Friday 16 July 2021

Drawing The Heat.

A Matter Of Signals: What is a government saying about itself when it parlays with known criminals? What is it signalling about its willingness to openly confront them? More to the point, what message does it send to all the decent, law-abiding, charity-workers who struggle every day to convince their neighbours that gangs are a curse upon their community to be resisted and shunned? 

TIME WAS when people observing the transfer of funds from politicians to gangsters knew what they were looking at – graft. The “Five Families” of the New York Mafia were justly notorious for the number of politicians, judges and cops they had “in their pockets”. One suspects, however, that even Lucky Luciano and Joe Bonanno would have raised their eyebrows at a transfer of $2.7 million from the US Government to La Cosa Nostra! Such outlandish behaviour was bound to “draw the heat”.

So what was Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson thinking of when they approved a $2.7 million grant to a chapter of the Mongrel Mob? Officially, they were hoping to enlist at least some members of the Mongrel Mob in the fight against methamphetamine abuse and addiction. Working, presumably, on the principle that “it takes a thief to catch a thief”, or, in this case, “it takes the sellers of a dangerous illegal drug to reduce the harm of a dangerous illegal drug”, the Government has clearly decided that there is more to be gained by working with the gangs than against them.

References have even been made to the strong working relationship that developed between the former National Party Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon, and Black Power gangsters back in the early 1980s. But, one might as easily describe the Anglo-Saxons’ payment of the “Danegeld” to the marauding northmen as evidence of their “strong working relationship”. Certainly, Muldoon’s intervention was instrumental in persuading Black Power to keep the peace vis-à-vis Pakeha New Zealand. Such arrangements, however, can only ever be temporary. At some point the “price” of peace becomes too high – even for Rob.

It all boils down to signals. What is a government saying about itself when it parlays with known criminals? What is it signalling about its willingness to openly confront them? More to the point, what message does it send to all the decent, law-abiding, charity-workers who struggle every day to convince their neighbours that gangs are a curse upon their community to be resisted and shunned? What do they tell them when they see millions of dollars handed over to (allegedly) “reformed” gangsters, while charities are forced to jump through endless bureaucratic hoops to secure a few thousand?

In a recent web posting, the veteran left-wing journalist Gordon Campbell wrote: “Engaging with gangs doesn’t mean you’re coddling them or condoning their criminal actions or granting them a legitimacy they otherwise lack. But because they exist, and because they are in contact with other, marginalised members of society, it is worth talking to them, at least.”

I could not disagree more strongly. Those other “marginalised members of society” the gangs are in contact with are their victims: the people upon whom their criminality heaps all manner of pain and sorrow. Dear God! One might just as easily observe that Neville Chamberlain “engaged” with Adolf Hitler at Munich! Not to coddle him, you understand, or condone his criminal actions, or lend his naked gangsterism toward the Czechs a legitimacy it would otherwise have lacked. No. Chamberlain “engaged” with Hitler because he wasn’t ready to fight him. What’s more, Hitler knew it.

What must Hamilton’s Mongrel Mobsters have been thinking as they pocketed the $200 “koha” from Paul Hunt, New Zealand’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner? Were they nodding sagely and silently praising the soft-spoken bureaucrat for his willingness to engage so fulsomely with their organisation? (Unlike the Green co-leader, Marama Davidson, who declined to offer this customary gratuity?) Or, did their lips curl in scorn at Hunt’s pusillanimous naiveté? Were they thinking to themselves: what a funny old world it is when, one week, the cops bust you for distributing “P”, and the next you’re being patronised – and paid! – by the Chief Human Rights Commissioner himself!

Either way, the message conveyed was the same: weakness and confusion.

In addition to the Anglo-Saxons’ silver and gold, the Danes would have carried away a very similar message. Likewise, Lucky Luciano and Joe Bonanno, in their gangster paradise, would have lamented the unbelievable stupidity and cowardice of the authorities. “Saps!”

Jacinda Ardern must understand that organised crime is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop – until her Government decides to stop it.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 16 July 2021.


Lindsay Mitchell said...

Some individuals manage to extract (with great difficulty) and rehabilitate themselves. But generally all gangs understand is fighting 'might with might'.

Anonymous said...

Chris, since this $2.75m was granted, the gangs have probably sold multiple times more of this amount of drugs. If gang connections feel there is merit in a programme to ease addiction, let them front up and pay for tit themselves...

John Hurley said...

There's a big difference between this and Muldoon. Muldoon went as Rob Muldoon the individual Hunt went as Human Rights Commissioner. And the difference is that Muldoon carried no Woke baggage (where Woke = the sacrilisation of minorities)?

I do have some sympathy with crims in so far as even Adolph Hitler probably didn't wake up one day and say: "I'm going to be Hitler"; some people have wiring issues. The other thing is that modern life can be dull and miserable.

I watched some boys walk out of a school as a teacher reminded them of their obligations and I was thinking that once there would have been 100 people at most living within 50 km. They would have been off at a whim hunting or fishing and back with ducks or eels for their whanau.

Their culture would have been their reality; full of rich imaginings (even if much of it wasn't true).

David George said...

Yes, an almost pathological level of naiveite though nothing particularly sinister in the motivation I suspect. I doubt the effects will be so benign. What this does is embolden and legitimise illegality, the tacit support for the ethno nationalists blocking the roads another example.

Perhaps Jacinda really does think they're all just naughty boys but I know the rest of the country are not so foolish. You can be kind without being a complete egg.

Odysseus said...

On this you surely speak for all New Zealanders. The Police and Customs must be gutted, putting their lives on the line every day to defend us and then being undermined in this way by Ardern. The government must have no truck with organised crime which is a major threat to our collective "wellbeing" . Is this simple-minded naivety or something more sinister? Is there perhaps a secret codicil to He Puapua? Why does a Labour Minister meet with gang leaders in Parliament? Explanations are due.

David George said...

Do Jacinda & Co believe that their support for gangsters will be well received by the broader public? Surely they're not completely naïve on that as well.
No, I think that suggests a rapidly developing hubris, an arrogance about their election prospects and a disregard for the folk (the deplorables) having to live with the consequences of crime.

Kat said...

The alternative is war.
Here are some thoughts from the master Sun Tzu: "The skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field........"

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Er....Where was all the fuss from you free speech advocates?

Shane McDowall said...

You took the words right out of my mouth better than Meatloaf.

The patch gangs are criminal organisations. Anyone who thinks otherwise has shit for brains.

Surely the facial tattoos are a clear sign that the gangs are groups of drug-selling sociopaths.

The only real long term solution to New Zealand's gang problem is to allow the NZSAS to wipe them off the face of the earth.

Who dare wins.

See how attractive a gang patch is when it comes with a swift and certain death from men who know how to deal out death.

greywarbler said...

I'm confused about this bunch of millions. And the amount of koha, who or what set that. Koha as I know it for a normal visit or meeting is $5 to $10. But the funny old world musing would not be new. Tuhoe being raided by full body in black outfits police enforcing home imprisonment for the village, while the tribe were negotiating the changeover of Tuhoe lands from national park to the kaitiaki care of Tuhoe, was a case for musing. (I think I have got the terminology right.) I am still confused about that, though I have read and continue to refer back to, accounts about it.

To rein in the Maori and tauiwi gangs will not be achieved by fining them, by sequestrating their (illegal) business profits, by imprisoning those perpetrators who can legitimately or otherwise, be restrained by law. If the gangs here decided that they were going to wield the power, they would be aiming for equivalency with such as Freemasons; a strong 'gang' swearing to keep the rules and favour each other, with some egregious punishments for infraction.

By design, the Freemasons ensure their ranks are composed of people from all levels of the government, legislature and judiciary, where their oath of obedience compels these officials to assist fellow Mason’s in secret. More specifically, shield them from prosecution and, if convicted, mitigate the consequences.
This form of Masonic nepotism and protection seduces most any person whose moral compass is determined by their desire for rapid upward mobility in their career and lifestyle.

Indigenous Power against rentier Conservatives, it would not be quietly contained. The situation here now has its roots in historic colonialism, and the poverty of many Maori and the statistics of their bad health, worse than pakeha, are not dissimilar to the experience in other countries. Many are noting the way that government keeps stepping away from the dog's mess that the two Parties have created since 1984, and many of us are most unhappy; Maori particularly so. The need for mere abatement is a past remedy it seems that now, to avoid tackling the lack of secure jobs with regular livable wages, lack of basic housing, and the resultant health and social problems, we are to have a brownwash over all to deflect attention which will wipe out the bright points of sterling effort and resulting improvements that have occurred but at too infrequent intervals.

Reading the history of lower Africa and the Dutch from the 1700's gives reason for thought.
NZ has attempted to establish better conditions with the indigenous people, but not well enough. We have adopted laissez faire, run down the country's resilience by putting all in the export basket, and stripped and flagellated ourselves in an attempt to be righteous in the eyes of ever bigger business, and now we are squirming under the cold, calculating eyes of the successful businessmen of NZ, on 'both sides of the blanket'. S.A. colonisation:

Nick J said...

Years ago as a graduate I gathered some crime stats working in a police station. At the time I was a naive radical who could spout Marx. I was able to read whole crime files, some graphically gruesome. I also got quietly shown what the job entailed. All societies have cops, simply because we need them. There are always bad bastards out there. Jacinda has allowed the cops to be badly let down. Im appalled.

Anonymous said...

So completely out of touch that I the only question that I am left with is,
Who has what on whom.

David George said...

Not sure that the gangsters have that vision Kat or are intent on capturing our cities, maybe an alliance with the ethno nationalist would be a more immediate and serious concern. Though, to be fair, we have towns here in the North that have become deeply dysfunctional, the schools, service groups and the police demoralised and ineffective, the volunteer fire service is struggling to man their appliances. No one cares, things are falling apart.

What the gangs do is rot the fabric of society with drugs, violence, intimidation and theft in the service of their personal and collective power and their impulsive pleasures. Simple as that.
Nations fail when civic trust and trust in the future is destroyed, things become corrupt, the truth is lost. As Chris pointed out previously, there doesn't seem to be much appreciation of history, of political philosophy from our leaders, they're fully capable of leading us off a cliff they're that bloody dumb. Jacinda especially.

Peter H said...

Very thoughtful as always ...and great use of lines from the movie.. hope you don't ever get terminated :-)

Kat said...

@David George
My comment was how the gangs and drug problem in this instance is being handled by the govt, not the other way around. Reference to a skillful leader could have offered a clue.

greywarbler said...

David George - Don't give us that holier-than-thou stuff about how wonderful society is and how awful the gangs. Mix it up a little, bring society down to the reality, and then look at where the gangs are similar.

We have seen the asset-stripper Brierley stripped of his knighthood because of underage child sex I think. Doing what businessmen at that level want to do, involves in breaking many of society's mores, if not the laws. The veneer of respectability is all important to keep people below from getting restive.

The fabric of society is remarkably strong when overlooking business fraud and misdemeanours or worse; females are attacked by men who get a few years in prison or even these days, put on home detention. The fabric gets thin when someone wealthy is damaged in some way - property or personal. It's not just a NZ phenomenon but I suppose your selective reading would not leave you with an informed mind on the civilisation of our era.

Chuck Bird said...

Andrew Little told Mike Hosking that the money was going to a former Mongrel Bob member name Harry Tam. Below is a link to a video of Tam speaking to the Mob.

David George said...

Yes Kat, I knew who you were alluding to, it was just too absurd to take seriously. J A, a leader skilled in the art of war?
I wonder how Sun Tzu would have dealt with the mob in his midst, starve them out of existence I suspect. Make their parasitic existence uneconomic, seize their weapons, bust up and deport (where possible) the smugglers, raid their fortresses, seize their assets, demoralise and destroy them, make it beyond doubt that their course is unacceptable, that they will never, ever win but always leave an exit, a path to redemption.

The important thing is to "know your enemy" (Sun Tzu) and, as I said, I don't think there is that understanding. The almost childlike caricature of a bunch of naughty boys is so out of touch with reality it's dangerous, an affront to those confronted with the reality.

Grey, you're missing the point and it's all a bit strange; what punishment did you have in mind for acts of violence beyond prison (or home d). The exercising of sheer, unaccountable power over others can't be excused no matter the perpetrators. For all his wealth, prestige and power R B was punished no less than the most lowly offender. Worse in some respects, if you consider such a spectacular fall from grace as punishment. That is how it is and that is how it should be.

greywarbler said...

I wondered what Denis O'Reilly who is a knowledgeable Black Power gang member I believe, thinks and give this link for a little about his thoughts in January 2020.

Kat said...

"I wonder how Sun Tzu would have dealt with the mob in his midst, starve them out of existence I suspect. Make their parasitic existence uneconomic, seize their weapons..........."

David George, having said that can I take it that you actually agree with the govt strategy, and your pooh poohing of the leadership skills of Jacinda Ardern is not to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

Only after experiencing often very severe retalitory violence as punishment for attempting to leave.

David George said...

The Police Association are very unhappy about this scheme:

"“Association members are clearly angry that Police hierarchy and the Ministry of Health consider a gang such as Notorious Mongrel Mob, which is responsible for the majority of meth dealing in central Hawke’s Bay, should now be trusted stewards of millions of dollars to fix a problem they are instrumental in creating.”

Mr Cahill says the association’s criticism is not directed at drug rehabilitation initiatives.

“We know only too well the crisis that exists in this area. Our members are left to cope every single day with people who need assistance and rehabilitation from drug use. New Zealand is so short on rehab resources that it falls to officers to do the caring, often in police cells, which are no place for a person who requires expert medical help,” he says.

“It is difficult to understand how those who promote the need for drug rehabilitation seem blind to the dreadful optics of this Mongrel Mob scenario – let alone have faith in this multi-million-dollar scheme to do anything but line the pockets of key gang leaders.”

The association asks for this money to be funnelled to legitimate addiction services in provincial New Zealand who are crying out for such help.

Mr Cahill also wants Police to listen more closely to their staff and understand how the Mongrel Mob in this region operates, to recognise the extent of the harm they cause, and to wake up to the wafer-thin layer between those receiving the Proceeds of Crime funding and those who deal meth and create the problem.

“I’d say that’s the least the staff who work at the sharp end of organised crime deserve,” he says.

“Otherwise, we will see a growth in gang-run addiction services, which is really akin to a pharmacy infecting its customers with a cold, and then selling them cold medication.”

David George said...

Thanks for the link Grey, Denis said:
"others in society also need to believe that gang members have the capacity to be good people, to "believe that they can be good dads, believe that they can be good sons, believe that they can be good brothers and they can be trustworthy New Zealanders".

Mere belief is not enough but one outfit that is having success in that area is the Man Up programme. They are doing great work in our area, the secret is to provide support and direction, make the responsibilities of manhood and fatherhood themselves a source of pride and status. I am disappointed they aren't properly supported. Read about their work:

greywarbler said...

Trouble is David George - as I understand it the Man Up program is against homosexuals, so rigid in its approach to manhood. And also I think it is connected to the Tamaki church and they don't seem to be into living one another in an agape sense, ie all man/womankind. We don't need men only and women only divisions in NZ to become further fixed than presently.

And Anonymous can we have less vinegar with your baking soda please. If you want to get the commentary fizzing think of something that is useful, refer to something that is useful and always put a reference of the comment you reply to, a link whatever, otherwise your random thoughts are just a waste of space. Tell them to the cat, it will look at you with the derision you probably would deserve.

sumsuch said...

The gangs grew from the 30 years of neglect of the neediest. By all means fight them but that can't be done without caring for the desperate on the same scale. By MONEY and intelligent programmes.

David George said...

Thanks Grey, Man Up has a large women's programme, here are some testimonials, many from women. Just click on the arrow to scroll through.

The intention is to help men become better community members, fathers, husbands and partners, so in that sense it is also helping women. I don't know whether homosexuals are welcome or if that's any sort of issue, they don't say. They don't turn people away that have committed some pretty nasty stuff from what I can see so doubt they'd do that to someone that's gay.

David George said...

P.S. Grey: While I'm not convinced that this was a wise decision (practically or politically) there is something to be said for courageously awarding people your trust.

"I will trust you - I will extend my hand to you - despite the risk of betrayal, because it is possible, through trust, to bring out the best in you, and perhaps in me".

Jordan Peterson. Beyond Order: 12 more rules for life

David George said...

PPS The women's programme/version of Man Up is called "Legacy - Sisterhood Empowerment". Includes the same "redemption through responsibility and fellowship" (my words) principles as Man Up but tailored for women.

I couldn't find anything about homosexuals Grey, don't know whether the Mob are particularly gay friendly either, probably not.