Gallipoli not the only war to define Australian warfare
Gary Foley Sydney Morning Herald April 25, 2014
As an Aboriginal person who had family serve in World War I, I am acutely aware that there are many Aboriginal families who had relatives who fought at Gallipoli. I am nevertheless always deeply concerned each Anzac Day about the way in which Gallipoli has become so politicised in the evolving memory of so many Australians. As historian Don Watson has written, ‘the more politicians and media commentators talk of the values of Anzac Day, traduce it for convenient contemporary instruction and daub themselves with the soldiers’ moral courage, the more like a kitsch religion it becomes’.
In the process of the politicisation of Anzac Day and events almost a century ago on the Gallipoli peninsula, I feel that many Australians are further entrenching an attitude of denial about key aspects of their own history. They are seeking to divert attention away from earlier wars that had more to do with defining the Australian national character than Gallipoli did. By that I mean the colonial ‘wars’ that many in Australia still have great difficulty in even accepting as wars.
The politicisation of our historical memory can be seen through two phases…….
………. as prominent historian Henry Reynolds asserts, ‘If there was no war, then thousands of Aborigines were murdered in a century-long, continent-wide crime wave tolerated by government. There seems to be no other option. It must be one or the other’.
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