If only Wikileaker Julian Assange was in the Government and could leak the actual footage of these mysterious focus groups that found Anzac Day was ‘divisive’ because of multiculturalism.
It’s hard to imagine who, specifically, is planning to be offended by the World War I centenary commemorations. Unless some dopey focus group leader who desperately needed something to put in the ‘possible issues’ column sketched some outrageous possibilities such as gory re-enactments of Australian soldiers killing Turks, or Vietnamese.
According to today’s Daily Telegraph, the Federal Government commissioned research and focus group testing that found multiculturalism means commemorating the centenary of Anzac Day is a “double-edged sword” and a “potential area of divisiveness”.
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A genuine American war ace who did his greatest fighting 70 years ago over the skies of Darwin has passed away in California at the age of 95.
Colonel James Morehead played a crucial role in the defence of Australia, and proved with his courage that formations of the feared AM6 Mitsubishi Zeros and long-range bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy were not invincible.
He ended the war having shot down eight enemy planes, most of them off Darwin, flying in P-40s. These planes, the ones famously painted with shark teeth, were hopelessly outclassed by the faster and in all ways superior Zeros.
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The murder of 16 Afghan civilians by a lone US soldier in Afghanistan this week is a tragic incident, which destroys the fundamental principles upon which this population-centric war is being fought.
This war is as much about winning the hearts and minds of the population as killing the enemy. If the Coalition forces and the Afghan Government cannot be seen to protect the population, then the only alternative is the Taliban.
Counterinsurgency is the military’s version of what our civil criminal and social justice systems do in areas riddled by crime, drugs and a cycle of inter-generational poverty. Whether it’s Afghanistan or the Bronx, the population is the prize and it is no-longer acceptable just to shoot the bad guys.
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As we approach the Centenary of World War I, we start to think about the tremendous sacrifice so many of our diggers made. It is unimaginable to think that over 60,000 young men died in Gallipoli and the Western Front.
When you visit the battlefields of France and Belgium and the cemeteries and memorials you see countless numbers of white crosses honoring the fallen. Many of those crosses are for soldiers who are “Known Only to God”.
At the various memorials such as VC Corner and Menin Gate the names of those who were missing in action are engraved in stone. The Australian Government’s official estimation is there are approximately 18,000 Diggers lying under the fields of France and Belgium.
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But for a sniper’s sticky trigger, I would not be sitting here writing a last minute article about forgetting to remember Remembrance Day.
For those whose history is a little fuzzy, what was first known as Armistice Day commemorates the moment the guns of the Western Front fell silent at the end of the First World War, at 11am on 11 November 1918.
It became Remembrance Day after the Second World War, and has since become an opportunity for us to pay tribute to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in conflicts past and present. At 11am, time stands still.
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It worked for playwright Alan Seymour 50 years ago and it is working for historians Henry Reynolds and Marilyn Lake today. Having a dig at Anzac, that is.
Reynolds and Lake, fine historians both, are making ripples with their new book, the provocatively titled What’s Wrong with Anzac? The questionmark is a fig leaf, as the book sets out, in emphatic fashion, what the authors think is wrong with our most cherished piece of national mythology. Their subtitle is The Militarisation of Australian History.
In short, Reynolds and Lake believe recent emphasis on our military past, and especially Gallipoli and its commemoration on Anzac Day, has distorted and devalued Australia’s true history. They blame governments past and present, which probably makes them long odds to go back-to-back in the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for nonfiction (they got the nod last year for Drawing the Global Colour Line.)
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