With Anzac Day upon us, I believe we should resist over politicising it. The day already has a clear point, one that doesn’t require our subjective obfuscation.
My uncle is one of those we’re asked to remember today. He was a victim of an unpopular war, a breathing casualty. I never knew him, except through vague family anecdote. He was prone to not wearing shoes as much as he was prone to disappearing.
He was called, the rest of us, by virtue of timing or luck, were not. That being said, our family is not a militaristic one. Every year, we quietly think of him, the prototypical unknown more soldier sits on our mantle next to familiar faces. But this year, I wish he was still around, as I’d love to see what he thinks of the conversation surrounding today.
I feel it has recently changed. It is no longer a day of peace, but rather an excuse to start our own fights.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Times roll on, we view history, and we change with it. Australia Day is a date that is up for debate, as it remains harmful to a selection of the populace. Trenches are drawn, and machine-gun rhetoric is fired over the parapet. To be fair, it’s an extremely political day, and as such, is subject to the politicism of today. However, that same politicism is being marched over to today is misguided, and steps to the rhythmic snare drum of confirmation bias.
Nationalism in this country seems to be an issue on both sides. On the surface one accepts it, the other refuses it. Although to be accurate, both are technically nationalism, as both left and right are fighting to be proud of the nation as they see it. To the left, today is another day of toxic bogan revelry, masking colonialism, whereas the right see it as a time honoured tradition of Australian exceptionalism.
Both are incorrect.
Last year, we saw this in the shoes of Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who, for want of a better term, was the goat tied to the stake, as her Anzac Day tweet about asylum seekers was the match that started a fire, which swelled to an inferno courtesy of the dry winds of newspaper headlines and the kindling of Twitter hot takes that torched the surrounding hills of similar issues. It was the great fire of discourse, which sadly eventuated in her leaving the country, and the rest of us to our respective corners of the room. Twelve months on, we’ve learned nothing from it, as both sides are just waiting, praying for someone to say something.
Have we voted yet on who to cast into the Outer Darkness this Anzac Day?
— John Birmingham (@JohnBirmingham) April 19, 2018
Anzac Day is one that doesn’t need extra politicism attached to it. It’s a day that should (and has in the past) that speaks for itself. However, we’ve started speaking for it. The acts of a century ago are now subject to subjective revisionism. Whether it be guided by being “woke” or closeted racism, the obvious point has been twisted. Lest we forget…to add our two cents in. It should remain a day of honest reflection, honouring those who were lost, while simultaneously endeavouring not to do the same again.
Anyone uses today to wear a flag of jingoism, or burn it, are missing the point.
The prototypical war scribe Wilfred Owen, the poet who charted the horrors of the front before it claimed him, spoke the truth, articulating the old lie that sent many to a premature death on the basis of a duty: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”
Today, we should take note of the silent greying remnants of war gone by, their fleeting number should serve as an obvious reminder to not do the same again. It’s not a day to promote war, but to take note of the auspices that lead to it, and understand why those who fought felt compelled to do so.
Today, I feel we should reflect, not deflect the issue.