Over the weekend I was interviewed by a media outlet about the threats that Jacinda Ardern and her family have received while she has been PM and what can be expected now that she has resigned. I noted that the level of threat she has been exposed to is unprecedented in NZ history, something that is due not as much as to the content of her policies (especially but not exclusively the pandemic mitigation measures and 3 Waters initiative), but to the social media megaphoning of (often foreign imported) conspiracy theories and anti-government sentiment that used her policies as an excuse to engage in extremely misogynistic and violent verbal attacks and physical threats against her. The 2022 Parliamentary Protests represented the NZ January 6 moment in terms of crystallising the focused hatred of the assortment of seditionists assembled in one place (including Nazi imagery superimposed on the PMs face and nooses hung with placards calling for her and other politician’s executions), but their threats will not go away just because she has left office.
The original story got picked up by other outlets that include overseas media platforms. The response has been mixed. Although commentary has often sided with my view that the hatred directed at Ms. Ardern is unprecedented in NZ, a large number of pundits have proved my point by repeating the threats as well as justifications for them (“she reaps what she sowed,” “she deserves it,” “the penalty for treason is death,” “she created a two tier society,” “what is good for the goose is good for the gander,” “she is a Satanist globalist freemason Big Pharma puppet intent on destroying the Kiwi way of life” and so much more along such lines. The authors of these nuggets of brilliance walk amongst us.
I decided to throw together a couple of tweets on the business account to note two points of interest. They are “If Jacinda Ardern’s resignation sparks a national discussion about gendered abuse and violence in Aotearoa in general and against females/women in positions of authority in particular (political as well as elsewhere), then it will have been a fitting parting gesture on her part. But that will not be the end of it for her.” (I added the term “women” here because some po-mo people objected to the term “female” in the original post).
And (on the issue of the threat environment she must confront): “One measure of the threat landscape that Jacinda Ardern has had to traverse is the personal security detail she and her family will need after she leaves public life. Our reckon is that it will be significant, at least over the short term.” That brought a number of responses, some of which questioned how things got to this point and whether I was exaggerating what could be just foreign threats or blowhard ranting here at home. My response:
“When threat assessing, there are perpetrators, accomplices, enablers, subjects and objects. NZ is full of media (social and corporate) accomplices and enablers when it comes to subjecting Ardern to violent intimidation by a dangerous local fringe (the object). The danger is here.” To elaborate: threat assessment is about establishing a hierarchy of actors and their potential for action, then determining what action they are likely to take and how realistic and imminent is the possibility/probability of their turning words into action. In the case of Jacinta Ardern, I do not believe that the threats to her and her family will go away just because she has stepped down. And given that the Police have eight active investigations into individuals who have made such threats and because I believe that they are just the tip of a threat pyramid that is real and imminent, I continue to stand by these statements.
I could go on to elaborate on what I said in the original interview and follow ups but the story is now viral and can be better accessed by search for the coverage itself.
Suffice to say, this not a good moment for the former PM but also for the country as a political society, and that has nothing to do with her policies or behaviour in office but all to do with those who began and those who then facilitated the mainstreaming of extremist discourse into corporate media narratives and coverage of her government’s policies. Between social media networked nastiness and corporate media megaphoning and legitimating of previously fringe views untethered to reality, the moment is, to paraphrase Gramsci,” delicate and dangerous.”
In this election year more than any other time, especially because of the delicacy of the moment, that is a syndrome that must be remembered and confronted.
Thank you for this VIPost. I am acknowledging it because no-one else seems to have the time or energy to do so!
I did write on your previous post in response to your comments in the media about JA and her need for security after she leaves office. You are right – it will only take one nutter; just as that one chap came from Australia, to Dunedin, thence Christchurch (home of the ‘Crusaders’) to murder over 50 innocent people at prayer in 2 mosques.
I wish JA well.
On a different note I am pleased to see (finally) the change of direction, the decision in Europe and the US to send battle tanks to Ukraine. There’s some really good info and interviews about this on the net. Not least of all this chap :
I am learning a lot about warfare from these kinds of guys lol
The Governments – and Arderns – reaction to the parliament protest was the turning point.
A Prime Minister – just like a school principle or a CEO – needs to be and act – above the divisions in the group they manage.
If the Government – viewed by most people as Ardern – met with and listened to the parliament protest on day 1 or 2 then:
1, Respect for her would have sky rocketed
2. It would have taken all the pressure out of the protest
3. And Labour would have been odds on to win the 2023 election
Instead the Government – viewed as Ardern (she was fronting all the PR about Covid after all) decided to:
1.ignore the protest people
2. Turn on the sprinklers
3. Turn on loud music at night and keep strong lights on
4. Describe the protest as a ‘River of filth
Ardern WAS the government as far as many people were concerned and thus she became the target.
While I agree that the government’s reaction to the parliamentary grounds did make a dent in its popularity, I don’t think that reaction alone was the ‘tipping point’. From I understand, inflation and its side effects, like the rising cost of living and increase in bank leading rates have provided Ardern’s detractors evidence supporting their arguments that she was was not fit to lead the country.
These detractors have been critical of Ardern ever since she took on the leadership of the Labour Party and the disinformation campaign that has been waged in New Zealand since have the start of the pandemic has made them even bolder with the criticism. I don’t remember Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark been subject to the level of abuse that I have seen online for the past few years. I certainly can’t recall any death threats made against them.
As for meeting the protesters and listening to them, it would have been a pointless exercise for a couple of reasons. The first being a lot of people were caught up in the hubris of the moment and were not prepared to accept that the information that they were listening to was wrong. The misinformation that the people were peddling as the the government was working on behalf of nefarious powers and the occupation would be the tipping point of the population ‘waking up’ and take the required action to remove the government. Another issue was the some of the organisers had decide long ago that Ardern was evil incarnate based on their jaundiced world view and thus to their mind any discussion would be pointless.
.>> that is a syndrome that must be remembered and confronted. that is a syndrome that must be remembered and confronted.
Pablo’s going to confront the imaginery threat inside his sclerotic shell with tens of thousands of e words,
It is a bit early to be hitting the pipe, don’t you think? Time to get back on the wagon soon. Good luck!