Tuesday, April 28, 2015

No one's celebrating anything (plus many many links)

I mostly stayed off the internet over the long weekend, but I saw a thing go past on Facebook which I feel needs addressing. One of my friends said they'd been to see the Te Papa exhibition about the Gallipoli campaign and "no one's celebrating anything". This is a response to an objection to ANZAC Day on the grounds that it celebrates warfare. When my kid's teachers received the news about us not attending their ANZAC ceremony, their response was remarkably similar.

The thing is, I have yet to hear someone make that particular objection*.

All of the objections to ANZAC Day I've seen (including my own) have been around the way in which the day is framed, and the ways in which competing accounts have been dealt with. Specifically, the objection isn't that ANZAC Day celebrates war - it's that it treats war as justified and necessary, and dissent is strongly discouraged if not actively suppressed.

My friend Daniel writes about the awful goals and conduct of World War 1, and the hypocrisy of using its rhetoric to justify sending New Zealand troops to fight ISIS. Strikingly, he also raises the point that without the international (legal) arms trade groups like ISIS would be far less dangerous and less sustainable. The White Poppy campaign funds research on this.

Russell Brown has a really interesting post bookended with his presence at the RSA he's a member of. The fallout of war is long-lasting and horrendous - this is why it's a bad solution to problems. Russell's post linked to the way in which the Herald used its gossip column to interrogate Lizzie Marvelly about her conflicted feelings about the day, and the way an Australian journalist was sacked for criticising ANZAC Day on Twitter.

It also pointed me to two documentaries: ANZAC: Tides of Blood, which is about Neill's family history with the ANZAC campaign, and the way the ANZAC myth developed; and Ngā Rā o Hune - The Days of June about Waikato Maori who refused to fight. I haven't had a chance to watch either of these but they look good, and notably both come from Maori TV.


On an entirely unrelated note Love and Pop has my review of the Jacques Tati box-set. It's suuuuuuuuuuuper loooooooooooooong (like the box-set itself) but Tati is a pretty interesting guy, and his films have the weird distinction of being highly-regarded, but hardly ever directly imitated.

*My friend, of course, may have - but I didn't see any specific mention of it in the Facebook thread in question.


  1. "I've noticed a trend.. an avalanche of Gallipoli films dominating government controlled television. All to set the mood for glorious war, justify our involvement in foreign invasions... Anzac day is a day of shame not military celebration. The only freedom they died for was the continuing habit of the rich and politicians sending people to wars they create to perpetuate their wealth"

    1. The above is a comment on Facebook by a white poppy advocate, in a discussion your friend was part of.

  2. Thank you Anon. Like I pointed out in my post I didn't go back to the thread. I think the White Poppy advocate you mention is wrong about the specific point of celebration, but correct about the attempt to reframe WWI (and war in general) as somehow a positive or at least necessary event.