The tragedy of Gallipoli

100 years ago today, Australian and New Zealand forces landed at what is now Anzac Cove in the Gallipoli Peninsula, suffering heavy losses as they attempted to storm entrenched Turkish positions. Eight months later, having failed to dislodge the Turks, despite the loss of more than 10 000 killed and 20 000 wounded the Anzacs withdrew, managing to conceal the retreat and evacuate their positions with minimal casualties. This much, along with individual stories of heroism and suffering, is known to just about every Australian.

But there are many important facts that are less well known, and many questions that are rarely asked

Some facts

* The ANZACs were only a small part of the forces on the Allied side. British, Irish and French troops also fought, suffering many more casualties. Overall, the campaign cost at least 100 000 lives, with the Allies and the Turks losing about equal numbers
* The attack (which followed a failed naval assault) coincided with the beginning of the Armenian genocide in which the Ottoman government killed somewhere around 1,000,000 Armenian Christians.
* Although the Gallipoli campaign failed, the war objective of dismembering the Ottoman empire was ultimately achieved in large measure, leading to the creation of Iraq, Syria and most of the other states collectively known today as the Middle East. The overlapping wars in which Australian soldiers are fighting today can be traced to this partition

There is a natural human tendency to look for some good outcome from such horrific carnage. In the case of Gallipoli reflected in Australian and Turkish national foundation myths in which both the Anzacs and their Turkish opponents were fighting for their respective nations’ freedom. But the reality is that there was nothing good about the Great War, and that nothing came from it except the seeds of even more war and genocide.

Finally, why was Australia at war with Turkey and what were the Anzacs doing in Gallipoli?

A crucial cause of the War, and the background for the Sarajevo assassination that formed the pretext on the German/Austrian side was the decline of the Ottoman empire and the attempts by the other European empires to carve it up for their own benefit. When the War broke out, the Turkish government judged that Czarist Russia (allied to Britain and France) was the biggest threat, and therefore sided with the Germans. It was the fear that the Armenian Christians might support Russia (along with the usual role of plain evil) that motivated the genocide.

The Turkish judgement was accurate, or perhaps self-fulfilling. In a secret agreement made in early March 1915 (and published by the Bolsheviks after the Czarist government was overthrown in Russia), the British, French and Russian governments agreed to partition the Ottoman empire among themselves, leaving at most a rump Turkish state in existence. The assault on the Dardanelles was an attempt by the British and French to cut off the European part of Turkey (promised to the Russians) and open up a route to provide military supplies to Russia.

The heroism and suffering of those of all nations who fought and died at Gallipoli should never be forgotten. But the campaign had nothing to do with freedom, on either side. One brutal empire was trying to preserve its existence against rival empires determined to get the greatest possible benefit out of its collapse.

When we say “We Shall Remember Them”, we should remember that our best service to the memory of the Anzacs is to resist calls for war.

83 thoughts on “The tragedy of Gallipoli

  1. I prefer “Lest We Forget” as a shorthand way of saying “Lest We Forget…the horror of war upon all who participate, willingly or incidentally, wounded or not.” Thinking of a war in terms of “sacrifice” lends itself to hero worship, and I don’t see that as a good contrivance; politicians however, see great value in pounding the “heroic sacrifice” theme.

    The folly of war is compounded by our unsympathetic treatment of demobbed returnees who suffer mental affliction from their exposure to the horrors of war. Given the nature of military service, the employer—the government—should provide support services capable of dealing with mentally injured returnees, and the same goes for any other injury received on duty. Even injury during training should be given the same support, for soldiers train for conditions likely to cause injury to a significant minority of participants. If you have ever seen the regime the SAS recruits go through, you’ll see what I mean about getting injured during training—it is a brutal selection by attrition, and for good reason.

    As the employer, the government should not abrogate its responsibility of care for injured soldiers, and especially not because of the cost of treatment—that shouldn’t be a significant consideration.

    Of the long list of wars and squirmishes which our armed forces have participated in, very few have had the desired effect. Second World War is probably the stand-out, and even then, the long term fallout of the war, and the fractures and re-groupings of the involved countries, led to the Cold War, ongoing fights and wars in the Middle East, the harsh regimes in Iron Curtain countries, among other things. Self defence is vital; war of choice is folly, pure and simple.

  2. I will try again. My grandpa and his mates from a small town in SA went to war only to feed their kids after the years of the great depression.

    They would be sickened today that our navy are being used to hunt, trade and traffic, torture and monster refugees from wars we started and then taking jobs in the prisons for those refugees.

    I loathe everything to do with war and ANZAC day has a special thing to remember – not a single Australian citizen went to either world war because no such people existed until parliamentary statutory decree in 1949 that can be repealed at any time.

  3. On May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers jointly issued a statement explicitly charging for the first time ever another government of committing `a crime against humanity’.

    The Allied Governments announce publicly that they will hold personally responsible all members of the Ottoman Government, as well as those of their agents who are implicated in the Armenian massacres.

    rticle 230 of the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres required the defeated Ottoman Empire to

    …hand over to the Allied Powers the persons whose surrender may be required by the latter as being responsible for the massacres committed during the continuance of the state of war on territory which formed part of the Ottoman Empire on August 1, 1914.

    Ottoman military and high-ranking politicians were transferred to Malta by the British forces, starting in 1919. These war criminals were eventually returned to Constantinople in 1921 in exchange for 22 British hostages held by the government in Ankara.

    But for victory at Gallipoli, the Anzacs would have been the first Sergeant at Arms of a war crimes trial. By marching into Constantinople, the Anzacs may have been able to prevent the purging of the Ottoman archives of evidence of the complicity of specific individuals.

  4. On RN Ian Morris puts forward the argument that the West pursuit of war has resulted in the creation of states and it is only these states that can create peace.

  5. Is it over yet?

    I fear that the militaristic brainwashing of the young, initiated by Howard, has been effective and means that an anti-war movement will not arise here again until another 60,000 Australians die pointlessly in war followed by another 60,000 dead returnees within a decade of the end of war.

    The anti-war movement of the 1960’s and 70’s and even the 80’s in Australia had at its core the benevolence and encouragement of returned diggers who insisted that they fought as much for our right to refuse to fight for imperial power as any other reason. Alas, they are few in number these days.

  6. The overlapping wars in which Australian soldiers are fighting today can be traced to this partition

    In particular, Britain created the conglomerate country of Iraq so it could maintain some control over the oil-rich Kurdish area rather than let that area fall under the dominion of Turkey.

  7. Sadly, Anzac Day has become militaristic brain-washing exactly as Jungney says. What concerns me is that the real problems we face right now in Australia, like continued disadvantage of aboriginals, 20% plus youth unemployment and poor economic choices in the face of climate change and resource depletion, are all swept under the carpet while the media indulges in untold hours of mawkish and jingoistic pro-war propaganda and nationalist myth-making.

    The men who are to be admired are those men who fought (like my father in WW2) and turned their backs forever on war becoming peaceful family men, staunchly anti-war thereafter (because they actually knew what war was) and soon refusing to march on Anzac Day because they rapidly saw it for the pro-militaristic fraud that it became and remains.

  8. Reflections on the centenary of Anzac Day prompt me to quote from Michael Brull’s piece in New Matilda:

    That our “national character” was forged – and is defined – by a military invasion seems to me to include strong claims not only about what our national character is, but about what kind of values are desirable in a nation.

    The forgery lives on.

  9. A sports reporter from SBS has apparently committed a cardinal sin for which his minister (Saint Malcolm Turnbull – no doubt forced by the infamous lobby to which he answers, and also no doubt fuelled by the Murdoch hate media) has “condemned” him.

    His sin?

    The following series of “Tweets”:

    The cultification of an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with is against all ideals of modern society.
    Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.
    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 & Nagasaki
    Innocent children, on the way to school, murdered. Their shadows seared into the concrete of Hiroshima.

    Turnbull (@turnbullmalcolm) tweets:

    Difficult to think of more offensive or inappropriate comments than those by @mcintinhos. Despicable remarks which deserve to be condemned.

    Jeepers! Don’t get in the way of the pro-war imperialistic jingoism, these fascists are ruthless.

  10. But never fear!

    The fiercely independent managing director of your SBS, Michael Ebeid who has as his twitter profile:

    “Managing Director @SBS. Proud to be leading an organisation that inspires all Australians to explore, appreciate and celebrate our wonderfully diverse world.”

    Leaps to the defence of his staff’s right to free speech and their duty or right to “explore” our “diverse” world by expressing their own opinions….

    Comments from @mcintinhos are his own, disrespectful and not at all the views of @SBS. We remember and commemorate our ANZACs.

    Nope! Just another neocon fascist quisling like Mark Scott.

  11. Venturing into the twittersphere to check it out isn’t for the faint-hearted….

    The Murdoch/fascist neo-con flying monkeys are out in force!

    Key features of the most virulent include references to being LNP/’Conservative’ fans, and an awful lot of tweets including “@chriskkenny”.

    For example, 2 minutes ago Murdoch’s pooch-loving Kenny retweeted (approvingly?):

    @chriskkenny @michaelebeid @TurnbullMalcolm @mcintinhos @SBS Totally agree. Sickening tweets from an obvious sicko. Our taxes at work

    Text-book ‘echo-chamber’?

  12. The ANZACs themselves would be confused at what happens in their name. It is our default religion. We refer to those visiting ANZAC cove as “pilgrims”.

    I am entirely in awe of the bravery of soldiers. But there wouldn’t be wars without them.

  13. It’s very depressing to read how many people who came to adulthood post-Vietnam have a sentimental, romantic view of our military past that mindlessly picks up the politicians’ cant about people dying so we can be free. I’ve personally known many ex-service personnel, and not one enlisted for great and noble reasons. That’s not to suggest their reasons were ignoble; most did it because it was expected. Cultural norms and social pressure were just as powerful in driving collective behavior then as now.

    We are lucky to have been spared the glorification of the military that characterises American culture, despite attempts by the conservatives to import it. I still cringe remembering the circus that followed Jake Kovco’s death in Iraq. But I see a few people parroting the American formulaic “Thank you for your service”, and wonder how much resistance there would be to following the USA into new wars of aggression under a President Rubio or Walker.

    Random thoughts prompted by a spate of Facebook items from friends talking about the fallen as if they were a different and superior species, and expressing eternal gratitude that their sacrifice prevented our enslavement. Although by whom, they don’t say.

  14. Earlier this year I read The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark. I strongly recommend it for anyone wishing to enhance their knowledge of the historical issues raised in the OP.

  15. Trying to find something uplifting in what was one of the most horrific periods of human history is understandable, but I’m not sure I like what the Anzac day (month) fervor is doing. Whether intentional or not it creates an Us and Them dichotomy, with a kind of nationalism that allows little criticism on pain of being deemed unAustralian; a friend, a citizen who was born overseas, has felt very much like an outsider, like he was is not a true Australian and, lacking the Anzac heritage, will never be a true Australian.

  16. From the OP:

    Although the Gallipoli campaign failed, the war objective of dismembering the Ottoman empire was ultimately achieved in large measure, leading to the creation of Iraq, Syria and most of the other states collectively known today as the Middle East. The overlapping wars in which Australian soldiers are fighting today can be traced to this partition

    There is also the long-run consequence of the British promising Palestine to both the Jews and the Arabs, and then failing to help resolve the resulting competing claims. This was further compounded by the collapse – ultimately caused by WW1 – of European societies with significant Jewish populations into various forms of more or less antisemitic totalitarianism, and eventually another World War, which as Isaac Deutscher observed effectively precluded the non-Zionist options for Jewish emancipation and also turned the problem of Jewish emancipation into a problem of Jewish survival.

  17. Thanks John and to all of the above commentators, I pretty much agree everything mentioned. Australia has been at war since the First Fleet arrived in 1788 when the barbarians first set foot on the Great Southern Land. I offer up a couple of verses:

    War, war, always war
    War, what is war?
    Government sponsored genocide
    The public as always,
    Taken for a ride

    The war to end all wars
    Left festering sores.
    A stint of austerity
    That should do the trick
    Plus a dose of twisted verity.

    So it’s back to war
    Let’s even the score.
    Those killed or in pain
    Those left to rot on high
    The madness of those insane.

    Chorus: Australians let us announce
    That we’re not young nor free.
    With wealth and toil so abused
    We forget our own genocide,
    How can we further abide?

  18. I had a great grandfather who fought in the First World War and a grandfather who fought in the Second.

    My mum remembers my grandfather when he was asked about the war he would make it like a travel log concentrating on the places he visited. But he had shell shock and was hospitalised then was sent out again to fight. When he was old he still had nightmares. He did not really go to church again after the war although his father was a Presbyterian elder, instead my grandfather cooked lunch at home upon Sunday mornings while the family went to church. The bank he had worked in partially financially supported his parents while he was away fighting, so when he returned although the government I think would have helped him to go to university as a returned soldier he felt indebted to the bank and remained working for the bank for his career.

    Our local federal MP Lisa Chesters wrote a very appropriate ANZAC day notice for The Bendigo Advertiser:

    “We acknowledge
    The sacrifice of your life,
    Your happiness,
    Your peace of mind
    And your future,
    Whether or not you returned.

    With humility and hope,
    Future generations
    Will live to honour
    Your sacrifice and ensure
    That another generation
    Will not live with the scars of war.

    Lest We Forget.”

  19. One of the things that always strikes me is the stark contrast between the images conjured up by ‘fighting for your country’ and the reality.

    One of my uncles went to the Middle East and ended up in Syria fighting the French, who until not long before were our allies. Pretty hard to see how that was fighting for Australians’ freedom. He came back to Java in 1942 and drowned crossing a river. A bad way to go for a Manly boy who loved the water.

    My other uncle was captured in Singapore without ever firing a shot in anger. It was an abject surrender and military fiasco that ended Great Britain’s claim to be an imperial power. He spent the rest of the war in Changi PoW camp. He probably didn’t feel he was doing much to protect his loved ones either.

    My father was luckier. He spent half the war as a non-medical orderly on a hospital ship. He should have sailed on the ‘Centaur’ on the voyage when it was torpedoed off Tweed Heads, but he was unfit for duty. His only story from the war that I remember was that when he read the ‘Centaur’ casualty list in the paper in Martin Place, he sat down and cried his eyes out. He ended up in New Guinea as a battalion clerk, until he came down with the usual mix of tropical illnesses in 1944 and spent a few months in hospital pending discharge.

    No heroes fighting for freedom and democracy in my family. Not fighting at all, in fact, except one of them for a few weeks in Syria. Just three men doing what they were told to do, because not doing it would have been unthinkable.

  20. I believe those white feathers carried a lot of weight.

    For many, it would have been much harder to refuse. Does not lessen their bravery, but one must question the words from mouths of likes Abbott. they did it for honour. love of King and country.

    I suspect many did not see they had any choice.

  21. It’s election time here in Japan and all weekend I have been regaled by policing driving by in cars with loudspeakers, promising not to change the constitution. On my walk to the station there is a poster for the communist party (strong in my area and growing since 2011) that says ?????????????:we won’t allow Japan to become a country that fights wars overseas. one of Japan’s finer points is its refusal to glorify or even sanction war. A lesson perhaps australia could learn from…

  22. SBS managing director stands up to howling Murdoch pack and defends sports reporter Scott McIntyre’s right to free speech, even if it is offensive (like the Charlie Hebdo orgy)…..

    No, not really. Sacks him instead:

    “Late on Anzac Day, sports presenter Scott McIntyre made highly inappropriate and disrespectful comments via his Twitter account which have caused his on-air position at SBS to become untenable.

    “Mr McIntyre’s actions have breached the SBS code of conduct and social media policy and as a result, SBS has taken decisive action to terminate Mr McIntyre’s position at SBS, with immediate effect.

    They fought and died for……. something, apparently, but it is hard to define.

  23. The Minister for SBS (who called for McIntyre to be “condemned”) wrote this on 8 January 2015:

    A century ago, Australians and Frenchmen were in the trenches of the Western Front fighting and dying to defend France and uphold the freedoms cherished by us both. And our servicemen and women are together in freedom’s fight today.

    We are heartbroken by the news from Paris and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the people of France whose liberty and security has been so grievously attacked in the terrorists’ massacre of the staff of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris yesterday.

    This attack was a murderous assault on civilisation and in particular on one of its key foundations – a free and independent press. It was an attack on every free society and on every journalist, every cartoonist, every newspaper, every broadcaster.

    Thousands of Parisians have filled the Place de la Republique to show their solidarity, their compassion, their love of liberty and their determination not to be intimidated by terrorists and their cult of hate and death.

    “Je suis Charlie” their signs read.

    From Australia, and around the world, we can all say today “Nous sommes aussi Charlie.”

    My emphasis.

  24. @iain

    The situation with Scott McIntyre, where he made comments—on his own time as an individual—that a person in power didn’t like, and was consequently sacked for the comments, really highlights the true struggle for free speech in this country. Everybody espouses it, but it is apparently acceptable for employers to demand that employees forgo their right to free speech on their own time, as part of any employment contract they sign. It should be against the law to have clauses in employment contracts which curtail an employee’s right to speak freely when not working.

    Technically, the chief of SBS probably has the right and the reason to sack Scott McIntyre for what he said. In exercising that, under the circumstances of reacting to comments from a minister of the government, especially the minister to whom he effectively reports, it is exceptionally difficult for a reasonable person to see that as other than cowtowing to a minister, rather than exercising his authority in an independent and appropriate manner.

    Where will the Freedom Commissioner be on this particular issue? 1) out to lunch; 2) agree with the minister and the head of SBS, probably saying that if comments (even on own time) are restricted by employment contract, then the employee has to follow the rules; or, 3) Gosh, even though I don’t agree with Scott, I believe he has not only the right to say what he did, but he should not be subject to any sanction because of it, I stand up for Scott’s right to freedom of speech. I suggest that 3 is not gonna happen.

  25. I’m sure Andrew Bolt will be speaking out in support of Scott McIntyre’s right to freedom of speech … won’t he?

  26. @zoot

    Don’t underestimate the sick rat-cunning of Murdoch’s army of psychopaths. It would be just like Bolt to make the pretense of standing up for McIntyre’s right to free speech.

    However, since the “ANZAC Legend” is actually Murdoch’s personal property, thanks to his old man (who fabricated the legend in the first place for purely propagandistic purposes), I imagine this subject will probably ‘off-limits’ to Murdoch’s free-speech warriors.

  27. BTW it’s just been announced that we’re going to spend $100 million (before the usual cost blow-outs) on an ‘educational centre’ to be built on the site of the Australian Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux.

    The priorities of this government are impossible to understand, even based on their own political interests. Like Philip’s risible knighthood, it’s as if Abbott just can’t resist the urge to use his office for personal pet projects.

  28. Not sure what education centre is. Heard, Uni, museum. What about propaganda, for consumption by Australians.

  29. I have some sympathy for the view that sporting commentators and reporters should show circumspection and caution about commenting on political and social issues that are beyond their brief as sports journalists and perhaps beyond their intellectual competence. I say this on the basis of some 40 years of hearing such people bloviate ignorantly and offensively in ways that exceeded Scott McIntyre’s efforts without attracting any kind of sanction from their employers.

  30. We’ve found the freedom guy, and this is what he had to say (about the sacking of McIntyre):

    The human rights commissioner, Tim Wilson, said McIntyre’s freedom of speech was not being curtailed.

    “We’re talking about political interpretations of history and that is open for debate,” he said. “And he will be judged very harshly.”

    Yay, Freedom!

  31. Pr Q said:

    There is a natural human tendency to look for some good outcome from such horrific carnage. In the case of Gallipoli reflected in Australian and Turkish national foundation myths in which both the Anzacs and their Turkish opponents were fighting for their respective nations’ freedom. But the reality is that there was nothing good about the Great War, and that nothing came from it except the seeds of even more war and genocide…When we say “We Shall Remember Them”, we should remember that our best service to the memory of the Anzacs is to resist calls for war.

    Thats not a debunking of a myth, its simply a baseless assertion. The fact that both Turkey and Australia still celebrate/commemorate the Gallipoli campaign on an ever-increasing scale is a prima facie refutation of Pr Q’s thesis.

    The Gallipoli glass is both half-empty and half-full. The campaign, although a disasterous military venture and the scene of appalling bloodshed, demonstrably strengthened national unity in both Turkey and Australia.  So it was both a tragedy and a triumph, an ambivalent sensibility familiar to artists but perhaps a little too subtle for others.

    Gallipoli kicked off the careers of both countries foundation myth-makers, in the persons of Billy Hughes in Australia and Mustafa Kemal in Turkey, who both made their names in the Great War. They were by far and away the most popular leaders in their respective nations history. Hughes was dubbed “the Little Digger”, his Sydney funeral in 1952 was attended by 450,000 persons – equivalent to two million people in todays terms. And Kemal was named Ataturk, “Father of the Turks” after the Great War and war of independence. His name is sacrosanct to this day. As Jonathan King points out, modern Turkey would be unthinkable without Ataturk, the hero of Gallipoli:

    Gallipoli was the biggest victory the Ottomans had in WWI, Oral said. Their military leader Mustafa Kemal (later Ataturk) used his victory as a revolutionary springboard to dismantle the Ottoman Empire after the war and establish the modern, secular democratic republic of Turkey serving as inaugural president. Although Australians believe Gallipoli ushered in the birth of our new nation, the nation that was born out of Gallipoli was Turkey because without that victory, Ataturk could not have created Turkey; which although politically troubled at present, remains a secular democratic republic.

    National unity promotes nation building. Since the Great War both nations made great progress in measures of human well-being, relative to comparable countries. In the 1920s the Turkish Army founded and built the modern Turkish State. It is the most successful nation, measured by peace and prosperity, in the Middle East. In the 1920s Australia enjoyed the Roaring Twenties, with strong burst of nation-building, establishing Canberra. It is the most successful nation, measured by peace and prosperity, amongst the Commonwealth nations. This co-incidence is not an accident. A significant factor in both countries success is their Gallipoli-inspired national unity. No thanks to the fashionable constructions of querulous intellectuals.

    More generally, the Durkheimian theory of communitarian solidarity implies that some wars/revolutions can serve as the foundation of civil religions. That is, they sanctify the formation and transmission of communal bonds through the medium of shared blood sacrifice. The team spirit thus generated makes for a more competive nation.  A civil religion is a priceless social asset as it can be used to generate the “Lest we Forget” altruism that underlies the accumulation of social capital through time. It is a form of grateful ancestor worship which has a real pay off in cheap infrastructure built up and handed down by successive generations of descendants. Until our own, of course, which I can only pass over in silent shame.

    So the respective populations of Turkey and Australia, at least before the intellectual rot set in, would strenuously disagree with the “no good came out of Gallipoli” thesis. Of course revisionism is an intellectual parlour game that can be played to the end of history with little chance that the dead will, like Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, come out of no where to correct the record.

    The perennial phrase “bring back National Service” underscores this eternal truth. So, “when we say ‘we shall remember them’ we should remember that our best service to the memory of the ANZACs is to resist the calls” to chisel away at the cultural foundations of national unity.

  32. Our stellar foreign minister asserts that ISIS pose the greatest threat to world order since ‘communism’. Mind you the talk was to the Sydnsy Institute, not a forum that attracts critcal minds. Of course it is a stupid statement but given that ISIS is exploiting the US inspired break up of the post Ottoman ME I thought it was vaguely on topic.

  33. UPDATE

    According to the Grauniad:

    SBS staff have been told that sports reporter Scott McIntyre was sacked not for his “offensive” Anzac Day tweets but for refusing to take them down, while the communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has denied having any influence on the network’s decision.

    The director of sport at SBS, Ken Shipp, told staff at a meeting on Monday morning that McIntyre was sacked for disobeying an order to delete the posts which had caused outrage on Twitter on Saturday night.

    When contacted by Guardian Australia, Shipp declined to comment.

    The IPA weighs in:

    Rightwing thinktank the Institute of Public Affairs seized on the incident to call for SBS to be fully privatised.

    “McIntyre deserved to be fired,” IPA director Simon Breheny wrote. “Perhaps the fact that SBS would make such a poor hiring decision provides yet another reason why the public broadcaster should be privatised.”

    And “Bolt”?

    News Corp commentator Andrew Bolt said SBS had made the right decision in dismissing McIntyre.

    “If journalists portray their own country as the worst terrorist nation — a land of white trash with an army of rapists and murderers — who can blame some young Muslims for feeling obliged to destroy it?

    “Of all ‘hate speech’ now, McIntyre’s is becoming the most dangerous. He had to go.”

    But of course his union stood up for his rights against all that oppressive force (sorry, just joking, unions are fascist operatives – everyone with a brain has worked that out by now):

    “MEAA is concerned about the application of the social media policies of media employers following the dismissal of an SBS employee for opinions expressed on the social media platform Twitter,” the union said in a statement. “The policies have begun to infringe on the private lives of media professionals, dictating what they can and can’t say in a private capacity, outside of their work.”

    Wow! “Zinger” MEAA.

  34. @Megan

    My union organisers don’t behave like fascist operatives; I think many of my fellow union members would resent the suggestion, which I seriously doubt you could substantiate with evidence. (Our industrial officer is fond of quoting Saul Alinsky, which is an unlikely thing for a fascist operative to do.) I can see you’re not happy with the MEAA response to the dismissal of Scott McIntyre, but I don’t see what course of action you would have preferred them to take. It’s easy to say that something is not good enough, but it’s hardly convincing if you can’t suggest how it’s possible to do better.

  35. More to the point, I should have said you could go on strike if you had any solidarity. If the workers have no courage and no solidarity they will in time have nothing above a bare subsistence. That is the way things are trending. Every year now workers lose income, conditions and rights. What do you think is the end point of this process? Have a look at the workers in Apple’s China factory. Have a look at the garment workers in Bangladesh. Have a look at the workers under the (temporary) Jack Abramoff “regime” in Saipan. This is what wages and conditions for workers will look like everywhere on current trends. The intention of capitalists is to use globalism and wage arbitrage to force all wages, even developed world wages down to subsistence levels. Globally, there will be rich metropoles and enclaves for a few hundred million and then there will 7 billion impoverished peasants and workers. That’s the model. That’s the intention.

  36. @J-D

    Your defense of your union against criticism is, slightly, more robust than the union’s reaction to the sacking of a worker (a journalist) for expressing an opinion.

    The MEAA didn’t call for industrial action and didn’t even condemn his sacking.

    I can’t see the point of a union like that.

  37. “Media Watch” mentioned McIntyre’s sacking. Paul Barry’s view:

    As you can imagine there was a storm of outrage.

    And even though McIntyre is only a sports reporter he was shown the door.

    Since then there has been a huge debate about whether his sacking is an attack on free speech.

    Well, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it is.

    Free speech allows you to say what you like and not be jailed. It does not give you protection from trashing your own career.

    Sorry, Paul. I don’t agree with that characterisation of it.

    Recently I’ve noticed a lot of trolling comments at the bottom of media watch pieces online. They sometimes call for Barry’s sacking – because they perceive his opinions to be offensive (and the show itself). By his logic he could be sacked at any time on the strength of that criticism, and that would not be a “free speech” issue.

  38. Comparing Charlie Hebdo, News Ltd and McIntyre, something becomes clear.

    Being offensive is a fundamental right and cornerstone of civilization – but ONLY if you are paid to be offensive. And/or ONLY if your offensiveness is directed at “acceptable” subjects.

  39. @Megan

    I appear to have misled you into supposing that the MEAA is my union. On rereading my comment I can see how I might have done that and if so I apologise. Perhaps I should have been more careful in how I expressed myself. When I referred to my union, I was referring to the union of which I am am member, and that’s not the MEAA.

    But you didn’t write ‘the MEAA is a fascist operative’, you wrote ‘unions are fascist operatives’, so it seemed reasonable to me to suppose that you were referring to unions in general, or at the very least Australian unions in general.

    And you didn’t write ‘I can’t see the point of unions’ (as you have since done in another comment) or ‘unions perform inadequately’, you wrote ‘unions are fascist operatives’. As it happens, today at lunchtime I encountered somebody I know from work and the topic we started talking about led on naturally to my mentioning to him how I’d read a blog comment this morning that asserted that unions are fascist operatives. (Incidentally I have no idea whether he himself is a union member.) He described your statement as a ‘bizarre’ thing to say. (I did explain to him the context, that you were commenting on the MEAA’s response to the sacking of Scott McIntyre.) My guess is that if we asked around a bit we’d find that a lot of people take a similar view. That’s just a guess, of course, but we can test it if you like.

  40. @J-D

    Pgh 1: No need to apologise.

    Pgh 2: I was.

    Pgh 3: No need – it is axiomatic that a lot of people would disagree. And, what I said was ‘The MEAA didn’t call for industrial action and didn’t even condemn his sacking. I can’t see the point of a union like that.’

    For the record – I can see the point of unions, theoretically and in past practice. Today, I believe they are useless to their members as anything other than a club.

  41. Why do we assume he was member of any union. Union cannot do much, if one has broken the rules. Did he ask for union intervention.

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