Thursday, 15 November 2007

The litmus test for "social justice"

The activities of the Urewera 16 are becoming clearer, giving all advocate of "social justice" to declare their commitment to renouncing force.

Presented with the opportunity to nail their colours to the mast and issue a ringing condemnation of violence -- to come out against taking up arms against "the white man"; against a wish that "bullets start going through people"; against any suggestion of "a bombing campaign that blew up Waihopai spy base, power dams, gas facilities, TV stations and radios" and a terror campaign so sudden and so brutal "they'll think it's al Qaeda" -- what do the advocates for global peace and social justice do instead?

 What do so called advocates of peace, equality, non-violence and non-racism do in the face of excerpts from transcripts of police surveillance showing those acting in the name of those aspirations prepared to carry out actions markedly less pacifist than their supposed aims? 

The reaction from the fellow travellers is instructive.

 Do they condemn? Do they hell.

 They turn their heads away instead and whine about everything from our "racist" police force (who arrested three Maori out of seventeen who were charged) to "heavy handed" treatment of some suspects, to the publication of these oh so revealing transcripts -- but they have refused to condemn what's revealed in those transcripts.

That in itself is enormously revealing. Make no mistake, this is a litmus moment: a time when people who support the stated ends of those arrested can and should make make it clear that they are revolted by their chosen and now-stated means. But for the most part they aren't doing that, are they.

 Even 'Bomber' Bradbury has invited them to, saying repeatedly:
"NO PEACE ACTIVIST - NO SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST HAS ANY RIGHT TO PICK UP A GUN IN NZ! And the second you do pick up a gun - you are no longer a member of a social justice movement." 
Would that others in that camp said the same. But they aren't, and we're entitled to make a judgement about what that means.

 Instead of condemning the aspirations for blood lust, Keith Locke for example has come out against ... The Dominion. Given the Greens already called those arrested “Maori, peace and environmental activists,” with whom the Greens presumably see some common cause, it would appear there is prima facie evidence here that, for the Greens (or at least for Keith Locke), being a peace activist gives one carte blanche to cheer about murder. It wouldn't be the first time, would it.

And fellow traveller of many of those arrested Nandor Tanczos said a year ago that he had "spoken to people" who see a future of "permanent civil unrest and eventually when the demographics change enough, for outright war" and it "frightens the hell" out of him. Where is he now that when what frightened him is more public? Like Trevor Loudon, I'd like to think his silence indicates he's telling the police all he knows, no matter how minor it may seem. But I don't for moment think that's what the silence of this "mainstream environmentalist" indicates, do you?

Meanwhile Iti's lawyer Annette Sykes, the woman who twelve years ago called for the burning of forests and the blowing up of dams, and who "clapped and cheered" when 3000 people were murdered in destruction of the World Trade Center, is heading to the UN to seek "justice" for the people "terrorised" by the police carrying out search warrants, but not before condemning ... that's right, the publication of transcripts showing her client(s) for what they are.

And John Minto, co-organiser with many of those arrested of a ragbag of radical groups, found time to condemn as "despicable" ... what do you think? ... the media. Ne mention of how despicable it is to arm and train and plan for murder.

And Jamie Lockett's lawyer is equally outraged that the public might read for themselves the true nature of his client is joined by fellow lawyer Moana Jackson who is "appalled" -- appalled! -- at ... no, not at the revelations of violent hatred and blood lust but "the lack of journalistic responsibility" shown in telling the public what his client(s) are really like, and particularly that "Fairfax printed selective items from a huge volume of evidence." I doubt whether we should take that to mean that all the evidence should be made public.

And then there's dear old Peter Williams, QC, who's made a healthy living over the years from defending scum in court (and campaigning for a more comfortable stay in prison for the scum when they go down), who used the word "cowardly" yesterday when commenting on the transcripts. No, not the aspirations stated therein to "to kill Pakeha to get trainees used to killing" or "to assassinate the prime minister, the new one, next year's one." No, that wasn't what stated this officer of the court calls cowardly -- what he condemns as cowardly is the publication of these statements. That tells you as much about Mr Williams as you'd ever care to know.

And we're entitled to draw conclusions too from the likes of blogger Idiot Savant, who like Keith Locke condemns the publishing, condemning the aspirations of violence only elliptically with his comment on Jamie Lockett, and from TV3's John Campbell, who (as Lindsay Perigo identifies), "dismiss its significance because of the small number of people involved." Crikey, even Jordan Carter can find it within himself to express a little momentary distaste. But not I/S.

There's really only one of the usual suspects so far who emerges from this litmus test with a better colour. The Maori Party early on nailed their colours to those accused being angels, and Pita Sharples disgraced himself by quickly pulling out the race card and waving it in the face of the evidence, but he has at least said "Make no mistake - we are absolutely and categorically horrified by the threatening language we have read in the paper today."

Signs of hope, perhaps? It is at least an indication to some of these other fellow travellers the sort of response they now need to take, or to be judged accordingly.

For my own part, let me repeat what I've already said here:
There is a vast gulf between genuine civil disobedience and the "direct action" supported by so called peace activists and anarchists and anti-colonialists, and I for one find it instructive that defenders of the arrested seventeen wish to conflate the two. There is an unstated assumption that because the state so often uses force in promoting its values, that this somehow legitimises ragtag envy-ridden whiners using force to promote values. It doesn't. Two evils don't whitewash the fallacy. Ayn Rand makes the point as clear as it can be:
One does not and cannot "negotiate" with brutality, nor give it the benefit of the doubt. The moral absolute should be: if and when, in any dispute, one side initiates the use of physical force, that side is wrong—and no consideration or discussion of the issues is necessary or appropriate.
Clear enough for you?
Lindsay Perigo drives the point home:
The greatest good to come from the terror raids may not be the stopping of the terrorists in their tracks, excellent and noble though that certainly be, but the exposure of their vile apologists for what they are.
[Thanks to Liberty Scott and Trevor Loudon, whose well-researched posts were invaluable in writing this one. Any errors of course are mine.]

UPDATE 1: The young idiots at Socialist Worker, whose "friends" was who were arrested, continue the theme. These erstwhile advocates of the rule of law condemn the "contempt for the judicial process" shown in exposing the extent of their friends' vileness, while carefully avoiding any judgement of what their friends were up to. If you think it's because they think you're stupid, then you'd be right.

UPDATE 2: Kudos for once to Shane Jones, who told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking:
I rather suspect that a lot of the characters mixed up in this rubbish up in Tuhoe and various other parts are using the cloak of Maoriness to disguise and obscure criminality and soon as the cops round the buggers up and treat them as criminals the better.


  1. Brilliant Peter, Brilliant!!

  2. That was an absolutely brilliant article PC. Ever considered a career change from architecture into journalism?

  3. Excellent summary. Some more rabid apologists can be seen over at at the VUSA.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Duncan,

    I was just about to say the same. PC, you should score yourself a column in the Dom Post, like CK.

  6. but [politicians] have refused to condemn what's revealed in those transcripts.

    Are they allowed to given this will end up before a court?

  7. PC, good call in pulling up the apologists, and the quote from Perrigo is excellent as well.

    One point though. I think it would be good to consider why such long-standing rules around publication are in place. I don't know what the answer is, it looks like an anachronism these days, but I am certain of two things:

    a) those rules are not there to hide or make light of serious crime, and so it does not follow that anyone who is concerned about publication of these activities is necessarily siding with the terrorists (not that you say that in your piece).

    b) we should do not expect people undertaking these activities to be given any kind of special treatment under the law, but it cuts both ways. We should also not expect long standing rules about publication to go out the window when somebody does something particularly serious or unusual. It seems to me that now is the most important time for the established process to be adhered to, and there is danger in straying from it, such as when newspapers publish leaked documents.

    Far from being concerned about the terrorists not getting a fair trial, I am concerned their case will be thrown out on a technicality or court sympathy for the view that their case is contaminated. That is the risk in what has gone on here.

  8. You're getting quite worked up PC :-)

    But if you actually read what has been published, doesn't it sound a lot like kids dreaming about blowing up stuff?

    Does, what has been published, sound like a serious attempt at terrorism? It's more the typical language and level of expression you find at the lefties blog: "Yes, we should kill John Key. Absolutely. Five days after the election. Blow up stuff."

    But anyway, I agree that the peace activists are now exposed for everyone wishing to see the light that peace is the last thing they want. Or perhaps I should correct myself: there will be peace, but first there must be cleansing of course.

  9. Seriously, Peter, do you think that the accused will now have a fair trial? Do you think the jury will be unprejudiced?

  10. ... and do you think they deserve a fair trial?

  11. Seriously Tim, yes I do.

    I've discussed this before, BTW, (here for example) but it's time NZ courts stopped treating the public as idiots and respected them to actually hear the evidence without all this suppression of evidence.

    Justice has to be seen to be done.

    But that's peripheral to the point here: given what we now know with the release of this very small part of the surveillance evidence, why are so few in your mate Bomber's camp unable to pin their colours to the mast as he as done and denounce what appears to have been going on?

    After all, they were talking about, training for and arming themselves to do something far more serious than placing a symbolic axe in the Prime Minister's office window, weren't they.

  12. Were they? Leaked evidence from the police that supports the police position is being run on mainstream media and the internet with reckless abandon. You have drawn your own conclusions without hearing any response from the accused. With out that "evidence" even being tested in any way. You say yourself it is a very small part of the surveillance evidence.

    why are so few in your mate Bomber's camp unable to pin their colours to the mast as he as done and denounce what appears to have been going on? - How can they denounce what is conjecture - conjecture phrased in their opponent's terms? These people are activists and part of a community. They will presume they are innocent and focus on the heavy-handed nature of the operation for what are firearms offences ONLY. Like the sedition charges proved, once the police start they want to go on and on using whatever they can get away with - which primarily affects the activist community.

    Do libertarians have enough understanding of the idea of community to understand the concept of solidarity? I think they can and they do. And if the hypothetical is posed: what the response would be from you if some assumed "gun-nut" libertarian types like Beltowski etc. (no disrespect or allegation meant at all) were in some way - however remote - connected up to some full-on bush games in the hills - then what would your instinct/gut-reaction be to that? If you knew some of the accused?

    I haven't read what Mr Perigo has been saying, but if people think a trial by media on whether or not, - or to what extent - an accused might be a terrorist is not going to prejudice and unduly affect the right to a fair trial on arms offences that are due to follow it then those people are not being serious. The question is whether a jury can be prejudiced after this media trial? - I think it will be, and you think it won't. I think they're playing dirty, and you think it's OK.

    My lawyers always told me to say nothing and I've only ever regretted the times that I actually complied. Silence should never be viewed as a sign of guilt or innocence however.

    Silence is fine if you have a fair system and everyone plays by the rules. That is certainly not the case here. It should not be the side with the best PR team and the best media connexions that wins the case - but when you make it trial by media it becomes exactly that. I don't see justice being done. More like a circus.

  13. A bit of research has been done into NZ juries and their reactions to publicity. That seems to indicate that juries take their responsibilities very seriously, listen to the judge’s direction and advice and do their job.

    The police rape trials are an example of high levels of publicity and innuendo, and yet the jury came back with a not guilty verdict.


  14. Oh and the supporters of the accused have been assertively courting the media to paint them of victims of a range of ‘isms’, and as peace loving and friendly to all things cute and fuzzy.

    Isn’t 10 minutes of this on Campbell or Close Up just as prejudicial to a fair trial? Yet none of them are claiming their actions are prejudicial, and those actions preceded any publicity over most of the accuseds’ names and details.


  15. I love the for what are firearms offences ONLY

    Peace activists for self defence?

  16. Only four weapons sized: The anti-terror raids of October 15 resulted in the seizure of only four weapons and 230 rounds of ammunition that have led to charges.

  17. Whether or not to denounce talk of intent to commit acts of physical aggression against your fellow citizen isn't a moral conundrum, Mr Selwyn.

    The WTF Factor is still very high regarding the whole thing, though.


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