GULED MIRE continues to foul the nest that New Zealand provided for him and his family after they fled a country torn apart by warfare and crippled by corruption.
In a characteristically noxious opinion piece published on Newsroom this week, Mire waded into the furore over the proposed film They Are Us – which, if reports are to be believed, will take Jacinda Ardern another step closer to secular canonisation for her role in the days following the March 15 mosque massacres.
I entirely understand and sympathise with reported misgivings expressed by some Christchurch Muslims about the proposed movie, which they say comes too soon after the atrocity and promises to focus attention on Ardern (to her discomfort, I would guess) rather than on the victims and the bereaved.
Against that, we must weigh the right to freedom of speech. In an open society, the film’s backers should be free to pursue the project. It’s an uncomfortable clash of values that would be neatly and definitively resolved if the film was completed and no one went to see it.
In the meantime it seems we must put up with more poisonous mischief from Mire, who has spewed up a bucketload of verbal vomitus in which he attacks the film using incendiary terms such as “white saviourism”.
Mire says the movie seeks to “whitewash” the murder of 51 Muslims (Really? How would he know? Has he seen the script?) and says: “It’s clear the film has gone too far and needs to shut down immediately.” Well, there you go. We can plainly see what a richly diverse marketplace of ideas New Zealand would become if zealots like Mire had their way.
“What we do not need,” he declaims, “is for Hollywood to appropriate, rewrite and shove another white saviour narrative down our throats. At the very worst, the film represents torture porn.”
“White saviour narrative”? Mire apparently thinks, then, that Ardern’s demonstration of empathy and support for the massacre victims (and by extension, that of the whole country) was just a marginally less malevolent flip-side of white supremacy.
You can’t win against that sort of deranged thinking. It’s the product of a mind warped by neo-Marxist critical race theory and locked into a sense of victimism.
It’s worth contrasting Mire’s overheated rhetoric with the typically more restrained reaction of other Christchurch Muslims when they heard about the film, but it would be too much to expect that he might note their more nuanced response and take his cue from it. I suspect his ego gets a buzz out of being a provocateur.
Here’s what I think about Mire. It’s my opinion that he has arguably done more than any other individual in the public eye to ramp up racial tension in New Zealand and undermine social cohesion. Under the pretext of speaking up for New Zealand Muslims, he’s magnifying ethnic and religious differences. Worse than that, he’s pushing a message that Muslims have no hope of equality in an irredeemably racist country.
It shouldn’t need to be spelled out that if anything is going to give oxygen to the tiny minority of pathetic white extremists in New Zealand, it’s the polarising rhetoric of activists like Mire. They enable white supremacists to say to the feeble-minded and impressionable among us: see what happens when we let these outsiders in? They turn against us!
And it’s worth noting one crucial difference between Mire and the white supremacists. While they skulk in the dark shadows of the Internet, he’s given a platform by sympathetic mainstream news organisations.
His relentless promotion of a sense of “otherness” strikes a jarringly discordant note, playing directly against the obvious desire of most New Zealand Muslims to live quietly and peaceably in a tolerant society where their right to practise their religion is honoured and respected. I’ll go further and say he’s the worst possible advertisement for Islam in New Zealand, and a liability to his co-religionists.
ON A related note, I heard Andrew Little describe a remark made by Juliet Moses at an anti-terrorism hui in Christchurch (sorry, Otautahi) as “provocative”.
Moses, who was representing the NZ Jewish Council in a panel discussion, was quoted as saying: “We need to hear leaders condemn all support of terrorism and all terrorism equally, whatever the source, target and circumstances, and even when it is not politically expedient to do so.
“Hezbollah and Hamas … their military wings are proscribed terror organisations in New Zealand, but we saw a rally in support of Hezbollah on Queen Street in 2018.”
Moses was stating a bald fact, but it prompted some members of the audience to walk out and others to shout “Free Palestine”.
Well, that’s okay. Moses was asserting her right to free speech and the dissenting audience members responded by exercising their right to walk out in protest. No problem.
But it’s odd that Little thought Moses’s statement “provocative” when she was simply highlighting an obvious, if rather inconvenient, anomaly in politically fashionable thinking.
Many countries, including New Zealand’s closest allies, designate Hezbollah and the military wing of Hamas as terrorist organisations – even, in the former case, most member countries in the Arab League. Both organisations are implacably hostile to Israel. Why does a senior cabinet minister think it provocative to draw attention to that fact?
All terrorism against racial or religious groups is despicable, but how easily we forget that Jews have been the victims of the most vile and relentless persecution in human history. Moses was right to remind us of that.
And how odd, too, that Little and other government politicians don’t seem to find the inflammatory invective of stirrers like Mire similarly “provocative”. It would be nice to see him called out, but I’m not holding my breath.
DRIVING home from Martinborough the other day, I turned on the car radio to hear Jesse Mulligan introduce RNZ National’s resident TV critic, Guy Williams.
That’s right, the same irritatingly self-satisfied Guy Williams who pops up endlessly in ratepayer-funded television shows. I presume he’s a mate of Mulligan’s, given that they’re frequently together on Newshub’s The Project.
This is jobs for the boys, 21st century style. There’s a distinct odour of incestuousness in the way members of the same chummy circle constantly recycle themselves. We can only conclude that NZ on Air smiles on them.
Needless to say, there’s a certain sameness in their political stances. Here’s a tiny clue to the nature of that happy homogeneity: Williams is the partner of Golriz Ghahraman.
Even Jane Bowron of Stuff, who’s not one to frown on vogueish leftishness, was moved several years ago to protest at the overwhelming aura of chatty clubbishness on The Project, with only Mark Richardson being called in occasionally to give the illusion of balance (and be mocked as if he were some sort of Neanderthal curiosity, brought on for comic relief).
The common factor among these people is that they all seem exceptionally pleased with themselves. They laugh gaily at each other’s jokes and generally bathe in each other’s admiration. Moreover, they stick to forums where they can be confident their smug certainties won’t be challenged – such as The Project, obviously, but also RNZ, which is a cosy nest of like-thinking lefties (some of whom are old friends of mine and won’t be surprised in the slightest by my description).
I’m not sure what Williams’ talents are supposed to be. He’s described as a comedian, but the most striking thing about him in his role as a TV critic is the speed at which the words tumble out of his mouth, like water gushing from a fire hydrant. He talks as if he’s terrified that if he pauses even for a moment, people might realise he has nothing to say.
Another characteristic of such people is that they suffer from the delusion that they’re daringly edgy and radical, constantly pushing the boundaries. Actually, they’re not. They are the new Establishment.
If the term “the Establishment” means those who hold power in society and whose ideas dominate the public conversation, then what we thought of as the conservative Establishment in the latter part of the 20th century has long been extinct. We’ve done a 180-degree flip, to the point where what was then considered radical has become mainstream. But just like the old Establishment, the new one is oppressively conformist, authoritarian and intolerant of different ideas and different ways of doing things. That’s the nature of Establishments.
This idea was explored a couple of years ago in an insightful Stuff column by Damien Grant, who now appears to be that company’s sole surviving unapologetic voice of the Right. In that column, Grant explored what it meant to wear the “radical” tag these days (basically, nothing) and concluded: “Being part of a baying mob … isn’t brave and nor is it radical. Standing up to them is.”