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Monday, April 25, 2011

Lest We Remember



For me, ANZAC Day is a day that civil society pauses and remembers those who have sacrificed their lives in the name of our country. It is a commemoration of our wars and a solemn occasion when the current generation promise the next generation that we will never throw their lives away as wastefully as we have in the past. Our history is littered with wars that were ill defined and devoured some of our best and brightest. We respect the glorious dead by promising not to needlessly fill the graves next to them with more wasted life.

For the last decade, ANZAC Day has been a farce to the respect of our glorious dead. Our involvement in an immoral war to prop up a corrupt regime in Afghanistan while we actively hand over Afghan civilians to torture units means we have ignored the lessons of the past and are now inflicting the very terror we proclaim we are fighting. How do we know the people the SAS attacked and killed in their revenge attack that's just been made public were the ones responsible for the death of a NZ soldier? A court decides guilt, are we now saying the SAS are a Court unto themselves who can decide who is guilty and who is not and kill both accordingly? When you are against war, it is because war makes good people do bad things.

When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn't change, you do.

Watching Wayne Mapp declare on Q+A yesterday that we are in Afghanistan because 7 NZers have died from terrorism in 10 years is the most intellectually bankrupt defense of this immoral war I've ever heard. Our threshold for occupation of Afghanistan is 7 dead citizens over a decade? Why the hell aren't we bombing KFC stores for double down burgers? Heart disease in a decade would kill hundreds of thousands of NZers, our justification for a war is less than one dead citizen per year?

Our presence and continued interference in Afghanistan is creating the terrorism, we have become the tyranny we are claiming to fight.

The Gunner's Lament

A Maori gunner lay dying
In a paddyfield north of Saigon,
And he said to his pakeha cobber,
"I reckon I've had it, man!

'And if I could fly like a bird
To my old granny's whare
A truck and a winch would never drag
Me back to the Army.

'A coat and a cap and a well-paid job
Looked better than shovelling metal,
And they told me that Te Rauparaha
Would have fought in the Vietnam battle.

'On my last leave the town swung round
Like a bucket full of eels.
The girls liked the uniform
And I liked the girls.

'Like a bullock to the abattoirs
In the name of liberty
They flew me with a hangover
Across the Tasman Sea,

'And what I found in Vietnam
Was mud and blood and fire,
With the Yanks and the Reds taking turns
At murdering the poor.

'And I saw the reason for it
In a Viet Cong's blazing eyes -
We fought for the crops of kumara
And they are fighting for the rice.

'So go tell my sweetheart
To get another boy
Who'll cuddle her and marry her
And laugh when the bugles blow,

'And tell my youngest brother
He can have my shotgun
To fire at the ducks on the big lagoon,
But not to aim it at a man,

'And tell my granny to wear black
And carry a willow leaf,
Because the kid she kept from the cold
Has eaten a dead man's loaf.

'And go and tell Keith Holyoake
Sitting in Wellington,
However long he scrubs his hands
He'll never get them clean.'


James K Baxter
1965


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5 Comments:

At 25/4/11 10:40 am, Blogger Marty Mars said...

Good post Bomber - I agree with what you say.

"We respect the glorious dead by promising not to needlessly fill the graves next to them with more wasted life."

Wise words and well put.

 
At 25/4/11 4:18 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

Great post Bomber .
It's said about war ; Conflicts punctuated by long periods of cheating .
While I try to watch the television for any crumb of enlightened , or enlightening thing , I curse those vulgar advertisements selling future mindless dross to fill any enquiring mind . I gape at the audacity of those whom would happily profit from the deaths of our ancestors and I watch as politicians while wearing the Poppy undo our democracy as one might peal the frock off an $80.00 girl . I read this recently ; ' Only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on the memory of the crowd ' Adolf Hitler . The conundrum of the concept of Peace in a Global Market driven economy is that there's no profit from War Inc . Being especially paranoid , I see reports of SAS murders as being a type of covert threat to us . To those of us whom might speak out against this soft fascist regime that we can't vote out ,fight or strike against . This faceless , viral thing that sees our people die on foreign soil for fuck all , that sells our best food and goods to stronger economies while NZ kids in poor areas get fat on cheap pizzas and stupefied by their most reliable peer group , the television . While our standard of living has dropped like a house brick , we have more than twenty five thousand people in prisons , our old people are farmed in 'retirement villages ' by ghouls who impatiently tap their fingers as they wait for a death that means a sale and lets not talk about how leveraged we are and of how most of us will die in debt ! I bet John Key , Mr Smile and Wave . Mr $50 Million and his minions will be wearing their poppies .

 
At 26/4/11 7:33 am, Blogger jane said...

Ten days of rain to mark this occasion.

 
At 26/4/11 9:13 am, Blogger unattachednz! said...

only the dead have seen the end of war

 
At 26/4/11 10:07 am, Blogger Steve Withers said...

Our governments have been cowed by the US for years lest our existing market access to cut or we 'lose' the chance of a free trade agreement we are never going to get anyway. Our politicians have been - literally - whoring the lives of Kiwi soldiers for many years. Occasionally someone like Helen Clarke in NZ (or Jean Chretien in Canada) says no...and the right-wing corporate media propaganda machine goes into over-drive.

NZ didn't used to be this way. It is now.

 

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