opinion

'It's not what Yassmin Abdel Magied said about ANZAC Day. It's how she said it.'

The reaction, condemnation and outrage over Yassmin Abdel Magied’s Facebook post: Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine ….) was swift.

There were calls to have her sacked from the ABC where she is a part-time presenter of Australia Wide, a backlash on social media (some comments have been sadly abusive) and politicians have weighed in. Abdel Magied amended the original post to Lest. We. Forget. as soon as she realised its impact and she also apologised for causing offence, but the outrage continues.

ANZAC Day has become Australia’s holy public holiday. Most feel it is a day to remember the men and women who never came back from war. That it is a day to remember the courage, mateship, bravery and sacrifice of all the men and women who have been to war for us and continue to represent Australia in our military services so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. That it is a day that represents a time when we forged our own identity, separate from the British.

Then there are some that feel ANZAC Day glorifies war, is jingoistic and represents unthinking Australian nationalism.

Listen to MMOL discuss Yassmin Abdel Magied’s ANZAC Day post.

I’m someone who can think a lot of things about ANZAC Day. At the moving Dawn service, my thoughts are very different to when I see tribes of drunk people taking “ANZAC” selfies by 12. These thoughts change again when I see young hands touching those glorious old hands in the ANZAC parade and then when I see an Instagram of a bowl of ACAI with the words #grateful for freedom #Less We Forget.

No matter what ANZAC Day means to an individual Australian we should be allowed to question what it is and what it is becoming. We should be allowed to respectfully question anything. That kind of freedom is what Australian men and women have fought for in wars old and new, what real people with real brothers and mothers and lovers died for or have come home to never truly be at peace again.

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But there is a way to do that if you are a public figure. And it’s not in a seven-word Facebook post or a smart-arse Tweet. Throw out a judgement bomb into the world with your thumbs. Don’t give it any context. Don’t try to prosecute an argument. Don’t offer any facts, any reasoning. Seven words. Because I think it therefore it is valid. And you’ve made your point.

Give me a break.

Abdel Magied is a smart woman. An engineer, author, speaker, TV presenter. But she is probably most famous for being “the Islamic Youth leader who got into a fight with Senator Jacqui Lambie on Q&A over Sharia Law”.

Senator Jacqui Lambie and Yassmin Abdel-Magied argue over Sharia Law on Q&A: Image ABC.

If she wants to question Australia's reverence to ANZAC Day, or claim hypocrisy that is absolutely within her right, but show us your thinking. Otherwise it's just a seven-word insult. Like someone driving past a pedestrian in a car abusing them in seven words for crossing the road instead of explaining how dangerous it is for them to be crossing. In the dark. Against the lights. On a main road.

There have been numerous pieces dissecting ANZAC Day in the last 24 hours - and not all OTT positive. SMH columnist and non-fiction author Peter FitzSimons wroteThere is an inconvenient truth about ANZAC Day where he questions Gallipoli as Australia "foundation story" (our growing sense of independence from Great Britain) and offers up the Eureka Stockade instead.  Jane Cowan for the ABC told the story of Afghanistan War veteran, Chris May and his heartbreaking struggle with PTSD - a story Australians aren't interested in. "No one cares, mate":  Being a war veteran at 27. 

Abdel Magied already has a profile. Numerous news organisations would have fought each other for a piece from her about her thoughts on ANZAC Day. On her own Facebook page she could have expanded on her post and written an essay if she wanted.

There is nothing wrong with Abdel Magied questioning our devotion to ANZAC Day, there is something very wrong in how she did it though.

Opinions are easy. Explaining them is when the rubber hits the road and people might be moved.

Without context, argument or reasoning seven words is not an opinion to consider. It is just more social media black noise.

Do you have complicated feelings about ANZAC Day?

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