Tuesday 7 June 2011

Compromised Integrity

Defining Moment: Non-violent Direct Action provokes overt state violence. It was Rob Muldoon's squandering of the State's moral authority which guaranteed the Anti-Apartheid Movement's ultimate victory. To conflate the alleged actions of the "Urewera 18" with those of the Springbok Tour protesters (as Valerie Morse and John Minto did last Sunday) is to compromise the historical integrity of one of New Zealand's pivotal political events.

THERE ARE EVENTS that stand alone in our history: the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915; the 1951 Waterfront Dispute; the 1981 Springbok Tour.

They’re the sort of events which helped to define us as a nation; events which exerted a profound influence on New Zealand society and helped to shape the perceptions and expectations of a generation. Such events merit our respect – and under no circumstances should they become the occasion for political mischief-making.

In seeking to preserve the integrity of these key historical moments we can, of course, only appeal to the innate decency of our fellow citizens.

The Supreme Court of New Zealand recently quashed the conviction of Valerie Morse – the young woman found guilty of disorderly behaviour in the lower courts for setting fire to the New Zealand flag at an ANZAC Day ceremony.

I salute that decision.

A great deal of the meaning we attach to ANZAC Day is bound up with the idea of democracy and the sacrifices New Zealanders have made in its defence.

Ms Morse’s behaviour may have been ill-judged, ill-mannered and emblematic of the infantile solipsism of the Far Left, but the Supreme Court acted correctly in upholding her right to free speech.

But, freedom of speech cuts both ways. Ms Morse may have been attempting to draw attention to New Zealand’s military engagement in Afghanistan by disrupting an ANZAC Day ceremony, but her actions achieved a great deal more than that.

In the eyes of most New Zealanders she’d demonstrated an extraordinary level of ignorance about the country whose good name she was, ostensibly, so determined to defend.

And that’s not all. Ms Morse’s behaviour also rendered the many thousands of Kiwis who shared her disquiet about New Zealand’s presence in Afghanistan guilty, by association, of desecrating their country’s flag.

By cynically exploiting the symbolic power of ANZAC Day, Ms Morse gave offense to thousands, alienated potential allies and deeply compromised the entire anti-war movement.

It is precisely this fear of being lumped in with the extremism of the Far Left that has prevented me from joining in all the ballyhoo surrounding the so-called “Urewera 18” – the individuals arrested, initially on terrorism charges  for allegedly participating in military-style training camps in the Urewera Ranges in 2006-2007. [Correction: While the Police intended to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act, the required permission to do so was denied on the advice of the Solicitor-General. The defendants were actually arrested on charges relating to the Arms Act. C.T.]

In what can only be described as a triumph of their defence lawyers’ skills, these defendants (now facing firearms charges) have been transformed into the blameless victims of state oppression.

Within 72 hours of their arrest, they were already being presented as martyrs to freedom; harmless activists caught up in a world-wide, post-9/11, United States-directed campaign to stamp out political activism of all kinds.

As such they have become the cause de jour among that peculiar sub-culture of leftists who simply cannot conceive of anybody taking their ideals seriously enough to die – or kill – for.

“Tame Iti’s not a terrorist,” they declare, snorting derisively into their chardonnay “he’s an artist!”

These are the sort of people who turn out to special screenings of “Operation Eight” – the outrageously one-sided “documentary” about the 2007 “police terror raids”. Or, as they did on Sunday, to a Wellington art auction fronted by “key organiser of the 1981 Springbok Tour protests” (and prospective Mana Party candidate) John Minto, and one of the 18 accused – our old friend, Valerie Morse.

Well, it’s a free country. If Mr Minto and Ms Morse decide to host an art auction – it’s no skin off my nose.

Except that it is.

Because it wasn’t just an art auction that they were fronting, but an event to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Springbok Tour protests.

And I object to that in the strongest terms.

Because whatever was going down in the Urewera Ranges in 2006-2007 bears no comparison whatsoever with the mass protests of 1981.

Those demonstrations were a testament to the power of mass, non-violent protest.

The only training camps the anti-tour movement sponsored were set up to teach the principles of non-violent direct action; the same principles that animated Te Whiti O Rongomai, Ghandi and Dr Martin Luther King.

For Mr Minto and his “Concerned Citizen” sponsors to conflate the ideals and activities of the 1981 Anti-Tour Movement with the legal defence strategies of the 18 individuals arrested in relation to events alleged to have occurred in the Urewera Ranges in 2006-2007 is political legerdemain of the most cynical kind.

Those who broke the law in 1981 did so openly and proudly, and they wore their sentences as badges of honour. The witness they bore against Apartheid made a real difference and was ultimately morally vindicated by the peaceful political liberation of black South Africa.

Ms Morse has not only burned her country’s flag, with Mr Minto’s help she’s compromised the integrity of one of its great and defining moments.

This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 7 June 2011.


Will de Cleene said...

Where was Valerie Morse in 1981?

Chris Trotter said...

Ms Morse will turn 37 this year, Will. So that would make her 7 years old in 1981. Growing up in Arizona, I suspect she heard very little - if anything - about the events unfolding in a little country called New Zealand.

Perhaps this explains the ease with which she has attempted to piggy-back her own cause on the mana of the 1981 protests.

It does not, however, explain John Minto's conflation of 1981 and 2007. That, I find very difficult to forgive.

Anonymous said...

I must assume that you only went to the public protests in 1981 - yes I wasn't born at the time but only an idiot or someone completely ignorant would misconstrue the direct action against the tour as being done "openly and proudly" - what about the stadiums set on fire in the lead up to 1981? What about the bomb threats, the sabotage during the middle of the night and all the other covert direct action against the tour? Or all those who wore masks at protests and went intending to engage with police in a not so non violent way.

IF the tour and protests were to occur in this day and age you and your ilk would be turning purple at some of the stuff that went on. I'm sick to death of middle age leftists saying that action against the tour was fine and morally defensible but direct action in this day and age is something different.

Anyway I would suggest you read Geoff Chapple's book on the 1981 tour and then come back and rant about how all the action was above ground and non violent.

Chris Trotter said...

Stadiums burnt to the ground, Anonymous? Please, tell me where. Churches I know about, and anti-tour activists homes, but stadiums? I think I would've remembered that.

If you really have read Geoff Chapple's book, you must know that the "sideshows" comprised only a tiny part of the mass actions, and that none of them involved violence against people.

Overwhelmingly, the 1981 protests were non-violent.

And please, when your generation has done anything even remotely comparable to those protests, that's when it can pull rank. Until then, well, I guess it'll just have to keep flailing about in the bush.

Allie said...

I think "Anonymous" has a point. Historical events that have had a huge impact are usually not 100% pure. I think s/he is totally missing Chris' point, though.

Anonymous said...

"It is precisely this fear of being lumped in with the extremism of the Far Left that has prevented me from joining in all the ballyhoo surrounding the so-called “Urewera 18” – the individuals arrested, initially on terrorism charges, for allegedly participating in military-style training camps in the Urewera Ranges in 2006-2007."

Chris Trotter joined in the ballyhoo alright, just on the other side. As witness his three consecutive "From the left " columns straight after the terror raids, where he wholeheartedly cheer led for the cops.

Anonymous said...

This is the best piece of commentary I have seen from Chris in a long time.

Well done

Chris Trotter said...

Actually, Anonymous@6:54PM, it was four consecutive "From the Left" columns - but who's counting? ;-)

Andy C said...

Tis another case of history being rewritten by the victors. Mr Minto is the public face of the "winning" protestors. Therfore the protest is what Mr Minto defines it as, for as long as he needs it to be so. It will change again in time as needs arise.

Anonymous said...

How non violent were those events? The Patu squad of then, did look a lot more intimidating than the UTU squad of now (that unite! union has been using).

I wonder what level of street resistance it would actually take to block Brash and National selling off state owned assets and then selling off much more than that...

Anonymous said...

"the individuals arrested, initially on terrorism charges"

this pretty much sums up how much you know about the raids. While you wrote 4 (!) columns about it, you didn't even realise that No-ONE (!!!) was ever charged with terrorism. How on earth can someone write and write and write about this and not even get this basic fact right? They were arrested (and held in prison for four weeks) on Arm's Act charges. But a 'minor' detail can be easily 'forgotten', just like the violent direct action that took place in 81. Ever seen that film PATU? (rhetorical question) i seem to clearly remember scores of people pelting the red squad with rocks in Auckland - but hey, it's easy to re-write history if it's written from your perspective, aye.

But I'm glad you made a contribution to the 81 movement. Today, you are about as relevant to the left as - gee, I struggle to find a comparison that expresses accurately just how irrelevant you are. As Don Franks, long-standing left-wing activist, said "you gotta watch the pigs, especially the pigs' trotter."

Meso Soup said...

I love it, a column called from the left thats from the right, love that orwellian sh*t Chris, 5 stars.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Anonymous@8:26AM

One of the more interesting aspects of the legal case against the so-called "Urewera 18" is the decision of the Solicitor-General to rule out charging the arrested persons with offences under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. This was not - as the film "Operation Eight" implies - because he was somehow opposed to the STA, but because the hastily passed legislation was so legally deficient that there was no real prospect of securing a conviction.

This is why the defendants are only defending charges laid against them under the Arms Act.

Given the severity of the punishments mandated by the STA, the "Urewera 18" should count themselves fortunate that the original "holding charges" were never supeceded by the terrorism charges which the Police - acting on the advice of the Crown Law Office in Auckland - always intended to lay against the accused.

And yes, of course I saw the film "Patu". Like "Operation Eight", Merita Mita's documentary takes a very clear position on the events of 1981. Her intention was to highlight the role Maori and Pasifika activists played in the anti-tour movement. Fair enough.

As a work of history, however, it is extremely misleading. It's focus is on Auckland - particularly those events in which Maori militants played a leading role - like the Patu Squad.

Viewed from the perspective of the whole Anti-Apartheid Movement, however, the role played by the Auckland militants was, at best, auxillary, and, at worst, counter-productive to the success of the nation-wide protests.

By the day of the last test match in Auckland there was an element in the ranks of the protesters which seemed more interested in confronting the Police than in taking a stand against Apartheid.

The near riot conditions which prevailed outside Eden Park marked the only occasion during the whole 56 days when protesters instigated any form of violence - and even there the violence only came after extreme provocation by the notorious Red Squad.

These are the scenes Mita used to such effect in her film.

Viewed broadly, however, the influence of Maori militants in the Anti-Apartheid movement was small. It was only after the fact, and with the help of people like Mita, that it loomed large.

But that is another story.

As to your final shots: what can I say? If you were prepared to use your real name, I could, perhaps, judge your own relevance to the New Zealand Left - a term, incidentally, which encompasses a great deal more than the embittered rantings of a handful of Wellington anarchists who mistake impassioned confrontation for rational argumentation and reflexive activism for purposeful political activity.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Meso Soup

Your use of the word Orwellian is interesting.

As you rightly suggest, the term is mostly used to indicate a reversal of meaning - as in Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" in which "The Ministry of Love" is where people are taken to be tortured, and "The Ministry of Truth" is where official lies are created.

I wonder, though, whether you're not guilty of a little Orwellian reversal yourself. Because no one who has read my 'From the Left' columns could honestly characterise their author as a right-winger.

A more accurate charge might be that he is someone who is prepared to critique the behaviour of the Left as well as the Right.

That is certainly what I did in the days and weeks following the 2007 arrest of 18 left-wing activists for allegedly participating in military-style training-camps in the Urewera Ranges.

Rather than address the issues raised in these critiques, however, that small fraction of the Left which has no moral objections to taking-up arms in a functioning liberal democracy opted to attack the author.

So unhinged were some of these attacks that I was reminded of Orwell's description of the "Two Minute Hate" directed against the arch-enemy of the Ingsoc revolution, "Goldstein", in "Nineteen Eighty-Four".

It would seem, Meso Soup, that you, too, have taken the tactics - but not the message - from Orwell's dystopia.

Which, in a depressing sort of way proves both his - and my - point.

Anonymous said...

Sure Valerie Morse is an attractive American librarian who has taken up residence in NZ. She is well known for dancing around with no clothes, shouting down United States ambassadors and sprouting neo marxist rhetoric on foreign policy questions.
But just possibly an attractive American would have many good reasons to oppose the continuing pointless war in Afghanistan which is achieving nothing but the death of many ordinary Americans and Afghanis and doing little else but destabalise Pakistan and continue very stupid ways of working class men fighting terrorism, in a way guaranteed to be unsuccessful.
For an attractive American to burn the outdated Kiwi flag at an ANzac march seems appropriate. Galipoli was a pointless landing which failed because of lack of decisive naval support and incompetent leadership. It was an ample example that effective military operations need intelligent professional elite leadership which was to come to NZ forces in North Africa and Italy, ( strangely little is made of those magnificent eg of professional NZ Army leadership and the combat brilliance of the maori officers and soldiers). Gallipoli is held up as an example of mateship and the ordinary men getting his chance to fight and prove himself. Given this sort of imbecility the only course really is to burn the NZ flag rather than the stars and stripes.
The Anzac day marches celebrate the recalcitrance of the new NZ conservatives for whom the military and army represent a conservative institution opposed to the new liberated women and freedoms not the least of which is sexual. |In my opinion the marchers at the Dawn parades are conservative reactionaries who not realy want to fight for the americans against the proletarian Taliban. I would have not the slightest objection to the ruthless USA war against terrotism Al Qaueda and the Taliban if it was effective. I acually think Valerie Morses protest entirely appropriate despite her confusion and mixed motives.

Anonymous said...

gee Trotter. How about saying "I'm sorry for writing that people were charged under the TSA when in fact they were not" instead of your waffling.

"the ranks of the protesters which seemed more interested in confronting the Police than in taking a stand against Apartheid" - wholly crap. So while you stood there, others DID things and pointed out that racism wasn't just an issue in far away places, but something very real happening right here and now. Far out, your politics are well and truly shocking. At least you admit that the your original comment (that everything in 81 was non-violent) was just plain wrong (still discrediting those 'naughty maoris' though).

As for my own left-wing credentials: Chris, these are not up for debate. I do not have to justify myself. I am not the one who is writing weekly columns in papers up and down the country called 'From the left'. You are.

Barry said...

I wasn't at the art auction so am having difficulty making the connection between the auction and the Urewera 18. Please explain.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if our defender of left wing values would have read past your first paragraph, Chris.

Chris Trotter said...

The art auction was organised by "Concerned Citizens" to raise money for the "Urewera 18" ($6,000 was donated to the cause) but it was also billed as an event to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1981 Springbok Tour.

Meros said...

As one of the artists involved in the auction, I must say that there was no snorting into chardonnay. It was home brew.

the point that connects the urewera 18 and the springbok tour is the infiltration of activist groups post - Terrorism Suppresion Act due to the police's Special Investigations Group who couldn't find terror in NZ so infiltrated lefty groups and who took literally every word that they bugged: "duh, lets catapult a bus onto George Bush's head". And that made the front page of the Dominion!

Thats not to say that I know what happened in the Urewera's but even if a few of those arrested were doing what has been alleged then there is no reason (a) to extend that to all 18, nor to (b) disallow such basic elements of procedural fairness as a jury trial.

But the point is not that the u18 are all angels or artists. The point is that the arrests were a part of a broader crack down on activism in New Zealand. And there's nothing wrong with these same people looking back to 1981 and feeling solidarity with those who were then resisting the truncheon.

Don Franks said...

In Wellingtown on Anzac day
At five am when it’s cold and grey

Down by the windy Cenotaph
The sabre rattling makes you barf

Lest we forget, say the politicians
Dollars for eyes two faced morticians

They weep remembering fallen men
Their next breath orders off more again

Will a Labour government save us?
No. They’re first to make our children go

And die to keep profits in the black
In the name of a four starred union jack

What does it take to clear the air?
A learned sociology chair?

While the old stuck record turned again
Up rose Val Morse to honour the slain

She burnt the flag of the profiteers
Ignoring the threats and the misplaced jeers

'Shoot, if you must, this young blond head,
don’t die for the bosses wars,' she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of nobody came;

No nobler nature within us stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word;

Instead, from Waring Taylor street
Sounded the tread of blue clad feet

She got off in the end, but all the same
They’re unlikely to make our Val a Dame

A future time will see “our flag”
For what it is, a butcher’s rag

Then ever the stars above look down
On four well burnt stars in Wellingtown.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris, well what a load of pig's trollop.

You mention Te Whiti o Rongomai from Parihaka in your article. Are you aware of the position our people were in when they chose to resist non-violently in and around Parihaka? There was a massacre going on in this country and the only way to survive in the end was to choose the nvda method - and you could hardly call it a choice. Furthermore hundreds of our people from Parihaka died in those prisons or soon afterwards and pretty much all our land was taken from us, our animals slaughtered, houses burnt, gardens destroyed, women raped...

I'm so sick of hearing white (middle-class?) so-called leftists prattle on about non-violent direct action being so successful. What on earth do they really know about oppression and what is needed to resist? After and during the Springbok Tour protests and the apartheid regime most of the white activists refused to look at similar racist systems in this land (John Minto and a few others being the exception), much to the disgust of Maori and Pacific Islanders who protested beside them. The apartheid in this country has continued and so has nvda and look where we're at. Where's the success? Maori and Pacific Islanders are still at the bottom of the heap in almost every statistic you look at. Don't get me wrong, I don't want violence, but I think when middle-class white protesters talk about nvda it is from a purely theoretical dream that they wish was real to suit their "it's not my fault, we can sort it out peacefully" attitude to colonisation and white priviledge - 'cos no-one likes to suffer especially those who never have.

Anonymous said...

How many times does Valerie need to tell people that she was born and bred in New Zealand but spent several years living in the US some time ago? Why does this even need to be a point to comment on? Sheesh.

And if you're talking about hateful speech Chris then look at your own words before you call the kettle black. You use some pretty harsh, derogatory and hateful language.

And it's interesting that you twist anonymous' words into saying "stadium's burnt to the ground" when the writer clearly said "set on fire".

Chris, you do not know what happened at those alleged camps in Tuhoe country. At best you have read the police affidavit which is completely biased selections of mostly illegally-obtained private conversations, photos and noises heard in the bush.

I agree it's good to have some critique of the left but your critique is derogatory, arrogant, personal and with serious false claims. Like you said, why don't you focus on the issue, which I assume is: defence of a country's 'militant' non-violent protest history in a country founded and upheld by violence. Which is not necessarily bad except that you are defending the violent ones this time around: the police and the state. Shame on you.

Chris Trotter said...

"A butcher's rag", eh Don? Tell that to the ordinary working men who fought beneath it; tell it to their descendants. And then wonder why your Workers Party is anything but.

And to the other assorted Anons:

You can employ all the violent rhetoric at your command; you can inflate the casualties of the Land Wars a hundred-fold; you can vent your spleen against Chris Trotter and all his works to your heart's content; but none of it changes the facts that lie embedded in our history.

And it's those facts that will ultimately inform our most durable historical judgements: be they judgements on New Zealand's colonial past; the Springbok Tour; or the "Urewera 18".

And in that respect, I should 'fess up to a factual mistake of my own - which was to say that the people arrested during "Operation Eight" were initially charged with offences under the Terrorism Suppression Act. That was not true. The Police wanted to use the TSA, but permission from the Attorney General/Solicitor General was required - and it was declined.

The charges laid against the defendants in October 2007 were for alleged offences under the Arms Act.

My sincere apologies to all those concerned for for the error.

Meros said...

And that's the point isn't it: that on the one hand you say that you are interested in hard facts, but stand by your condemnation before the case has even been heard. Even Phil Goff (www.stuff.co.nz, May 17) has the guts to say: "Delays to the Urewera trial is denying defendants their access to justice".

If only you had been there on Sunday night at Garrett St you would have been able to talk to those concerned and you would have learnt that Minto was bought into this thing on Saturday. At best, you watched twenty minutes of the live streamed event. So don't start telling me that facts are what are important when your view of the event was from a smattering of press releases.

Anonymous said...

"you can inflate the casualties of the Land Wars a hundred-fold..." "And it's those facts that will ultimately inform our most durable historical judgements" - what exactly are you saying Chris?
Are you happy like so many others to use Maori when it suits you eg Te Whiti and passive resistance, but then say it is inflated to state what actually happened to our people at Parihaka? You need to learn the real facts mate. Just go to Mt Eden prison where our people are buried just below the ground surface, forgotten and squashed in shallow graves under the exercise grounds. You talk to our kaumatua whose kuia were raped by the soldiers who occupied our village for two years.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Meros

If the press releases of the organisers of an event cannot be relied upon, then whose can?

My beef wasn't with the auction per se (as I made clear in the column) but with the conflation of the Springbok Tour protests with whatever was going on in the Ureweras in 2006-07.

My emphatic contention is that these two events are historically, politically and morally distinct, and that it was cynical in the extreme to use the former to dignify the latter.

To: Anonymous@3:56

Perhaps you should compare the events of 5 November 1881 at Parihaka with the incident that took place nine years later at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, USA.

The former was a great injustice - and was widely condemned as such at the time. The latter was a bloody massacre which left 153 Lakota dead and 50 wounded.

Most of the casualties at Wounded Knee were inflicted by the use of artillery by the US 7th Cavalry.

Artillery was also trained on the inhabitants of Parihaka in 1881. The difference there, however, was that the Parihaka dogs pissed all over the Armed Constabulary's cannon and Te Whiti O Rongomai's disciplined followers refused to be provoked by the militia's bloodthirsty commander.

As a result the guns were never fired - and no one at Parihaka died.

I know which story I prefer.

Meros said...

to: Chris

Paragraph one and two, point taken.

Paragraph three: I am interested in this concept of cynicism, especially in its extreme variant. From my readings on the matter - Diogenes to Sloterdijk - I can't help but disagree with you. It was neither cynical in the ancient sense of the term (deriving from kunos - the dog, and where the strong disbelief in the value of the prevailing beliefs leads the individual to take leave from the associated modes of living), nor in the modern sense (where a belief or disbelief is not met with the logical, corresponding action). Now obviously you might attempt to locate Mr Knight's press release in the later of the two forms of cynicism, but again, I would suggest you take into account the role of power in any such analysis. Peter Sloterdijk does, and in his work, the only examples given are of those inhabiting positions where their work allows them to have an influence over political life. Though this is a rather ramshackle analysis of power, I think it (outside of any Foucauldian ramblings) holds true for the case of cynicism.

Now, or even after skipping the rest of that last paragraph, you may wish to dismiss the relevance of discussions of cynicism to your comment. My point would be that the comment was not one of extreme cynicism, but of overstretching an historical comparison. I would suggest you apologise to Mr Knight, who is much more like an Ancient Cynic than a modern cynic, the dog.

Chris Trotter said...

The cynicism (an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others) lies in the marketing strategy, Meros.

"How do we link our young anarchist artists with all those well-heeled baby-boomers in search of some radical chic? I know! Let's lay the Boomers' nostalgia for their 'revolutionary' youth, across our friends' need for dosh. Let's make it an art auction AND a Springbok Tour 30th anniversary bash! Oh, oh, oh, and let's get John Minto to co-host it with Valerie Morse! Perfect!"

Am I being too harsh? If I am, then I apologise.

Still ....

Anonymous said...

How's that hole going Chris?

For a start the dog piss story is not true, according to Te Whiti's great grandson here at the pa. But that's a long story which you might hear one day if you stop making up your own stories about our people.

People from Parihaka did die as a direct result of the arrests and long cold, imprisonment of over a thousand ploughers, fencers and those taken during the invasion of our pa. If you come visit us you can even read the long list of those who died, that was eventually released by the government many years later.

But the point is, who are you to tell us our 'real' history and in effect call us liars? What if I said that about your tupuna?

And do you blame the slaughter of the Dakota Indians on their decision to take up arms to defend themselves? I guess that young brown kid who spraypainted the whiteman's property in South Auckland brought his death on himself aye? Just like the woman who smiles at a man who later rapes her?

You once again prove what I said about privileged people like yourself choosing to believe what they want to be true to justify their own delusions.

The fact remains that the police on October 15 2007 held guns to children's heads, locked families in garages, terrorised an entire community and continue to leave the 'Urewera 18' on bail facing heavy charges despite the police admitting that no violent crime was committed and no plans for any violent act was discovered. It is all a state 'terror plot' to stifle political dissent in this country just as has been done in the US and other countries since 9/11. For you to continue to side with the police and the state says loads about your grasp of reality and your politics.

Anonymous said...

This article should be titled: Chris Trotter lacks integrity. I saw the film in the weekend and are going to focus on that... He says the film is “outrageously one-sided” and even hints that it isn’t even a documentary. My guess is that Trotter hasn’t actually seen the film. There are people called film reviewers, they are people that actually watch a film before writing about it. In terms of Operation 8, many of these ‘reviewers’ have done just that… The Dominion Posts Graeme Tuckett describes it as “balanced” & “important” and gives it 5 stars, Russell Baillie gave it a five star review in the weekend Herald and said “Operation 8 let’s you make up you own mind”. Onfilm magazine’s Helen Martin called it “outstanding political documentary”. It was based on these reviews that I went and saw it, and I agree with the reviewers. All I can say is that Chris should see the film, before passing judgement…

Chris Trotter said...

This has been a fascinating (if occasionally wounding) commentary thread.

Not because anyone has seriously applied themselves to the task of explaining why the Springbok Tour protests and whatever took place in the Urewera Ranges in 2006-07 belong in the same category and may, therefore, be celebrated together - that would have been too much to hope for.

No, it has been fascinating because it so closely resembles the commentary threads that appeared on the Indymedia Aotearoa website in the immediate aftermath of "Operation Eight".

Those, too, were dominated by commentators who refused to identify themselves, and were filled with the same ad hominem viciousness. Indeed, I rather think that some of the comments in this thread were made by some of the same people.

What it confirms, sadly, is that the Wellington Left (for that is where the heart of this particular darkness lies) has become detatched from anything even vaguely resembling a broader political constituency.

It has instead become an insular, self-absorbed clique obsessed with defending its own rectitude. This it does by personally attacking anyone who dares to challenge either its ideological preconceptions or its political tactics.

Don Franks (who at least deserves praise for using his own name) offers an insight into this self-defeating Wellington attitude when he criticises, in his poem (above) the Anzac Day crowd for not responding appropriately to Valerie Morse's flag-burning.

The idea that the lack of a positive popular response might constitute a judgement on both the wisdom and the effectiveness of Valerie's gesture simply doesn't occur to him.

She is right. They are wrong. End of story.

It is this, the indefatigable dogmatism of the Far Left, that riles me so much.

What distinguished the Anti-Apartheid Movement was how deeply its roots had sunk into the soil of progressive New Zealand.

The thousands of people who turned out to those 1981 protests did so because activists had been prepared to make their case.

Year after year, meeting after meeting, in big cities and small towns, the work had gone on.

And in 1981 the hoped-for crop of broad public support, so carefully nurtured, was triumphantly harvested.

Mass events: events which change history for the better; do not arise out of shrill dogmatism. They arise out of respectful discourse based on evidence, logic and a sympathetic understanding of the power of a nation's myths to elicit principled and courageous action from its people.

It's the kind of politics that only flourishes out in the open, and it has nothing whatsoever in common with the sort of politics that finds it necessary to hide itself away in the bush.

Chris Trotter said...