Daley, Paul: Why Australia Day and Anzac Day helped create a national ‘cult of forgetfulness’

Daley, Paul

Why Australia Day and Anzac Day helped create a national “cult of forgetfulness”‘, Guardian Australia, 16 October 2016 updated

Update 21 August 2017: Tony Smith on Pearls and Irritations muses about the proposal by Yarra Council in Melbourne to stop calling 26 January ‘Australia Day’.

Seven hundred people commented on this piece.

It’s beyond time Australia cast off these sturdy cultural crutches that both, somehow, define national birth, so we can discover who and what we truly are. Australia Day, celebrating British invasion in 1788, and Anzac Day, marking Australia’s involvement in the failed invasion of the Ottoman empire in 1915, are but relatively recent, fleeting moments of note among innumerable others in our 60,000-year continental human history. Anachronistic, steeped in sentiment and myth, they belong largely to an Australia that was comfortable to (officially) define itself as being for the white man.

Daley goes on to note three books: Nick Brodie’s 1787: The Lost Chapters of Australia’s Beginnings; Mark McKenna’s From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories; Anna Clark’s Private Lives, Public History.

Daley, McKenna and Clark are distinguished supporters of Honest History. Daley and McKenna have chapters in Honest History’s forthcoming book, provisionally titled Honest History: Beyond Anzackery.



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