Sparrow, Jeff: militarisation of Australian nationalism

Sparrow, Jeff

The real problem is not the lamb ad but the militarisation of Australian nationalism‘, Guardian Australia, 12 January 2016

Examines a Meat and Livestock Australia advertisement showing paramilitary forces ensuring expatriate Australians are home to eat lamb on Australia Day. Notes historical apathy about Australia Day, partly because of its association with the settler invasion of Indigenous Australia.

Anzac Day had its own problems as an alternative national day though its growth since 1990 ‘reflects the renewal of Australian militarism’. Prime Minister Hawke’s 1990 linking of Anzac and the First Gulf War opened the floodgates.

Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, war has become Australia’s natural state: military personnel have, after all, engaged in some sort of armed conflict during the vast majority of that time. We’ve become increasingly accustomed to conflict (albeit fought at a safe distance), to politicians garbing themselves in khaki and posing with tanks and military jets, and to Anzac Day as a turbocharged celebration of militarised patriotism.

Indeed, Anzac hasn’t been “revived” so much as totally reshaped, since the modern commemoration bears almost no relationship to the ceremonies held in the first half of the 20th century. In the Howard era, newspaper editorials discussed Anzac as a day that “salutes the country itself”, a time when Australians “celebrate” their “founding generation”.

Anzac has set the pattern for Australia Day, which is characterised now by ‘flag capes and boozy chest thumping’ and steamrollering over Indigenous sensitivities.


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