Saturday, February 26, 2022

Why the woke Left is so rattled by Camp Freedom

[A technical glitch occurred with the original version of this post and I had to take it down. This version is the same except that it no longer contains links to the source material I refer to, which were the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, in taking down the post, I couldn't avoid deleting some thoughtful comments.  I apologise to those who posted those  comments and invite them to re-submit them.]

 It’s been fascinating over the past couple of weeks to observe the intellectual contortions of people who forcefully uphold the right to protest, just as long as those ghastly lowlifes on the other side don’t do it.

Veteran old-school leftist Don Franks deftly skewered the hypocrites in a poem published on this blog, but it hasn’t deterred them from continuing to recoil in disgust at the sight of the “rabble” (a word suddenly much favoured by the illiberal Left, as opposed to those like Franks who believe in free speech) on the lawns outside Parliament.

There’s an unmistakeable note of panic in the posturing of the woke Left. They suddenly realise they no longer control the public debate and are wildly lashing out at the scruffy mob that usurped their right to make a nuisance of themselves.  How dare they!

Over the past few days we’ve seen a stream of desperate attempts to argue that the Freedom Convoy has no legitimacy; that the only "proper" protests are those endorsed by the leftist elite. By definition, no other protest can have any validity, least of all one mounted by a loose coalition of mostly working-class, provincial people driving utes and house trucks.

Camp Freedom is something new and threatening. In the eyes of its critics, it can only be explained by seeing it as an imported phenomenon – an ideological virus, smuggled in by the global far-Right, to which stupid and gullible New Zealanders have allowed themselves to be exposed.

The level of condescension and intellectual snobbery on display from people who think of themselves as liberal has been breathtaking. The tone has alternated between sneering at this supposedly feral underclass and alarm at their sudden, forceful presence on the national stage – a stage the wokeists are accustomed to hogging for themselves.

Mandy Hager – president of the Society of Authors, sister of Nicky and a fully paid-up member of the leftist cabal that normally dominates the public conversation – revealed the Left’s anxiety, hypocrisy and intellectual confusion in an opinion piece for Stuff last weekend.

As the author of a book entitled Protest! Shaping Aotearoa, Hager evidently regards herself as an authority – perhaps the authority – on New Zealand protest movements. But it was clear from her article that her definition of protest is a narrow and self-serving one which excludes any group that could be classified as conservative or right-wing.

She applauded historic protests in support of homosexual law reform, women’s suffrage, MMP and New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance. Their end goals, she wrote, were “designed to strengthen our existing political frameworks, social cohesion and civil rights”. They were based on the values of the “greater good”.

Peaceful resistance and civil disobedience is fine in Hager’s eyes if it’s against the 1981 Springbok Tour or climate change, but she isn’t at all happy with what’s happening in Molesworth St. That’s different.

“For a start, there are many factions, and no one concrete outcome articulated” … “a disparate group awash with grievances, much of it stoked by insidious overseas interference” … “dubious scientific backing only from the fringes”.  In other words the Molesworth St protesters aren’t playing by the usual rules. And who sets the rules? Apparently, people like Hager.

She concludes: “This protest works against the overall needs and values of a healthy, cohesive, inclusive society.” Apparently that’s not allowed. And who decides what a healthy, cohesive, inclusive society looks like? Why, people like Hager, that’s who. As I said in a letter to The Dominion Post: “[Hager’s] article confirms the impression that the Left claims the right to protest exclusively for itself and its own favoured causes.” 

(Bizarrely, Hager also dived down a blind alley with the assertion: “Of course we’ve also seen the ugly side of protest here, a pick and mix of racist, anti-Maori/migrant/LGBTQIA+/Muslim/Jew/Asian/women and other prejudices given air.” Really? Apart from thankfully very rare offensive gestures against Jewry, which are presumably the work of a tiny, attention-seeking lunatic fringe, I can’t recall protests against any of these groups and suspect they are figments of Hager’s febrile imagination. Or perhaps she includes late-night talkback calls from angry old men in her definition of “protest”.)

On Tuesday morning it was the turn of someone named Byron C Clark, supposedly a “disinformation and conspiracy researcher” on Morning Report. The theme was that stupid people had allowed themselves to be indoctrinated. Ergo the protesters have been misled and their grievances should be disregarded.  

Obligingly fed a series of soft, leading questions by the Usual Suspect, aka Susie Ferguson, Clark sounded the alarm about the Freedom Campers being radicalised by sinister alien forces and global disinformation networks. Oddly enough, we never hear experts on Morning Report expressing alarm about people being radicalised by the extreme Left, although it’s been happening for decades and has succeeded in transforming New Zealand into a country that some of us barely recognise.

Similarly, we should conclude that ideological manipulation is a problem only if it’s practised on an ignorant lumpenproletariat, but not when it happens to gullible middle-class students in university lecture theatres, where it flourishes unchallenged.

Clark talked of nefarious far-right conspiracies and distrust of the government (you're kidding me) and media (no, surely not). It didn’t seem to have occurred to him that if New Zealanders have been driven into the arms of dodgy alternative news sources such as Counterspin, it might be because they have learned not to trust the mainstream media. (As it happens, I don't either.) 

Asked by Ferguson who might be bankrolling the protest, Clark mentioned the name of Steve Bannon. Donald Trump was also mentioned. You can see the irony here: a man who professes to investigate conspiracy theories was indulging in them himself.

Prior to this, I’d never heard of Clark, who described himself as an amateur, freelance conspiracy researcher. Despite his flimsy credentials, the interview was allowed to run for nearly 8 minutes – slightly more time than the woman who runs the country got on the same morning. Say no more.

The ubiquitous Morgan Godfery, whose column mugshot suggests an overweening self-regard, also chimed in again yesterday and made no attempt to conceal his contempt for the protesters, ridiculing them while at the same time acknowledging that “constructing an ‘us versus them’ situation isolates the protesters further, plunging them deeper into their personal paranoias and collective conspiracies”. So he recognises the danger of marginalising the protesters but goes ahead and does it anyway.

What we can infer from this barrage of anti-Camp Freedom propaganda is that the woke Left is terrified of losing the initiative in the culture wars. It’s desperate to reclaim its sole right to lecture the rest of us and wants to do so without the distraction of an unruly mob that has the effrontery to adopt the Left’s own tactics.

The irony here is that having spent most of their lives kicking against the establishment, the wokeists are the establishment. They have won the big ideological wars and are on the same side as all the institutions of power and influence: the government, the bureaucracy, the media, academia, the arts  and even the craven business sector.

The dissenters, disrupters and challengers of the status quo – in other words the people protesting outside Parliament – are the new radicals. This requires the moralisers of the left to recalibrate their political thinking, and I get the impression it’s more than some of them can cope with.

Footnote: For the record, I neither wholeheartedly support nor oppose the Molesworth St protesters. This may sound like a copout, but it’s hard to take a position because their causes are too disparate and there are too many rogue elements among them. What gets my back up is people who have long claimed the right to protest for themselves seeking to deny it to others for no better reason than that they don’t like what they’re saying.


Andy Espersen said...

Great article, Karl – I wish I had your gift of the pen and clarity of concepts. But I am slightly bemused by your footnote. I think your problem is that you are still too much of a journalist! All your life you have been fiercely intent to be balanced, independent, scrupulously even-handed in all you write. You probably never in your life were a member of any political party (my wild guess). For a prominent, proud, idealistic member of the fourth estate that is understandable, even desirable.

But you are retired now! You can safely come out in the open and state that you back the protesters wholeheartedly and are delighted at long last to see a genuine revolt against all the tyranny inflicted on us by this Labour government – the “disparate and rogue elements” notwithstanding

Odysseus said...

The High Court's finding yesterday that there was no compelling reason for the limitation on fundamental rights imposed by the mandates and that they were based on an administrative convenience shows that the protestors are right (a copy of the judgement can be found here: The Woke Left openly despise these mainly working class people, many of whom have lost their jobs as the result of an illegal measure by the government. The propaganda that continues to be directed against them by the bought and paid media would make Putin proud. I hope this chapter will be an eye-opener for the majority of New Zealanders as to the moral vacuity of the Left and the Ardern regime. Her resignation can't be far away.

Madame Blavatsky said...

This ongoing protest movement is, in formal terms, really New Zealand's equivalent to a Brexit or Trump populist revolt, the tip of a very large socio-political iceberg that could easily sink (or at least, radically alter the course of) the existing Ship of State. The sanctimonious minority comprising an out of touch (and out to lunch) political and media Establishment is blindsided, receives a black eye and comes to find that, to their shock and dismay, and despite what they like to believe about themselves, they do not influence, nor reflect, the mood of the people. A very significant portion of the population couldn't care less about their faux moral outrage and posturing, or their politically ideological prescriptions. The thought of a numerically significant, authentic, motivated and uncontrollable populist movement that demands change (as opposed to the Plastic Populism manifested in the sorts of safe and politically correct (aka Establishment-sanctioned) causes they enthusiastically endorse) terrifies them. As you say Karl, these people no longer oppose The Man, because they are The Man, and have been for 30 or more years.

In particular, the irony of Mandy Hager, a former 1981 Springbok tour protestor, getting her knickers in a twist about opposition to medical apartheid policies in her own country in 2022 is awesome. When considered alongside Hager's (and the Prime Minister's) assertion that the present protest is being undertaken in service of an "imported" cause, one that is being "stoked by insidious overseas interference" (the assertions of, I reiterate, an individual who marched and partook in civil disobedience in 1981, purportedly in solidarity with Black dissident groups overseas in far off South Africa), new levels of irony, until now thought impossible, have been reached. Hager's Herculean hypocrisy and intellectual confusion are worthy of some sort of formal recognition.

The ongoing trend of commentators discussing everything that is at best irrelevant to the protest – and at worst a series of unevidenced assertions, speculations and slanderous ad hominems – while assiduously avoiding addressing the substance of the protestor's concerns (i.e. the justifications for, and the moral qualities of, the vaccine mandates and the policy of vaccine status segregation) illustrates both the intellectual dishonesty of this cabal of screeching hyenas, as well as the fact that they are bereft of any arguments to rebut the protestors' case.

An additional indication and confirmation of the strength of the pro-rights campaigners' contentions is the High Court's judgement, released yesterday, that the Orders mandating vaccination for Police and NZDF personnel are invalid, as they are not "demonstrably justified" under section 5 of the Bill of Rights Act 1990.

Karl du Fresne said...

In reply to pdm, whose comment was one of those unavoidably discarded: Yes, the Dominion Post did publish my letter (to its credit), and in full. Mind you, it consisted of only two sentences.

Karl du Fresne said...

To Andy Espersen: Thanks for the compliment, but I couldn't put my hand on my heart and swear that everything I've ever written has been impeccably neutral.

Mark Wahlberg said...

Karl your footnote sums up my opinion of the protest. I defend peoples right to protest but do not give blanket approval to all the opinions being expressed.

Last Saturday Bohemian characters and good friends from the Hawkes Bay stopped off to visit me as they headed to Wellington to join the festivities. I got to hold their protest signs and stood on the footpath outside home in Pahiatua waving these at passing motorists. Some tooted while others gave me digital salutes.

My friends phoned me last night with the good news they had avoided arrest and met many fellow travelers with whom they shared their common cause. They assured me they felt safe and supported during their 4 night stay in the camp.

Putting aside their belief that the Rockefeller's, Rothschild's and the Gnomes of Zurich were behind our governments actions. (I'm told the proof is on Utube for all to see) They suggest if all goes well, they'll be back next week if the party continues.

Doug Longmire said...

An excellent article Karl.
Like you, I am have mixed opinions on the protest.
I do not support illegal occupation, however the main theme of the occupation is to protest at the vaccine mandate, which I support.
Medical evidence, and recently a High Court decision rejects the legality or neccesity for such mandates.
Ans also - returning to the theme of your article, the media (esp TV1) have been following their orders and have selectively shown footage to portray the protestors as a radical, violent, anti establishment rabble. With virtually no actual reporting of the main theme.
Pravda doing it's job.!!

alloy said...

Thankyou for your thoughtful comments on this matter.

At the end of the day Parliament is place we set aside for our representatives to discuss issues of our governance.

As such it becomes a focal point, justifiably so, for people to come to air their grievances with issues of government. More than a mere focal point, it is a wholly appropriate place to come.

It issue here is not the "validity" of the protesters causes, every cause brought to parliament is "valid" and should insofar is practicable, be heard.

A government which refuses to listen and engage honestly with New Zealand citizens at our Parliament ceases to be legitimate.

Karl du Fresne said...

If I needed confirmation (not that I did) that the woke Left is concerned about losing control of the culture wars, here it is:
Organisations such as Gay Pride have enjoyed semi-sacred status in the media for a long time. Seeing themselves usurped by the anti-mandate protesters must be traumatic.

Ian P said...

I think the protests go a lot deeper than mandates. For many of us, democracy has been unashamedly raped by this government. We will not be part of a 'great reset'. We are not 5 million laboratory mice. We want our freedom back, the New Zealand that we ALL created, enjoyed and valued just a few short years ago. It's interesting that it appears that many young people have turned 180 from supporting Ardern - their loss/erosion of the freedoms that we all used to enjoy, has made things crystal clear to many of them I believe.

R Singers said...

Stuff had an article about Rodney Hide's open letter. The article seemed to be calling Michael Bassett far right (if only by association). I wonder what Lange would make of his Ministers being labeled far right.

alloy said...

Karl said "Organisations such as Gay Pride have enjoyed semi-sacred status in the media for a long time. Seeing themselves usurped by the anti-mandate protesters must be traumatic."

And their semi-sacred status is being harnessed in this time of trial considering the distribution of this trite bit of winging.

All the usual team of $55 million distributing their sad tale of woe.

Almost as if there no real victimhood news in the world today and this was pressed into urgent service.

Andy Espersen said...

In my naivety I thought that a win in the High Court was important and meant something. It is now three days since the police/defence vaccine-mandate was declared illegal.

But since then : NOTHING. If Government decides just to ignore such judgement, surely it must include at the very least a vote in Parliament to decide that. Or does our dictators think they need just yawn and carry on as usual?

Ribro90 said...

Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains! Hang on, not you lot, you're not the real workers!
There's a divide between the virtual and real worlds. Living in Wellington, I see the laptop class working from home on full pay while the dirt people struggle to hang on to their minimum pay jobs catering to the woke upper class.
They sense an underground shift may be happening in that the real world will continue without them but their world is reliant on the blue collar real world. The extent to which Trudescue in Canada was prepared to act against a well behaved and coherent protest shows the fear on the part of the entrenched left of a worker uprising.
NZ Labour would do the same in a heartbeat if they thought they could get away with it.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this Karl.

On this subject, I have been feeling so alienated and isolated from the left and woke associates/friends with whom I usually similarly identify. At least one of whom is mentioned in your blog.

I've been aghast at the derision and hostility from a vocal minority (?) in the thesbian community whom I count among my real and virtual friends. Once or twice I popped my head above the parapet on Facebook in an attempt to 'gently' address the discourse: I've rolled a couple of loaded grenades (very softly packaged) in the general vicinity, only to be met by quick silencers who, in spite of their publically celebrated writing and/or oratory skills have seen fit to cancel my considerations with short, stacatto return-fire: e.g.

"Noted. Not Helpful. Fuck off".


"Now I know who to defriend".

Courageous conversations seem hard to find among folk I thought (used to be) open to debate and diversity.

Sometimes I despair at the divisiveness of this; it surely doesn't augur well. Who stands to prevail and conquer from this fracturing I wonder?

Other times, I take heart that the Protest in Wellington has evidently rankled some to discomfort that perhaps only a shift in position will relieve. About time.

Thank you again,
Sarah Preece

Medical Doctor Corruption in Te Anau, New Zealand - An on-going Case Study. said...

(Juliette Peters from Te Anau, but currently out & about, throughout NZ, actively first-hand contributing to the current non-violent main core of the pushback protest movement): You had me rivetted until your footnote & particularly "...but it’s hard to take a position because their causes are too disparate and there are too many rogue elements among them." I have been [first hand] in this movement for quite some time & have just come back from (for this time) the Wellington encampment. What you describe bears no resemblance (for me) to the reality of the main Core of this protest movement. One gets "disparate" & "rogue" elements in any population, including within protest populations. Always goes with the territory. Always. Additionally personal expression - & styles of expression - within these movements varies markedly & which can be misinterpreted in any number of ways including along the lines of "disparate" & "rogue". It is very true that there are varying beliefs (& wildly so at times) as to what people believe needs to happen [if we should be so lucky] should we manage to get on top of the Injection mandates & associated grotesque government & power structure Corruption. There are certainly varying beliefs as to how this country should move forward, & vastly so in some cases. But that is looking far ahead beyond the 'Drop The Mandates' & 'Freedom to Choose' etc pushback movement. A whole different future issue again. The main core, first & foremost, is all about pushback re Injection Mandates & Bodily Autonomy etc. And cohesively so, for the most part. With all due respect your footnote, to me, indeed smells a little of a copout. If nothing else, on these levels, you currently appear very [first-hand/in-person] out-of-touch re the main core of the current protest/pushback movement.

Unknown said...

I'm a left-leaning supporter (I've always voted Labour and Green) of Freedom convoy protestors and the other freedom protests. The broad-based coalition is fantastic. I love the way everyone of all races and backgrounds has really joined forces (right, left, centre and way off the spectrum) and come together to fight for the end of these ridiculous mandates and for our basic freedoms. This board-based coalition of New Zealanders is just what we need to get New Zealand back to being a place we can ALL feel proud of living in. I've been horrified by what New Zealand has become in recent times. These freedom protests are the first time I have ever waved a New Zealand flag proudly in my life. Funny huh? I also work in medical publishing and med comms. If anyone has been indoctrinated, it is the woke who think they follow "the science" but get upset and become very attacking if anyone actually shows them the data or decent analyses. I've been on the receiving end of this more times than I care to count over the past two years. (It's always a bugger when those damn data don't even remotely match the narrative isn't it!) I have also been shocked by the lack of basic human concern shown for the vaccine injured and those negatively affected by these mandates by this government. I see this as just unforgivable. I see the lack of informed consent and the breaching of all medicine's ethical standards as unforgivable. I will never vote Labour again. I also note that the claims of outside sponsorship made are lunancy. It just shows how blind the government and the woke left are to how the rest of us live and think. That reminds me, I haven't donated to the convoy this week yet, I'll do that now. Cheers!

The Gantt Guy said...

Thank you for this article, Karl. Like other commenters, I will say it touched every right note up until the footnote.

FYI, Byron C Clark is no unbiased "disinformation and conspiracy researcher". He is, in fact, a radical leftist agit-prop artist. A devout Marxist, who is a member of various radical groups including a group called "Paparoa", which styles itself as "New Zealand's antifa" (although of course they don't call it New Zealand, they use the far more politically-correct name). He previously ran for the Christchurch Mayoralty under the banner of the "Workers' Party", which espoused communist ideas, and was one of the main organisers of Occupy Christchurch, a group of Marxists which occupied Hagley Park for 160 days in 2011/12 (which, if nothing else, makes him a hypocrite for opposing the Camp Freedom protesters). He is also a close associate of the radical leftist propagandist Marc Daalder.

As The Redbaiter said in his write-up on the guy, when he was presented by Kristin Hall as a "Disinformation Researcher", having Clark comment on the Camp Freedom protestors is the same as presenting someone from Action Zealandia as an unbiased commenter on actions by Auckland Action Against Poverty.

Odysseus said...

Fascism, a political movement that sets "nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition". Are we there yet? The outpouring of government directed hatred against "Camp Freedom" suggests we are not too far away now.

Andy Espersen said...

Thank you, Juliette Peters from Te Anau - just returned from the front, battle scarred no doubt. You write well.

People like you are the salt of the earth.

NikWho said...

Thank you Karl for a well-written, engaging article that articulates what I and no doubt many others were thinking and feeling (including the footnote).

I am in Australia and look forward to the removal of all mandates before I set foot in NZ again.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Given that my son has had two run-ins already with these arses, simply because he was wearing a mask, and given that he is one of these workers who keeps the city running at night one all you middle-class members of the commentariat are safe in your beds, I would gladly see them gone. Particularly as their fight for freedom doesn't extend to the freedom of people to wear a mask if they want to.
Funny, everyone claims these people are working class. Has anyone actually studied it? Because the only people I have seen who I could make a judgement about their class, have been small business owners and an ex-kindergarten teacher. Hardly the horny handed men of the soil.
And God help us the outpouring from the nutty right about how close we are to fascism when in a number of right-wing countries these people would have been swept away weeks ago. There is a sense of history missing somewhere in the Conservative mind.

And if we're going to quote: “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect. Frank Wilhoit.

John Hurley said...

Eric Kaufmann defines wokeness as the sacralization of historically oppressed minorities. The opposite of sacralization is disparagement.
It has been pointed out that the woke see themselves as cutting edge.

Have you notice though they like to pass themselves off as working class. Paul Spoonley says he was a slaughterman for 5 years and had members of the Mongrel Mob on his chain "I'm very much a middleclass man but i spent a lot of my younger years with these people".
In fact he was at Hasting Boys Highschool in 1969 and obtained a BA in 73 so he was at best a student part timer.
Mai Chen says in one video she is just a working class women and in another, she forwent $1m in fees to write the Public Policy Law Book. Bernard Hickey goes on TVNZ to moan about the protests looking like "buddy can you spare a dime".

We live in a meritocratic society where most people who have the ability advance to higher education. This drains the working classes of intellectuals and (as) sociologist Katherine Betts points out) "a movement needs it's intellectuals.

The achillies heel of the woke (I suspect) is that the white working class (and Maori) are a base they haven't got covered.

Look how they praise the new density laws. The new density laws are today's slums with knobs on.

I remember from flatting that the coolest people lived in the best flats; it was the "losers" who got the dregs.