A little while ago, concerned about the rampant bullying and likely sexual assault of women serving in the Australian army, its chief, Lieutenant General David Morrison, issued a statement directed both at the Australian public and the officers or NCOs involved in the scandal. I will link his speech after the jump.
There are a few things I would like to say to Lieutenant General David Morrison in response to this video. First, good on you. This is exactly the kind of balls I would expect to see from a man in charge of a whole branch of any nation’s defense forces. As one commenter calling themselves Epicurus33 put it so well, “this is what a REAL man sounds and ACTS like, without the macho bullshit”.
At about fifty seconds into the speech, you state that if the allegations against the concerned officers and NCOs is proven, those actions stand in direct contravention to every value that the Australian army stands for. And again, I am in agreement. Whilst I do not know the exact nature of the materials that those accused have distributed, it is my opinion that every soldier employed to defend or fight on the behalf of a society should value every member of that society equally, regardless of sex, race, age, or physicality.
However, I wish to make a statement concerning what I see in Australian culture as a whole. You have stated in no uncertain terms that you consider bullying or degradation unacceptable in the Australian army that you command, and in that respect I am behind you every step of the way even though I am what your allies in America would refer to as “4-F”.
But it is because of that fact that I must heavy-heartedly tell you that the values you hold and those you wish to make par for the course in the Australian army are not held by Australian society in general.
Of the nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a number of several dozen, Australia maintains the single highest level of poverty amongst the disabled. Stories of disabled individuals being left to sit in their own filth for the majority of calendar weeks is not the exception but rather the rule. Psychiatric services, even for returned soldiers who cannot adjust back into a peaceful life, are almost not there at all. And the less I say about how accomodating to the autistic Australia is, the better.
I have heard that my grandfather served in the Australian army during World War II, a period of time that some have correctly called the darkest days of the twentieth century. I do not know what he did during that war. But if the stories I heard to the effect that he spent the entirety of my idiot male parent’s life drinking until he fell down then getting back up and drinking some more, then it is clear he gave up much of what some would consider a life in order to help defend this country.
So when I say that if he saw and grokked what my life in that country has been, he would renounce it and take me back to his place of birth in Scotland, understand my full meaning.
Australia’s armed services may consider the humiliation and degradation of members to be abberant and unacceptable. But if my experience of Australia as a society is anything to go by, then this stands in direct contrast to the society that they are defending. People are constantly bullied, degraded, and humiliated within it. And just as is the case among the officers and NCOs you speak of, General Morrison, the choice of victim is based upon characteristics that the victim cannot help.
Several paragraphs ago, I stated that I am what your allies in America would refer to as 4-F. There are two reasons for this. One possible, one definite. The possible reason is that I am autistic. This has many implications in my thought process, one of which is that commands and directives have to be very clear to me in order to have any hope of me following them “properly”, as you might put it. I also believe that one can either be Australian or autistic, but not both. This is because Australia as a national culture seems to value herd conformity and stupidity above all things, which is in direct contravention to what I believe to be an autistic perspective concerning the world.
The more definite reason why a recruitment officer would take one look at me and declare me to be 4-F is that I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. Even if I could fool a recruitment officer long enough to get into basic training, I would likely end up a violently-shaking mess on the parade ground within hours, if not minutes.
These are not meant to be excuses concerning why I am not and have never been a part of the armed services. They are simply statements of fact.
But if there is one thing I have seen a lot of in recent films or television series about one war or another, it is that there exists a certain rationalisation for why soldiers do what they do. To quote the same pieces of fiction, it is so that those who are too sick or unable to do these things will not need to. I am sure that if my grandfather had lived long enough for me to ask him, he would have told me the same thing.
Very recently, whilst conversing with several people about Queensland, one man I was helping to move pieces of furniture stated that the problem with Queensland was that it was full of Queenslanders. I have much more dire feelings concerning the people of Queensland, many of which are reflected in the fact that its current Premier felt that 110 million dollars for horse racing was more important than 55 million dollars to begin implementing a better system of care for the disabled.
General Morrison, this is what I am getting at when I say that the values you proclaim for the army you are command of and the values of the society it defends are two different things. The expansions to health care represented by what was until recently called the National Disability Insurance Scheme will not merely benefit 4-F types like myself. People in similar positions to myself on a psychological level have expressed much concern and hope that this scheme will include psychological and psychiatric services. These, and the physical disability benefits, will benefit soldiers who have been, are, and will be, under your command.
Yet we have a whole arm of political turkeys who consider this to be unimportant or even a waste of money. There is even an entire state whose leadership (if we can call it that) want to resist implementing these changes.
Sir, have you considered running for political office when you retire from your position as commander of the Australian army? Because the prospect of seeing you as a Prime Minister would induce me to bother voting again.
This is because I feel, as a displaced Scotsman trapped in a nation that bullies its weakest and most disadvantaged, that the values you wish to make part and parcel of being in the Australian army and the values of the Australian society you help defend are two different things. I am not alone in this feeling. In spite of my diabetes, I have previously worked in unofficial jobs helping to counsel and defend abused children. Many of my colleagues in that position were women who I would proudly fight every child abuser in the world alongside. And their feelings about Australia as a society are little different from mine.
In closing, please allow me to reiterate and summarise. The statement you have made to the Internet public and the people under your command demonstrates you have balls to a greater degree than pretty much every man in Australia can collectively claim. But unfortunately, I think that your position is in fact contrary to Australia both as a society and a culture.
And that is why being in Australia depresses and disgusts me to the degree it does.