Interesting opinion piece on the rise of alt-right rhetoric in the NZ political spectrum…
Freedom of speech, firearms and Sharia law conspiracy are being peddled for political gain, three months after the Christchurch terror attack. It appears the language of populism and the far right has gained currency among the political fringe. THOMAS MANCH reports.
It was the battle songs, the talk of conquering and war that struck some in the audience.
Self-appointed bishop Brian Tamaki stood before his Destiny Church congregation and apologised to the Rainbow community for years of hurtful comments.
Sat among the crowd at the church’s annual conference in June was frequent watcher, retired religious history professor Peter Lineham, who says the apology was accompanied by a “militant” performance.
Tamaki had turned the target of his fire and brimstone rhetoric from one minority onto another: Muslims.
The fundamentalist church leader is not the only one assuming the role of “defender of Kiwi values” in the face of claimed threats such as increased migration, Sharia law and curtailing of freedom of speech. The language is also used by parties nearer the mainstream, by political aspirants featuring on breakfast television.
It’s the language of populist politics that’s thought to be a factor in the election of President Donald Trump, for Brexit and for the rise of far-right politics in Europe, where cries for minorities to “remigrate” are heard.
…I think the attempt to paint Trump’s win and the Brexit result as a populist movement based on white supremacy and fear of Muslims is problematic.
Problematic because while there were certainly racists, white supremacists and Islamaphobics who flocked to Trump and the Brexit referendum, writing those wins off as dominated by damaged and hateful influences allows us to see that populism as misplaced and without legitimate grievance which means the Left and progressives are likely to make the exact same mistakes.
We can scream racist and sexist as much as we like at Trump voters, but when Trump wooed Union families, women and the working poor in such huge numbers, something else needs to be examined as the reason this malignant tumour of a human being won.
The free market globalisation that the Democrats embraced robbed the domestic American working classes of their dignity and economic ability to survive in the exact same way that it robbed the working classes in the UK that saw the insanity of Brexit win.
Those left behind by free market globalisation, the domestic working classes, were suddenly flooded with the working classes of the rest of the developing world and they lost out in America and the UK and by playing to that economic insecurity, Trump and the Brexiters were able to exploit the resentment of those who felt left behind.
That’s a different political situation in NZ. While Tamaki adopts the anti-Muslim rhetoric of this populism, the Bishop’s moralistic Church message doesn’t resonate with those who have been left behind by free market globalisation. Brian is attempting to sound like the cure without correctly diagnosing the disease.
Yes the Coalition Party will sound like alt-right populism, but it won’t embody the economic security those working classes who have been damaged by neoliberalism are seeking. Trump attacked the TPPA and Brexit focused on economic sovereignty, the Bishop is just promising more divisiveness.
I’m not saying there won’t be a market for hating Muslims, but it’s not a roadmap to 5%.
Until there is a movement in NZ that can embody the resentment to free market capitalism with inflammatory language that unlocks that fury, Labour, the Greens, National, ACT and NZ First can all continue to peddle the same basic financial hegemonic neoliberal structure.