Declares war on terrorism
Melbourne Herald Sun 2005
Australia doesn't have a tradition of sporting heroes nailing
their colours to the political mast. There were no such heroes
leading the march in Australia against cricket and rugby union
tours of apartheid afflicted South Africa in the 1960s. Even after
the federal government boycotted cricket tours there was any number
of cricketers, including former captain Kim Hughes, who were prepared
to join rebel tours. And had it not been for the defiance of Nicky
Winmar in raising his jumper and pointing to his black skin a
decade ago at Victoria Park, who knows how much longer racist
abuse would have been tolerated on the football field. History
shows that it was blacks such as Winmar and Michael Long, not
'white fella' members of the Hall of Fame, who brought an end
to the scourge of racial abuse.
So, how surprising it was to hear Collingwood coach, Mick Malthouse,
declare his support for the 'war on terrorism' before last Saturday
night's match at the Gabba. To some, Malthouse's call for sympathy
for the 'nameless Iraqis killed on a daily basis' was code for
opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Unfortunately, Malthouse's
sympathies didn't extend to the more than one hundred thousand,
ordinary Iraqi men and women and children killed by missiles and
starvation or shot dead at checkpoints. The only dead Iraqis who
rated in Malthouse's tribute were those who had 'their throats
cut'. There was only one enemy, barbaric Muslim insurgents, who
refuse to accept the American occupation.
If Mick Malthouse and the Collingwood Football Club want to use
a major televised football game to implicitly support the US invasion
of Iraq and the rapidly unravelling 'war on terror' they should
be prepared for the questions. To assume that the millions of
Australians who opposed the invasion of Iraq will fall in behind
them is at best naïve. The naivety didn't end there. Malthouse
said the V-shape configuration adopted by the players during their
60-second tribute was based on British Prime Minister, Winston
Churchill's famous victory sign. Churchill, he said, was the 'greatest
statesman to serve England'. Mick might like to ponder Churchill's
vainglorious masterminding of the Gallipoli campaign that sent
thousands of young Australians to their death on the beaches of
Turkey in 1915.
He might also like to think about the status Churchill has among
people of Irish descent. In 1920 he famously declared that his
government would 'unleash a terrible war' on the Irish if they
did not accept a truce. The truce brought an end to the Anglo-Irish
War, but it was followed by a savage civil war, the creation of
Northern Ireland and eighty years of turmoil and death in that
province. In the 1970s and 80s it brought IRA terrorism to the
English mainland. Churchill is no hero of mine. So, what would
Mick have done if someone of my politics happened to be playing
with Collingwood? And what if Irish born Brownlow Medallist, Jim
Stynes, whose relatives fought against Churchill's army in England,
or a young Muslim who didn't support the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan,
had been in the team?
As well-meaning as Mick Malthouse's words might sound, they bring
no comfort to those who oppose the Bush-Blair approach to ridding
the world of terror. Treating terrorism as an act of evil, as
if it has no connection with than injustice of Palestine or Iraq
won't make the world a safer place. Nor will catch-cries such
as 'we've got to hit it (terrorism) on the head'. It's a long
way from the pre-match oration to the world of international terror.
And it's plain wrong to think a burst of stiff, upper lip Churchillian
spirit is all that's needed to end this scourge. Has the invasion
of Iraq and Afghanistan made it a safer world? Are our children
now free to visit the old dart or New York or Bali without fear
of ending up mangled by a terrorist bomb?
If only the Collingwood and Brisbane Football Clubs had expressed
their sympathy for those innocent Iraqis, not just those killed
by anti-US insurgents, who died as result of the invasion. If
only a big strong footballer would call on the Americans to end
the carnage on the West Bank and bring economic relief to Iraq.
If only Channel Ten had informed us that the one minute silence
was in defence of the invasion of Iraq. If only we had the courage
to say justice is the pre-requisite of peace.
Published in the Melbourne Herald Sun 2005
I read the article in the Herald Sun yesterday in regards to
Malthouse 1 minute silence before the Brisbane game.
I think it was the start of the 2002 season and young Bulldog
Robert Murphy had written on his arm, in full view, NO WAR when
sitting for the team photo. Now he isn't exactly a big man, but
I do recall that he may have been reprimanded for having that
written on his arm. So a footballer did try to make his voice
and opinion heard, however, to no avail.
I really enjoyed the article.
Regards, Feisty Tiger