Friday, July 29, 2005

Utterly vile

There is simply no other way to describe Winston Peters' latest attempt at whipping up fear and hatred of immigrants for political gain. But rather than scapegoating asians, he's now moved on to demonising Muslims, accusing them of being "two faced" and liberal Muslims of acting as a front for fanatics. The latter is purely guilt by association, as can be seen if we run a parallel argument on a different religion. Are liberal Christians (and there are many) really acting as a front for Pope Tamaki? And are New Zealand's Catholics all working "hand in glove" with Opus Dei? These are utterly outrageous propositions, yet Winston has no problem running a similar line on Muslims, and tarring an entire religion with the brush of a few maniacs.

Winston's speech is nothing but religious bigotry, and it has absolutely no place in the liberal and tolerant New Zealand Peters purports to support. But then, Winston isn't really interested in that liberal and tolerant New Zealand; instead, he's interested in scaring the bejesus out of old people so they'll vote for him. And if this means inciting religious hatred and promoting religious discrimination, then that's just the price he's willing to have others pay to get him elected.

Yes, there will be extremists among New Zealand's Muslim community - but if we want to prevent those memes from spreading, then the last thing we should be doing is trying to ghettoise Muslims. Arguably, that's also one of the reasons extremism has spread in the UK - because of the widespread prejudice against Muslims. There's nothing like having your windows broken every week by the BNP or being racially abused on the streets to cause a community to withdraw into itself and to stop thinking of their neighbours as fellow citizens whose lives are valuable.

We are a better place than that, dammit. One of the things we are supposed to stand for is the idea that we can all live together. It seems to work quite well - but I suspect Winston would look at this woman and see another "direct threat" to the Christian faith (!) rather than a fellow kiwi.

But what really, really gets my goat is that while spewing this hatred, Winston is claiming to uphold our values of tolerance. And in the name of "protecting" freedom of religion, he is proposing turning potential immigrants away solely on the basis of their faith (and regardless in fact of the actual views they hold). This is precisely the religious intolerance that Winston says "has no place in New Zealand". But I guess he thinks that it only applies to old white people...

Update: Tze Ming Mok does her nut here.


It seems to me Winston isn't resonating with the voters with his simplistic message this election like he has in the past. Maybe three elections based on racism and fear is one election to far for this strategy from Mr. Peters?

I think Winston has slipped up here and overplayed his hand. Normally he would be more evasive with his language than this speech. Methinks desperation has led him to make a mistake.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/29/2005 11:24:00 AM

Good post I/S. Strong points, well made. We all knew Winnie was a dangerous and thoroughly contemptible nut, but this latest is beyond the pale. I really hope that anon above is right and that he's gone too far. It'd be nice if his big dip in the latest polls were a trend!

Posted by Anonymous : 7/29/2005 09:15:00 PM

My fiance is Iraqi muslim and understandably quite irritated that he can have any support for this behaviour.

She wasn't however that surprised and said "wasn't he doing the same to the chinese last election?"

I agree with anonymous and Berlin bear, he has gone too far and deserves to lose more support. It must concern Labour that when Winston goes down they are going up, what sort of xenophobic supporters are they attracting??

Posted by Anonymous : 7/29/2005 09:59:00 PM

That's twice we've agreed in 24 hours. What has happened to the world? :-)

Posted by Anonymous : 7/30/2005 03:20:00 AM

In his speech, WP called on the leaders of Islamic groups in New Zealand " commit to naming any radicals, troublemakers and potential dangers to our society."

Well, maybe they should do that by publishing a list with one name: "Winston Peters".

(Ok, if it has to include potential dangers to our society, the list could be extensive, but would differ radically (oops) from what WP wants/expects.)

Also, did anyone else hear him interviewed on Morning Report, when Anjum Rahman (I think) accused him of trying to drum up votes? His response? He claimed she had no right to speak as a representative of the Muslim community because she was a woman, and referred to her suggestions as "vile allegations". Presumably it's a vile allegation to accuse him of electioneering, but likening Islam to the Hydra is ok.

Posted by pohanginapete : 7/30/2005 11:42:00 AM

I heard the interview and heard him being demolished by the lady he was trying to belittle. It is good to hear someone with the ability to take on Peters when he is in full-scale rabble-rousing mode and reducing him to such ineffectual gibbering. He's needed to be exposed for years now.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/30/2005 02:44:00 PM

Winston walks a fine like between facts that we ignore because we know they are dangerous (such as lets say higher crime rates from a group of refugees) and the danger itself (such as blanket racism against groups).

It is a fine line and if you can walk it you get lots of votes by pointing out hte truth where others refuse to even think about it.

But your core group of followers can easily become genuine racists and when that happens you can loose sight of where the line is. This may well have hapened to winston.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/30/2005 03:24:00 PM

Excuse me, but there it isn't any fair comparison between Opus Dei and terrorists. Whilst Opus Dei is definitely on the conservative side it isn't sending any suicide bombers or firing mortars at US troops.

And although there are fair criticisms of Opus Dei, it is still like comparing apples and baseball bats.

Posted by Muerk : 7/31/2005 03:53:00 PM

Oh and yes, Winston is being terrible, but I saw a wonderful Muslim woman (who I think is a Labour list candidate) totally demolish him on Close Up, which was fantastic. Go her.

Posted by Muerk : 7/31/2005 04:06:00 PM