Small Reclaim Australia rallies in a number of centres at the weekend were notable for featuring Anzac-related slogans and flags. At Melton, near Melbourne, Reclaim Australia demonstrators carried a banner bearing poppies, silhouettes of marching troops and the words ‘Lest We Forget’. In Brisbane, there were ‘Anzac’ tattoos on bare chests. In Canberra, a banner included a picture of an Anzac monument.
Melton rally with Lest We Forget banner (ABC News/Patrick Rocca)
None of this is to say the Reclaim Australia folk are capable of presenting a sustained argument as to how what they are doing is related to some concept of Anzac. Their appreciation of this link is probably about as deep as their understanding of their favourite chant, ‘Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi’, which is pinched from the ‘Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!’ used by Girl Guides and Welsh rugby crowds. But the linking of Anzac with bigotry goes back to at least the Cronulla riot of 2005 and probably much further than that.
‘Anzac’ for some people seems to have become part of the paraphernalia of being white bogan Australian, like thongs, football shorts, bumcracks and beer. This is, of course, regrettable but it may be an inevitable result of the way we slather a version of Anzac across parts of our lives, from football matches to firefighting, where it is not relevant. Anzac has become Anzackery, a caricature, and we have hardly noticed the slide.
23 November 2015