Anzacs ‘killers’, British arrival ‘an invasion’, uni students told

Students at Murdoch University are being taught that the Anzacs who fought at Gallipoli were “killers”, that the British arrival in Australia in 1788 was an “invasion”, and that asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru are “prisoners”.

A lecturer in Australian history­ at Murdoch, Dean Aszkie­lowicz, told School of Arts students earlier this month that many of the young people who attend annual Anzac Day services in Gallipoli were “drunk”. In an audio recording ­obtained by The Australian, he also described Anzac Day as a “cliche” that would diminish in popularity.

Dr Aszkielowicz declined to comment yesterday. The Aust­ralian has been told some of the students in the course are concerned about an apparent left-wing bias among academics and that they are being given only one side of the argument about Australian history and culture.

Murdoch University was standing by its academics last night amid allegations of left-wing bias in their teaching, and criticisms that the comments about the Anzacs were “insulting” to fallen soldiers.

Federal Liberal MP and former SAS commander Andrew Hastie said Australians should be free to question assumptions around Anzac Day but should be careful about attacking or repudiating what it stood for. He also questioned the teaching in Australian universities. “Humanities students would be better off building a home library based on the Western canon, rather than listening to an overpaid radical malign our war dead,” he said.

Murdoch University Challenges our Future

DFWA President Kel Ryan in a letter to the Australian Newspaper today said, “I wonder if Dr Dean Aszkie­lowicz from Murdoch University ever plays back and listens to his lectures. Describing those who fought at Gallipoli as “killers” in terms that were hesitant, contradictory and replete with clichés would not get a “Pass” in a Year 12 history essay is clear evidence that he does not. To suggest that most of the youth who attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli “are drunk” and blindly following the ‘warrior myth’ which is ‘fuelled’ by the military highlights his lack of understanding of the place of ANZAC Day in the social fabric of the nation. To ridicule is easy but to proffer considered and well-articulated views free of superficial platitudes is obviously a challenge for Dr Aszkielowicz.   More power to those students who question this lecturer and his rationale and the absence of clear and considered understanding of this important chapter of the nation’s history.”

The RARA President Michael von Berg in endorsing the DFWA’s letter added, “The Royal Australian Regiment Association is disgusted in the quotes attributed to Dr. Dean Aszkie­lowicz from Murdoch University that our brave ANZAC’s were “killers” and that ANZAC Day is “clichéd”. Dr. Aszkielowicz is doing his students a disservice in his attempts to rewrite or scrub out history in presenting an inaccurate view of our proud ANZAC past to promote his simple-minded, ideologically driven, political left point of view. It’s not what we expect from those responsible to teach history, not debase or destroy it for self-interest purposes.”

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