Pita Sharples told everyone yesterday that Monday's police action -- sorry, "Monday's military style police raids" (nothing like a dose of hyperbole to help your chance of a headline) -- was all about race. Parekura Horomia explains exactly what card Sharples is playing here: "the race card." Parekura would know, of course, since he's played that same card himself several times, but on this he's exactly right, and I'm damn sure Sharples knows it.
Meanwhile, Nania Mahuta firmly put Sharples' claptrap in context:
This isn't a Maori issue, this is an issue of public safety.And so it is. Weapons have been seized (yes, weapons, Pita) from people of all colours from light brown to unwashed off-white; it should be obvious enough to everyone except the fellow travellers of the arrested and those with a pre-prepared axe to grind that this is not about race.
We've also heard any amount of hand wringing about the police -- sorry the "military style police raids" -- "traumatising a whole community" down there in Ruatoki, and scaring children on school buses. (Poor kids. They're surrounded by Iti and his comrades waving guns around, but the first sight of the police is enough to have them hyperventilating.) Now, I don't think for a minute that anyone believes that the "community" of Ruatoki is traumatised; as we're all aware, this is what is known as playing the "victim card." But Steve Maharey laid one of the myths about the "Ninja Army" to bed yesterday by pointing out that there is no evidence that the police were even on any school buses in Ruatoki. Does anyone have any that contradicts him? Even those making the claim have chosen to side-step the question, choosing instead to carry on with the hand wringing and the misinformation.
It is truly a time for cool heads.
Because we've heard all sorts of conspiratorial crap, haven't we, about how for example this whole operation has been concocted by the Labour Government for all sorts of reasons, including to help them push through the amendments to the anti-terrorism legislation. Since the police raids are more likely to hinder rather than help the amendments, this sort of conspiratorial rubbish is so dumb even Ian Wishart would steer clear of it -- as I believe he has.
It's often necessary to explain to the likes of African dictators that in the Westminster system the police, the executive and the legislature are at least nominally independent. It should hardly be necessary to explain this to commentators whose ignorance is exceeded only by their conspiratorial mien.
It's true that the independence of the police has been brought into question in recent years with their failure to properly bring the force of law to bear against Labour MPs for offences ranging from speeding through Ashburton to putting their hand into the taxpayers' pocket to steal the last election, but these compromises of police independence were only on issues in which the Labour Government held a venal interest, (which is all that really gets them excited these days) - but the police's nominal independence would at least make it difficult to coordinate such a conspiracy, and the Labour Government have hardly shown themselves capable of the sort of competence necessary to leap the few barriers of independence that do remain.
Meaning, in summary, that I'm quite prepared to believe the Government and the opposition wer briefed only when they said they were, something John Key corroborated this morning. To my mind, Annette King's first response to the press gallery on all this was still right on the money. As Newstalk ZB reported on Monday:
Mrs King [said] suggestions the arrests were politically motivated are untrue, as the Government only found out about the camps late last week. She says it was the Police Commissioner's decision to make the arrests, based on the risk to the public.It's true, isn't it. And there's something else of which people should be reminded. It's the job of the police to bring evidence and lay charges. It's not the job of the media or of Keith Locke or Pita Sharples to hear that evidence, it's the job of the courts. I'd suggest those who want to 'jump the gun' to instead try and follow Horomia's advice:
Mrs King says police have to make decisions on the evidence they have. She says if anything had happened, people would have been asking "why the useless cops hadn't done anything about it".
Many of us find it hard to believe that the behaviour of these characters might amount to terrorist activity. But the police wouldn't have raised this potential lightly, so let's wait and see.Yes. Let's.
UPDATE 1: Police Association president Greg O'Connor backs up Maharey, and derides the self-serving claims about police storming kids' buses:
Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell will take part in a hikoi being held through the streets of Whakatane today to protest about police tactics used during the terror raids at the foot of the Urewera Ranges... President of the Police Association Greg O'Connor is [however] denying claims armed police stormed the school bus. "The only time a school bus every got searched up there was four years ago when a Kohanga Reo bus was stopped and two gang members were on it. They were trying to escape through a checkpoint following a shooting and homicide."Frankly, the critics don't want to wait. They want to make up stuff while keeping their axe ground. If anyone has any evidence that a school bus was stormed, then let's hear it. Otherwise, the hikoi be damned.
Mr O'Connor says critics of the tactics police used should hold back until all the evidence is available.
UPDATE 2: Backing for these things those ministers said doesn't of course mean that they won't go on being morons as Horomia already has: Horomia says Iti no terrorist. FFS! As David Farrar points out, "Ministers of the Crowns should know better than to speculate. They have a constitutional position other MPs do not... Ministers should and generally are saying nothing, as to do so would undermine the judicial process." In fact as Horomia said earlier from a different side of his mouth, the police wouldn't have raised this matter lightly, so let's wait and see what evidence they can present in court, and what the courts decide, huh?
UPDATE 3: If I'm going to back government ministers, then why not go the whole hog and back Bomber. When you get sense from the normally senseless, that's all you can do. Here's Bomber Bradbury making sense (and I never thought I would type those words):
...it’s a matter of principle. Symbolically damage things, absolutely, take up arms against my fellow countrymen, never, that ain’t my bag baby. Yes I’m angry our friends have been arrested, yes I’m angry at the way they have been treated, yes they are not terrorists, but anyone attempting to justify social justice through violence is the most backwards step I’ve ever seen, the activist community have got to demand our civil rights while renouncing any use of guns to force social change. In a functioning democracy, we fight with words and ideas, not grenade launchers.Bravo.
UPDATE 4: I would have thought that far worse for Ruatoki children being made to fake trauma over police raids on buses that didn't happen would be to be forced into being used as political pawns. "As many as a thousand people joined a march in Whakatane to complain about children being caught up in the police operation," says the Herald.
Was there not one person there to complain about them being used as political pawns by racist morons?
* UPDATE 5: That first sentence above should now read "... four statements from three government ministers, and one who's just quit." Yes, that's right, the man who's "lived a life of blameless excellence" is quitting to take up a sinecure at Massey University. Massey's loss is the taxpayer's gain.