
Jim Saleam is a survivor of far right politics in Australia. He has stood in elections since the 1980s, helped start the nationalist party National Action in 1982 and has spent time in jail. He now runs the Australia First Party out of his home on a busy highway in Tempe, south of Sydney.
The party will have candidates contesting the Federal Election, including Dr Saleam standing in the western Sydney seat of Lindsay.
It is an important area for the anti-immigration party, with debate over a mosque at Kemps Creek helping Australia First gain some traction.
(The party had a councillor elected to Penrith Council in 2012 before he resigned from the party to continue on council as an independent councillor).
Most recently, Dr Saleam stood against Treasurer Scott Morrison at the 2013 election and only gained 617 votes.
But the party isn’t really interested in getting elected. It’s just keen to get its controversial message out there. “We see the electoral process as a chance to put some of our views out there but also an opportunity to mobilise people around movements and issues,” Dr Saleam tells news.com.au.
The party’s “eight core policies” include an end to multiculturalism and limiting immigration to white Europeans.
They want to see the White Australia policy reinstated. “I had the great privilege of being born into that sort of Australia. And I made a personal decision many years ago that my children would die in that sort of Australia,” Dr Saleam said.
He mocked other far right parties such as the Australian Liberty Alliance that are opposed to Islamic immigration. “Diversity minus Islam is still diversity.
“As Pauline Hanson always says there’s a right way and a wrong way (to enter Australia). We say, ‘No right way, no wrong way, no way’.”
He believes Australians are being “ethnically cleansed”.
But Dr Saleam’s past and the party’s extreme views mean it will never attract a big following.
(The party was deregistered last year because of a lack of members, only to be reinstated this year when it reached the minimum number of members of 500).
In the 1990s, he was jailed for three and a half years for supplying a gun to two men who shot up the home of an African National Congress representative.
(After getting out of jail, Dr Saleam spent five years at Sydney University where he did a PhD on right wing politics in Australia).
He still maintains he was set up by the police and his case was one of “four great political trials in Australia”.
As for being labelled a racist, he doesn’t seem to mind. “I really don’t care. It’s something that’s inevitably said because obviously I exercise a racial preference,” he said.
“The label of racist doesn’t really disturb me that much, it’s more (important) that people read what we actually do say.”
Kirralie Smith rose to prominence with her anti-halal website Halal Choices, which has more than 24,000 followers on Facebook and aims to take action against the halal industry. She saw a move into politics as the next logical step.
She will contest the Federal Election in the NSW Senate with the new far right-wing party Australian Liberty Alliance. The anti-immigration party will have candidates running for the Senate in every state and territory. The party was launched by anti-immigration Dutch MP Geert Wilders late last year, with Ms Smith saying it now has “thousands of members”.
Ms Smith is quick to point out the party has 21 policies, but its anti-Islam stance has naturally drawn the most attention. Among its core policies is to “stop the Islamisation of Australia” and for “integration over separation”.
“Islam is not merely a religion, it is a totalitarian ideology with global aspirations,” the party’s website says. The party says Islam “seeks dominance over all aspects of human life and society”.
Ms Smith got involved with the party because of her concern about “political correctness”. “I thought if I waited any longer then we might be in real trouble,” she told news.com.au.
Ms Smith said political correctness was “shutting down debate” on issues such as same sex marriage and the Safe Schools policy.
Mr Wilders has been a controversial figure in European politics. He has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and called for it to be banned.
“I may not agree with every statement he’s made, but I generally agree with his sentiment. I’m generally on the same page, but maybe I wouldn’t say things the same way he does,” Ms Smith said.
“I’ve read the Koran, but haven’t read Mein Kampf, so I couldn’t make that comparison. But what I will say is the Koran is an extremely dangerous book. “There are over 100 passages that incite violence against non-Muslims.”
Ms Smith said claims the party was racist were “ignorant”. “We have members of all backgrounds and all ethnic grounds and all belief systems, well almost all belief systems,” she said.
When asked if the party had any Muslim members, Ms Smith said: “I don’t know, I don’t know every member”.
The party and Ms Smith have been likened to Trump because of calls for zero immigration, with Ms Smith laughing off any similarities. “That’s just sensationalism,” she said. “I’m not going for prime minister, but I just call a spade a spade. That’s about as far as the comparison can go.”
It was Pauline Hanson’s One Nation that was the first right wing party to win widespread appeal when it was formed in 1997.
The party outpolled the Greens and the Australian Democrats in the following year’s Federal Election in the lower house. They received one million votes for the Senate to win one seat.
Now back at the helm of One Nation, Ms Hanson will run for a Queensland Senate seat at the Federal Election.
Ms Hanson, who has been more known for her appearance on Dancing with the Stars in recent years, shot to fame with her maiden speech in Parliament in 1996.
Then the independent MP for Oxley, she said Australia was being “swamped by Asians”. “(They) have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate,” she said.
Twenty years later, Ms Hanson said voters had realised what she said all those years ago had proven correct. “I’ve been on the political scene for 20 years and people are realising that what I said years ago is actually happening,” she told news.com.au.
In her maiden speech, she also called for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) to be disbanded (it was in 2005) and opposed privatising Telstra.
Ms Hanson also said offshore processing for asylum seekers was another One Nation policy later implemented.
The former fish and chip shop owner has contested state and federal elections in recent years without success. Last year she narrowly lost the seat of Lockyer in the Queensland State Election by 214 votes after preferences.
She said changes to Senate voting at the July 2 election would give her a greater chance of a return to federal politics. “Previously the Liberals, Nationals and the Greens have always preferenced One Nation last. This gives the preferences back to the voters,” she said. Ms Hanson said preferences had always “destroyed” One Nation.
But Ms Hanson was dismissive of parties such as the Australian Liberty Alliance.
“They’re a one issue party — you’ve got to look beyond that,” Ms Hanson told news.com.au.