E-newsletter No. 36, 19 July 2016

ISSN: 2202-5561 ©

New on site


Is this the most sycophantic speech by an Australian prime minister? David Stephens does the analysis.

Divided sunburnt country: Australia 1916-18 (6): ‘I didn’t raise my son to be a soldier’. Peter Stanley writes about pacifists on the home front.


How some Turks would rather that Johnnies and Mehmets were not equal. The politics behind the famous ‘Ataturk words’, 1981-85 and 2010.

How the Ataturk Memorial got to Anzac Parade in 1985. Cengiz Ozakinci gives a Turkish perspective on this episode of reciprocal commemoration.

Macedonians in Constantinople, drones over Gaba Tepe. Peter Stanley reviews a startling new book by Burak Turna on how the Anzacs actually won at Gallipoli.


Who bombed the Sydney Hilton? Alison Broinowski reviews Rachel Landers’ book about an urban terrorism incident in February 1978.

From the Honest History archives (I): Alison Broinowski from October 2013 on Iraq 2003 and the war powers; the Chilcot report anticipated.

From the Honest History archives (II): Doug Hynd from January 2015 on religion and the sacred after the Martin Place siege.


For those who came in late: recently on Honest History.

Centenary Watch

Me and my shadow. Queensland soldiers on. Bomber Command remembered. Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial goes from strength to strength. John Schumann’s ’19’ guitar. ‘Waltzing Matilda’ versions. Director Nelson speaks. Working in the Discovery Zone. ABC Monash decision. Dunera boys. ‘Bill’ Sweeting. Elsewhere.


Awkward humility. ‘In the summer of 1941, Sergeant [JA] Ward [Royal New Zealand Air Force] was summoned to 10 Downing Street by Prime Minister Winston Churchill [to receive a Victoria Cross]. The shy New Zealander was struck dumb with awe by the experience and was unable to answer the Prime Minister’s questions. Churchill regarded the reluctant hero with some compassion. “You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence”, he said. “Yes, sir”, managed Ward. “Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours”, said Churchill.’ (Wikipedia entry, James Allen Ward)

Sailing into the dark. ‘If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us. But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.'(Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1830)

Constantly aroused. ‘Military history is more popular than respected. It is not hard to see why. It is masculine history, a trifecta of logistical planning, technical detail and violent death. It shows the value of hierarchy and duty, sacrifice and patriotism — disgraceful notions which the young and impressionable might be inspired to emulate. And,with its sudden twists from tedium to danger and its tidily destructive conclusions, it has tight plots.’ (Dominic Green, The Spectator, 2016)

Thank you for sharing. ‘I’m not against a society with shared values, “truths we hold to be self-evident” etc, but I hate it when politicians try to determine what those values are. It’s not a job we can trust them to do because they will instinctively use it to appeal for votes.’ (David Mitchell, columnist for The Observer and The Guardian, 2011)

First things first. ‘We are a very racist country, and we have been from the beginning of settlement. The racism is what permitted the settlement. We didn’t steal Australia from Aboriginal people because we thought they were inferior; we decided they were inferior in order to justify our theft. More recent attempts at multiculturalism may have taken off some of the rough edges, but the ideological bones are unchanged.’ (Michael Lucy, The Monthly Today, 2016)

Another view. ‘It seems likely that [radical Islam’s] current expansion is due more to the social conditions of contemporary Middle Eastern societies than to the intrinsic nature of the religion. Indeed, the spread of political Islam can be seen as a form of identity politics very comparable to its nationalist variant in Europe [in 1848].’ (Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Political Decay, 2015)

Juggling. ‘It’s vital to our understanding of a complex world, and to our intellectual dexterity, to be able to hold two different concepts in our heads at once without assuming that they’re mutually exclusive.’ (David Mitchell, columnist for The Observer and The Guardian, 2011)

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