Letters to Eureka Street

Drawing a line

I was puzzled by the statement of the new Monash biography (Eureka Street, October 2004) that the corps commanded by Monash in 1918 drove the German Army ‘beyond the Maginot line’. Construction of this French border fortification did not begin until 1929.

Perhaps the intended reference was to the Hindenburg line, the German  defensive position upon retreat from the Western Front?

Stephen Brown

Forrest, ACT

Stephen you are quite correct. The reviewer and editor apologise for the error. —Ed.


I enjoyed Peter Hamilton’s article (Eureka Street, October 2004) on elections, but can I draw attention to two factual errors?

First, Arthur Calwell was the member for Melbourne, not Melbourne Ports.

Second, Hamilton refers to the draft in the US. It is my understanding that the US draft was abolished by Nixon and that a recent attempt to reintroduce it failed spectacularly in the US Congress. It is unclear to me what Hamilton means when referring to the possible drafting of his son.

Paul Rodan
Melbourne, VIC

You’re right. Arthur Calwell was Member for Melbourne. Apologies for the error.

The draft has been a major issue submerged in the US election campaign. In the second debate, President Bush stated that he has no intention of reintroducing it.

In a discussion at my son’s New York high school last week, parents of graduating seniors expressed their fear that President Bush will not keep his word. They said that they are making plans to send their boys out of the country to avoid any draft.

These parents are rightly concerned because the US armed forces are over-stretched to the point where the voluntary National Guard is serving multiple rotations in Iraq and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, this administration has revived local draft boards, and all young men are required to register.

At the same time, the Bush administration’s architects of Operation Iraqi Freedom have stated that regime change in Iran and Syria is unfinished business. Undersecretary of State John Bolton argues that Iran is a greater threat to US interests and to its ally Israel than was Saddam’s Iraq, and that Tehran needs to be confronted after the election. Bolton was a man of his word in the lead up to the Iraq invasion. He and President Bush regard the Iraq mission as a success. There’s no reason to doubt their intent to finish their agenda.

Last week, President Bush widened his justification for future pre-emptive American military action against a state, moving from ‘poses an immediate threat’ to ‘intent to build weapons programs in the future’.

In a country where the drums of war are beating again, it is reasonable for a parent to dread the reintroduction of the draft.

Peter Hamilton
Brooklyn, NY, USA

Misplaced empathy

Andrew Hamilton’s sincere editorial ‘Life, choice, and morality’, (Eureka Street,
September 2004) is welcome, but his use and acclaim of Julia Blake and My Foetus, is ‘perplexing and confusing’.

Blake’s documentary provides more insight into Julia Blake than into abortion. The ‘generosity’ that Hamilton attributes to Blake is evidenced only by her amount of self-indulgence in this documentary. Blake appeared to be using the documentary to assuage her guilt, although why she would feel guilty for deciding not to have a baby she was unable to care for is ‘perplexing’. She is ill informed about the public confession, which only serves the interests of the exhibitionist, not the sincere penitent.

Blake’s grizzly pictures were prejudicial and obnoxious but definitely dissuasive. They sickened my hardy stomach, I can only imagine the impact on a morning-sickened one. It is distressing that Blake’s scare campaign terrorises women making the wise choice that she once made, i.e. not to give birth to a baby she felt unable to care for. Her use of scare campaign tactics aligns her with the Catholic and other women who vilify those choosing to have an abortion. If Blake’s intention was to provide ‘health education and information’, again she was ill informed. Grizzly pictures are outmoded as educative or deterrent tools.

Hamilton’s link between abortion and practices such as ‘capital punishment, torture, corporal punishment, going to war, detaining children, restricting TPV’s …’ is curious. These examples involve victims and perpetrators. Maybe Hamilton is acknowledging that forcing women to have babies by denying them an abortion perpetrates an injustice? Or is he accepting that the Catholic Church and like-minded ideologues, who campaigned against the legalisation of abortion, conspired to perpetuate the horrific victimisation of hapless women at the hands of unscrupulous ‘backyard abortionists?’

If Hamilton had not been blinded by Blake’s egocentric documentary he may have discovered that abortion is a complex issue involving a range of conscious and unconscious emotional factors; that women feel relief in having access to legal and safe termination; that women in Catholic and other fundamentalist societies denied that option ‘raise a serious moral issue’; and that abortion for many women is a pragmatic decision not a moral issue.

Hamilton, like Blake, determines abortion as if it is an entirety, yet it is just one aspect of procreation. Hamilton makes no mention of sexual intercourse or responsible sexual behaviour in his editorial, despite sex being the precursor for an abortion. Women don’t become pregnant on their own. If Hamilton wants to discuss the serious moral issues related to abortion how can he ignore rape, debauchery, non-consensual, unprotected, under-age sex etc?

I suspect that many women would prefer to be thanked, not pitied, for making a wise decision not to give birth to a baby they are unable to nurture. Hamilton’s compassion is best kept for the women whose pregnancy has occurred in objectionable circumstances or socio-economic disadvantage.

No woman should be forced to have a baby. Surely a commitment to ‘respect for life’ includes objecting to bringing babies into the world to be unwanted, unloved, rejected and neglected?

Kerry Bergin
Camberwell, VIC



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