Monday, April 25, 2011

Lest we ask

Just five days before Anzac Day it was revealed that SAS troops were part of an operation in Afghanistan last August in which nine Taleban fighters were killed. Critics of New Zealand's deployment there have sought to portray the operation as some sort of "revenge killing" following the death in action of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell. This suggestion was not only incorrect but was also an affront to the SAS.

Undoubtedly SAS troops would have been angry at O'Donnell's death but these soldiers are also part of one of the most professional and disciplined military forces in the world, which does not undertake unauthorised revenge or rogue operations.
In which the Press not only claims to know the purpose of the SAS mission but the motives of its members, and tells its readers that to question either is an insult to the SAS. This "don't ask, don't tell" policy would seem to be at odds with the notion of an independent media which asks and tells but, clearly, even to think that Our Brave Lads of the SAS would do something bad is tantamount to treason. So unthink that thought and hang your head in shame.

But wait, there's more:
Less edifying over the past week has been the renewed controversy over where the Anzac poppies are to be made in coming years. The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association have opted to buy poppies manufactured in Australia from Chinese components.

This will undoubtedly be hard on locally based Kilmarnock Enterprises, which has employed intellectually handicapped people to make the poppies, the more so as the Christchurch quakes have already impacted on its operations.

But today is April 25. On Anzac Day the priority must be to remember the sacrifices made by heroic New Zealanders in past wars and those serving overseas today, not to wrangle over where the poppies that symbolise our day of remembrance are made.
Today is not a day to think of solidarity with intellectually disabled people, those who have made poppies for years, doing work that gives them an income, a sense of purpose and a sense of pride. Today is not a day to think of solidarity with workers in China, many of whom are virtual slaves and many of whom are actual prisoners. Today is not a day to consider that many returned servicemen suffered head injuries that left them in similar intellectual states to the people who work at Kilmarnock. Today is not a day to consider that the freedom for which heroic New Zealanders fought many years ago is still denied to people in China. Today is a day for quiet reflection, but only of the right timbre and on appropriate topics.

The motto of the Press is “nihil utile quod non honestum” or "nothing is useful that is not honest."

Bohuslav Martinů - Thunderbolt P-47:


Keri Hulme said...

One of my great uncles was blown to bits at Paschendael: other family were damaged in WW1, and WW2. Paul, your words are the sanest I've yet read about the Anzac Day cult - and I am sooo glad I stopped being a subscriber to the CHCH "Press" years ago. Kia ora- Keri

Keri Hulme said...

PS- I will continue to buy poppies *as long as they are made in ANZ* - because it is a small but potent way to help workers & disabled veterans-