TRUE OPINION: ANZAC Day is Australia’s most sacred of days so dishonour it at your own peril, writes Irfan Yusuf.
Here we are, folks. The most sacred day of the Australian calendar is upon us. No, not Easter or Christmas. Not even Melbourne Cup Day (or Derby Day for those like me unfortunate enough to be West Australian).
I’m talking about ANZAC Day.
It’s a day when we commemorate our nation’s great tradition of going to the other side of the world to fight someone else’s war.
We are so adept at it and have plenty of experience at it. Just ask the Vietnamese, Afghans, Iraqis etc.
ANZAC Day is about Australia. Yes, the Kiwistanis were also involved but who guvs a stuff abioot thim. This was our time to shine. We went off to defeat the Ottoman Empire, to liberate Istanbul and revert it back to its status as Constantinople, the beating heart of the Anglican and/or Catholic church. We were to climb the sandy ridges of the wrong beaches and be victoriously slaughtered at the orders of a colonial fruitcake named Winston Churchill. Our young men were to be mowed down by the machine guns and snipers of a tiny Ottoman force led by a bloke named Mustafa Kemal.
The Ottomans managed to defend their strip of the beach and so save their capital. Istanbul isn’t an Anglican or Catholic city. Their young leader became Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish republic. Winston Churchill went onto greater achievements. His bright ideas for the British armed forces directly led to the 1943 famine in the colonial possessions of Bengal in north-western India. A mere three million Indians died in that famine. At least in sheer numbers, Churchill managed to recreate half the Holocaust. The colonial administration tried to stop photos of the famine being published in the papers. Who needs to deny a genocide when you can just hide it?
And what did Australia get out of this madness? Apart from grieving wives and mums and girlfriends and families back home, we got an excuse to have a public holiday when we can glorify war and celebrate our tradition of mateship, a uniquely Australian characteristic not found anywhere else in the multiverse.
We must never sully the name of ANZAC Day by comparing it to Afghanistan or Palestine or Iraq. Especially if we are a dark-skinned engineer wearing a hijab whose parents migrated from the Sudan. We cannot allow our diggers to be insulted. They fought and died for our freedom to hassle and threaten and silence minorities on the pages of newspapers owned by a true Australian who showed his patriotism by throwing away his Australian citizenship to become an American.
ANZAC Day is about fighting against foreigners in the service of other foreigners. Rarely have Australians ever fought to defend their own territory. Unless it involved massacring Indigenous folk.
Even today, so many of our regions are named after genocidal maniacs. I used to work in a place called Peel, just south of Perth. Peel is named in honour of Thomas Peel, a magnificent individual who established the first British settlers in WA. His shining achievement was to carry out the Pinjarra Massacre in 1834. Even today many allegedly progressive local organisations (including the community legal centre where I once worked) honour his name, notwithstanding the large number of Noongar clients on their books.
Now here’s an interesting fact about the brave ANZACs. And yes, they were very brave. So brave that they gave their lives fighting under the flag. No, not our flag. The ANZACs fought under the Union Jack, a bastardised combination of the St George Cross and the crosses of other neighbouring people the Poms colonised and massacred.
So while we fly Chinese-made Aussie flags on ANZAC Day, our diggers fought under a foreign flag. Even on the first ANZAC Day celebrations, Irish-Australian veterans managed to piss everyone off by refusing to march under the Union Jack, preferring instead to hold the Australian flag to show their disdain for an empire that sent their people into famine.
So there you have it, folks. A brown-skinned Muslim whose parents were born in Delhi has just written a blasphemous piece about ANZAC Day. I urge you all to write to The Australian, Daily Telegraph and any other American-owned newspaper at your disposal. Ring up Sky News Australia After Dark and tell them how disgusted you are. Have me lose my job at the ABC (not that I have one), get threatened and hopefully deported back to where I come from. Not that I can afford the house prices in East Ryde anymore.
Because these are the culture wars the diggers fought and died for!