Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the ANZAC Day dawn service at Martin place. As a first-generation immigrant, it felt good to join in solidarity with thousands of my fellow Aussies honouring the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for this country.
It is not only a commemoration of the role our soldiers continue to play but a celebration of values treasured by Australians; the ideals of mateship and putting something bigger than you ahead of yourself. It’s a message worth remembering in an era where self-focus is becoming increasingly emphasised and there is a worrying growth in narcissism. Everyone has an opinion and there are plenty of platforms for broadcasting them. As I type this, I’m keenly aware of the irony that I’m using one right now.
There is nothing ‘glorious’ about the imagery of ANZAC day. War is a disgusting and ugly business. We remember the trenches at Gallipoli, infested with rats and the stench of dead bodies of those who didn’t make it. We think of young men climbing ‘over the top’ and rushing into a hail of Turkish machine gun fire, cut into pieces, their potential wasted. We remember that amidst the poor decisions of those in power who insisted on going to war, these men gave up their lives. In honouring their sacrifice, we acknowledge the value of the lives they give up.
‘Lest we forget’ – because there is no greater sign that their sacrifice has been forgotten than if someone insists on sending our young men and women into battle in another conflict without very good reason. The ‘glory’ in question is how despite the overwhelming odds stacked from the beginning, the Anzacs steeled their resolve, pushed forward through fear and looked out for one-another before themselves – displaying exemplary tenets of humanity in the darkest times of their lives and under immense pressure and danger. We don’t pretend that they were supermen. They were human. And in their humanity, we see an example of personal qualities and conviction anyone can draw inspiration from.
It is a message that honours soldiers, not the decisions that lead to them giving up their lives, not the war that took their lives away from them and definitely not the politics behind the war.
Yet every ANZAC Day, it seems there is no shortage of talking heads ready to pop out of the fertile, organic soil of the hippy establishment, high on the smug fumes of the manure that fertilises them – also 100 per cent organic and gluten free. Talking heads ready to virtue signal to us that we shouldn’t be celebrating. That what we are celebrating are bloodshed and atrocities. That we are only distracting ourselves from the real issues. What real issues? The issues championed by them, obviously. Because God forbid that a single day honouring the sacrifice of soldiers should be left sacred.
This person isn’t a fringe element at a Socialist Alternative meeting on a university campus. This is a mainstream commentator with a platform on our national broadcaster, the ABC. Someone funded by your taxes who used her influential presence to hijack a national day of honouring dead soldiers to parrot pet political causes including the Israel-Palestine conflict and her views on Australia’s border protection policy – views which she is more than entitled to but which have nothing to do with ANZAC Day or our soldiers.
This is someone who has appeared on Q&A, arguing impassionedly that “Islam is the most feminist religion.” She then went home, jumped on Twitter and apologised to domestic violence-condoning radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir for arguing a ‘secular view of religion’, asking them for advice on improving her performance.
It is strange that someone who presents themselves as the friendly, charming face of humanism and a defender of minority rights –
Remains silent when Somali-origin religion critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali is unable to speak in Australia because of death threats from zealots.
Ignores the role that offshore processing of asylum seekers has played in cutting the number of children in detention centres and stopping families from risking their lives and drowning at sea.
Ignores the atrocities committed by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Hamas – groups who openly call for homosexuals to be killed, adulterous women to be stoned and for Israel to be wiped off the map.
In fact, her ANZAC Day brain fart could have just as easily read:
Lest we forget
Of course, this would have been equally distasteful because the principle of hijacking the occasion to push a political agenda would have been the same.
Yassmin Abdel Magied has since apologised and deleted her original post after it was “brought to [her] attention that [her] last post was disrespectful”. The ABC has clarified that it will not take action against her because “her views and opinions in that capacity are her own and do not represent those of the ABC.”
Satyajeet Marar is a Research Associate with the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance.
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