Friday 15 October 2021

Invasion Of The (Covid) Body Snatchers.

It's Here! They're Here! We're Here! Help! It’s as if we’re all living through a Covid version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What has become of Jacinda? Where have they taken her closest Cabinet colleagues? The people on the stage of the Beehive Theatrette look the same, but they no longer feel the same. As he rejects the advice of his scientific advisers, telling us that there will be no return to Level 4, Chris Hipkin’s boyish grin looks more and more like a contemptuous Wellington smirk.

AM I THE ONLY AUCKLANDER feeling let down today? (14/10/21) Seventy-one new community cases detected – with that number set to double in the next fortnight. The prospect looms of New Zealand’s largest city being awash with the Delta Variant of Covid-19 by Christmas.

In a few months’ time we are being told to expect up to 5,000 new cases per week. When interviewed, those on the Covid frontline sound like the commanders of a beleaguered army, just waiting for the enemy’s vastly superior formations to come marching over the hill.

To be honest, it’s bloody frightening.

Like so many other Aucklanders, I’ve been waiting to hear the Government’s rescue plan. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to have one – other than sealing Auckland’s borders and letting 1.6 million New Zealanders stew in their own Covid juices until the virus burns itself out.

This is not the Labour Government that New Zealanders flocked to support exactly one year ago this Sunday. That government would never have dreamed of abandoning Auckland to its fate. That Jacinda Ardern told all of us to be kind to one another and gave us her promise to stamp the virus out. She kept her word, and Labour was rewarded with 50.1 percent of the Party Vote.

Where has that Prime Minister gone?

It’s as if we’re all living through a Covid version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What has become of the Jacinda who built the Team of Five Million? Where have they taken her closest Cabinet colleagues? Grant Robertson, who kept the economy going? Chris Hipkins, who reassured us that New Zealand was at the front of the queue for the Pfizer vaccine? The people on the stage of the Beehive Theatrette look the same, but they no longer feel the same. As he rejects the advice of his scientific advisers, telling us that there will be no return to Level 4, Chippy’s boyish grin looks more and more like a contemptuous Wellington smirk.

The Body Snatchers have been busy here in Auckland, too. Many of the Aucklanders who had borne the earlier lockdowns stoically and with good humour also seem to have been replaced. They, too, look the same, but their behaviour during the Delta Lockdown has been very different.

These Aucklanders are more reckless of the rules, and more contemptuous of those who follow them. Reference to Jacinda’s Team of Five Million provokes only scorn and derision. If they think they can get away with it, these Aucklanders will happily break all the Level 4 and Level 3 rules.

It’s enough to make you believe that the Anti-Vaxxers might be on to something: that the Pfizer vaccine just might contain a virulent social toxin capable of transforming hitherto kind and compassionate citizens into vicious, self-centred arseholes. Anti-socials, whose meagre stocks of care and concern might just extend to their families and friends, show scant social solidarity for their fellow Aucklanders – especially those trapped in communities where the vaccination rates are low.

In the Asian and Pakeha communities, where vaccination rates are high, the scope for a racially-charged absence of empathy is considerable. Such indifference is made all the easier by the careless conceptual conflation of the unvaccinated, Maori and Pasifika, drug addicts and the criminal gangs who supply them. Eugenicist quips, laced with racism, such as “Let Darwin take care of the problem!”, show just how busy the Body Snatchers have been in Auckland’s leafy suburbs.

By the same token, the blank refusal of the woman who carried Covid into Northland to co-operate with the authorities, forcing the entire region into Level 3 Lockdown, strongly suggests that the viciously anti-social behaviour of the Snatchers’ substitutions crosses all boundaries of class, race and gender.

As the hero of the original 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dr Miles Bennell, observes:

“In my practice, I’ve seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away. Only it happened slowly instead of all at once. They didn’t seem to mind... All of us – a little bit – we harden our hearts, grow callous. Only when we have to fight to stay human do we realize how precious it is to us, how dear.”

Well, it’s not happening slowly here. In Auckland it is happening all at once. Far too many people in this city – and in Wellington! – are allowing their humanity to drain away. Exactly what it is that has hardened the hearts of our political leaders – most especially our Queen of Hearts – and caused so many Aucklanders to become callous rule-breakers is hard to determine.

If you can think of something alien and heartless; something determined to stamp out those precious qualities that make us human; something that’s been here for a while, never missing an opportunity to swell the ranks of its robotic army of unfeeling followers; then could you please drop me a line.

Before the rest of us are snatched away.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 15 October 2021.


Odysseus said...

Last year was an illusion Chris, which has now melted into thin air. Reality is coming down the pike and we are possums in its headlights, ill-prepared, let down and deeply anxious. The baseless fabric of the vision of the team of 5 million has faded forever, and leaves not a rack behind. Good luck to everyone, sauve qui peut.

Nick J said...

Lets pause for some perspective. Around 80 percent are jabbed. According to official communiques that makes them safe. Or does it?

Then lets look at the risk profile. Under 60 and you have very minor chance of deadly infection unless you have other health issues.

The aged, mainly vaccinated, able to be easily self or institutionally isolated.

So the whole thing revolves around the health systems capacity to deal with severe cases of the aged and unvaccinated.

This is going to result in deaths. Im at high risk profile so I dont say it lightly. The obvious question is have the vaccines provided any relief for ICU numbers? Lets hope so.

Glenn Webster said...

I never expected to see my country sink this low.

Kat said...

The Prime Minister hasn't gone anywhere, she is at the helm 24/7 in one way or another and guiding her people to adapt to different efforts with the goal in mind to achieve the best outcome against a stacked deck. Some of her people though just don't have the stomach for the tacking duel required to navigate through the deadly reefs of Delta's uncertain openings.

Kat said...

Meant to include this in my previous comment.

Something for the "body snatchers" in the Auckland ship:

Anonymous said...


greywarbler said...

That will probably be ..... fault

David George said...

It's not really that much of a mystery Chris, here's some ideas;
Despite being told repeatedly about the dangers of delta, where are the bodies? People can plainly see that after almost 2,000 reported cases only two people have succumbed, two people with serious underlying conditions. People are beginning to believe that the dangers have been oversold; there's an increasing credibility problem.

We're now at 84% one or two shot vaccinated (single dose delivers 70% effect) and looking to hit 90% as soon as the end of next week. For many (most?) people they and almost everyone one they know is vaccinated - or young or strong and healthy. They genuinely believe they are immune or, to quote the propaganda, "fully vaccinated". Why the hell should I be locked up? I'm not the problem! I've done my bit! The value of the vaccine has been oversold as well.

It's spring, the sap is rising. It's all very well being locked up when it's cold and raining, you'd probably just be dicking around at home anyway. Now there's fun to had, places to see, waves to ride, fish to catch, outdoor events to enjoyed and, for the young, and this is big one, sexual urges and attractions to be pursued. Those are, undeniably, part of our "humanity" as well, what we are. To paraphrase Dostoyevsky: give man what he wants, all the peeled grapes he can eat so that all he has to worry about is the continuation of the species and he will end up smashing things just so he has something to do.

We're curious, aiming creatures, if we're going nowhere we're dying.
Perhaps you've just got an unrealistic expectation of your fellow man?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

At the beginning of every disaster movie, there is a scientist being ignored.

greywarbler said...

We want to blame others, - we did try our best but we have some very hard people at the top and careless people at the bottom. I have offered for had two swabs as a real oldie and after a big op now have caught a cold I think. But I put myself forward for a swab to be sure, unpleasant. It's sad to be on this situation when we have so much to work and fight for and a complacent society who want to holiday on. Who are the deep thinkers in this socity. Why idn't there a tradition of having discussion and setting up trusts amongst the members to pass on some wise . One person I think of (two actually) is ex Parliamentariearian? for the Environment Dr Morgan Williams thinking - could oldies involvement become a regular thing?

Anonymous said...

Drama queen. It's just another virus that will run its course and become less lethal - just like all the others


The Barron said...

In this Delta dawn, it is easy to imagine the faded rose an old emblem of the Labour Party. The medium has been the message, 1pm and Hippy does his Alfred E Neuman 'What me worry' and all is well. Apart from of course the spread of Covid19 through the most vulnerable in Auckland.

The blank refusal to contemplate a return to level 4 is an example. Health experts, such as Colin Tukuitonga, were making calls for this. The Government line has usually been that we are taking direction from our health advisors, and at the moment the majority support us remaining in the current revised level 3.We then are assured that unlike other overseas Governments, ours is one filtering all medical science advice and presenting us at 1pm the analysis of that advice. Now it seems advice not liked is no longer for consideration.

I remember being taught that when studying Maori carving, understanding the spaces in between the wood are key to appreciation. I feel the same at 1pm, trying to understand what is being left out, and why. These gaps seem the importance, not what is spoken. I do not see a secret agenda, but more an understated one. A political mumble.

It certainly seems that vaccinating our way out of crisis is the main thrust. Whether we have shifted from elimination to suppression is a moot point as either now seem a secondary strategy. Where does this leave Auckland? Open up too quick and Maori and Pasifika suffer. Open up completely and the rural Pakeha communities under vaccination is exposed. How can you retain the status quo while seeming to make progress? Mumble.

Alister said...

This government is suffering from regulation hesitancy which escaped the lab back in 1984.

David George said...

"the scope for a racially-charged absence of empathy is considerable". And scope for a racially charged excess of empathy?
For that reason I wonder if it's a great idea to collect and broadcast race based vax stats at all. There is a lot of paternalistic, manufactured excuses for the low uptake by Maori, something Kelvin Davis and Peeni Henare firmly rejected. According to the narrative if you're vax hesitant or anti vax and brown it's obviously society's fault. European or Asian and you're irresponsible/antisocial/mad/evil itself. What's up with that?

Barry said...

KAT - Im not "one of her people". Im my own person , God gave me a brain and he ( possibly - but unlikely -she) expects me to use it. That means not blindly following any particular line of thought.

sumsuch said...

I don't feel anyone is superior to my ideas about reality. That's informed adulthood. There are many people who are superior to me in their specific areas, not least yourself in your essays. If you were superior to me Chris you wouldn't whop around the 180 degrees of the 'Left'.

greywarbler said...

The Barron's line says much -

The blank refusal to contemplate a return to level...

At the back of this Auckland brouhaha is the unwillingness of Labour to return to an established practice of erecting suitable housing, and encouraging people to live in it with security and pride, and pay something for it and keep it tidy, so they understand how to look after their assets when they get them. (A lot of tenants don't air rooms, get rid of steam.)

State house tenants have had rights which they didn't understand, with no sacrifices of time for caring for the property and none for making choices,and need understanding with workshops to instruct on coping with valuable shelter. Instead they have just been utilised for profit by the private wealth crowd who moan about tenants behaviour, but don't provide the wrap around housing service that the state could and should do.

greywarbler said...

Anonymous at 15.55 How insulting of you to downplay words of concern. Thinking people know this isn't just another virus. However people reading your throwaway comment know that you are just another careless, unthinking individual who it wouldn't pay to enrol in any of the service professions.