Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Turkish Tale on Anzac Day

photo source: The Heritage of the Great War.

I just heard Robert Manne speaking on the Armenian Genocide
"despite the fact that the Armenian Genocide was one of the great crimes of history; despite the fact that it took place on Ottoman soil during the precise months of the Dardanelles campaign; despite the fact that that campaign is regarded as the moment when the Australian nation was born, so far as I can tell, in the vast Gallipoli canon, not one Australian historian has devoted more than a passing page or paragraph to the relationship, or even the mere coincidence, of the two events...
Ernest Renan once argued that an act of forgetting can be discovered in the foundation of all nations. Sigmund Freud agreed: "It is universally admitted that in the origin of the traditions and folklore of a people care must be taken to remove from the memory such a motive as would be painful to the national feeling.” According to Renan and Freud, all countries seem to feel the need for a noble myth of origin from which dark deeds and moral ambiguities have been erased."
What a relief to hear some analysis, some thinking that digs into the layers of this day of mourning and expand ideas about the character of the nation:
whether or not we can learn, without flinching, to hold the memories of the triumph of Gallipoli and and the tragedy of the Dispossession (of Aboriginal Australia) together in our minds.
Australia and Turkey: Uncomfortable Thoughts on Gallipoli and the Armenian Genocide' by Robert Manne, Professor of Politics. La Trobe University