Sunday, October 24, 2004

Putting my money where my mouth is

I've long argued that the answer to distasteful speech is more speech, and that people should oppose groups like the National Front by speaking out against them, and so yesterday I put my money where my mouth is and joined Chinashop, Beautiful Monsters, Archaeology and hundreds of others in standing up for tolerance, diversity, and a decent society. The march itself was good - people old and young, from all cultures and ethnicities, standing up for a society based on inclusion rather than exclusion. Some of the speeches were a little dull (though Tze Ming Mok (from MultiCultural Aotearoa) had a good one focusing on politicians using recent immigrants as a political football), and it was sometimes more a shuffle than a march, but that goes with the territory I guess.

Unfortunately, there were a few dickheads along. A group called the "Scary Faeries" counter-protested the National Front gathering, then followed them around downtown Wellington harassing them. Which is fair enough as long as it's confined to (noisy) speech. Unfortunately, they went further than that, trying to steal flags and placards and eventually starting a fight when the National Front wanted to go home for the day. In the process, they proved themselves no better than the fascists they were opposing. One of the things that is absolutely definitive of fascism is its use of street violence in pursuit of its ends - and that is one of the things we are supposed to be opposing, not just the exclusivist and racist ends themselves.

The tragedy here is that this thuggery has handed the National Front a propaganda coup, and is likely to discourage people from opposing them in future for fear of being caught up in a similar incident or tarred by association. The National Front themselves are fairly insignificant and not a real threat; all that is necessary to defeat them is for people to stand up and say "no, we don't agree". Today's violence is going to make that much less likely in the future.

More from RebMob, Left and Lefter, DPF, IndyMedia, Scoop, more Scoop, and even more Scoop.