This is troubling.
Tasmania is Australia’s smallest and poorest state and in many ways its most problematic. It has always been a focus of the Australian culture wars given its history as the place of the harshest of the penal colonies and of a particularly brutal war with the indigenous people that ended with their almost complete extinction.
Whether the extinction was complete is one no-man’s land in these wars. There are some descendants of these people but they tend to have fair skin and blue eyes. Some people find that bracing. Does it mean they are not who they say they are and therefore they may be ridiculed for identifying as such? That because they had a choice not to identify as they have chosen then the public choice they made is somehow not valid? That in fact they may feel they had no choice could be at the heart of this? That even the choice they have made, to the extent they had any choice was motivated by something ulterior? That others can claim to define who a people are and that they can override or ignore what the people and their survivors have to say about it themselves whether they be the Tasmanians or the mainland peoples?
I don’t think so. Bolt and his admirers are dead set wrong about that and its a pity no one seems to have taken the trouble to point out why. I think he was owed that. He is after all among the closest friends of Israel and the Jews in the Australian media and he has no trouble at all getting that. Friends like that are not falling from the trees like macadamia nuts. It is not as if there are any to burn.
There is about to be another front in this culture war. Whether what happened in Tasmania was “genocide”. You might ask what else you would call it but apparently the issue is how much of the dying off, for want of a more neutral and less offensive term, was due to killings in what I guess could be called a civil war that saw atrocities on both sides and how much was due to stupid, paternalistic but well intentioned policies that had the unfortunate but unintended consequence of polishing off all but a fragment of the surviving population.
An unintended consequence. We’ve all had those.
There has just been a book published by an historian presenting a debut work that its publishers and others are claiming is the last word on everything to do with what happened to the Tasmanian people. Somehow I don’t think so.
Tasmania is among the most fascinating places on the planet. With about half a million people it is sparsely populated with only a few major towns including the capital Hobart with about 200 000 people. It also lush, mountainous and rich with rivers, lakes, forests, coastlines drenched with fish and seafood and a heartland with precious things there for the digging including gold.
Did I mention the fruit trees? Tasmania is known as The Apple Isle.
Tasmania is startlingly beautiful. It has a hinterland so vast that it harbours legends of sightings of the Tasmanian Tiger , not a cat but a carnivorous marsupial that was plentiful when the settlers came but despite the high hopes of some including Ted Turner is very likely extinct at least since the 1960’s. There is strong political sentiment that the place not be plundered and destroyed and of course a fringe party pressing crackpot populist issues as the winds take it has been able to spark into life on the back of the raw emotion of the cause.
At about 90 000 sq kms, it is three times the size of the Land of Israel and by that I mean the whole of the land between the river and the sea. I once accepted an offer from a native born Tasmanian, and by that I mean a settler if the word ever had a meaning, for a straight swap. He was testing my Zionism resolve, as he saw it, I suppose or prodding to see what reaction he might get. Naturally I had to claim to speak on behalf of all the citizens of Israel and all the world’s Jews to close the deal and I was attacked from the Left for being presumptuous or egotistical or something for having done so.
You can understand my dilemma. But I’m nobody’s fool. I knew this native born Tasmanian settler had been resident in Sydney for decades and therefore was certain to welsh on the deal. Therefore I saw nothing controversial in calling his bluff.
You are probably wondering by now where all this is heading.
Friday was Anzac Day which is a pretty big deal down under and will get bigger as we move through the anniversaries of events of a century ago. Next year, the centennial of the Anzac landing itself will be bigger still, 2016 will be just as big and 2017 and 2018 with the anniversaries of the campaigns in France and Belgium, and of Palestine, will be biggest of all as the country recalls or learns just what that generation went through and what it achieved and lost. What we lost.
There are some people who are saying this is a bad thing. One of them is Peter Underwood, the Governor of Tasmania who in his Anzac Day speech to the crowd at the ceremony at the Cenotaph in Hobart said among a bunch of other dopey stuff:
“In this year of peace, Australia should establish a centre for the study of peace, conflict and war,” he said.
Mr Underwood told the service, “if that can’t be done, how about diverting some of the millions of dollars that will be spent on the Anzac Festival to provide proper support for the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.”
For the benefit of US readers and others, Australian governors are not elected and do not have any political power. Their role is ceremonial. They are ostensibly appointed by the Queen but in reality by the government of the day. By convention they are never former politicians but eminent and respected persons especially academics, judges and senior military officers. Underwood is a former Chief Justice of Tasmania.
As usual, Andrew Bolt was first on the scene. What would we do without him? Who would do the heavy lifting then?
“How about diverting some of the millions of dollars that will be spent on the Anzac festival to provide proper support for the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies?”
Underwood is no doubt voicing his Quaker beliefs. But those beliefs conflict with his duty as Governor — and are indistinguishable from those of a dangerously naive boor.
First, Underwood is the Queen’s representative. No one elected him and his role is to unify. To instead preach politics on Anzac Day is impertinent and a breach of duty.
Second, Underwood was guest of honour at a ceremony attended by people paying their respects to the dead and to those who served their country in war. His attack on the ceremony, the soldiers and their cause was unfeeling, disrespectful and another abuse of his position.
Third, I saw no one on Anzac Day celebrating some “mythical tall, lean, bronzed and laconic Anzac” or “glorifying war”.
Among the marching soldiers I saw in Melbourne were female officers, an African-Australian, a Sikh and a bearded Jew. The clapping crowds were honouring sacrifice and service for the nation.
Fourth, to ridicule the idea of our soldiers “enthusiastically and unflinchingly carrying the torch of freedom” is to ridicule what was often the truth.
What else but freedom were our soldiers fighting for in World War II? I’d say much the same of our interventions in East Timor, Korea and Vietnam.
Indeed, in Iraq, we helped depose a genocidal dictator. In Afghanistan, we repelled a fascist terrorist movement and guarded a democracy.
Fifth, Underwood suggests we should celebrate Anzac Day less and peace more, as if one comes at the cost of the other.
I dare say almost every man and woman listening to him would just as fervently prefer peace, but also know our peace is protected by people prepared to fight for it.
And how dare Underwood urge that “millions of dollars“ be given instead to the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, which is so far Left that its academics recently included Australia’s Communist Party boss.
Andrew Bolt: Herald Sun
At his blog he adds
What a disgraceful suggestion.
Here are just some. This misleadingly named Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies promotes an essentially racist boycott of Israeli Jews to punish Israel from defending itself against movements that wish it destroyed. It has held talks with the leader of Hamas, which maintains a terrorist wing. It is so far to the Left that until recently its staff included the then head of Australia’s Communist Party and now a member of its central committee.
Incredibly the Centre which Underwood recommends includes on its academic staff Johan Galtung, whose bizarre anti-Jewish rants include claims that “the Jews control U.S. media, and divert for the sake of Israel”, “six Jewish companies control 96% of the [US] media”, “seventy percent of the professors at the 20 most important American universities are Jewish” and Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik had ties to the “Freemasons” organization “which has Jewish origins” and Mossad might have given Breivik his orders, so “it will be interesting to read the [Norwegian] police report on Israel, during the trial”.
Galtung has even claimed “terrible Auschwitz,” had two sides. “[It was] not unproblematic that Jews had key niches in a society humiliated by defeat at Versailles”. “In no way, absolutely no way, does this justify the atrocities. But it created anti-Semitism that could have been predicted.” Oh, and Mao’s China, responsible for the murder and man-made starvation of between 40 million and 70 million people, was in fact ”endlessly liberating when seen from many other perspectives that liberal theory has never understood”.
The Centre’s president, Ken McNab, claims America’s war on terrorism is largely a hoax: “…a largely artificial, politically inspired, illegally conducted, ineffectual and counter-productive campaign”. And so is ours: “ASIO Director General David Irvine warned that ‘the threat of terrorism remains real and persistent’. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” The war in Iraq was just a fight for capitalism: “Violence and war became more openly than ever before the tools with which to defend and extend American capitalism.” In fact, war is just a tool to make capitalists money” “Quite apart from its vanguard role for capitalism, war itself is highly profitable for capitalists.” (Really? So Socialists, Fascists, dictators and religious extremists don’t start wars?) We should subcontract part of our foreign policy to the Australian members of any tribe we confront: ”Including the Iraqi peoples in Australia [on reaching peace in Iraq] intends to give them a voice and to allow them to take ownership of the process.”
Perhaps worst of all, the Centre, through its Sydney Peace Foundation, has given its annual Sydney Peace Prize to John Pilger, a man who once urged us to support Sunni militants, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Iraq who fought our soldiers in Iraq – soldiers Underwood was meant to be honouring on Anzac Day:
Here’s a taster of the inspiration for peace and justice that Pilger provides, from an interview he gave to the Australian Green Left Weekly in 2004:
‘Do you think the anti-war movement should be supporting Iraq’s anti-occupation resistance?
‘Yes, I do. We cannot afford to be choosy. While we abhor and condemn the continuing loss of innocent life in Iraq, we have no choice now but to support the resistance, for if the resistance fails, the “Bush gang” will attack another country. If they succeed, a grievous blow will be suffered by the Bush gang.’
Evidently the Sydney Peace Foundation resolved that it wasn’t going to be choosy either.
That is the Centre that Underwood wants us to give “millions of dollars”.
Peter Underwood is not fit to be Governor of Tasmania.
Hear. Hear. It is the sanctimonious condescending preachiness that perhaps offends me most about the pacifists. The hypocrisy. It is difficult to say. There is so much about about them that is offensive. Perhaps I should launch a Section 18C prosecution.
Which brings me to the point about Tasmania and Israel. Underwood is the head of state of a polity of settlers whose arrival in the nineteenth century lead to the destruction of the indigenous people by the next century. Yet he does not even pause before calling for public money to be diverted from learning and meditating on what Australians had to do just a hundred years ago, to of all things, an academic discipline that it right on the cusp of the arcs of the extreme left and the extreme right when it comes to Israel and the Jews. Right at the point where the Communists and the Nazis shake hands.
Peace and Conflict Studies. The discipline of Stuart Rees and Jake Lynch and whose intellectual godfather is Norwegian academic Johan Gultang who has said that the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves, to understand the world today you should read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and who uses as sources material published by US Nazi groups.
It is easy to imagine the glee of the neo Nazi antisemites. Gultang is no longer an extreme leftist in their eyes. He is a prominent Norwegian sociologist.
Peace and Conflict Studies is a discipline known for its intolerance of internal dissent and which is committed to the elimination of the indigenous people of Israel as free and independent people entirely from the Middle East as comprehensively as the indigenous people of Tasmania were a century ago. It is astonishing how frequently Israel and the Jews come up in the teachings, public lecturing and political campaigns of Galtung and his acolytes in these strange little monocultural departments sprinkled in public universities across the West.
No wonder Underwood wants us to forget about the Anzacs. This is what comes of a short memory. The same horrible things keep happening over and over again.