Monday, April 19, 2010

Truths that are hidden by 'lest we forget': ANZAC Day and selective rememberance

"War, in short prompted behaviour that would have been unthinkable, as well as dysfunctional in peacetime... War- total war- has been the critical antecedent condition for mass criminality in the modern era"
Tony Judt 2008
Anzac Day is fast approaching and with it comes jingoism, nationalism, memorialization and glorification of war. I am all for respecting and acknowledging the sacrifice and courage of Australian soldiers, but what we get with Anzac Day is "selective remembering": the promotion and popularization of a mythology that accords legitimacy to some truths about Australia's military history and silences others. Much of the history of Anzac Day does not enhance our appreciation and awareness of Australian history. It serves as substitute.

During Anzac Day there is no place for alternative political narratives about Australia's past and current military history. We hear nothing about, the foreign invasion of sovereign nations by Australian troops; the exploitation of Australian troops by Imperial powers (USA and Britain) ; the lies and deceit that have been used time and time again to justify Australia's involvement in overseas wars (Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan); the pointlessness of Australia's involvement in the geo-political maneuvers of imperial powers; Australia's unquestioning involvement in imperial wars since the Boer War; the incompetence and callousness of military and political decision makers- American, British and Australian; the horror, brutality and pointlessness of war; the atrocities perpetrated by the Australian military and their allies; the brutalizing effect of war on ordinary soldiers and their families and on civilians; the abandonment of many Australian soldiers by the Australian military and government once they return home from war; the bellicose attitudes to war and the political uses that military, media and political leaders make of the Australia's military history.

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