Defending without an attacker

By Matt Elsbury – posted Friday, 26 April 2013

Matt Elsbury

According to Christopher Pyne, Anzac Day is undervalued in our current school curriculum, being “locked in” with the likes of Harmony Day and Reconciliation Day. Despite the group that the day represents, and the day itself, being studied at various year levels, apparently Anzac Day is at risk of being eroded by political correctness. Anyone not going through yesterday with their eyes shut might have been left with a different impression.I am reminded of the slew of social media postings that appear every year in late January, perpetuating the myth that Australia Day is about to be rebranded in a fit of multiculturalism as Citizen’s Day. The fact that this is blatantly and obviously untrue doesn’t stop some people from leaping to Oz Day’s defence, demanding that those who immigrate here immediately speak English, eat a pie and follow a football (not soccer, FOOTBALL) team, or leave.

I have a potential solution: every year, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day offer gifts and pampering for those who qualify, and while Christmas and Easter have their religious, social and family ties, they are also given a magical sheen for children. Perhaps we should cater to another societal group in a similar way, and establish White Fear Day.

For one day a year, Strayans who are convinced that people of a different hue have come to our sunny shores with the sole intention of eroding the traditional values of Australia, and Taking Our Stuff, would gather at officially sanctioned White Fear Barbecues. There, without fear of suffering the eye-rolling disapproval of bleeding heart pinkos, they could indulge their beliefs that asylum seekers are indeed “illegals”, who have risked their lives to come to Australia in order to either take our jobs, or blow them up. For one day a year, they can talk loudly about how we are less than a decade away from Sharia Law, how people should list themselves as Christian on the census, even if they aren’t, in order to prevent a mosque being built next door, and how Christmas itself is under threat from cultural oversensitivity. Alan Jones could be the official patron, and the day could close with a minute’s silence to mourn the passing of what it means to be an Aussie.

There is, however, a deal to be struck before White Fear Day can be implemented. For the rest of the year, participants must acknowledge, and live in, reality. This means that for three hundred and sixty-four days, they must admit that seeking asylum is not a crime, that Christmas is as safe as Sharia law is distant, and that the government doesn’t build mosques, regardless of whether you describe yourself as Christian, Muslim, Jedi or Platypus. It also means that those two pillars of Aussieness – the belief in the “fair go”, and the love of the battler – should be adjusted slightly. Namely, thinking more deeply about who should be allowed a fair go, and realising what some people have had to, and continue to, battle against.

It’s a tactic used with monotonous regularity; positioning oneself as the defender of something that isn’t actually under attack (see Equality, Marriage). The National Sorry Day Committee has expressed surprise at their commemoration being painted as one of the villains of this cartoon, pointing out that their event and Anzac Day “…are not in opposition – both Days are linked in our shared history, and commemorating both is now an intrinsic part of being Australian”. This states, clearly and efficiently, the hollowness of the Member for Sturt’s gambit – he is the self-appointed watchdog, but instead of confronting intruders, he is merely barking at passers-by.

Joining in the noise, Dr Kevin Donnelly of the Education Standards Institute accidentally gave a howler of his own. In describing the current syllabus, Dr Donnelly says “Australia and our character is ignored in the history document, because it’s all about diversity and difference and multiculturalism and different perspectives. It’s a very one sided, politically correct view of Australian history…” All about diversity and different perspectives, and yet very one-sided? This is a very telling paradox – the goal of acknowledging a variety of viewpoints is to avoid taking sides at all, so by describing this as one-sided, Dr Donnelly establishes those he seeks to support as being “the other side”, thus drawing a line in the sand instead of simply enjoying a day at the beach.

The problem is this; what Dr Donnelly describes as political correctness, and Christopher Pyne refers to as “…a confidence-sapping ‘black armband’ view of our history…”, others would simply call context, and context is never a threat to an idea worth preserving. Clearly, the thousands of all ages who head to Gallipoli each April 25, and the respect and ceremony given to the day itself around this country, show that Anzac Day’s significance is not being lost, and to suggest that school curricula need to be adjusted to preserve it is merely the Shadow Education Minister shadow-boxing.

About the Author

Matt Elsbury is a stand-up comedian, satirist and writer based in Melbourne. He has toured nationally and internationally for over a decade, and has more than a dozen Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows on his resume, including 2007’s meaning…?, where he analysed the modern use and abuse of language, described in The Age as “…a bleak and funny tour of a world drained of truth”. He has appeared on Foxtel’s Comedy Channel, and on the ABC on such shows as O’Loghlin on Saturday Night and Standing Up! He can be found struggling with Twitter’s character limit under the handle @thinkforasec.