Monday 20 October 2014

Manufacturing Terrorism

Domestic Terror: Police constables and detectives outside the Wellington Trades Hall, 27 March 1984. After 33 years of vilification directed at trade unionists, at least one of their enemies finally made the leap from words to deeds, and an innocent caretaker, Ernie Abbott, lost his life.

“IF ANYONE BELIEVES there is absolutely no risk of a form of domestic terrorism here then they're actually deluded.” So says John Key, our Prime Minister, and of course he’s right. New Zealand has already been the victim of at least one fatal domestic terrorist bombing. The carefully planned and professionally executed attack resulted in the death of an elderly Wellingtonian. Sadly, the perpetrator (or perpetrators) of this terrorist outrage have yet to be brought to justice.
The Wellington Trades Hall Bombing of 27 March 1984 had only one victim, the building’s caretaker, Ernie Abbott. He was killed by three sticks of gelignite concealed in a suitcase and triggered by a movement-sensitive mercury switch. It is generally conceded in trade union circles that the bomb’s intended target was not the unfortunate caretaker but the impending meeting of the Wellington Trades Council Executive. Ernie Abbott (as is so often the case with terrorist attacks) was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
What differentiates the Wellington Trades Hall Bombing from more recent acts of terrorism around the world is that the bomber’s motives were ideological – not religious.
A deep hatred (and that is not too strong a word) for organised labour lies at the very core of the National Party’s ideology. Unions are despised and feared by National Party members because their unabashed collectivism challenges directly the individualist ideal so vital to the conservative’s self-image. It took the first National Government just fourteen months to engineer a run-of-the-mill dispute between the Waterside Workers’ Union and the ship-owners into a brutal and divisive industrial confrontation lasting five months, during which nearly all of the accepted notions of democracy and civil liberty were cast aside.
And if you think such animosity is a thing of the past, then just look at the recently re-elected National Government’s legislative agenda. At the very top you will find the long-delayed “reforms” of the Employment Relations Act. By the time Michael Woodhouse finishes the job begun by his predecessor, Simon Bridges, the already fragile capacity of trade unions to service their members will be reduced still further.
It is precisely within such officially-sanctioned (and all-too-often officially created) climates of fear, loathing, denigration and discrimination that domestic terrorism grows and acquires strength. In the 33 years that separated the 1951 Waterfront Dispute from the Wellington Trades Hall Bombing, at least one right-wing extremist was impelled beyond the political conviction that trade unions had no right to exist, to the homicidal belief that trade unionists – or, at least, their “misleaders” – had no right to live.

Cold Case: In spite of intensive enquiries, the identity of the Wellington Trades Hall Bombers has never been discovered. The file remains open.
Which is why the best defence against domestic terrorism is always political and religious tolerance and officially reiterated respect for the rights and liberties of the citizen. The very worst thing that any government can do to restrict the growth of terrorism is to either openly declare, or slyly imply, to a majority of the population that it is under threat from a dangerous and alien minority: the proverbial “enemy within”.
The designation of any minority population – the New Zealand Muslim community, for example – as a potential “breeding ground” for terrorists, immediately sets up a pernicious and potentially deadly dynamic.
Members of the majority culture may feel encouraged to take “action” against the potential “terrorists”. This has already happened in Australia where, following the massive police “anti-terrorist” raids of Muslim addresses in New South Wales and Queensland, Muslim women and girls have been verbally abused and physically attacked for wearing traditional attire.
In response to such persecution, the citizens living in these targeted communities may feel obligated to defend themselves against the majority culture. In such fraught circumstances, extremists of all kinds – local and foreign – will inevitably receive a more sympathetic hearing.
Finally, if Government’s response to the threat of terrorism is to increase dramatically the surveillance and interrogative powers of the State, then the officials so empowered, protected from both media scrutiny and judicial sanction, may themselves begin to behave in ways indistinguishable from the terrorists they are supposed to be protecting it from.
Holding people in solitary confinement for days or weeks without access to family or friends. Subjecting detainees to traumatic forms of interrogation. Is this not, itself, a form of terrorism?

State-Sponsored Terrorism: On 10 July 1985 French agents blew a hole in The Rainbow Warrior, killing Greenpeace's Portuguese photographer, Fernando Pereira.
Let’s not forget, New Zealand’s other fatal bombing, of the Rainbow Warrior, was perpetrated by state terrorists.
This essay was originally published by The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 17 October 2014.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

The Prime Minister is stirring up fear for his own ends. He's very coy about telling us how many people have gone to fight for terrorist organisations – as he defines them. The only real estimate I've been able to find is 5. That's only 3 more than fought for the FASCISTS in the Spanish Civil War :-). And as a proportion of the population it's probably less but I can't be arsed doing the maths :-).

Tiger Mountain said...

Then FOL (NZ Federation of Labour) head Jim Knox viewed Ernie’s body and was quite shaken by the implications as well as the mutilated remains, he recounted to Bill Andersen and a small group of unionists just after the event.

A number of us over the years have found it highly suspect the way this crime got away on the coppers. Was it Wellington cloak and dagger, someone who knew someone? Or other priorities perhaps.

The dark kiwis still despise unions and unionists despite current low membership density and power. Division along class, race and now religion as always assists the ruling class.

Davo Stevens said...

There has been and still is a move by all right-wing gubbies to curb Civil Rights under the pretence of "Fighting Terrorism".

I may be a crazy old coot but everything I have warned people about from John Key is happening piece by piece.

If we stay out of the direct fighting and just stick with re-building and repairing all the damage that others are doing, we won't have an issue with "Terrorist" attacks at home.

The Key Gang are just 'Fear Mongering'.

Charles said...

Oh dear Chris, it's a bit thin to try and pin the two deaths from bombs in NZ on the right. The second one was sponsored by a socialist government wasn't it?
And there is no evidence the first was of any persuasion so he could have been a Marxist for all we know. Just like some Islamists, he may have been trying to provoke a backlash to create revolution! There, you see, I now have an even better narrative to show the left is the dangerous element in our society, not the National Party.
This sort of bull is easy, but it does you no credit, as it just cheap fantasy.
On terrorism here I personally heard Key speak at a lunch recently at length on the subject and he said the two examples so far of Kiwis going over to join Islamists were nutters, neither of whom were from the Muslim community. He said the risk was still low but we are lumped together with many other Western countries so have to be on the look out. Hardlt scare mongering so sorry Key is not Abbott how ever much you want him to be.

Personally I would encourage those with Islamist sympathies to go to Syria or Iraq right away to fight. That way we'd be rid of them as most will not make it back. All those here who supported Hamas in its last murderous outburst, like Minto would be a good start!

Anonymous said...

Lost in that and needing developing and a good reason why we should never countinence a national Government are Chris's words ..

'A deep hatred (and that is not too strong a word) for organised labour lies at the very core of the National Party’s ideology. Unions are despised and feared by National Party members because their unabashed collectivism challenges directly the individualist ideal so vital to the conservative’s self-image'.

The irony is that Kiwi workers shoot themselves in the head election after election.

Whereas the true NAT doesn't.

With workers totally outnumbering their EMPLOYER this is unbelieveable but believeable in GODSOWN because workers not only roll over but asked to be booted harder... Will they never learn?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

If I remember it rightly, the police had a suspect. I think he died some time ago. But as I understand it, they couldn't get enough evidence to pin it on him. He was pretty right wing and antiunion.

Kat said...

My dear dad used to say "the worker is his own worst enemy".

How true and likewise the political commentators and members within the Labour Party ranks whose bickering and back stabbing sabotaged the recent general election.

Now we have "three more years" of National party sick jokes and its aspirant Stan Laurel look alike leader.

So here is the thing to consider for 2017; is a Labour party that keeps its dirty laundry in check, as do the National party, better equipped to become the govt, or not.

Because if Cunliffe had won just 80,000 more votes on Sept 20th this particular thread would be redundant.

Anonymous said...

Charles tries the gadfly approach, but sounds more like a sclerotic blowfly. How nasty to rejoice in anyone's death in warfare. Perhaps the thought gives him biological pleasure, enjoyment in the same manner as Glover's Belle Dame Sans Merci? Obviously the law has offered him too many easy pickings for him to put himself on the line over a few matters of principle. He's not fit to polish Minto's shoes. We should ignore him from now on.

Davo Stevens said...

Yes Surgeon they did have a suspect but insufficient proof.

He had friends in high places!

Why change the Govt. when the others are just the same as the encumbents? As I have already pointed out, Labour's CGT had little relevance to Low Incomers who are never likely to own a house.
If we want a Consumer Economy then we must have consumers with sufficient money to be able to consume.

alwyn said...

There was a third fatal bombing, on 18 November 1982. The perpetrator could best be described as an anarchist I would think.
He attempted to blow up the Police Department Computer Centre in Whanganui. Luckily the bomber was the only person killed. I find it very hard to have much sympathy with such people when they cause their own demise.

Michael Wynd said...

I agree with Charles that you're drawing a long bow to blame the 'right' for the bombing. I must take issue with you over the 1951 strikes. The Verona transcripts proved beyond doubt that the USSR tired to use unions in Australia & NZ to cripple exports that were supporting the UN forces in Korea as a way of supporting China & North Korea. The government was acting against a foreign power trying to interfere in our economy in support of a communist power that was failing on the front line. The leading unionists of 1951 were useful idiots who misled their members.

unaha-closp said...

Thankfully in 1984 Labour was elected and governed for 6 years, NZ was saved from the extremities of right wing politics. [/sarc]

Charles said...

At least I exist Anonymous. Like the voters who don't vote, your opinion is irrelevant because you don't really exist in this world without a name.
Death is exactly what Islamists deserve and often seek. We are at war with them without choosing to be so. They do the choosing. So if they pick up arms and die then that is one less person likely to try and kill my children. No, not nice, but real, and of their making not mine.

pat said...

I see there has been yet another school shooting rampage in the US....and they are worried about IS??? go figure.