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Gordon Campbell on the hair-pulling finale and Gallipoli

Gordon Campbell on the hair-pulling finale, and the real hero of Gallipoli

Don’t know about you, but when hi-jinks and horsing around are going on, my understanding is that everyone involved is supposed to be having a good time. Those terms don’t apply to a situation where one person with immense power is harassing someone with none – and whose job depends on them having to grin and bear it. Amanda Bailey wasn’t at a party. She was in her workplace, trying to do her job. As others have noted, everything Prime Minister John Key has said and done since uttering his “apology” has been calculated to dispel the sense that he had done anything to apologise about.

If Key felt remorseful and had really learned from this experience wouldn’t he – for instance – be keen to extrapolate from it, and remind other people in power to respect the people who are serving them, and cleaning up after them? Not a chance. Key has been intent throughout on minimizing his virtual droit de seigneur to repeatedly badger this woman. It looks as though he will get away with it, too. Judging for instance, by Annette King’s muted performance on Paul Henry’s show – which she seemed almost apologetic for criticising the PM’s behaviour and raising the issues of harassment etc - Labour has decided that there’s little mileage in pursuing the matter any further, and a greater risk of seeming you know….strident about it.

Much has been made of the fact that the waitress had laid no official complaint with the café owners before going public. (She had told her managers, but not the owners.) As things have panned out, the subsequent blaze of publicity has prt=obably given her more job protection than if she had made a complaint beforehand. In an ideal world, she would have been defended by her employers if she had laid a complaint.. Alas, there are many employers who would have told her that Key was the Prime Minister, and she would have to suck it up, not cause a scene etc - and advised her to seek other employment if she couldn’t hack it. The publicity has (probably) made retribution against her less likely

Hi jinks ? The word reminded me of another case of hi jinks at a restaurant in ther early 1970s. On that occasion John Lennon was the famous guy having fun.

One night, John Lennon, May Pang, and legendary guitarist Jesse Ed Davis got together for an early evening dinner at a restaurant in Santa Monica, where John got famously drunk before disappearing into the bathroom.

“He returned from the bathroom with a Kotex [ie, a Tampax] on his forehead,” May recalls. “I pleaded with him to take it off. He just smiled.”….This episode ended unceremoniously when John said to the waitress, “Don’t you know who I am?” The waitress, in one of the more direct retorts in John Lennon’s life, said, “Yeah, you’re some asshole with a Kotex on his forehead.”

Ignoring Turkey

Amidst the endless blather about Gallipoli and nation building …surprisingly little has been said about the person who was crucial to turning the landing at Anzac Cove (and subsequent fighting) into a disaster for our troops. No, I don’t mean Winston Churchill or General Sir Ian Hamilton, though they both did their bit. I mean the Turkish commander Mustafa Kemal Efendi – later to become world renowned as Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

If we’re going to talk about nation building, the role of Gallipoli – an invasion marred throughout by a combination of inept military planning in the field and imperial jingoism back home -– is something you’d think that modern New Zealand would prefer to forget. In reality, the lastingly important piece of nation building that began on the shores of Gallipoli was occurring on the other side of the trenches, among the enemy.

Famed as the hero/tactical genius of Gallipoli – and an inspiration to his troops throughout the Dardanelles campaign - Ataturk went on to become the central figure in the ending of the Ottoman Empire, and the birth of the modern Republic. His legacy of secularism and modernism has lately come under challenge, ever since Turkey elected its first overtly Islamic government in the early 2000s. For better and worse, Turkey is now a pivotal figure in the wars in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State - battles to which ‘our splendid sons of Anzac’ ( to use Tony Abbott’s idiotic phrase) have just been despatched.

During the run-up to Gallipoli, the assumption was that the Turks – blithely believed to be a racily inferior, ill organised lot – would be no match for British pluck and military discipline. Kemal and his troops proved that assumption was dead wrong, in very costly ways. Unfortunately, we know as little today about Turkey as we did 100 years ago. So far, the Gallipoli commemorations have been an opportunity missed for dispelling that ignorance.


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