First a massacre, then the push back.

During the first hours and days after the terrorist attack in Christchurch, I tried to be optimistic about what could come out of the event. I saw it as a window of opportunity and teaching moment, a time to grieve, heal and reflect on what New Zealand is as a society. I thought that we could finally confront the elephant in the room: that underneath the veneer of tolerance and egalitarianism there is a dark underbelly in New Zealand. It is called racism.

For the first week it seemed that the opportunity was going to be seized. The government responded with empathy and compassion for the victims and with decisiveness when it came to banning certain types of military-style weapons and parts that can be used to modify hunting weapons into military-style ones. It is pondering how to give the killer a fair trial without turning it into a martyr-making propaganda circus. It is reviewing hate speech laws and has ordered a Royal Commission inquiry into how the attack happened and the intelligence failures that may have contributed to it. The majority of the nation followed its lead and demonstrated that most Kiwis are, in fact, decent people.

However, in the ensuing days the national conversation has been side-tracked. After a period of silence or contrition, rightwing outlets are back to their old enabling games. Outlets like the virulently Islamophobic Whale Oil and slightly more moderate blogs have enforced some degree of moderation when it comes to the language used by authors and commentators, but the hateful tone toward the “Other” remains the same when read between the lines. The rightwing rallying cry is defence of free speech, in which the ruse used is to deliberately conflate protected offensive speech with hate speech in order to demonstrate that “liberal” democratic values are under siege by overzealous Lefties using the tragedy and their control of the state apparatus to impose their will on dissenters. This risable argument is supported by some on the venerable Left who seem to be more concerned about defending the rights of nasty white people rather than consider the fact that it is those people who facilitated and enabled the nasty white guy’s mass murder of a bunch of brown folk whose sole crime was to exist (and who made a point when doing so by gunning them down when they were practicing their faith in their houses of worship).

Diversionary tactics aside, let us be clear. When it comes to free versus hate speech the issue is simple: any speech that incites, encourages, supports, applauds or otherwise instigates or excuses violence against individuals or communities because of who they are (as opposed to anything they have done, although even there the call to violence is debatable), has crossed the line from protected speech into hate speech. Offensive speech remains protected, but the urging of violence is not. The issue is not about causing offence; it is about causing harm.

The gun lobby also has decided that amnesia is the best part of public virtue so now moans and whines about “law-abiding” people losing their gun rights thanks to the government’s legislative reforms, conveniently forgetting that the killer was a law-abiding loser until the moment he stepped out of his car down the street from the Masjid al-Noor on Deans Avenue. Here too, the issue is simple (and I urge readers to look up my blog colleague Lew on Twitter to see his very reasoned explanations of the matters at stake). Tightening of licensing requirements and enforcement of laws governing purchase of semi-automatic weapons and removal of conversion kit and military-style weapons does not infringe on the privileges of the gun-owning majority (note that it is a privilege to own a gun, not a right no matter what the bloody NRA would have us believe). The law changes do not prevent anyone from using guns as tools to target shoot and kill critters. It just helps lower the human body count when a gun owner goes off the rails (do not get me started on the “but then only criminals will have such guns” argument because that is a matter for strict law enforcement, and law enforcement must have the will to, well, strictly enforce the law rather than play nice with gangs and assorted other bad guys).

Then there are the closet racists who have emerged into the light like the Hamilton city councillor and Immigration officer (?!), who besides ranting on Facebook (a prime vector for hate speech in spite of recent bans on white supremacists) about immigrant “scum” in Europe after the Paris terrorist attacks now says without a hint of irony that NZ needs to “move on” from the Christchurch event. He is joined by a-holes like Brian Tamaki, who claimed that the call to prayer on the day of national remembrance a week after the attack was proof the Sharia was being imposed on NZ. He appears to not be the only non-Pakeha religious leader (if you can call a fraudster con artist that) with this sentiment, as I have been told by informed community members that Islamophobia is very much a staple part of sermons in some Pasifika Christian churches.

Assorted talkback hosts and politicians are now in full “whataboutism?” mode, trying to equate the evils of Muslim extremists (and Islam itself) with those of other fanatics (while conveniently avoiding their ideological cause). This follows the denialism of such (perhaps as of yet closeted) politicians as Gerry Brownlee and Lianne Dalziel, who claim (Brownlee in very pointed remarks directed at me) that they were unaware of any white supremacists in Christchurch or anywhere else in NZ. Sensing an opportunity, people with ideological personal and agendas are in full throat, be it as purported experts on gangs and terrorism or pushing lines such as that the 1881 assault on Parihaka is a comparable atrocity (in which no one died).

Let’s not muddy the waters. Arguments about gun control and free speech and the historical grievances that are part of the national story are all diversions from the essence of post 3/15 New Zealand. The core subject is that of racism and the cesspit of bigotry in which it festers, from the enabling head-nodders to the inciting megaphones to the keyboard cowards to the actual perpetrators of physical and psychological (yes, they exist) hate crimes against people who supposedly are “different.”

This is not just a problem with a few skinheads. It is a problem for all. Some Pakeha hate Maori. Some Maori hate Chinese. Some Chinese hate Polynesians and some Polynesians hate Palangi. Some Maori and Pakeha hate Chinese and some Chinese reciprocate the feeling. Some hate Muslims and some hate Jews. Some hate Muslims, Jews and anyone who is brown, black or “yellow.” Some hate gays, lesbians and transgender people. Some hate red heads. Some hate the notion of equality when it usurps patriarchy or heteronormative values. Some hate is individual, some of it is institutional and some is systemic. Some hate involves relationships and asymmetries of power, but not always. Hate comes in multiple cross-cutting dimensions that serve as the foundation for ongoing bigotry and racism. In contemporary Aotearoa it may be a minority sentiment that is fractiously manifest rather than uniformly presented, but it is the wretched garden in which the bitter fruit of bigotry and racism are sown and reaped. And it is endemic in NZ.

THAT is what the national conversation should be about. That is what our children should be taught about. That is what the enablers, accomplices and purveyors of racism must be confronted with. This is no longer a time when we can look the other way, say “she’ll be right” and hope that the unpleasant stuff just goes away.

3/15 changed all that, and it is time to stand up and be counted. And being counted is not to just have academic panel discussions and government inquiries and commemorations. It is about confronting racism and bigotry wherever it rears its nasty head and however it is specifically manifest: on the streets, in buses, in shops, in schools, in sports clubs and volunteer organisations, in churches, in local politics, on-line, on talkback radio and in town halls and community fora–whenever the trolls rise there must be righteous people willing to call them out for what they are: ignorant fearful losers looking for scapegoats for their own failures in life.

It is hard to confront someone, especially if they are bigger or in groups. So strategies must be developed to help the average person perform this important civic duty. That means gaining the support of and involving the authorities so that complaints can be made and charges laid without undue risk to the good people calling out the antisocial misfits. Because if all we do is talk about what a bummer racism is and then go back to our own self-interested lives unwilling to actually walk the walk of daily anti-racist conviction, then we truly are a nation of sheep.

54 thoughts on “First a massacre, then the push back.

  1. “…any speech that incites, encourages, supports, applauds or otherwise instigates or excuses violence against individuals or collectivities because of who (as opposed to anything they have done, although even there the call to violence is debatable), has crossed the line from protected speech into hate speech.”

    On the basis of the above that “virulently Islamophobic” Whale Oil site, even in its current moderated state, would be banned forthwith and NZ would be a far better place without it.

    The enablers of right-wing extremism have been present in New Zealand for the past 30 to 40 years Pablo. I had the misfortune to know a couple of the earlier ‘models’. They were never brought to face the music for their transgressions.

  2. “…any speech that incites, encourages, supports, applauds or otherwise instigates or excuses violence against individuals or collectivities because of who (as opposed to anything they have done, although even there the call to violence is debatable), has crossed the line from protected speech into hate speech.”

    See: “punch a Nazi”

    oh shit

  3. Don’t be yet another a-hole (edited for propriety’s sake). What I am saying about the Right applies to the Left in democratic societies. And if one is an alt-right neo-nazi, then the qualifiers about responding to hate speech apply. That is, you incite violence, you just might get some in reply.

  4. SHG: Perhaps a little off topic but recommended viewing is a 6.5 hour documentary on You Tube called ” The greatest story never told ”

    It is an alternative story to the mainstream narrative of
    Adolf Hitler, WW1 and WW2

    Your ” Punch a Nazi ” comment reminded me of this

    So if you really are interested in embellishing your mind with critical thought this doco is a good place to start.

  5. “Don’t be yet another asshole. What I am saying about the Right applies to the Left in democratic societies. And if one is an alt-right neo-nazi, then the qualifiers about responding to hate speech apply. That is, you incite violence, you just might get some in reply.”

    As the old adage goes: live by the sword, die by the sword.

    “This risable argument is supported by some on the venerable Left who seem to be more concerned about defending the rights of nasty white people rather than consider the fact that it is those people who facilitated and enabled the nasty white guy’s mass murder of a bunch of brown folk whose sole crime was to exist”

    What MLK wrote in “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” back in 1963 quite easily applies to today’s Intellectual Dark Web:

    “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

  6. What I’ve come to realise is that the “marketplace of ideas” that the self-appointed “free speech fundies” keep haranguing about is only as good as the checks and balances that are in place to prevent abusive monopolies from cornering it. Think Rupert Murdoch – the William Randolph Hearst of our times – and the Kochs, Mercers, Barclays, Sinclairs, Rothermeres et al.

    According to journalists orgs like RSF, concentrated media ownership can be as detrimental to a free press as state censorship in China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

  7. Edward Main
    You sick stupid anti semitic fuck. Recommending shit like that documentary. Critical thought my arse.
    Its your website Pablo and you will delete at least one of my comment or Main’s

  8. Damn Pablo, that’s three times now. Pasifika, with an “s”.

  9. “(note that it is a privilege to own a gun, not a right no matter what the bloody NRA would have us believe)”

    You could make an argument that it is a right in the USA, due to it being in the constitution and all that.

    But in NZ, where the unwritten constitution has no mention of firearms, it isn’t a right except in the sense that everything not explicitly forbidden is a right (but by that token, we also have a right to eat mango yoghurt, which shows that “rights” in this sense aren’t necessarily that politically significant).

    BTW Pablo, since the attack happened in NZ, to NZers, and given NZ dating conventions, maybe 15/3 would be a better terminology than 3/15?

  10. Phil:

    I have not seen the doco and so cannot judge it. But I would be very surprised if Edward was an anti-Semite. What did I miss?

  11. Gorkem:

    I mentioned the NRA because it has injected itself into the gun control debate here in NZ after the attacks. Thankfully things are constitutionally different in NZ when it comes to guns. As for the 3/15 versus 15/3 identifier. I was simply following the 9/11 convention. Does anyone use 11/9 to describe that day?

  12. I think we all know what the NRA’s opinion is worth when it comes to the NZ constitution.

    Re: the dating, I think people use 9/11 because that’s the US format and the attack happened in the US, not because it is some internationally applicable standard for dating terror attacks.

  13. Also, I don’t know Edward one way or another but Phil is right: “The Greatest Story Never Told” is a holocaust denial tract.

  14. Well said.

    I find myself frustrated and confused by how the term “hate speech” gets used sometimes, as it defines this really important line between morally and legally acceptable speech and speech that society needs to quash in order to remain liberal. So, I appreciate how clear you are about your definition (which I would largely accept).

    From time to time, I see it used to describe offensive or exclusionary speech that doesn’t meet that definition as it doesn’t advocate, support, or excuse violence, and I find myself frustrated and a little confused, as in those cases it’s either being weakened and made harder to use effectively as a result, or there’s a violent aspect that I’m failing to understand.

    I haven’t got a good handle on how to respond in those circumstances, as if we ignore and accept it being used in that way, it becomes much easier for free speech warriors to claim that anti-hate speech legislation is illiberal and impinging on their right to offend, when in fact anti-hate speech is an essential anti-body in any democratic and liberal society. I’m also reticent to object to it too loudly, as being pedantic with emotionally strong assertions like that doesn’t usually end well. Telling someone that the speech they’re deeply offended by isn’t actually hate speech doesn’t usually result in a considered response let alone much chance of persuasion.

    On the 3/15 thing, as a (Christchurch) Kiwi living in the US, I do find it bugs me as it feels like a form of Americanization that I’m not looking for, particularly given the American model of violence that this echoes. While in the US I find myself saying 15 Mar or something similar in order to be explicit. I don’t actually think that’s better, though. It’s interestingly coincidental to note that it’s also the Ides of March, but I’m not going to use that, either, as it feels like it’s drawing parallels or making light of the event.

  15. The line between offensive but legal speech is a tricky one. It isn’t helped because a lot of people, when discussing this, do not explicitly draw the line, and rely on inference or assumption.

    I think it might be helpful if those making this distinction were to point out an example of the kind of speech they find offensive but they don’t think should be sanctioned by law or by vigilante justice (e.g. “punch a Nazi”).

    For example – while I find anti-semitism repugnant, idiotic and quite disgusting, I don’t think that people spreading anti-semitic conspiracy theories should have to face the sanction of the law, nor do I think violence against them should go unpunished.

    This is of course different if they start advocating violence against Jews, but I think there are significant numbers of anti-Semites who are not violent either in their personal intent or their advocacy.

    Just to clarify this I am not saying this because I believe anti-Semites get off too easily (far from it) or to try and minimise the violent history of anti-Semitism (I ask readers to believe I am all too familiar both academically and, regrettably, personally). Just that to me the bar for what deserves to be legally prosecuted or subject to vigilante justice as hate speech is a high one – high enough that some genuinely, unambiguously nasty stuff does not pass it.

  16. Pablo, more specifically, you said: ” And if one is an alt-right neo-nazi, then the qualifiers about responding to hate speech apply. That is, you incite violence, you just might get some in reply.”

    Spencer has always said he wants to see “peaceful ethnic cleansing” (his words). We might assume he is lying or dog-whistling and he is OK with violence or even trying to incite it without appearing to incite it, but then we are in the area of judgement calls. Even if it is obvious that Spencer is actually calling for violence, there will be other people where it is more debatable – and if we are going to sign off on punch a Nazi, we are leaving the interpretation of their intent open to whomever decides to throw the punch.

    Moreover the “if you give it, you will get it” principle generally isn’t usually viewed with favour in common law – it’s a fairly common Law 101 principle that if someone steals my car, I am not entitled to steal something of equal value from them. Nor does somebody slandering me entitle me to slander them back. So while it may be true in practice that those who incite violence become its targets, this isn’t something the law usually tries to sanction, and I am not sure that it should.

  17. Gorkem
    Thanks for the confirmation. I am enjoying reading your comments btw, even if we sometimes have different perspectives.

    I had never spotted you as an anti semite apologist. And yet here you are allowing comments promoting anti semitism.

    The full title of that documentary is Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told.

    Just skim read this supportive review to understand the depth of it.

    Complete utter anti semitic holocaust denialist garbage. Yet a comment promoting it remains on your blog after 3 warnings.

  18. @Phil: Thanks for the compliment.

    I think you are being hard on Pablo. He is not an apologist, he is just a public intellectual with other jobs on hand than moderating blog comments. It isn’t reasonable to expect him (or any blogger really) to be familiar by title with every piece of anti-semitic propaganda.

    I assume the comment will be removed in due course.

  19. Phil:

    It is best for Edward to address your concerns. Your demands that I delete the comment illustrates the point about where to draw the line on free versus hate speech. As reprehensible as the doco may be, holocaust denying and exaltation of Hitler do not rise to the level of hate speech as I have tried to define it. If people want to watch it fine, or they can do what I have done and taken your word that it is garbage and ignored the suggestion to watch it. But I would be contradicting myself on what separates hate from free speech if I were to accede to your demands.

    This is not about me being an antisemite apologist. It is about people making up their own minds about a suggestion made by a reader. And as I said, Edward can answer the question best as to whether he has issues with Jews.

  20. I will respond within the next few days . I don’t have access to a desk top computer at the moment

  21. I’d guess that “Edward Main” is actually the former Kiwiblog poster, “EAD” (also “EAD-Two, and “three”). The pseudonym fits and as in the post above EAD made no bones about his belief in the National Socialist Workers Party, not to mention constantly praising Hitler on Kiwiblog before his comments were downticked into hiding.

    There’s also the same style in the sly segue into the issue via, take a look at this (video, article, book, website) and learn something new. The Jews will turn up soon as well. They have to.

    Not surprising that he’s recently vanished from KB, where he was told to take a hike by many people for several years, but before DPF got into his Modified Free Speech mode.

    And now he’s turned up here. So yeah, you’ve got yourself a real, live Nazi apologist and he’s just gagging for someone with which to debate the merits of that ideology and its greatest hero.

  22. Tom:

    I will be very surprised if Edward is EAD. Edward has been a commentator here at KP for a few years now, and nothing he has ever written in public or to me in private even hints at an anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi orientation. I am therefore somewhat baffled as to why he posted the link but am also willing to wait for him to respond at greater length before I pass judgment as to whether he is or not a bad guy.

  23. Fair enough Pablo. I did not know that he’d commented here under that name before and that he has no history WRT to jew-hating or pro-Nazi ideas.

    But a reference to The greatest story never told, combined with the comment of how it’s an alternative story to the mainstream narrative of
    Adolf Hitler, WW1 and WW2
    , certainly has me looking at him sideways, in the same way as I would to some clown touting Loose Change as “an “alternative look at the 9/11 attacks”.

  24. Tom,

    Good point when making the analogy with Loose Change. We shall see what Edward has to say.

  25. Hi Pablo, I was a big fan of your post 6 years ago about the differences between hate crime and terrorism:

    I see you are descriving the Christchurch shooter as a terrorist. I am a bit confused – you were emphatic in 2013 that the murder of the British soldier was not terrorism because it was an individual enterprise.

    Can you explain why that wasn’t terrorism,b ut Christchurch is? Is it the scale?

  26. Good question Exfoliator.

    Good because it forces me to re-think the issue. The difference between a hate crime and a terrorist act is not so much the scale (although that matters to some degree), but the ideological basis for it. That is to say, individuals commit hate crimes because they hate “the other” but do not necessarily subscribe to a coherent ideological platform or political agenda linking them to a particular cause, nor do they seek to influence public debates and perceptions of the larger backdrop to their crimes. In contrast, terrorism has a target, subject and object, whereas hate crimes are lacking in both subject and object (or combine the two).

    In the case of the Christchurch killer, he belonged to an on-line (and perhaps physical) community of white supremacist extremists largely inspired by Anders Brevik. His manifesto is, for all of its lack of intellectual consistency, an ideological platform largely drawn from Brevik’s writings. His targets were undoubtably motivated by hate but they were selected because of what they represented to his preferred vision of the world (rather just be targeted for who they were). The subject of his attack was both the Muslim community (which he wanted to intimidate) and his on-line and physical pals in the global white supremacist movement (as a source of inspiration and emulation). The object of his and other white supremacist attacks is, of course, to instigate another Crusade (which is expressly alluded to in the “Knights Templar” iconography of alt-Right jerks and the White Christian/skinhead/neo-nazi crowds). His was not an impulsive move but instead was a well planned and long premeditated attempt to advance his cause.

    If we understand non-state and non-criminal terrorism to be the application by ideologically-motivated actors of disproportional and seemingly unpredictable or random irregular violence on innocents or non-combatants for the purposes of bending a particular audience to the political will of the perpetrator (and the audience can be plural in nature), then Christchurch was an act of terrorism, while the murder of the British soldier was an act of revenge or retribution born of hate that did not have a larger purpose beyond the act itself.

  27. Hi Pablo thanks for quick response

    I think re-reading your post from previous in light of this one might be able to argue that the attack on the British soldier was in fact terrorism, because it was motivated by an ideology (Islamism) and it was designed to play to both an Islamicist audience and to intimidate a group of people (e.g. the British military/government forces). It does also seem to have been pre-planned.

    But the overall point stands even if there are questions over certain incidents. Thanks for indulging me.

  28. Good day to you all

    The following reply refers specifically to contributors Phil Sage, Gorkem and Tom Hunter regarding the exchange of posts about the You Tube doco ” Adolf Hitler – the greatest story never told ” and it’s inferred domino effect of Anti Semitism, holocaust denial and nazi-ism.

    To confirm: I stand by the validity of this doco. For me it challenges my sense of the status quo. PERIOD.

    People must be given the freedom to read controversial material without being labelled with derogatory slurs.
    I am neither of the above.

    The mistake I made was to suggest this doco to other contributors. Consider this a case of good intentions, poor reflections, and for that I apologize… sorry !!

    I will continue to read different types of material no matter how outlandish they may be.

    If this doco makes me appear as a Hitler apologist… so be it. This is my concern, please don’t make it yours

    Kind regards
    Edward Main

  29. Pablo
    A few questions for you. I would very much appreciate your direct one word answer with or without my context.
    1. Is islamophobia the same or worse than anti semitism?
    2. Do you agree with the internationally accepted definition of anti semitism as defined by IHRA?

    I see that you are dancing on the head of a pin to distinguish hate attacks from terrorism. Basically semantics whilst ignoring wider issues. It is your website and you post and host whatever comments whatever you like. I am far from demanding you take down that anti semitic fuckwit Edward Mains comment. You normally disallow swearing and personal animosity in comments. But post Trump that seems more honoured in the breach.
    You seem to have an issue with a reasonable definition of racism, hate speech and free speech. To be Islamphobic is not to be racist. Don’t conflate the two.

    You state ” free versus hate speech the issue is simple: any speech that incites, encourages, supports, applauds or otherwise instigates or excuses violence against individuals or communities because of who they are (as opposed to anything they have done, although even there the call to violence is debatable), has crossed the line from protected speech into hate speech. Offensive speech remains protected, but the urging of violence is not. ”
    So anything which excuses violence is hate speech but holocaust denialism is not?
    You state “holocaust denying and exaltation of Hitler do not rise to the level of hate speech as I have tried to define it” Excusing the death of 6m people is not excusing violence? Really?

    I think you fall into the classic progressive trap of classifying that with which you disagree as hate speech.
    There is a massive difference between what you call Islamphobia and anti Semitism. One is a phobia of a religion and the other of a people.
    Racism and hate speech is a hatred of something that a person was born with, whether that be their skin colour, LGBT, or having Jewish ancestry.

    Followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all believe in a single sky fairy. I can mock them. I could troll believers in Islam by saying Mohammed was a paedo but that is to fall into the progressive trap of applying current values to history.
    Islamists believe that I should be killed for mocking their beliefs. I thus feel free to have a phobia of Islamists because they infringe my rights. Equally I have a dislike of anti semites. That does not mean I dislike individual muslims or christians who live peacefully in accordance with their beliefs.
    Free speech allows me to mock or dislike beliefs, but not incite hatred of something that is outside somebody’s control. Some beliefs I find abhorrent. But judge the action not the speech. So I would happily see a death sentence on all ISIS fighters but will defend the right of Muslims to worship a paedophile who invented a belief in a sky fairy 1400 odd years ago.
    It comes down to that great sporting analogy, play the ball not the man.
    Do you agree?

  30. Edward Main
    I posted my comment before seeing your latest response.
    If your comment had made clear the thrust of the video and summarised its conclusions whilst making clear you did not agree with it, I would not have a problem.
    Pablo has clearly read the Christchurch terrorist manifesto as have I. I try to read both sides of an argument which is why I googled and followed your suggestion.
    You on the other hand recommend without reservation, which makes you an anti-semitic, holocaust denying hitler apologist. I stand by all of my comments.

  31. “People must be given the freedom to read controversial material without being labelled with derogatory slurs.”

    You aren’t just somebody who read this, though, you are saying you agree with its thesis.

  32. Well, this has turned into a cluster**k. I think that it is time to pull the plug on comments on the thread, as it has become a slag fest.

    To Phil, I would say this. Islamophobia is akin to but not “the same” as anti-Semitism. You think that it is different to hate a religion then it is to hate a group of people based on some ascriptive characteristic. I see them as variations on a bigotry theme. And while the IHRA definition of anti-semitism is Ok it is very general (and in fact has not been as widely adopted as you imply).

    More to the point, I do not appreciate your hectoring me and saying that I am trying to dance on the head of pain when I differentiate between hate crimes and terrorism. I have done a fair bit of professional writing on the subject of terrorism (look up an article that starts with the title “The Varied Face of Domination…” (1989) as an example) and so to me the differentiation is fundamental. It gets annoying when I try to respect commentators when they question me on a specific point or subject by answering them in some depth, only to have you jump in with off-hand insults based on no particular expertise in the field.

    Nor do I like the insinuation that my differentiation between protected offensive speech such as holocaust denialism and hate speech that incites violence somehow makes me an enabler of violence and anti-semitism. Excusing or defending the holocaust is reprehensible but simply is not equivalent to encouraging people to go out and attack or kill others. One seeks to justify things ex post facto. The other seeks to a priori instigate a violent course of action in the absence of it or in continuation of an ideological goal. There is a difference.

    Finally, I do not know what to make of Edward’s explanation. But what I do know is that you are the only one who has resorted to ad hominem obscenities in this thread. This follows a pattern since Trump’s arrival on the scene where you have devolved from being a fairly thoughtful classic liberal to a MAGA rightwing populist. I assume that is because anything that smashes what you perceive to be the “progressive” hold on liberal democracies and/or the Deep State is acceptable to you, as opposed to you supporting his racist, xenophobic, elitist, misogynistic and utterly ignorant greed- and fear-based policies per se. Whatever the reason, your ideological transformation has been a sad thing to contemplate. In any event, let us be clear: your comments will now be monitored for language and will be censored if you continue to use obscenities.

    One thing we do agree on is our rejection of belief systems that demand subservience to a fairy in the sky.

  33. Pablo
    This has been a most interesting and revealing thread. My use of ad hominen was deliberate in the circumstances, knowing your comments policy.
    My dismissal of the importance of the differentiation between hate speech and terrorism was wrong. My apologies for that. I did not mean to question your expertise which is very much the reason I keep reading your blog. As for the rest I think perhaps it best for me to respect your comment on pulling the plug.

  34. Hey Pablo I was just wondering what is your opinion on the government’s intelligence blunders re: Louisa Akavi?

  35. Gorkem:

    The most interesting thing to me is that the government has now admitted that it has had a team on the ground searching for her for some months that includes SAS and intelligence personnel. This, after saying for years that there is no SAS in Iraq or elsewhere in theatre and in spite fo the fact that the SAS was credibly reported to be fighting in the battle of Mosul. Jon Stephenson has already noted the presence of intelligence officers and NZDF personnel at forward bases in Iraq, doing things like targeting (refer to my post on the NZDF in the “kill chain.”). But not we have direct confirmation that there has been a larger presence than the recognised training mission at Camp Taji, although now the official version os that the search for the nurse is not a “badged” SAS mission (tell that to the bullets coming their way).

    It seems the Red Cross believes that she is no longer in Daesh’s hands and has a team looking for her in refugee camps, etc. She may be badly wounded and unable to communicate who she is to the people caring for her. If so, she could be in Kurdish held territory or even in Turkey, and the publication of her photo and name is designed to get someone to recognise her in order for her to be rescued.

    On the other hand, the NZ government has NZDF, intelligence and coalition forces involved in searching for her independent of the ICRC efforts, and they could well believe that she is still in Daesh’s hands as it retreats into the badlands of Western Iraq (because not all of the Daesh fighters just broke and ran. Many retreated in columns and in groups). Because of her medical skills she is a very important asset for a combat unit to have, so that may have spared her all of these years even though she was too old to be a sex slave (although Daesh was less inclined to kill Western female hostages and in fact those that have been killed were killed in coalition air strikes). So the public spat between the NZG and ICRC, while unbecoming, may be due to differences between the two search and rescue teams about the conditions and location in which she finds herself. As far as everyone seems to agree, she was purportedly seen alive in December 2018 in one fo the last Daesh strongholds in Eastern Syria, so presumably the SAR efforts are concentrated there.

    If there are intel failures they may be more the inability to find her in the aftermath of the Daesh retreat rather than some mistake in preventing her kidnapping or in subsequent efforts to find and rescue her.

  36. I just wish New Zealand had a competent intelligence service, then she would be safe and well.

  37. Not sure that applies in this case but agree in general principle. The Christchurch massacre was preventable if they looked in the right place. I do take the point that the SIS and GCSB feel that the Police are the lead agency when it comes to formerly thought of domestic terrorists like skinheads etc., but a survey of the threat landscape would have told the SIS (as the HUMINT agency) that things were percolating world wide on the white supremacist front after Trump got elected. Which, given NZ’s history with that crowd, should have been enough for them to tell the cops to get off the rears and check their intel feeds on the alt-Right and neo-Nazi overlap and improve on them if need be (as indeed they needed to be).

  38. I definitely think the SIS and GCHQ need to step up. We need more intelligence service involvement in preventing domestic crime like Christchurch. There are plenty of intelligence service tools like wiretapping, monitoring of internet traffic and of course if needed, direct action that historically have not been used.

    It saddens me to think that the SIS could have imprisoned the Christchurch shooter when they saw that he was acquiring firearms and frequenting white nationalist websites… why didn’t they do so? The only answer is, incompetence.

    I think if the intelligence services were more active in protecting New Zealanders overseas then there would not be kidnappings like what happened to Akavi. The list of intelligence failures that lead to her kidnapping is staggering. Again, the only reason that she was not protected while in Syria is incompetence.

    And these are just high profile cases… there are so many more examples.

    The question is, how to root out this incompetence? If it was some other government bureaucracy, the low-performing staff would just be fired and left to find employment more suitable for their intelligence level (plenty of supermarkets need cashiers!), and new staff with higher professional skills would be hired… from overseas, if need be.

  39. Gorkem:

    I agree that the SIS in particular needs to lift its game but I also think that you may be a bit harsh on them. They have to do domestic HUMINT, foreign HUMINT and counter-intelligence. As I have said many times, you can do one or two of those tasks pretty well, but with a total personnel complement of around 300 including administrative and clerical staff, it is impossible for it to do all three well. It has a limited foreign HUMINT presence (including in Iraq/Syria) as it is. So the problem, beyond a managerial ethos that rewards the wrong things, is a lack of resources and/or institutional configuration. I would strip the SIS of the domestic espionage function and give that to the Police, but as we all know that raises problems of its own given the nature of the Police (and its culture).

    As for the nurse. She was a volunteer with or employee of with the ICRC who had lots of prior experience in war zones. She was not attached to the NZG when she was kidnapped. So I do not believe that NZG can be faulted for not preventing her capture. She and the ICRC assumed the risk. Given the fore-mentioned lack of resources, the fact that NZ may have sent at least one Arabic speaking SIS office to join the rescue team (likely led by SAS troopers) is about all that it could do.

  40. It’s pretty clear to me that New Zealand is neglecting to invest in the intelligence services – more funding is needed to address the issue of staff incompetence.

    It saddens me that we can find so much money for politicians’ salaries and perks, but we skimp and pinch pennies when it comes to services that are vital to the survival of the state, like domestic intelligence gathering.

    If we had not been so intent on paying politicians’ lavish salaries, those people in ChCh would still be alive.

  41. Pablo
    I think it is fair to say that Glen Greenwald is no Republican shill.
    You criticised me above for being a deranged pro Trump shill. Mainly on the basis of me saying the Mueller investigation would reveal nothing and that he has gained good policies despite being a buffoon.
    Perhaps it just means I am slightly more fair minded than you think.
    Trump derangement syndrome means he is going to win again in 2020.
    This article must burn.

  42. Phil,

    I shall reserve judgement on the Mueller Report until it has been fully disclosed and Mueller himself has testified before Congress. At the moment we have much speculation and spin rather than decisive analysis. And it is clear that Barr is running interference for Drumpf and playing loose with his constitutional obligations as Attorney General.

    Although there is much to admire in Greenwald’s body of work it strikes me that his hatred for the USG and desire to see the US brought down a notch is moving him into Assange territory. That is to say, anything that hurts the US is good by him, no matter how dodgy the motives or actors behind it. His repeated attacks on Mueller in defence of Drumpf strike me as proof that Greenwald has lost his bearings. He clearly knows that Drumpf is not only undermining the presidency and working his way to a full constitutional crisis, but he also knows that Drump has undermined the US standing in the world and that recovering a measure of what has been lost in a few years is going to take a decade or more. So my belief is that Greenwald supports Drumpf because he knows how bad the guy is for the country.

    As for your metamorphosis from a free market liberal to a MAGA Maniac (a would not use the word moron on you but in general the MAGA crowd strike me as bigoted and xenophobic morons and cheap opportunists), I can only assume that something triggered the unhappy change and that it has very little to do with the quality of Trump’s policies.

  43. Pablo: the Trump regime has single-handedly exposed the divide within the libertarian movement, much as Stalin did for the Communist international post-1945. And there’s no such thing as derangement syndrome towards anyone who’s fraudulently gotten into office.

  44. Pablo
    Whilst I disagree with many of his views, Greenwald seems more like a patriotic constitutional originalist to me. To quote your “favourite” source Wikipedia:
    “Greenwald has commented that due to his skepticism of the significance of Russian interference in the 2016 election, he has been “excommunicated from the liberal salons that celebrated him in the Snowden era … now anybody who questions the Russia consensus, “becomes a blasphemer. Becomes a heretic.[97] Greenwald also wrote that the “East Coast newsmagazines” are “feeding Democrats the often xenophobic, hysterical Russophobia for which they have a seemingly insatiable craving.”
    That seems to sum it up quite well.

    Not sure that you understand libertarian here. Republicans are conservative, not necessarily libertarian.
    “fraudulently gotten into office” Titter, giggle. That is just asinine. Trump spent substantially less than Clinton and had the whole mainstream media and deep state arrayed against him. Democratically cast votes in a long established electoral college system won it for him. Get over it.

    The level of surveillance required over a domestic population to stop an extremist bigot with no prior convictions, legally in a country for 3 months, living without dipping into state funds would be enormous. In the words of Ben Franklin “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
    NZ is small and has limited resources. I think you are too harsh on our intelligence & security services.

  45. Phil: From a local perspective, the original Libertarianz leader Lindsay Perigo (and much of his Solopassion blogmates) is rabidly pro-Trump, as is former ACT leader Rodney Hide to a lesser extent. By contrast, Pete Cresswell, Mark Hubbard and Eric Crampton are clearly not fans at all.

    Trump already had a high profile as The Apprentice host so didn’t necessarily have to spend much on campaigning. I could tell you about voter suppression in much of the swing-state Rust Belt, Shelby County vs Holder, wilful under-resourcing of polling booths, gerrymandering… Trump didn’t necessarily give the orders, but his party has been shamelessly gaining from it for some years.

  46. It’s precisely because we have limited resources that I am saying we should direct them where they are needed (saving lives from murderers) and away from where they are not needed (comfy chairs for parliamentary junior staff)

  47. Gorkem:

    Agreed on the need to prioritise better. What is disturbing is that we have an alphabet soup of intelligence agencies, units, bureaus, committees and groups (at least 12 by my last count) covering pretty much all govt ministries and departments. These all ultimately answer to the DPMC, which has the NAB as its in-house strategic assessment unit. It is therefore perplexing that none of these apparently picked up on white extremists as a rising threat. It is also a problem if the Police and SIS get to pick their own threat assessment priorities without consultation with the objective eyes of other intel shops like the NAB. Instead, it seems that threat assessments made by the collector agencies are then pushed up the chain until they become national assessments, whereas an objective analysis process would see any threat assessments coming from collector agencies being vetted by the various components of that alphabet soup that is the NZ intel community (NZIC). Had this happened it could well be the case that someone along the chain would have said “but what about the alt-Right/neo-Nazis?” and priorities could have been re-ordered to account for them.

    Hopefully the finding of the Royal Commission will lead to these types of changes.

  48. Well we have known for at least three decades that we needed to centralise intelligence gathering and law enforcement under a single agency with full power but sadly neither party has the political will to do so.

    This is why I vote Green, they are the only party that has the plan to enact an efficient intelligence strategy that would be able to ensure someone like the ChCh shooter is on the inside of a jail cell before he hurts anybody.

  49. The furore over intelligence not getting through to the PM?Pres? of Sri Lanka is of interest. Had the Govt been alerted wouldn’t the perpetrators just have changed their plans. Isn’t that what terrorism is about, confounding and confusing and frightening? Some kind of bizarre,deadly cat and mouse game? (Though hardly a game).
    The Sri Lankan head of state having to abjectly apologise I suppose has symbolic effect but misplaces the locus of response.

  50. “Had the Govt been alerted wouldn’t the perpetrators just have changed their plans”

    This assumes that the perpetrators would know the government was alerted. Why would they know that?

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