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So, our disastrously misguided national leader, Tony Abbott, thinks that Iranian asylum seekers whose pleas to be accepted as refugees have been officially turned down “deserve” to be sent back to Iran! “Deserve”? What does he mean? That’s as bad a choice of word as his “lifestyle” gaff a couple of weeks back about Indigenous people who choose to live in WA outback settlements that their whitefella premier tells them his state can’t afford to sustain.

What on earth did our Rhodes Scholar pug learn from his Oxford and Catholic educations? Not much it seems, except to be eternally crass, dimwitted and mean-spirited. It’s so embarrassing: not only do we have a nitwit for a PM; we have a man suffering a tragic character mix that includes seemingly uncontrollable dishonesty, ruthlessness, selfishness, misjudgment, inhumanity, cruelty, and, now and then, moments of incredibly cringing hypocritical remorse.

And now we have to put up with weeks of ANZAC, Gallipoli and World War I jingoism . . . It’s a pity Abbott and his cabinet lackeys don’t spend a bit more time evaluating why Australia is becoming a thoroughly disliked member of the UN; a climate-change denier in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary; and a laughing stock in global financial politics.

Australian governments should not carry on waging wars against — or poking their noses into the business of — nations who pose no threat to Australia; they should not carry on breeding irrational fear in the minds of Australians about terrorism; they should not carry on pretending they know how to run an economy when they haven’t even got their last budget approved, let alone plan another; they should not carry on fiddling while the natural environment becomes ever-more polluted and fauna and flora are being caught up in mass extinctions; they should not carry on denying that their behaviour — especially that of the PM and immigration minister — is replicating, only worse, the child abuse and human-rights violations that have been the stock-in-trade of PMs and immigration ministers since the late days of the Keating era . . .

Such a sad state of affairs for a nation that actually has decent people who would make good leaders — but, sadly, the kind of people whose decency tells them that to stand for public office is a road to corruption and compromise of moral standards.

We’re standing in it ...

Australia, we’re standing in it — and it stinks.

A friend wrote to me on Facebook recently: I’m aware that, yes, we are about to be bombarded with ANZAC sentiment, and I understand the irony of glorifying war at this time, but I believe we should be careful not to compare it to propaganda. Jingoism, aka extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy, is exactly what my mother and father’s fathers had to deal with … and deal with it they did in 1914-18.

My reply: I, too, had grandparents — also parents born in the early days of the 20th century — who lived through two world wars. My grandfather served as a stretcher bearer at Ypres. My father’s brother died, fighting with the AIF, somewhere in northeastern France, a couple of weeks before the November 11 armistice in 1918. Two of my uncles served in Europe in World War II, both, as I remember, sustaining injuries but surviving the conflict. A second-cousin went missing in an RAF bomber over Germany, his final resting place not discovered until the late 1950s. Even I, as a two-year British conscript, served the by-then waning empire in the dying months of the Malayan Emergency (1950-60), fortunately never seeing a shot fired in anger yet already finding myself beginning to realise the idiocy of violent conflict as a means of settling arguments — and the vacuousness of a belief that had me singing words like “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war . . .”.

And now fundamentalist Islamist loonies are doing what fundamentalist Christian loonies did through centuries, all the time successfully persuading simpletons (with, really, very little else in life to look forward to) to rally to their causes.

I don’t think any of those relatives I have mentioned would have wanted anything to do with the modern-day bread-and-circuses policies of the likes of the war-mongering John Howard and our present pugilistic PM.

I have the utmost respect for all those people who “answer the call” on grounds of genuine patriotism, knowing their sovereign boundaries are under threat. But always it is the rich and powerful who call the shots, and who send the hoi polloi to the fronts to preserve, or generate more, wealth for the rich.

To me, glorification of war and sacrifice can only encourage more wars and sacrifices, which means encouraging more warriors, especially from the ranks of those too ignorant to understand how they are being conned.

So often the wars Australia’s wealthy and influential are choosing to wage involve no threat to our borders and can only mean intensified suffering for people we are unlikely ever to know (eg, Iraq and Afghanistan).

And then, when the flotsam and jetsam of those wars start trying to reach the safety our shores, we treat them as less than human. When Australia wants to study what it is that is making the word “Australian” an object of loathing in exotic places, it should look into its own soul.

Australia should be lamenting its contribution to human cruelty, not glorying in the symbols of its warmongering past.

Ed: A most evocative account of his dad’s experience of war by Evan Whitton will be published on Anzac Day, as will a link to Peter Jones’ pacifist Stand for Peace ...