Beyond Hate


PADDY GOWER received the answer he was seeking from Christchurch mosque attack victim Wasseim Alsati. “It’s okay to hate, it’s okay to love. This is beyond hate.” Sadly, Gower failed to grasp the meaning of “beyond hate”. It does not mean “extreme hate”, or even “insane hate”. Beyond hate lies the territory of dispassionate political and/or military calculation. A state of being in which a person is able to commit the most appalling crimes because they are intellectually convinced their actions are both justified and necessary.

Actions that are perpetrated in the place “beyond hate” are as old as human history and as contemporary as the drone strike which wiped out most of an innocent Afghan family just a few days ago. Gower went looking for hate as if it was a criminal that could be brought to justice. He talked about hate as if it was something that could be brought to an end. In short, his televised meditation “On Hate” missed the point entirely.

The crimes of Brenton Tarrant are no better or worse than those of Mohammed Emwazi – also known as “Jihadi John” – the ISIS terrorist who allowed himself to be recorded beheading defenceless individuals. Both men killed people publicly and dispassionately because they were absolutely convinced that the deaths of their victims would contribute to the final triumph of their cause. The restoration of the Caliphate was Emwazi’s cause. The precise nature of Tarrant’s cause has been kept from New Zealanders because the Chief Censor deemed his manifesto “objectionable”. That it encompassed an extreme form of ethno-nationalism is, however, indisputable.

Tarrant and Emwazi were presented to the world as monsters because their actions were unsanctioned by any recognised nation state. Had they been sent on their missions by the government of a country New Zealand is friends with (the USA, UK or Australia) they would have been called “special forces” soldiers and their deeds (assuming we ever got to hear about them in any detail) would have been assessed very differently.

That Gower’s programme opted not to explore this aspect of New Zealand’s response to the Christchurch tragedy is unfortunate. It is, surely, important to examine why our shocked and horrified response to the mosque massacres is not repeated when we learn of a wedding party being blown into bloody pieces by a Hellfire missile. Is it really only because it happens far away to people “not of our tribe”, and because we never get to watch, for hours, on live television, the distraught faces of traumatised eye-witnesses; the comings and goings of ambulances and police cars; or hear a prime minister declare: “They are Us”?

Reviewing “On Hate” for The Spinoff, Anjum Rahman, came closest to answering this question, observing in her closing paragraph:

“Since March 15 2019, I’ve often thought about how our community has suffered so much from a single event, and what must it be like in those countries where an event like this happens almost every other day. In the name of liberation and spreading democracy, in the name of revenge and retaliation. There are countries who face this number of dead regularly, with no mental health support, no welfare payments, no way out.”

At the heart of the monstrousness of the crimes of Tarrant and Emwazi was their determination to let the world see what they were doing. Both men exploited ruthlessly the extraordinary reach and power of the Internet. Conveying to their comrades, via social media, the furious purity of their belief. And, to their enemies, terrifying images of unbearable and unforgettable horror.

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Only very rarely are the actions of state-sanctioned killers broadcast to the world. Only very rarely do we get to see the President of the United States and his key advisers watching in rapt attention as the execution of their most wanted enemy is beamed into the White House Situation Room, in real-time. If Gower wants to know what the world “beyond hate” looks like, then he has only to look at that famous photo of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton taking-in the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

It’s not that the foreign correspondents and their trusty videographers don’t try to make us understand the horror of suicide bombs and drone-strikes. They send back the images: blood and gore coating everything, shattered limbs, ravaged faces; but they never make our screens. Not suitable for families watching the six o’clock news. Not when people are eating dinner. Gower deserves full credit for allowing Tarrant’s victims to communicate something of the awful reality of defenceless people coming under armed attack.

But going after “white supremacists” and Mark Zuckerburg’s amoral algorithms will not bring an end to hate. Tarrant wasn’t radicalised by the Internet, he was radicalised by reading histories of the Crusades. He was radicalised by his deep-seated fear that “Western Civilisation”, from which he derived so much of his personal identity, was under mortal threat.

Hate is fear externalised. If one would eliminate hate, then one must first eliminate fear. Can Gower promise to do that? Can anyone?

Fear is everywhere in these perilous times. Fear of the Coronavirus. Fear of Climate Change. Fear of Terrorism. But there is another fear that permeates Gower’s televised meditation “On Hate”. Fear of ourselves. Fear that we are not the people we want to be. Fear that all the fulminations against our “colonialist” ancestors are entirely justified. Fear that “White Supremacy” isn’t an extreme ideology embraced by a handful of angry misfits, but basic to the way this society works. Fear that the “the good guys” are actually a pitifully weak minority which “the bad guys” can flick away anytime they want to.

Who is gripped by this fear? Well-meaning people. Loving people. People who believe fervently in equality and social justice. They fear that their hopes will not bear fruit: that racism, populism, fascism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia will defeat them. And how do they respond to these fears? With hate, of course. They hate what inspires their fear. More than that, they believe that it is their moral duty to rid the earth of it. To wipe it out – by any means necessary – even at the price of transforming their country into a police state.

In the grim service of their love, they have moved “beyond hate”.




  1. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”


  2. “A state of being in which a person is able to commit the most appalling crimes because they are intellectually convinced their actions are both justified and necessary.”

    And profitable.
    This is what you get when we allow global banking interests have at us without restriction.
    While I’m no God botherer…
    If churches are where many of us hope to find God then surely the banks are where they’ll find the devil.
    Russell Brand:
    “In this video I talk about the symbiotic relationship between mainstream media outlets, the weapons industry, and the former military officials, who all work together to perpetuate war and profits.”

    • ExL
      So Jacinda fears like 20 or 30 people? God, you really have this ‘beyond hate’ thing about rich slumlords don’t you? You make it sound like we are overrun by 1000s of slumlords? Slumlords everywhere! Get a perspective – there’s like a handful of these so-called slumlords (presumably with 50 or 100 of properties yes?), the rest of the 99% of NZ investors are just hard-working mum and dad investors with maybe one or two rentals. They don’t want to be totally dependent on the state in their retirement, simple as that. And that should be saluted!!!! They will be less stress on precious state resources!! I always tell my kids: Make sure you are not relying on govt for anything!!! Or would you rather everyone is totally and utterly dependent on a pension? What a sad country NZ would be then. Successive govts, and especially this fucking fabulous JA Govt, waste zillions and trillions of dollars on all sorts of crap and shit, instead of getting cheap houses built. How many houses for the stupid fucking Inner City Rail dream???? 1,000s….10,000s. There is your problem – Govt wasting money ‘beyond hate’.

      • So, for the sake of spewing your limitation upon the readers, you deliberately ignore the actual points being made in the article… This defines self serving ignorance… Can any of you show the relevance to the article, or does that not matter as long as one gets to indulge in self satisfied assblowing? Far too much of this juvenile drivel being “shared” in this country.. You guys make Australians look mature… Think about that for a while…

  3. There is no answer. Education or mental health services won’t beat the foibles of humankind. Minimise the damage, yes, but not see lunacy gone.

    Look at Tarrant and Emwazi for the extremes they present but look all the way down the line to ordinary, everyday ‘normal’ people and the daily expressions of some state of anxiety or need to strike out. Bodies on the floor? We think we can stop that?

    We can’t even stop the daily “tilty frown head.”

  4. The only thing to fear, is fear itself. You can tell them by their fruit (actions). We are only as strong as the weakest among us. Help them up. A shout out to all our people doing it rough in prison today. Don’t dwell on hate, as it can become all-consuming when internalised. We all count, yes, even you. Stay hearty NZ 🙂

  5. The last paragraph refers to people who will do horrible things to others because it is for the ‘greater good’ of the community and also for their victim’s ‘own good’.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
    ― C. S. Lewis

    • Ada. C S Lewis didn’t exactly practice what he preached either. Read A.N.Wilson’s biography and try again.

      Converting to Catholicism and saying touchy-feely things didn’t make Lewis an oracle. Tony Blair converted to Catholicism too.

    • PS. And who will they, the miscreant’s campaign for to vote for come 2023s general election?

      Probably whichever lite weight neo-liberal party that has the better ‘Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda’ department.

  6. I didn’t watch paddy’s piece because I fear, swept up by ratings-bent hype, he has made, or allowed, himself to become part of the story, and so lost the necessary wit to see the situation as Chris so rightly describes it.

  7. “Sadly, Gower failed to grasp the meaning of “beyond hate”. ” That’s not all he failed to grasp… Gopher breath is just a very limited boy with utter self interest at heart, and has spent his entire career repeating absolute bullshit on behalf of his sponsors… This fuckwit with a modicum of intelligence is nothing but a sideshow worker with no interest in what is in “the public interest” beyond who pays him the most to say what is required for their interests to be furthered… One thinks the writer is being kind, far too kind, to what amounts to an enemy of reason and common sense…

  8. Killing Bin Laden was no different to the Germans killing General Gott in the western desert. Or the British commandos targeting Rommel. The Americans targeted & killed Admiral Yamamoto in the Pacific. I wouldn’t call it “beyond evil” unless you want to say machine gunning soldiers attacking a defensive position is also “beyond evil”.

    Maybe you would could have used the example of the french village that was wiped off the face of the earth by the das reich SS division. Where women & children were burnt to death in the village church. This ruined village has been left as a memorial to evil.

    In my humble opinion, there are degrees of evil. War is one, but killing the generals and politicians during war is far, far less evil than killing of the ordinary foot soldiers. And also way less evil then killing surrendering soldiers or civilians.

    • Generals & politicians always worry that by targeting their opposite numbers, they will be creating a precedent whereby they themselves will be considered legitimate targets. They generally prefer ordering death from a distance, the remote slaughter of common soldiers & civilians, than to risk finding themselves in the crosshairs.

  9. The killing on Bin Laden was no different than the killing of General Gott, by the Germans, or the attempted killing of Rommel. The Americans targeted killed admiral Yamamoto.

    I’m not sure why you would call the killing of a general or political leader during a eat “beyond evil”. We generally don’t consider the machine gunning of soldiers attacking a defensive position as a war crime. Not sure we should treat the powerful any different than the foot soldiers.

    Beyond evil was when the das reich SS division wiped a french village of the face of the earth. They killed all women and children by burning them alive in the village church.

      • You would think that since some comments are censored at a whim that it would be noticed when someone has pressed “send” twice and not bothering to post it twice wouldn’t you.
        D J S

  10. ‘The precise nature of Tarrant’s cause has been kept from New Zealanders because the Chief Censor deemed his manifesto “objectionable”.’ Absolutely true.
    No one wants to discuss the contents of Tarrant’s manifesto — not least because he painted Muslim society as stronger and more cohesive than Western society, which he saw as decidedly degenerate. He claimed Muslim society was more attractive for those reasons. He saw himself as a soldier fighting for his civilisation.
    As Chris notes, “Tarrant wasn’t radicalised by the Internet, he was radicalised by reading histories of the Crusades. He was radicalised by his deep-seated fear that ‘Western Civilisation’, from which he derived so much of his personal identity, was under mortal threat.”
    By keeping the manifesto secret from nearly everyone except a chosen few, the Censor has enabled people like Paul Hunt of the HRC (and to some extent Ardern) to fraudulently use it in their push to impose hate speech laws on NZ.

    • Good summary Graham. Another characteristic about it, as I remember anyway, was kind perplexing and upsetting. That was the proportion of things in there that many could agree with. It would sort of say quite normal things, then just slide off the deep end. I read it in those raw days afterwards, just before the banning, because I tend to think banned books probably say something thought-provoking.

      It was almost too much. It really caused me at least think hard about where he slid off, and to Chris’ point, whether/how/how much indeed one shared in the stuff underlying what Tarrant did. We all knew that we were were appalled, we all knew that “they were us”. Imagine if the entire country – Maori, pakeha, asian, black, blue, man, woman, non-gendered-entities, LGBTTIQ+~&%, whatever – also found even as we grieved in public in our 10s of thousands that, just a tiny little bit, “he was us” too, and that all three things could be true at once? Shadow work if ever there was.

      So while I also find the proposed hate speech laws next-level bad, I can’t help but think the particular banning was in part a strange sort of ‘pragmatic’ decision made of a time, probably by the PM, about keeping the country from looking in the mirror en masse, and simply blowing apart.

  11. Dear Mr Trotter, there is something deeply wrong with your argument and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that hatred and fear and suspicion of ‘the other’ has long historical roots that go back as far as evolutionary time. It also has something to do with the generalised violence of capitalist and technological acceleration that all societies have been dealing with since the middle of last century. To twist the whole thing around and suggest putting the blame on the so-called ‘woke’ for somehow supporting the implementation of a police state is simply disingenuous. Liberal democracies, and particularly ones with left leaning governments, are largely struggling to deal effectively with current society as being in a constant state of emergency and crisis.

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