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Attila the Pun
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
 
Spit on a digger day

Not sure how this slipped under my radar, but I have only recently had a chance to read Leunig's disgusting attack on every person who has ever voluntarily worn a military uniform.

We live in a national culture that glamorises soldiers, yet the sight of a military uniform with its obvious connotations of morbidity and violence provokes in me the question: "What sort of person is attracted to the killing professions?" Army recruiting advertisements beg the same question.

So Leunig sets out to tell us exactly what kind of bloodthirsty types these strange creatures are.

The raising of this query in public will bring hostile responses as well as the inevitable, "If it wasn't for soldiers you wouldn't have the liberty to ask that question", as if I owe my ration of happiness, sanity or spiritual health to militarism.

Hang on - it wasn't suggested that you owed your sanity or spiritual health to militarism, rather that you owed, at least in part, your ability to freely live a life as a "whimsical" cartoonist to Australia's armed forces. This point is "inevitably" raised because it is so fundamental, yet Leunig barely bothers to respond to it.

It seems to me, however, that human rights have historically been considerably established by those who were not soldiers and who indeed, in many instances, had to face the terror and repression of state military force in their various campaigns for social justice.

We can of course expect a long and distinguished list of examples for this.

It could be said, for instance that it was the troopers who fought against the cause of freedom at the Eureka stockade in Ballarat and slaughtered those who sought liberty and justice.

And thats it. The liberation of Europe in WWII. The defence of Australia in the Pacific. The (multiple) defence of Israel. The Australian intervention in East Timor. All these were achieved by the use of military force. And all of them could (unfortunately) be achieved no other way.

Soldiers mostly follow orders, they have "a job to do" regardless of whether they are rescuing civilians or shooting them.

Does no one else find it grossly offensive for him to suggest that Australian troops would blindly follow orders and shoot civilians because they felt they have a job to do?

Where the Prime Minister sees courage, decency and goodness in professional soldiers - all those "best and finest" qualities - I cannot help but also see the possibility of perversity, emotional sickness and a latent murderous impulse.

Leunig would also see those possibilities in every member of the Liberal Party, and anyone else he disagreed with however, so I am not sure we should take his opinion too seriously there.

The innocent question won't go away: "What sort of person volunteers to devote their life to the skills of destruction and the business of hunting, trapping and slaughtering humans?"

It is an undeniable fact that the main purpose of the Army is to train to kill the soldiers of the enemy most effectively. The ultimate hope is that by preparing properly for this, one would never have to do it. But it is a blatant distortion to suggest that the skills that the Army (and other branches of the military) provide are only useful for slaughtering their fellow man. I note that nowhere in the article does Leunig mention the tsunami relief effort. It was only the Army, with Air Force and Navy support, that could get food and aid on the ground as quickly as they did. Civilian organisations lack the skills, organisation and discipline to achieve anything close to that.

Is it possible for Leunig to consider that many members of the armed forces may have joined on the basis that they wished to be involved in operations like that? I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to suggest that the average member of the Australian Army who has served in the last few years would have achieved more humanitarian good than a person who has devoted their life to drawing ducks.

Anzac Day brings this question strongly to mind because I am asked each year to remember the soldiers who fought and to spare a thought for them, which I always do,

Thats big of you

but that's where the trouble starts because before too long questions arise and I try to imagine what sort of men would volunteer to invade a far-off land and perpetrate such murderous violence against its inhabitants.

Yeah, who would volunteer to invade a far off Germany and perpetrate such murderous violence against the Wermacht? Actually, Leunig is being disingenuous by only referring to Gallipoli there, even though ANZAC day is a remembrance day for all our service men and women.

Inevitably I then start to think and wonder about the forgotten men who on conscience and principle refused to take part in this monumental violence (where is their monument?),

Yeah, bugger all these shrines, statues and memorials to those who died serving abstract concepts such as freedom - where is the memorial to the dockers who refused to load the ships as a sign of solidarity with the Soviets?

In the grisly light of the fact that Australian soldiers so recently took part in the invasion of Iraq, which involved the killing of more than 100,000 civilians,

It comes as no surprise to some of us that the flawed Lancet findings have taken on the status as a "fact". Such a round convenient number to quote.

As for the men who refused the way of violence, there appears to be little cultural recognition or consciousness of those who rejected jingoism and the call to homicide, but who served their country well for an entire lifetime in creative, constructive and unglorified ways that are immeasurable.

Is Leunig angling for a Mr Curly statue? A duck remembrance day?

Grim authoritarianism, paranoia, guilt, fundamentalism, hostility, bitter or brutal outlooks and a difficulty with Eros, beauty and the feminine are all aftermath qualities that insinuate or assert themselves into family and institutional life with profound consequences.

Nope, he is just talking crap.

The violent, frightened mentality and fetishism of war, the domineering impulse, and the addiction to the "evil other" forever corrupt, disfigure and limit the societies that wage and prosecute the violent solution.

Which ever first year arts student he copied this off is going to be mighty pissed...

Soldiers can quickly tire of patriotism and piety in the globalised world. Many become mercenaries now and sell their souls to the highest bidder as hit-men; which may tell us something about what it takes to be a soldier.

This article tells us everything about what he thinks it takes to be a soldier. And it wouldnt be a Leunig piece without the mandatory swipe at Howard

No doubt many of those innocent young ADF people in uniform, photographed with the leering, beer-juggling Prime Minister, may in time see the light, take to his private enterprise ideas and move on to the big bucks

Innocent? I thought they were blood crazed killers intent on learing how to trap and slaughter fellow humans. I am so confused. What would Mr Curly do?

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