The more I observe its output, the more my respect for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation declines.
It’s not just that it pushes disinformation about current events that help ferment and justify wars of aggression.
It’s not just that it dissembles and evades the truth about major so-called ‘terrorist’ events, whether domestic or overseas.
Why was this volunteer invader entering Turkey illegally?
The ABC also uses the past to refurbish pro-war conformism. A good example is this year’s ANZAC Day website extravaganza: Gallopoli, The First Day
To view it yourself, you’ll need a good broadband connection and 2GB of RAM+ is recommended. It’s an audiovisual extravaganza – bringing history to life with 3-D terrain maps and other wizardry.
The author, Harvey Broadbent, specializes in this area of history. He’s fluent in Turkish, highly knowledgeable and well qualified to present material about the period. In terms of the narrow confines of the project, the A-V presentation does a good job. But where’s the historical context?
Sure, it’s fun to see the Day One of the Gallipoli assault become as realistic as a video game (although without a shoot button, I doubt die-hard gamers will stay long). But how about context? What about some answers to the ‘why’ questions?
The ABC presents an Australian view, so it seems to me the first question it might ask about the Gallipoli fiasco is: Why were shiploads of young Australians sent there at all? What was the nature of Australia’s quarrel in 1915 with the Ottoman Empire, as it was then? Why did we hate it so much that we shipped armed warriors halfway round the world to invade another nation’s sovereign territory?
A few of the men the Australian Government wanted to slaughter back in 1915
If anyone can find this information on the ABC Gallipoli Special website, please let me know. I don’t have enough RAM to make the presentation fly. I did find one button called ‘Historical Analysis’ and clicked on it expectantly. It took me to a page of well-written text. It’s not that there’s anything obnoxious about what’s said there. There isn’t. But it treats the event as though it all began the day the Anzacs showed up. There’s some background about the respective military forces. There’s discussion of military strategy and tactics. But if you – like me – are interested to know WHY the Australian Government sent tens of thousands of youngsters to get killed on someone else’s beaches, I think you’ll need to look elsewhere.
I acknowledge there’s a place for military history. There’s a place for specialization within history. But there is also a crucial role for synthesis, overview, critical thought and deep analysis. I can’t see much of that in the ABC’s Gallipoli website. Zero, to be precise.
Nor do I expect much from the ABC’s general coverage of the ANZAC event this year. So, I haven’t been surprised.
Adil, born 1898. Lucky Turkish Gallipoli veteran, not killed by Australian troops at age 17, spoke to the ABC in the 1980s
ANZAC Day – 25th April – is Australia’s main war remembrance occasion in the annual calendar. Every year, it seems to me, the media hype edges upwards.
The occasion is not yet, thank goodness, abused directly for advocacy of contemporary wars (that’s done 24x7x365 by other means). Yet lacking any real critical discussion about the deeper ‘why?’ questions, it becomes a celebration of futility that conveys the impression dying and killing for no good reason whatsoever is an acceptable, normal and somewhat inevitable part of human life. I’m sure many in this country believe you can’t be a ‘real Australian’ if you don’t get fully behind the ‘Anzac spirit’.
When Australians commemorate the Anzacs (full title: the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), we often say “they died for our freedom”. It sounds great. But what do we do with that freedom? Are we, perchance, STILL tagging along behind other so-called allies, invading distant lands on futile violent missions?
Anyhow, is the mythic claim true at all? Did Australia’s participation in the First World War really preserve ‘freedom’ in this country? Freedom for whom? Was there truly a threat to the freedom of this newly independent nation at the time? Who declared war on whom anyway? (Answer: Australia declared war on Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, not the other way round – or more accurately Britain declared war on our behalf).
War Resisters International, founded 1921: "War is a crime against humanity..."
As far as the Gallipoli conflict is concerned, the Turks had no quarrel with Australians. Responsibility for the egregious, bloody, unnecessary futile carnage was ours alone – not theirs. Have we really understood and absorbed that lesson?
To counter such inconvenient reality checks, apologists for contemporary Australian militarism like to distance our modern nation from early post-Independence times. Today, we’re told, it’s all changed. Australia doesn’t dance to London’s tune anymore!
That is quite true. If divorce from the position of the British Government is the hallmark Australian independence, it was achieved in 1947, when Australia supported the agenda of the Zionist movement over Palestine – against the wishes of the more principled Labour Government in Britain. (More history you’re unlikely to glean via the ABC).
Poster by Norman Lindsey, war propagandist: are we still falling for offensive silliness like this?
Today, despite retaining the monarchy, Australia is independent from Britain.
Our problems now have much more to do with our Governments’ more recent buddies, whose thirst for expending Australian blood, sweat and firepower may, in time, exceed that of imperial Britain. The ABC doesn’t facilitate discussion about that, either. Perish the thought!
Every year around ANZAC Day, I entertain hopes that this time round, there may be a celebration of the peace activists during World War One. What about the Australians who said no to war? I assume this topic may have been covered by the ABC once or twice in its multi-generational history, but I must have missed it myself.
To my way of thinking, war resisters were the bravest spirits of all in the Great War. Why don’t we commemorate the lives of the men and women who demanded peace? Why are those people written out of the popular history of this country? Why does the ABC insult their memory by overlooking their contribution?
As it’s name suggests, the ABC has great didactic potential. Broadly speaking, it uses this power, at present, to advance the aims of a warmongering minority – not the peace-loving majority.
Is that an institution worthy of taxpayers’ funds?