“This is Anzac, not civilians!”
The media are only too happy to film the tantrum of a 12 year-old because it is such a nice distraction from the war.
Sometimes I’m really glad I’m not a school teacher. Because I’m not sure how much self control I would be able to muster when faced with a 12 year-old smart-ass kid like Jason Broome, son of NZ First chief of staff, who became world famous in NZ by having a tantrum in front of a TV camera on Anzac day. His father, standing next to him during the ordeal, has obviously given up on trying to control the little brat, judging by his inaction vis-a-vis the fit.
After first objecting to protestors being there at all and laying a wreath for civilians killed in Afghanistan, he then berated them for not being there often enough (“We have never seen you before!"), only to finish off by inadvertently getting to the point: “This is Anzac, not civilians!”
The whole thing is a sad indictment on the state of political discourse in this country. I don’t know which is the worst part of it – the fact that the TV reporter considered the kid’s rant more newsworthy than the interview they were conducting with another adult (there is no footage of the actual interview with the anti-war activists, just selective quotes)? Or the fact that pretty much every other news organisation in the country has picked up and re-posted the item?
Or is it the fact that Jason is now credited with having “sparked a national debate about whether it's appropriate to protest on the special day” (Newshub), as if that was the issue? Or the fact that the attention-seeking kid and his father (who, as mentioned above, works for the most media-savvy politician in the country) hijacked a TV crew, only to scream into the camera that the protestors were just “here to say ‘oh look, it's free publicity, let's go and make the most of it’”?
I guess the little prick should be credited with having given the media an opportunity to ignore the issue that Peace Action Wellington was bringing up: “No NZ support for war”. Instead of debating the purpose of NZ having troops in Afghanistan (NZ’s longest ever engagement in a war) as well as in Iraq, the “debate” is now about whether it is legitimate to even talk about it.
Propelled by the falsity that the Anzac soldiers fought for freedom of speech (they didn’t, they fought to maintain the supremacy of the British Empire in Europe), the government and its media have managed to keep Anzac day free from any mention of the reality of war. Instead, a sideshow has been created about an issue that has long been settled, and should be a no-brainer anyway.
The reports about the silent Anzac protest in 2017 sound like this is a brand new thing. But protests on this day have a long tradition. They started in the 60s with the anti Vietnam-war movement and continued pretty much without interruption until today. In 2014, Peace Action Wellington held up the same banner that was used this year at the main ceremony at the war memorial. A few years earlier, some PAW members were arrested for blowing a trumpet and burning a flag during the dawn ceremony.
On that occasion, the court found them not guilty of “offensive behaviour”, confirming the right to protest in every situation. What the court stated was simply the fact that the right to protest is not subject to restrictions to certain days of the year, or times of the day. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a right. So there is nothing to discuss here, the issue is very clear.
It’s not like war is a thing of the past, for which a commemoration would be appropriate. Today, there are more wars being fought than there were a hundred years ago. And given that there are serious allegations about the conduct of NZ’s elite SAS troops in Afghanistan, a debate about this country’s involvement in that and other wars would be desperately needed. Instead we’re being fed videos of a child lecturing us on what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour on April 25.
What little Jason probably doesn’t know is the reason why there is a ban on the sale of alcohol before midday on this “very special” day. It is because otherwise all those people who, like NZ First’s Ron Mark, see the day as a “sacred day for commemoration and reflection” would be pissed out of their brains by the time the wreath-laying ceremony takes place.