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ANZAC: ‘Known unto God’ therefore loathed by the Left

ANZACANZAC day pushes all my buttons. I get to sing the New Zealand national anthem, mine from school days (“God of nations, at thy feet, in the bonds of love we meet…”), the British anthem, mine by ancestry and heritage (“God save our gracious Queen…”) – on the first ANZAC day in 44 years that a British royal and his most gracious wife and bouncing bairn were with us – and our own anthem (“Beneath our radiant Southern Cross…”). I feel the bond of gratitude across generations to my grandfather’s, himself just too young to join the resistance against the German menace, and there is no better public sentiment than grateful admiration.

The near-sacredness of this time of grief and gratitude a century on is captured in the timeless hymns beloved by the WW1 generation and always sung on ANZAC Day, including ‘Abide with me’, ‘Nearer my God to thee’ (see the terrific video bottom of page), and ‘Amazing Grace’. And I sense how rare and counter-cultural it is for us all to evoke, quite unselfconsciously, the fellowship of God in remembering these grievous sufferings.

How despicable, then, was the attempt by the Council of the Australian War Memorial, under the inspiration of that Irish Pom-hater Paul Keating, to remove the immortal words, “Known Unto God” from the tomb of the unknown soldier and put some vacuous wordage by Keating himself. Historian Mervyn Bendle notes that those three words “represented a traditional form of remembrance and a sense of the transcendent that is anathema to the secular Left”, and that Keating and the trendies on the Council, by removing the words, were:

 trying to marginalise God. The original words were those of Rudyard Kipling, whose son John had died aged just eighteen in the First World War, and they appear on the headstones of most of the 211,996 Commonwealth soldiers who died in anonymity. They offer a vital assurance for those who lost loved ones in the war. As Miranda Devine has observed, they were inscribed at the War Memorial at the suggestion of Geoffrey Blainey when he joined the Council. Blainey, a vital voice for reason and tradition in the History Wars, was alert to the fact that the remains interred at the Memorial in 1993 belonged to a soldier who had previously been buried in hallowed ground at Villers-Bretonneux under a headstone that bore the inscription: “An Australian soldier of the Great War, known unto God”. Despite this, his remains had been moved to Canberra and made the centrepiece of what was intended to be a deliberately secularist display, and even after the traditional words were re-inscribed on this soldier’s grave they were routinely covered up by wreaths, a practice that only stopped after Blainey had a formal motion carried by the Council prohibiting it.

But the issue was still not resolved. As Devine observes, “Who would think that three little words could cause so much trouble?” but of course they represented a traditional form of remembrance and a sense of the transcendent that is anathema to the secular Left. Consequently, in a provocative resumption of the History Wars, the opportunity was taken as part of the 2013 Remembrance Day ceremony to fully secularise the memorial by obliterating the words altogether, using the occasion of Keating’s speech as a pretext. It was only when news of this intention leaked out that a “compromise” was arranged that ensures that the reference to God is retained (for now!) but that Keating’s impenetrable assertion that “He is one of them, and he is all of us” is now inscribed to bemuse visitors for eternity.

What trivial people we are becoming. Even in our simplistic judgement on WW1 – the dumbed-down meaningless version all our children are taught at school – we show how shallow our understanding of the past has become. Bendle puts the counter-proposition as to the seriousness of the cause of our ANZACS, even if the Gallipoli campaign was a military catastrophe:

…The nihilist interpretation of the war underlying Keating’s view has long been dominant on the Left, and has its roots in V.I. Lenin’s communist polemic Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism(1917). According to this, the conflict was a civil war between capitalist nations struggling to protect or extend their imperialist holdings, and it had no relevance to the working classes, who should have stayed out of it. This view was promoted by the Comintern and Cominform, which sought to manipulate the powerful pacifist movements in the West during the inter-war years and the Cold War. According to this propaganda, liberal democracy and capitalism are inherently fascist and warlike, while communism alone was dedicated to peace. Consequently, the Great War has come to be portrayed as the inevitable product of an imperialist, racist and patriarchal civilisation, which should have been avoided, ultimately achieved nothing, and ensured that further wars would occur among the capitalist powers. In Keating’s words, it was “a war devoid of any virtue [that merely] led to a second conflagration”.

…In fact, this nihilist view of the war is quite unhistorical, and however horrific the war may have been, it was worth it. It was waged over issues of primal importance that couldn’t be ignored, even by a new nation in the antipodes. Indeed, it was fought to defend the emerging liberal democracies from a massive onslaught of autocratic and authoritarian power that would have fundamentally redirected the trajectory of modern history if Germany had been victorious. In was in deadly combat with this titanic threat that the Anzacs fought and so many sacrificed their lives and health. It is Keating’s ultimate betrayal of their memory that he failed to comprehend and commemorate the true nature and stature of this world-historical struggle but chose instead, in accordance with the nihilist perspective, to portray the Anzacs as noble dupes and innocents, sacrificed as “cannon fodder” by the British ruling class in a futile and unnecessary war.

In defiance of those who would “marginalise God” from this day of grief, gratitude and humble awareness of our mortality, here is a new-generation’s rendition of ‘Nearer my God to Thee’, about as good as contemporary a cappella gets.

 

UPDATE 26/4/2014

Incredible. What is this specimen occupying the office of Governor of Tasmania? He channels Keating, disdains the sacrifice of our war heroes, and barracks for public money to be diverted from the ANZAC celebrations to better fund the far-left Sydney University Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, whose repulsive policies, along with the repulsive attitudes of this representative of the Queen, can be perused in this analysis by Andrew Bolt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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