Australia

Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s ANZAC Day saga

Now that things have calmed down and common sense is starting to prevail again, I must confess I agree with everything Jane Gilmore had to say about the utter ridiculousness and hypocrisy of the Yassmin Abdel-Magied furore.

In the past, I have conceded that Yassmin is young and perhaps a little naïve, but that’s not a crime. More importantly, her heart is in the right place, and not in a venomous and hateful state which aptly describes most who publicly oppose her.

I must also admit that in the context of ANZAC Day, I often think of the victims of the wars that continue to flare around the globe, and our young solders, who continue to be put in harm’s way, often in highly dubious circumstances, and on the basis of questionable motivations – as if we had learned nothing from most of our previous military engagements.

So, how did the Australian Army define ANZAC Day in a Dawn Service speech?

Today is a special day when we remember all those, whether service personnel or civilians, of every nation, who suffered or continue to suffer through war.

What did Yassmin post?

LEST. WE. FORGET.
(Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)

A few hours into the ‘outrage’ that followed her Facebook post (which she did delete soon after posting, with a fresh post apologising for any offence caused), it had become clear that an orchestrated social media campaign against Yassmin was being largely led, and egged on, by racist, and misogynistic neo-Nazis, and far-right thugs, who are usually over at Clementine Ford or Mariam Veiszadeh’s Facebook page, abusing them, calling them names that I cannot reproduce here, and frequently threatening them with rape and murder.

You know, the people who idolise the leader of the genocidal regime Australian soldiers died fighting in WWII.

Put those ‘values’ on the proposed Australian citizenship values test Prime Minister, especially since the new policy is arguably designed to appease those very people.

And they dare permit the words ‘respect’ and ‘ANZAC’ to pass their lips … I would also add that many of these people cowardly hide behind anonymity, and fake social media profiles.

These were also pretty much the same people who abused Muslim Labor MP Anne Aly on ANZAC Day over ugly, false allegations that were made up.

To be subjected to this kind of malicious abuse all you need is to be the ‘wrong’ gender, colour, and/or religion – or to be standing in solidarity with the same.

Meanwhile, Sydney University lecturer, and supporter of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Tim Anderson posted the following, among other things, to Twitter on ANZAC Day:

Lest We Forget: Australian military involvement in the 17 Sept 2016 murder of almost 100 Syrian soldiers, as they were fighting ISIS terrorists

and

When Australia stops collaborating with imperial powers to attack other peoples, I will celebrate ANZAC Day

I don’t recall seeing the outrage …

Sadly, much of the online commentary targeted at Yassmin was far more offensive and disgraceful than Yassmin’s original, reflective Facebook post.

Unfortunately, certain politicians have been dog-whistling for some time now, for their own nefarious political purposes, to bigots, haters, ignoramuses, and racists, as exemplified by the recent section 18C debacle.

They have been maliciously promoting division, and fanning the flames of hatred, only to see it turn into an uncontrollable bushfire. They carelessly forgot, or intentionally ignored, the fact that hatred is blind and uninformed, and tends to escalate quickly, viciously targeting everything that’s ‘different’.

And once you let the genie out of the bottle, once there is a sense of ‘entitlement’ to being a bigot and a racist, it’s not easy to put that genie back into the bottle.

People do have a right to be bigots, you know. In a free country, people do have rights to say things that other people find offensive, insulting or bigoted.
George Brandis, Attorney-General of Australia (Australian Senate Hansard, 24 March 2014 at 14:16)

As for ‘politicising’ and recasting ANZAC Day, successive governments have been doing a pretty good job at that themselves, especially over the past decade or two, creating a politically helpful but factually shaky narrative.

For God’s sake, don’t glorify Gallipoli – it was a terrible fiasco, a total failure and best forgotten.
Alexander William “Alec” Campbell (26 February 1899 – 16 May 2002), the final surviving Australian participant of the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War

Sigh …

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