22 April 2021
Anzac Day. Is there anything more un-Australian than questioning whether it’s a little bit fucked? Whether it’s the most objectionable holiday this side of the Queen’s Birthday? If it glorifies blind militarism, and has devolved into an extended session of binge drinking, gambling and punch-ons that showcase the very worst Australian culture has to offer?
I’d sure never suggest such a thing. It would be, quite plainly, wrong. Also I really, really don’t want to lose my job.
That’s not alarmist thinking, by the way. In 2015, SBS reporter Scott McIntyre was fired from his job for the following comments posted on Twitter:
“Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan.
Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
Putting aside the question of whether an employee can be dismissed for their social media conduct (there’s plenty of precedent to show that in the right circumstances an employer can terminate an employee, though whether they should is another question), it’s worth asking why this tweet was considered so offensive that even the then-Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull saw fit to publicly disparage what he deemed “despicable remarks.”
McIntyre sure didn’t pull any punches. He also didn’t express sexist, racist, or homophobic sentiments. He didn’t promote violence or illegal activity. He didn’t even say anything inaccurate; a feat most Twitter users certainly can’t claim. McIntyre questioned the conventional Western interpretation of historical events. As a reporter for Australia’s multicultural media outlet, isn’t that kind of, I don’t know, his job?
It seems that the main problem people had with this tweet was not necessarily the content, but its proximity to the day itself (a mistake I’d sure never make!).
It’s hard not to agree with that one. Yes, Anzac Day’s a time we have conversations about our World War legacies. But it just feels wrong, distasteful and borderline cruel, to make blanket criticisms of the dead and injured on the day set aside to honour their memory- like heckling at a funeral.
Anzac Day attracts a lot of valid criticisms, including, I’d argue, McIntyre’s. But for the families of ANZACS, there’s no getting around the fact that it must hurt. It must hurt a real lot.
Are politics more important than the feelings of grandkids whose pop fought in the war? Well, yeah probably. Except, think of the poor sad kids and old people. Can’t they be left alone to attend their dawn service? I don’t even know anymore!
At the memorial of wars, let’s try to, I don’t know, be peaceful? (I’m sure that line’s never been said before). Maybe if you think Anzac Day is a bit fucked, go ahead and voice your opinions but consider the genuine feelings of the people who’ll be affected before you do so.
And if you think that nah, Anzac Day is not that fucked then honour the day however is meaningful for you. But this year, try not to flip your shit and condemn people with a different opinion to yourself as social pariahs.
And to my boss, if you’re reading this please, please don’t fire me.
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