Thursday 2 September 2021

Beyond Hate.

Mistaken Identity: TV3 journalist Paddy Gower went looking for hate as if it was a criminal that could be brought to justice. He talked about hate as if it was something that could be brought to an end. In short, his televised meditation “On Hate” missed the point entirely.

PADDY GOWER received the answer he was seeking from Christchurch mosque attack victim Wasseim Alsati. “It’s okay to hate, it’s okay to love. This is beyond hate.” Sadly, Gower failed to grasp the meaning of “beyond hate”. It does not mean “extreme hate”, or even “insane hate”. Beyond hate lies the territory of dispassionate political and/or military calculation. A state of being in which a person is able to commit the most appalling crimes because they are intellectually convinced their actions are both justified and necessary.

Actions that are perpetrated in the place “beyond hate” are as old as human history and as contemporary as the drone strike which wiped out most of an innocent Afghan family just a few days ago. Gower went looking for hate as if it was a criminal that could be brought to justice. He talked about hate as if it was something that could be brought to an end. In short, his televised meditation “On Hate” missed the point entirely.

The crimes of Brenton Tarrant are no better or worse than those of Mohammed Emwazi – also known as “Jihadi John” – the ISIS terrorist who allowed himself to be recorded beheading defenceless individuals. Both men killed people publicly and dispassionately because they were absolutely convinced that the deaths of their victims would contribute to the final triumph of their cause. The restoration of the Caliphate was Emwazi’s cause. The precise nature of Tarrant’s cause has been kept from New Zealanders because the Chief Censor deemed his manifesto “objectionable”. That it encompassed an extreme form of ethno-nationalism is, however, indisputable.

Tarrant and Emwazi were presented to the world as monsters because their actions were unsanctioned by any recognised nation state. Had they been sent on their missions by the government of a country New Zealand is friends with (the USA, UK, Australia) they would have been called “special forces” soldiers and their deeds (assuming we ever got to hear about them in any detail) would have been assessed very differently.

That Gower’s programme opted not to explore this aspect of New Zealand’s response to the Christchurch tragedy is unfortunate. It is, surely, important to examine why our shocked and horrified response to the mosque massacres is not repeated when we learn of a wedding party being blown into bloody pieces by a Hellfire missile. Is it really only because it happens far away to people “not of our tribe”, and because we never get to watch, for hours, on live television, the distraught faces of traumatised eye-witnesses; the comings and goings of ambulances and police cars; or hear a prime minister declare: “They are Us”?

Reviewing “On Hate” for The Spinoff, Anjum Rahman, came closest to answering this question, observing in her closing paragraph:

Since March 15 2019, I’ve often thought about how our community has suffered so much from a single event, and what must it be like in those countries where an event like this happens almost every other day. In the name of liberation and spreading democracy, in the name of revenge and retaliation. There are countries who face this number of dead regularly, with no mental health support, no welfare payments, no way out.

At the heart of the monstrousness of the crimes of Tarrant and Emwazi was their determination to let the world see what they were doing. Both men exploited ruthlessly the extraordinary reach and power of the Internet. Conveying to their comrades, via social media, the furious purity of their belief. And, to their enemies, terrifying images of unbearable and unforgettable horror.

Only very rarely are the actions of state-sanctioned killers broadcast to the world. Only very rarely do we get to see the President of the United States and his key advisers watching in rapt attention as the execution of their most wanted enemy is beamed into the White House Situation Room, in real-time. If Gower wants to know what the world “beyond hate” looks like, then he has only to look at that famous photo of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton taking-in the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

It is when killing is deemed both morally justified and politically necessary that human-beings move “beyond hate”. 

It’s not that the foreign correspondents and their trusty videographers don’t try to make us understand the horror of suicide bombs and drone-strikes. They send back the images: blood and gore coating everything, shattered limbs, ravaged faces; but they never make our screens. Not suitable for families watching the six o’clock news. Not when people are eating dinner. Gower deserves full credit for allowing Tarrant’s victims to communicate something of the awful reality of defenceless people coming under armed attack.

But going after “white supremacists” and Mark Zuckerburg’s amoral algorithms will not bring an end to hate. Tarrant wasn’t radicalised by the Internet, he was radicalised by reading histories of the Crusades. He was radicalised by his deep-seated fear that “Western Civilisation”, from which he derived so much of his personal identity, was under mortal threat.

Hate is fear externalised. If one would eliminate hate, then one must first eliminate fear. Can Gower promise to do that? Can anyone?

Fear is everywhere in these perilous times. Fear of the Coronavirus. Fear of Climate Change. Fear of Terrorism. But there is another fear that permeates Gower’s televised meditation “On Hate”. Fear of ourselves. Fear that we are not the people we want to be. Fear that all the fulminations against our “colonialist” ancestors are entirely justified. Fear that “White Supremacy” isn’t an extreme ideology embraced by a handful of angry misfits, but basic to the way this society works. Fear that the “the good guys” are actually a pitifully weak minority which “the bad guys” can flick away anytime they want to.

Who is gripped by this fear? Well-meaning people. Loving people. People who believe fervently in equality and social justice. They fear that their hopes will not bear fruit: that racism, populism, fascism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia will defeat them. And how do they respond to these fears? With hate, of course. They hate what inspires their fear. More than that, they believe that it is their moral duty to rid the earth of it. To wipe it out by any means necessary – even at the price of transforming their country into a police state.

In the grim service of their love, they have moved “beyond hate”.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 2 September 2021.


Barry said...

Chris - you surprisee again. Being an old lefty I thought that deep down you had drunk the woke juice.

Gower made good programmes re Marijuana and meth. But his venture into the world of thought and belief and mentai health has shown that he is totally unable to understand the subject of things like hate and love.
The Chch muslim community have mostly come from countries where occuramcies like the Chch massacre were almost daily.
The difference for Chch was only that they didnt expect such things to happen here.
As for the labelled 'hate' I dont think there are very many who have a mental grip of what this thing is that so many of the woke constantly claim exists and push.

A lot of people around the world dislike muslim principles - thats not hate and people who claim it is are deluded.
I dislike the Haka and the emotions and implications around it. I think its the manifestation of why so many maori children are physically abused and why violence is almost always involved in maori matrimonial arguements. But thats not hate.

I think the constant wailing of 'hate against muslims' - or any other group, simply encourages those who indulge in social media agitation to add more to the ether.

Nick J said...

Very timely Chris. Covid has demonstrated the worst intolerance, scorn for those exercising sans mask, accusations of being antivaxers for those sceptical of this vaccine. We've seen it all, people never before given power strutting it about, people cowering in fear trusting in the divine power of St Jacinda to save them. Then there are Stuff "journalists" running orchestrated campaigns of divisive fear mongering.

It seems we have gone full Bush, you are either for or against. No neutrals, no discussion. Mortal fear of an identified enemy as Goebbels noted keeps the population focused. It helps that we seem to have a morbid fear of untimely mortality that pre modern people lacked.

We could almost call that fear hate.

CXH said...

"People who believe fervently in equality and social justice." The use of fervently is very apt and these are the people I fear. Those that are so sure in how correct they are. Those that will brook no dissent from their thoughts.

They wallow in victimhood, competing on how big a victim they are. Preying on those that refuse to join them, bringing pitchforks and tourches. Join us and repent your strength, accept being a victim or be punished. Nice.

AB said...

This piece was going well until the characteristic over-reach was smuggled in near the end with this little half-sentence:, "To wipe it out by any means necessary...". There is no reason to believe that all those decent NZ'ers who feel that more attention might be paid by the authorities to the public utterances of extremists before they do any actual damage, want to go this far.

But whatever - most of the piece was fine. And yes - we all have things we hate. The test is in hating the right things - and on that score dipping into Montaigne provides an apposite quotation: "Amongst all other vices there is none I hate more than cruelty, both by nature and judgment, as the extremest of all vices".

greywarbler said...

Thoughtful and strong medicine Chris. To take out the deep and dark thoughts that lurk in our heads and lay them on the picnic table in fresh wind and sun till they are cleansed ready to be replaced in their renewed, wholesome form would be a Spring cleaning that would be healthy.

I have just had a large operation. I was given the best treatment using the best skills and knowledge of the NZ medical profession. I awoke helpless, needing care, and unsure of how well and capable I was. My mind was disturbed, I felt vulnerable and a terrifying feeling overtook me seeing all the people around me as in control of me with evil plans they would unleash on the world. But further sleep and care for my every need, restored me to a positive understanding of reality. The fear left me. The care has continued and I feel very humbled at the self-discipline and humanity of everyone in the health network dealing with the bodies and minds of
needy patients.

It seems to me that caring about others and understanding one's own faults and strengths, need to be the main pivot points in life. Hate is one of the motivators in life, like anger; these two are power-houses that are summoned up by injustice etc. But they need the guidance of a kind heart and understanding of weaknesses effects of following bad precepts or traditions, and how bad behaviour is judged. When regarding human viciousness how do we go beyond 'hate' to what? Where in our normal lives do we discuss our aims, our images of our future selves and companions? We have very little philosophy, morality, ethics and integrity discussed with us as children or adults, merely rules, laws, obedience. The nastiness of the internet, the bullying at school or the workplace, the raising of 'rough' sex to a defence for wilful manslaughter; all are part of behaviour that thinks little of caring for the other and one's own quality of character.

John Hurley said...

You've got a mention here Chris

John Hurley said...

. But there is another fear that permeates Gower’s televised meditation “On Hate”. Fear of ourselves. Fear that we are not the people we want to be. Fear that all the fulminations against our “colonialist” ancestors are entirely justified. Fear that “White Supremacy” isn’t an extreme ideology embraced by a handful of angry misfits, but basic to the way this society works. Fear that the “the good guys” are actually a pitifully weak minority which “the bad guys” can flick away anytime they want to.
That's not how I see things I just see broken patterns.
I have lived in old and new NZ. Old NZ had people I who are absolute b***, but those people are a subset of every population.
As I've said before our nation and our ethnic group are like an unfolding movie. There has to be a central narrative (and iconography, art, etc). A multicultural country is like several film crews turning up at the same time.
The bottom line is who is "us" as in God's honour, because being tolerant of minorities is one thing but cheering because Europeans are becoming majority/minority in Auckland (as though it was a friendly afternoon game) is quite another.
We may be neutral about a group of people, but wait 'till they become competitors.

One scary thing I read is that Indonesia banned expression of negative thoughts about other ethnic groups but in a situation similar to "Chinese sounding names" have covered up corruption and nepotism (largely for social cohesion). I think that will happen before "they are us".

JanM said...

To Barry,
I won't bother with the rest, but it may interest you to know that prior to the introduction into the Maori world of our particular form of Victorian christianity which had quite an emphasis on 'spare the rod and spoil the child', physical violence towards children was not permitted at all - it was considered an attack on their mana.
That whole concept, by the way was a mistranslation. 'Rod' was actually the yoke that held animals together so they ploughed in unison and was a reference to teaching children how to operate in the society into which they were born.

sumsuch said...

Pointed Stuff trivia question re this chap. 'Which of these hasn't he done a story on?' 'Beyond the poverty line'.

John Hurley said...

I'm glad you reviewed that Chris, I couldn't watch it.
These SJW's have problems with judgement. Take this anti-terrorism hui, it reminds me of a kindergarten and Jacinda is the teacher who pops in on Zoom.
Do they not realise this is just a disaster?

As Brett Weinstein suggested they want to turn the tables of oppression.

thesorrow&thepity said...

Little Paddy boys desperate attempt at redemption was always going to be a flop.
Still haunted in his sleep by the thumping those Canadians gave him.
Perhaps one day he'll be able to come to terms his mediocrity as a journalist.

Nick J said...

Hope you get well soon Grey.

sumsuch said...

You often make me think more than I want to. Why I prefer you to The Daily Blog I suppose. Yes, I resent you for that. My ideology is anti-comfort and my lifestyle is -- yes, you guessed it. Pro-comfort really.

Why the cause of reality 'can't get ahead'.

Much regards.

Barry said...

So now we know why the police and security people werent looking at the non- muslim population in the lead up to march 2019.
But similarly to the Chch killer - a lone operator.
Paddy and his 'hate' mission is way off course.

John Hurley said...

BBC asks Media panelists if the white working class feels that you are not for them

and a Muslim women gets her oar in about reporting the Zionists
and the NZ media are self congratulatory (the way they unite to be responsible)
and Muslims are portrayed wrongly (nothing [allowed to be seen] to see there).
The conclusion (Professor Packman) is we need to strengthen communities and democracy (he starts there). Unfortunately listening to him you get the feeling that this isn't about us, after all if the population came first then they would admit that diversity was a historic mistake. Instead it is a commitment to globalism - the open society (and his and Jacinda's career).
I'll put the whole section on line as the complete session is 7 hours.

John Hurley said...

Thanks for those responses um thank you very much to the panel for that I declare myself I was uh formerly a member of the BBC News Board but I'm going to ask the question through that kind of prism. First of all I'm surprised that um kind of surprised uh you're talking about this this panel's about the media but you're missing out the social media and I think my observation of the New Zealand mainstream media is that your biggest competitor is actually social media and I think in relation to that you're fighting for audience share but one of the challenges that you have is possibly that people not just Muslims not just ethnic minorities but particularly White working classes possibly feel that you are not for them and that's possibly why your uh readership is declining and my question is in this kind of era where there's criticism of mainstream media for being very Woke, and I use that term advisedly, what are you doing to improve and increase representation of all sectors and perhaps underrepresented sectors of New Zealand society so that you can better reflect not only the Muslim community in the different faith communities but also people who have been involved in ex you know from the the kind of the right-wing nationalist side of things that they can see themselves reflected in what you're doing and what you're covering

greywarbler said...

Thanks for your good wishes Nick J. It is good to be recovering and able to read the various thoughts being circulated on this blog. I am forced to think and be truly alive, as I am forced to keep sifting through what goes around for truth and efficacy not cant. It is important to join with others I have decided, who commit to both giving and taking within a supportive community that has respect for each other and an eye for practical needs and the future, the individual personality having a place which allows for mutual concessions. As the song queried, 'What's it all about Alfie?'

John Hurley said...

This is hate
P.S please watch this Chris (and see all the grey haired white people clapping after she speaks).

Chris Trotter said...

To: John Hurley.

I watched the video clip, John, and, honestly, I don't know whether to feel chilled, or to simply burst out laughing.

At times it seemed as though Kate Hannah was playing woke word association football (c.f. Monty Python's Flying Circus). So many post-modern, critical race theory terms - so little time!

My view of her talk is that only in such a rarefied, academic-filled forum would she receive applause. Anywhere else, people would simply scratch their heads.

But, you're right, she really doesn't appear to like white people very much!

John Hurley said...

After the tears of the Maori Academic on Day 1,

on Day 2 the "turban wearing man" humbley points out that the Amnesty spokesperson is the first to mention Sikhs