January 10th, 2014
Two things irritate me about this article.
1: So what if the Brits want to whitewash the ANZACs out of their World War 1 centenary? We really need to drop the post-colonial chip off our shoulder. It doesn’t matter what they do, we still know we and the other colonials saved their sorry pommie arses from ignominious defeat three times (Boer War and both World Wars) before they finally resigned themselves to being America’s lapdog.
2: Dear NZ Herald: “media” is plural, so that sentence should read “Australian media report” – note the lack of a 3rd person singular ‘s’ at the end of the verb. But more importantly, who wrote this?:
Australian media reports the “Anzac whitewash” is driven by a bid to win political and economic favour in multicultural Britain.
“It’s basically to remind Britons the First World War wasn’t just soldiers from here fighting in France and Belgium but involved people from Lagos, Kingston and the Punjab,” a government insider told News Corp. “There has been no mention of old Commonwealth allies like Australia or New Zealand but more interest in celebrating the role from new Commonwealth countries. I think it’s fair to say Commonwealth ties are being frayed a little on this one.”
What utter nonsense! Why? Well, Lagos clearly refers to Nigeria and Punjab to India, and I’m going to assume that Kingston refers to Jamaica. Jamaica came under English rule in 1655. The British East India Company began trading with India in 1617, and the Raj began in 1858. British influence in what is now Nigeria seems to have begun with the 1807 abolition of slavery, but Nigeria didn’t become a proper colony until 1900. New Zealand was colonised with the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, Australia’s colonisation began with the arrival of the First Fleet and the construction of the penal colony that became Sydney in 1788. Nigeria gained its independence in 1960; Jamaica in 1962; and India in 1947. Australia and New Zealand? Well, the Statute of Westminster was passed in 1931, but not adopted by Australia until 1942 and New Zealand until 1947. The Australia Act of 1986 ended whatever constitutional ties may have remained between Australia and the UK and effectively ended the right to appeal to the Privy Council. New Zealand passed a similar law, the Constitution Act in 1986, but did not abolish the right of appeal to the Privy Council until 2003 So, actually, I’m not sure when either Australia or New Zealand can be said to have gained independence from the UK. Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand are Commonwealth Realms, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. India became a republic on independence, and Nigeria in 1963. And how is it that “soldiers from here” is somehow magically more inclusive of ANZACs than of Nigerians, Jamaicans and Indians? Australia and New Zealand are much further away from “from here” than those other three countries.
Alright, so I’m relying on Wikipedia for my fact-checking here, but my point is this: I can’t see how Australia and New Zealand can be called “old Commonwealth” and Nigeria, Jamaica and India “new Commonwealth”. That’s just absurd. What I can see is that perhaps this mysterious Australian media writer might mean by “old” and “new” Commonwealth, especially considering that not-especially-subtle hint that the British authorities are trying to include normally excluded minorities, is that Australia and New Zealand are “predominantly white Commonwealth”, while Nigeria, Jamaica and India are “predominantly something other than white Commonwealth”. And that disgusts me far more than the possibility, however vague, of an “ANZAC whitewash”.