Thursday 20 June 2019

What Is A White Supremacist?

The Original White Supremacists: The current misuse of the term “white supremacy” is highly dangerous politically. By singling out this particular form of racism and misapplying it to famous figures from the past, as well as to people living in the present, the users of the term risk not only its rapid devaluation, but also the angry retaliation of those who feel both themselves and their beliefs to have been wrongly and unfairly condemned.

THE TERM “WHITE SUPREMACIST” is rapidly replacing the more straightforward “racist” in mainstream journalism. The term is also being used to describe the belief system of Philip Arps, the self-confessed Nazi who was sentenced earlier this week to 21 months imprisonment. On social media, especially Twitter, the term is being used, anachronistically, to characterise the ideas of explorers and colonialists living in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While it is not unusual to encounter such terminological misuse in the writings of radical post-modernists, it is worrying to see the mainstream media subsume so many different historical and ideological phenomena into this single, catch-all, expression.

The current misuse of the term “white supremacy” is also highly dangerous politically. By singling out this particular form of racism and misapplying it to famous figures from the past, as well as to people living in the present, the users of the term risk not only its rapid devaluation, but also the angry retaliation of those who feel both themselves and their beliefs to have been wrongly and unfairly condemned.

Because the number of New Zealanders subscribing to the beliefs journalists now describe as “white supremacist” is by no means a small one. Indeed, it is likely that a majority of older Pakeha New Zealanders still adhere, either wholly or in part, to the notion that the achievements of western civilisation – of white people – far outstrip those of any other. They may be careful about who they share these ideas with, but they hold them nonetheless.

It is certainly the case that this assumption of western superiority informed the response of practically all the western nations to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. When President George W. Bush explained the terrorists’ murderous attacks by saying: “they hate our freedoms, they hate our way of life”; very few white Americans, or whites living in any other western nation, failed to grasp his racially-charged sub-text: they are less than us.

The mainstream media, itself, is equally guilty of assigning considerably greater value to the lives of westerners than to human-beings living in other parts of the world. A cruise liner carrying wealthy Europeans runs into a Venice wharf, injuring half-a-dozen, and it’s headline news around the planet. An overcrowded ferry-boat collides with another vessel and sinks, drowning 200 Indians, and all it rates is a one-line mention three-quarters of the way down the news bulletin. What other message can we draw from that, other than – whites are more important?

So, racism is a hard habit for westerners to break. The use of the term “white supremacy”, however, should properly be restricted to the specific political actors and the particular historical context from which it emerged. It refers, primarily, to the political regimes which arose in the southern states of the USA in the years following the American Civil War – most particularly in the decades immediately following the withdrawal of federal troops from the states of the defeated Confederacy in 1877.

These regimes were built on the bedrock requirement that whites must in all conceivable circumstances: economic, social, cultural, legal and political; be placed ahead of and above blacks. The poorest and most ill-educated white farmer had to be able to count himself better off, both subjectively and objectively, than his black neighbours. White supremacy wasn’t just a matter of personal racial animus, it described a comprehensive and internally coherent system of race-based rule. A “white supremacist”, accordingly, is a person who not only subscribes to the principles underpinning the infamous “Jim Crow” system, but also – like the contemporary Ku Klux Klan – strives for its return. Obviously, the term may also be legitimately applied to the very similar systems of race-based rule erected in South Africa and Rhodesia between 1948 and 1992.

It is important to acknowledge that a political entity driven by the principles of genuine white supremacy will be very different from one in which the official goal is racial assimilation, as was formerly the case in New Zealand. It will also be quite distinct from a regime, such as Nazi Germany’s, whose official goal was the physical elimination of all races deemed to be a threat to the herrenvolk – the master race. This is because, in both the American South, and in Southern Africa, blacks were absolutely essential to the successful operation of the white-controlled economy. Without plentiful and criminally cheap black labour, the white supremacist regimes on both continents would not have been economically viable.

This is why it is so dangerous to conflate all economic, social and political systems in which racial prejudice and inequality thrive as “white supremacist” regimes. Simple racial chauvinism is very different from the conscious creation of a race-based economic and political system. If, however, the media persists in lumping together every Pakeha who takes pride in the achievements of western civilisation with avowed Nazis, like Philip Arps, or genocidal eco-fascists, like the Christchurch shooter, then not only will the charge lose all its definitional and moral force, but, sooner or later, those so lumped will come to the conclusion that they might as well be hung for sheep as lambs.

Those on the Left who are promoting the use of this term, presumably as a way of shaming Pakeha New Zealanders into acknowledging and renouncing their “white privilege”, may soon come to regret driving their boots so forcefully into such a large pack of sleeping dogs. Giving these mutts the bad name of “white supremacists” will in no way blunt, or shorten, their political teeth.

What happened at Orewa in January 2004, can happen again.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 20 June 2019.


Tom Hunter said...

I also covered another aspect of this over at No Minister with Lassie and the White Supremacist.

Included in that piece is a slide from a recent "education" session for the teachers and administrators of the New York Public School system, driven by its new Chancellor. According to the Woke Left, White Supremacist culture can be seen via the following:

- individualism.
- objectivity.
- sense of urgency.
- the written word.

This is beyond insane, and it's something that Left-wing professors and activists in the USA are finding being used to destroy them.

John Hurley said...

Indeed, it is likely that a majority of older Pakeha New Zealanders still adhere, either wholly or in part, to the notion that the achievements of western civilisation – of white people – far outstrip those of any other. They may be careful about who they share these ideas with, but they hold them nonetheless.

I wouldn’t have thought so Chris, just that the white Europeans were first movers.
The story of Japan is amazing: the role of Thomas Glover post a beating by the Americans: he arranged for 19(?) young Japanese to go to the UK to study. To cut a long story short they defeated the Russian fleet and Pearl Harbour happened and Toyota (and all that).

But if you go to the other extreme you have Black Panther which imagines what might have happened if colonialism hadn’t ruined Africa’s chances.

There is scholarship linking all white people with white supremacy
White supremacy is a central organizing logic of western modernity, legitimating both European colonization and settler projects. It is therefore foundational to the historic development of settler colonial states, but also to contemporary postcolonial societies (Mills, 2003; Hixson, 2013). Rather than being a relic of the past or an ideologyof extremists, white supremacy continues to produce social and spatial relations that framebroad understandings of difference.

Some academics believe ethnic groups with low average IQs could not achieve the same type of societies as those a decile or two above but you would have to put a question mark over that (not ban the idea)?

frank black said...

To be clear: racism is not a "white" concept. Black, Chinese, Japanese et al. can and have in the past and present, hold views that qualify as racist.

warren said...

If 6 Europeans make headline news and 200 Indians only warrant one line is it not the journalists and newspaper editors who are racist and not the white community

guerilla surgeon said...

Actually the or the Nazis was not the "elimination" of the racially impure. At first they were happy to have them migrate. The problem was that people won't migrate without being able to take their assets with them. And Germany did not have enough foreign currency reserves to let that happen. Eventually of course they simply refuse to let them take their assets, but that was after they gave up caring about public opinion in other countries.
It was only after World War II began and the Nazis conquered Eastern Europe and parts of Russia that they saw themselves with millions of untermenchen and nowhere to send them. Because of course there was a war on. And even then there was conflict between those who wanted to eliminate the Jews and to some extent others, and those who wanted to use them as slave labour. And during World War II Germany could not have survived without slave labour, has it freed up more and more of their men to fight.
So maybe not as much difference as you think.
And I don't think anyone applies the term white supremacist to people who celebrate the achievements of "Western civilisation" – many of which of course were based on achievements by other civilisations. Particularly in mathematics. But it is those who do that and at the same time denigrate the achievements of other civilisations.
And many people don't know that they're doing it, but you even read it in books – something like a history of Bronze Age civilisations. Which completely ignores anything outside of Europe, or maybe the Middle East at a pinch. There are a lot of assumptions that history only applies to Europe. People ask historical questions on Quora for instance which I look at occasionally, and it's obvious that they are asking a general question but expecting an answer on Europe.
Like who had the biggest mediaeval army. Now leaving aside that that's a technical term and they don't know it, the answers would never mention China, whose civilisations probably had the largest armies in the world at the time.
Now ignoring this isn't a huge crime, but saying that everybody owes everything we have today to Western civilisation is simply bullshit. And that is white supremacy. Which I prefer to call nazism to be honest, partly I will admit because it annoys them.

Jays said...

I don't consider it remotely racist to consider many facets of western civilization superior to others.
In particular democracy, freedom of speech and the general recognition of human rights.
There is no race associated with these ideas as they can be adopted by any culture or race.
My wife is asian and was raised under a communist regime and she will quite happily say that their system is crap.

powderburns said...

Didn't the democrats found the KKK and the Jim Crow Laws? I read de Tocqueville recently. He toured America in 1830's and describes vividly the stark differences between the slave worked farms in the south and the freeholder farms of the north. He recognized explicitly (as a French aristocrat) that the slaving system was very inefficient. I think he said half a dozen slaves gave the same output as one free man regardless of colour or race. There was a stark difference in trade output and general wealth between the south and the north. And one of the reasons the north won, is due to the economic vibrancy of free trade, not so much white supremacy. Then there's the slave system. It dominated human culture for thousands of years, back into the murky Babylon. I think slavers were equal opportunity. When Rome's influence waned the Barbary Corsairs swept through the Mediterranean enslaving whomever they came across. Then, much later, the Christians had an important role in pushing for the abolition of slavery. And that was the founding values of the Republican party: abolition. Freedom. We hold these truths to be self-evident.

britbunkley said...

Isn't this the same argument that using the term sexism (or "chauvinist patriarchy" to use another "loaded" phrase) cannot distinguish the difference between pay differentials and severe sexual lets just not use these terms since it might bring out the bigots in society? What do you mean by "the angry retaliation of those who feel both themselves and their beliefs to have been wrongly and unfairly condemned....What beliefs? Do you mean the belief that the notion that the achievements of western civilization – of white people – far outstrip those of any other. " ? That is morally acceptable? "White suprematicism" as a phrase has changed as a definition since the US reformation of the late 1800's (as has for instance, the word, "gay"). It's subtext justifies a biologically superior race of any sort, with its obvious repercussions economically and socially. (Biology and genetics have not isolated an intelligence gene despite the IQ debates of the Sam Harris's of the world and their alt right acolytes. IQ is also environmentally determined as well as genetically.) "White suprematicism" is a relevant term whether regarding those who work in cotton fields, bell hops or those who take the lowest paying jobs while filling the majority of those in prisons today. The outcome of this belief is similar.

Additionally there are several "left" ideologies - often with conflicting points of view....the economic left, the anarchic libertarian left, the ecological left, the sexual identity left, the racial left, etc.We need to get those straight.

Kat said...

"What happened at Orewa in January 2004, can happen again........."

Presume you are referring to the leader of the National party Don Brash and his speech. Very few on the Left will fail to see that politically-charged sub-text: "they are less than us......"

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Chris

Well it needed saying, and all the better coming from you.

I contacted a journalist some months ago suggesting that if she continued to broadly categorise all opinions she didn’t agree with as an expression of ‘white supremacism’ she would soon become part of the problem.

It seems that many journalists, along with CEO’s of big business have become willing recruits in a virtuous crusade to rid the world of opinions they don’t like. Do they realise the alternative to hate speech is controlled speech? Would any of us want to live in a world where the government or their appointed Commissioner rigidly enforced conformity of speech, ideas, and opinion in the public domain?

I remember former Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs at a fund raising meeting for the Greens leader Bob Brown lamenting the fact that “Sadly you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home.” These people truly believe that they can make the world a better place by suppressing ideas and speech they don’t like, and that it is regrettable the government’s reach does not extend to policing private conversations.

My sense is that our new Human Rights Commissioner is of the same mind. There must be a top secret government department somewhere producing these clones. It would be funny if it were not so serious.

So, let’s raise two and a half cheers for the liberties bestowed upon us by the founders of western civilisation, and as we bask in its sunset, remember what it felt like to be a beneficiary of their wisdom, foresight and sacrifice.

Unknown said...

They may not have found a gene for intelligence but in looking at 400000 people in the UK they found genes (?) associated with those who have higher education. David Reich NYT.

Tom Hunter said...

Recent interesting comments that bear on this, from Zach Goldberg, a student pursuing his Ph.D. in political science:

Over the past decade, the baseline attitudes expressed by white liberals on racial and social justice questions have become radically more liberal. In one especially telling example of the broader trend, white liberals recently became the only demographic group in America to display a pro-outgroup bias—meaning that among all the different groups surveyed white liberals were the only one that expressed a preference for other racial and ethnic communities above their own.

As woke ideology has accelerated, a growing faction of white liberals have pulled away from the average opinions held by the rest of the coalition of Democratic voters—including minority groups in the party. The revolution in moral sentiment among this one segment of American voters has led to a cascade of consequences ranging from changes in the norms and attitudes expressed in media and popular culture, to the adoption of new political rhetoric and electoral strategies of the Democratic Party…

For the woke and their allies, these rapid changes are heralded as signs of progress, leading at times to harsh criticism of anyone who would stand in their way. This ideological stridency and triumphalist attitude can be powerful weapons against political opponents but are alienating—perhaps deliberately so—to moderates and conservatives.

But, in a sense, no one is put in a more strained and problematic position by the politics of white liberals than the white liberals themselves. The woke elite act like white saviors who must lead the rest of the country, including the racial minorities whose interests they claim to represent, to a vision of justice the less enlightened groups would not choose for themselves.

In some respects - the "white saviours" - there's nothing new here, aside from the self-loathing.

Geoff Fischer said...

The safest and usually best option is to let others define themselves politically.
Some,but very few, describe themselves as racist, white supremacist, Nazi, fascist and so on. "Ethno-nationalist" seems to be the term preferred by Brenton Tarrant, and therefore I would use it in any discussion of his politics. The difficulty for the New Zealand state is that "ethno-nationalism" is difficult to distinguish from the guiding principle of the "Five Eyes" alliance or the Realm of New Zealand's basic constitutional arrangements. So the state and the fourth estate use the rather less accurate term "white supremacist".
"White supremacy" (or more narrowly British supremacy) was the prevailing doctrine of a much earlier epoch of the imperial system.
It has not had currency anywhere in the English speaking world since the collapse of the apartheid system in South Africa, and it is wrong to suggest that people like Tarrant are white supremacists. They are "white nationalist" or "ethno-nationalist" and therefore much closer to the contemporary mainstream than to the white supremacy of the nineteenth century British empire, or the southern states of the USA and the Union of South Africa in the early twentieth century.

guerilla surgeon said...

On the other hand as we're talking about self loathing - which I haven't seen much evidence of among "libbruls" by the way - two psychologists have found that male Trump supporters suffer from "fragile masculinity". Which I have seen a fair bit of.Even here.

Ian said...

"it is likely that a majority of older Pakeha New Zealanders still adhere, either wholly or in part, to the notion that the achievements of western civilisation – of white people – far outstrip those of any other."

But you didn't follow that up with the various corollaries. That white people see these achievements as linked to whiteness. Something white people can take credit for. Something we white people gave to the Maori (or others), and they should be grateful for. Something that makes white people better than others. Something that makes white people more important.

The difference between them and the KKK is more a matter of degree. Whether you just feel superior or you want to enforce that supremacy with law, or vigilante action or terrorism. Since 2011 we have a law banning refugees from Africa and the Middle East (unless they have family-links to New Zealand). So we have already started creating race laws in NZ.

It is not unusual to see the same logic applied to maleness. Most of the great inventors, composers, artists, scientists, politicians etc are men, therefore, the achievements of these great men are something all men can take credit for. Something beyond women's capabilities. Something that makes men superior.

The fact that the achievements are typically those of a tiny number of people, with a much larger number taking credit by proxy is generally ignored.

The same achievements can be linked to maleness or whiteness or in many cases being rich and well educated. Leading to the same feelings of superiority. The problems arise when the group that feels superior start to take action, perhaps spurred on by a perceived threat that superiority.

@warren Where do the racist journalists and newspaper editors come if not from the white community? Are they lizard people walking around in white skins and giving the rest of us white people a bad name? White people vary in their level of racism, but I don't see evidence that journalists and newspaper editors are outside the normal range of racism in our white community.

Brendan McNeill said...

By way of follow up, and in part a response to @Ian’s comments, the question of white supremacy is at its core just one expression of the our quest for human identity. We are inherently tribal, and seek to find our identity in a variety of ways including, tribe, religion, race, sport, career, politics, sex, gender, or more likely a combination of all the above.

One of the blessings of western civilisation is that we have learned to allow for freedom of individual conscience. We are no longer forced to believe or think the same way about a particular religious expression, or political ideology (for example). We are free to hold and even publicly express bad ideas relating to any of those identity markers listed above. Or at least we were until recently. Just ask Israel Folau how that is working out for him today.

Where we have historically drawn the line is where belief spills over into action. Violence and incitement to violence are not acceptable. Believing and expressing bad ideas is perhaps regrettable, but must remain acceptable if we are to retain freedom of thought, conscience, religion and political expression.

Now we may generally agree that white supremacy is a bad idea, but hopefully we also agree that enforced suppression of those who express these ideas is an even worse idea! When we cease to uphold freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of expression we have embraced some form of tyranny. It may be one that suits our political or religious disposition today, but what happens when our ideological opponents hold power tomorrow?

Christianity, which formed the religious foundation of western civilisation eventually taught us how to extend grace towards our political and religious opponents, to provide a framework that allowed all parties to peacefully “agree to disagree”. There was a lot of bloodshed, particularly in Europe before all parties reached this conclusion. One very obvious and lamentable outcomes of the decline in Christian faith in the West, is the loss grace in the way we treat those with whom we disagree. They are no longer someone who is expressing wrong or bad ideas, but they described as evil incarnate. If we continue down the path of dehumanising our opponents we will find ourselves repeating the mistakes of Europe in the early 17th century, or worse.

David Stone said...

Good sensible comments Brendan McNeil
While the best lessons to be drawn from Christianity have undoubtably helped to civilise European societies though, it is not the only message that devout christians can draw from christian teachings. In the USA right now there are a trio of deeply devout christians, namely Pence, Bolton and Pompeu who sincerely believe that Trump was sent by God and that a great war for christianity is needed to bring about Armageddon . I really think it is enlightenment irrespective of religion that has improved European society for this period, though incorporating christianity into the message has helped to promote it. Unfortunately religion can be turned by clever manipulative leaders, whether cynically or sincerely, to the worst possible endeavours.
We have to become responsible for our own decisions to be really civilised, irrespective of our religious beliefs.

guerilla surgeon said...

"Just ask Israel Folau how that is working out for him today."
The man just violated the terms and conditions of his employment, and brought his employer into disrepute. He must've known about these terms and conditions when he signed up. And as a private organisation, the rugby union does not owe him freedom of speech. I sort of get tired of explaining this to people. You show such obvious ignorance Brendan and I have to mark you down as "unqualified" to speak on this.
Incidentally, I haven't been to your blog for a while, but do you actually censor people who comment there? You let them say anything they want to? I'd be sort of surprised if you did. Chris is one of the more reasonable bloggers on this site, and I've been censored by him a couple of times.
But of course the man is speaking out as a Christian against homosexuality, so obviously He can't be wrong. And shouldn't be shut up. And as Christians usually quote Leviticus when it comes to condemning homosexuality, I hope the man has no tattooists, because Leviticus forbids that as well. I think he probably does so I guess he'll join all those gay people in hell.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi David

Thank you for your kind words. I raised the influence of Christianity in Western civilisation largely because I believe there is a corollary between our retreat from faith, particularly over the last 60 years and our recent infatuation with hate speech.

I’ll come to Pence & Co shortly, but continuing this theme it was US President John Adams who said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Why? Because Adams believed liberal democracies (or republics) can only function when the general population is predominantly self controlled, self governing, and expressing the “golden rule” towards their neighbour.

To the extent that we cease to live self controlled, golden rule lives, there is a requirement for an ever expanding state to pick up the broken pieces and provide an external form of control to maintain civil order. Consequently we need increased taxes to support these measures, which results in a commensurate loss of liberty.

In the 250 years since John Adams made this observation, we have traveled a good distance from what might be fairly described as a “moral and religious” people, to the extent that the (Orwellian) Human Rights Commission is presently seeking to further restrict our liberties in order to maintain ‘social cohesion’. The prospect of a government agency policing our speech, and thereby our opinions, should fill each of us with a sense of dread and foreboding.

However, regarding Pence et al. Do you have any references to speeches or public comments they have made that supports your claim that they have said “a great war for christianity is needed to bring about Armageddon”? I’d like to see those. Although to be fair, nothing that comes out of America would surprise me.

David Stone said...

Hi again ...
" Because Adams believed liberal democracies (or republics) can only function when the general population is predominantly self controlled, self governing, and expressing the “golden rule” towards their neighbour."
I totally agree with this and your followup that as self control fails government control takes over to maintain order.
It's a parallel to a point about commerce that Allan Greenspan once made. That though laws must be in place to enforce honest commercial practice, if the need to be resorted to in more than about 1% of transactions the commerce becomes unworkable.
I'll try to recover references to Pence et al , but I didn't ever bookmark anything and would just have to google. You will probably find what you want by connecting the names and the subject in a search.

Cheers D J S

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear GS

We do seem to bump up against each other when commenting on Chris’s blog, but hopefully we can agree to make generous assumptions about each other.

Regarding Israel Folau, I have not seen his employment contract, however he has stated publicly that he has not violated its terms. If he is telling the truth in this matter, would that make any difference for you?

I’m hopeful that we can arrive at a position that freedom of speech is a fundamental right in a liberal democracy, unless we have contractually negotiated it away. In this instance I’m inclined to believe Israel Folau when he says he hasn’t done anything to restrict his fundamental rights, however time will tell. I might add that judging by his fund raising page, thousands of people are prepared to support him, and I guess by inference they believe him also.

Please be assured I will not censor any comments you or others may wish to make on my (sporadic) blog site, neither have I censored any in the past. I accept that few people change their mind on issues as a result of these conversations, but some do, and (it may come as some surprise to you) that my views have modified over time. Age brings greater perspective after all!

My sense is that Israel is speaking out of a deep concern for those who are without Christ, and in accord with his conscience. It is inevitable that some will be offended by this, but is giving offence sufficient cause to destroy someones livelihood? I understand that there are several senior players in Ruby Australia who have either behaved violently towards their partners, or brought Rugby Australia into disrepute by their behaviour, and yet they are still employed by RA. What has happened to Folau is at the very least disproportionate.

David Stone said...

Seems mostly it is other people explaining what Pence has to believe given he is a devout evangelical Christian, rather than an actual quote from him : this from the Herald
Perhaps he exercises the caution necessary to proceed in political life and refrains from articulating those beliefs he realises are politically unacceptable, unlike Israel Folau.

guerilla surgeon said...

Okay Brendan I guess we can leave the man to the courts. And I must confess I agree that there seems to be a greater tolerance for violence in the rugby union than for religious opinions. But it is a business Brendan, and if his speech interferes with their ability to make money, I would assume that a capitalist like you would support that.
On the other hand I really can't see why Christians constantly need to push their ideas onto everyone else under the guise of genuine concern. It's really none of anyone else's business where anyone puts their wedding tackle.
And if you don't censor on your blog, you're probably the only "free speech" advocate I've come across who doesn't. Congratulations. But again, private organisations do not owe anyone a platform. And I've been hypocritically and permanently de-platformed by at least one right-wing blog. And occasionally censored here by Chris that other champion of free speech.

guerilla surgeon said...

In fact, I would have thought given the continuous and egregious behaviour by many religious leaders around the world, Folau, and indeed you Brendan would better spend your time critiquing this sort of thing, and perhaps trying to use your influence to stop the cover-ups that also seemed to be endemic, rather than worrying about whether some random gay person is going to hell or not. Is there some quote in the Bible about....Yes, Matthew 7 verse 5, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

guerilla surgeon said...

"Perhaps he exercises the caution necessary to proceed in political life and refrains from articulating those beliefs he realises are politically unacceptable"

On the other hand, he seems okay with separating children from their parents and keeping them in cages. But of course, that's fine with his base. Not very Christian, but fine.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi David

Yes, I did google Pence and Armageddon and didn’t find anything that suggested he is working to bring it about! A couple of thoughts in this regard.

First, most orthodox Christians (small ‘o’) believe that the the battle of Armageddon referenced in the book of Revelation will eventually take place. This battle is precipitated by the nations of the world joining together to fight against Israel in an event that pre-stages the second coming of Christ. I would expect that Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian believes this also.

Second, it seems many Christians in the US have conflated Christianity with patriotism which has (to my mind) has produced a form of unhealthy triumphalism. This is expressed in part by the idea of ‘American exceptionalism’ but more broadly by a hostile militaristic stance towards those nations deemed to be the enemies of ‘Christian’ America, Iran and Russia for example, and likely including North Korea and China.

While there are many things not to like about Trump, I am very thankful that he at least understood the Augustine precepts of a ‘just war’ and very recently stepped back from a military strike against Iran in retaliation for downing a US Drone. He did so because it would have involved loss of life, and he believed this would have been a disproportionate response. Sadly I suspect some of the players you mentioned in an earlier post would have preferred to see the mission proceed, although Mike Pence was probably not among them.

I suspect it is also true that if Trump leads the US into a war against Iran, he would never see a second Presidential term. I’m guessing he knows that.

We have wandered off the original topic to some extent, but we can be thankful that here in New Zealand at least we remain free to discuss these and other topics on-line without fear of sanction. (for now)

I’m reminded of an old Soviet joke that goes something like this. An American was visiting a distant relative in Soviet Russia, and they began talking about the benefits of their respective political systems. “Why in America, we can criticise our president anytime we like, and nothing happens to us.” said the American. “It’s the same here in Russia also.” said the Russian “We can criticise your President any time we want.”

Brendan McNeill said...


It’s great we can find some common ground, at least on something. :-)

For the record, I wouldn’t describe myself as a capitalist, but I do believe market economies deliver the most wealth to the most people over time when compared to any economic system we have so far devised. If you desire to help the poor, you first need the resources to do so.

I chuckled about your suggestion that we Christians are constantly pushing our ideas on everyone under the guise of genuine concern. Well, maybe it’s not just a guise? My sense is you can rest easy on this score, as Christianity is now considered to be ‘culturally unsafe’ in the west, and progressive governments, and their strange bedfellows ‘woke’ corporate CEO’s, are doing their best to marginalise those uneducated ‘bigots’ who stubbornly persist with their faith.

As someone recently remarked, if you think the religious right is terrible, just wait until the rise of the non-religious right! Again, this is why we must refuse to suppress bad ideas, but rather allow them to be openly debated and discussed. As soon as we invoke a totalitarian response to bad ideas, we have loosed a more dangerous demon.

guerilla surgeon said...

" He did so because it would have involved loss of life"
Not so Brendan. He claims to have found out it would cause loss of life 10 minutes before the attack. Wiser heads than you or I have said that his briefing ... way before this would have included this information. And he gave it the green light then even so. I don't pretend to know his reasons but he is the biggest liar we know of in a position of power today. And why anyone in their right mind would believe a word he says I dunno. Naivety?

Geoff Fischer said...

Among the many sensible provisions of the English legal code is one that says a contract which is manifestly unfair and unjust cannot be enforced, and that a civil contract cannot be used to deprive a person of their human and political rights, including the right to freedom of thought and expression.
So notwithstanding the attitude of the Rugby Union, Israel Folau has the same lawful right as any other citizen to express his religious and political opinions.
Efforts to deprive him of that right are unconscionable, and just serve to confirm that the colonial political establishment which rules in this country and in Australia is a nasty piece of work.

guerilla surgeon said...

"doing their best to marginalise those uneducated ‘bigots’ who stubbornly persist with their faith."

No-one is stopping you practising your religion Brendan. All we want is for you to not push your rules onto us. Personally I favour a constitutional arrangement as in the US. As you're so fond of quoting the founders...

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."

Please keep your beliefs out of my laws and your proselytizers off my front doorstep ... we'll be fine. Because it's only a step or two from "Gay people are going to hell" to "Hell let's send them there."

Anonymous said...

I will write this, aware of all the new dangers, and perhaps not so new dangers, of posting anything online:

I put my life and career on the line through advocating for those less fortunate than me, and suffered greatly. Those people were not of the same race or culture as me but it was only their treatment that caused me to act in the way that I did, and I believe that I caused or at least contributed to change - helped to force it.

To be labeled a supremacist for being a student of Western philosophy and culture, for walking to the soundtrack of Bach and Prokofiev and having taken Socrates to heart and not admiring Confucius or other world music traditions to the same extent - though some appreciation is there - is offensive, but still more offensive is the idea that I was engaged in "white knighting" or an activity with similar ulterior motives when advocating for the poor, wretched people I felt I could not but do something to assist.

Let me add - and controversially now, I don't care; the effect of being derided for my race and culture is to retreat to it as Chris notes: the example of the Jesus Christ of the Western imagination and of the likes of Socrates, both examples of men who were willing to stick up for strangers and principles to the death, were in my heart and still are rather than the calculating and wise but self-preserving and relatively submissive dictates of thinkers to our direct North. And before you call me ignorant, I can almost guarantee that I know a great deal more about those latter thinkers than you do.

I am proud of my culture and I live my culture and I won't be brought down through the perverse leveraging of the cultural lever of humility, misunderstood and misapplied by both tormentor and tormented. I refuse to be tormented beyond what is necessary in order to remain merciful and cognizant of the suffering of others. Because that is what the new new left is now asking of us: to retreat into tribalism and resentment. I will resist that also.

Anonymous said...

"A cruise liner carrying wealthy Europeans runs into a Venice wharf, injuring half-a-dozen, and it’s headline news around the planet. An overcrowded ferry-boat collides with another vessel and sinks, drowning 200 Indians, and all it rates is a one-line mention three-quarters of the way down the news bulletin. What other message can we draw from that, other than – whites are more important?"

No, the lesson we can draw from that is that a cruise liner running into Venice wharf is much more surprising and rare, and therefore inherently more newsworthy, whereas 200 drowning Indians is not surprising or rare in India at all, because of the absence of maritime and other standards and compliance. The same goes for deaths through dysentery, and so much else. We are surprised when Westerners are afflicted by nasty rare and preventable diseases because we work on the assumption that we have organized our societies to prevent such afflictions, just as we work on the assumption that maritime tragedies will be rare because we have organized our societies to prevent them. We are not surprised and it is less news when such things happen in India; and nor are the Indians, and nor is it much affecting when it is reported in India.

Anonymous said...

@guerilla surgeon and your comment: "Gay people are going to hell" to "Hell let's send them there."

You perfectly illustrate Chris' point. If there is a distinction to be made between the former and the latter, why are you and others so keen to erase it? I prefer to see the distinction as a bulwark.

guerilla surgeon said...

You seem to have missed my point anonymous 3.37. I'm not keen to erase the distinction at all, that idiot Folau can say whatever the hell he likes on any street corner in the country as far as I'm concerned. But if he says it and then doing so compromises his employers'moneymaking abilities and as a consequence they fire him, I have no fucks left to give. Because even in the US, in fact especially in the US come to think of it because employment is often at the whim of the employer, only the government cannot (in theory) censor your freedom of speech.
And I think you seem to have caught the tail end of the sanitisation of Greek society. Yes Socrates was in favour of freedom of speech, but he was basically put to death for using too much of it. And when the Athenians conquered Melos – which surrendered unconditionally, they put to death all the men of military age and so the women and children into slavery. As Louis's MacNeice once said – and I think he probably had a better classical education than you –

When I should remember the paragons of Hellas
I think instead
Of the crooks, the adventurers, the opportunists
The careless athletes and fancy boys,
The hair splitters, the pedants, the hard-boiled sceptics
And the Agora and the noise
Of the demagogues and the quacks; and the women pouring
Libations over graves
And the trimmers at Delphi and the dummies at Sparta and lastly
I think of the slaves.

No one wants you to be ashamed of your culture, I'm pretty sure that nobody gives a shit if you love your culture as long as you don't denigrate others. But I'm also pretty sure that you need a proper appreciation of it and don't romanticise it or exaggerated achievements.
And the truth about Greece as has been said, was "doctored".

Anonymous said...


my point about Socrates and Jesus was that they are both individuals who refused to back down or compromise (despite both accepting the judgment of the State in Socrates not fleeing and drinking hemlock and Jesus also, having pre-knowledge). They are cultural exemplars and that they are says something about the value of truth and courage in Western society. All societies have such exemplars but the emphasis is different. And you will find, for instance, that in Confucian society there is a much great emphasis on bending with the grass, which is wise and sensible advice. But these cultural differences exist and can be experienced in business and politics and daily life.

You say that no one wants us to be ashamed of our cultural origins and cultural life but there is a constant attack on Western values in the media with commentators linking some (variable) aspects of Western culture like individualism with white supremacy routinely. The danger is that some may decide to reject the culture of those who are speaking about their ancestors and their culture in a hostile way. Concepts like cultural appropriation encourage this also. The left is guilty of rejecting fair minded and open minded people who are unwilling to accept that the only thing to be said of their ancestors and their culture is oppressive and evil - because that is all that is ever said about it. James K Baxter is now just an old white rapist. Ditto many other important cultural figures. We all lose out in accepting the current tendency to iconoclasm, including Maoridom, for whom Baxter is important and vice versa.

Anonymous said...


And AG, you final comment that "the truth about Greece ... was "doctored" is a very silly one. Culture and history are not HIV tests with false-positives to identify who was the super villain and who was the victim but processes, with a lot of opinion, conflicting evidence and storytelling devices in play, and history and culture morph in accordance with their observers and contributors in the present. At present, "Western culture" is primarily referenced in order to denigrate it, its actors to be branded as past perpetrators who continue to oppress from the grave in the present.

llloyd said...

It is the disparagement of Western civilisation in media and education in the last eighty years that has led to this nonsense. A group of white unassuming men, no blacks, no Asians, no Jews, no women built Silicon Valley. The others came in later to make money and careers,. When a Yahoo executive honestly said, women in Yahoo can't compete equally, and should stick to multi skilling, he was drummed out of his job. Then they put Marissa Mayer as CEO of Yahoo and she destroyed the company.