GUEST BLOG: Gerard Otto – Don’t mention us


As fingers point at our intelligence and security services ahead of an inquiry it’s also worth looking at the fingers pointing back at the accusers.

For every finger pointing, four are pointing straight back in our own faces – as well as the faces of media and politicians.

I don’t recall hearing much inclusive language about the vast majority of muslim people from most of our conservative media over the past two decades?

Inclusive language was really not mentioned.

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Instead we consumed a steady diet of fear involving unnamed scary people who had alleged “links to” terrorist organisations according to unnamed officials …blazoned in headlines, beamed into our living rooms, and all fingers pointed at that enemy.

The enemy was not a white nutcase with a gun.

The enemy was painted as anyone dressed a certain way and people looked uneasily at anyone who fitted the description – just by their fucking clothing alone.

Nobody gave a shit about the bubbling cauldron of hatred that this focus was brewing – as the wider context for why Anglo-American nations waged war on oil rich nations and how it created the problem in the first place was left out of most of the news reports here.

TVNZ featured a one sided view of how the war was going most nights and after nine hundred stories ….the public was cold as ice and a bit frightened of perfectly innocent people.

I did hear Pauline Hanson blithering on like an angry trout on top of this conditioning about how white culture was somehow under threat.

She was given too much oxygen.

Countering this were the words of Midnight Oil – how can we sleep when our beds are burning – as local muslims suffered being treated like walking bomb carriers – as they appealed to our politicians for security against a rising level of hate?

When Edward Snowden alerted us all to the drag net activities of the NSA he did so because he thought such measures should involve public consent.

911 had kicked the USA in the pants – and all of it’s intelligence operations had acted in Silos.

Edward reckoned we had covertly gone a goose step too far.

He thought that the public should decide if they want all their private messages swept up and stored in a database in the USA – where data mining algorithms would hunt for patterns, connections and red flags would go off if conditions were met.

This seemed fundamental in a democracy – that we might choose to walk the earth without being watched all the time – if we don’t want to be.

At least we should be asked?

Edward told us he could log into XKeyscore and look at all your emails any time he chose to…as could anyone with clearance.

This came as a shock.

But we were assured we had nothing to fear if we had nothing to hide.

Privacy versus security had to be talked about – especially given nobody had asked us.

John Key knew he may have to deal with the data dump made by Edward Snowden – and a quick look shows dodgy timing at odds with Key’s words about scraping Project Speargun for the more narrow Project Cortex.

That’s only one side of the coin – our Five Eyes partners still have all your data boys and girls – it’s just our local intelligence services have had no reason to look into it.

Until now.

Now the settings and thresholds to raise a red flag will be changed and we ask why on earth was this not done sooner?

It wont take more money, it will only involve some programming and procedural changes.

It’s worth remembering that none of the politicians calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry today – spoke up, used inclusive language and that kindness and being inclusive came as a shock to most of them.

Kindness was ridiculed and conservative media shook their heads at such silly notions.

Voters were conditioned by Western media and propaganda – and our politicians adapted to voters.

Yes we had a small passive part in this.

You may be the exception, the long outspoken voice of reason who challenged this in protests, and online.

You were right.

So isn’t it interesting to hear media blaming the Intelligence Services – without a single article about their own part in all of this.


Gerard Otto is an activist and a writer.


  1. Interesting thoughtful contribution Gerard and I would like to make some observations.
    You rightly ask how much inclusive language and behaviour have media shown over the last two decades.
    I think it goes another step deeper than media.
    I listen to what my workmates say in the lunch room.
    Lunch room banter rules seem to be to recklessly blame every member of a race, religion, gender, ideology who is not actually present.
    Some of them are, quite frankly, ignorant ZB listener bigots – Archie Bunkers.
    The usual crop of humans that are responsible for all their problems are (in no particular order):
    Immigrants (especially Asians), Maori, Greenies, peace activists, Muslims, Gays, and – if there are none in the room – women.
    Sometimes I wonder whether it is just a case of men/boys jockeying for position in the social ladder and egging each other on, or is it an insight into their real persona? I would like to think the former, but I don’t really know.
    My point is that I believe the media is not interested in inclusiveness because too many of its representatives have grown up and made careers in an atmosphere where inclusiveness is regarded as weakness.
    In effect, the lunch room banter is continued on in our nationwide talk back, the backbone of ZB listeners who desperately want to find the next critical issue and who is responsible for it.
    Leighton Smith and his ilk capitalise on the hate, bigotry and prejudice to further their own careers.

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