Saturday, 21 March 2009

Political anti-semitism in New Zealand

I had vaguely heard of Uncensored; I knew they were not my sort of people. But I didn't realise just how much not my people until Scott Hamilton wrote about them. Here's his summary:
The January-March issue of Uncensored offers examples of the magazine's anti-semitism. The cover of the issue shows Barack Obama with a star of David on his sleeve, suggesting he is a tool of Jews. An article inside called 'The Unspeakable Truth of 9/11' insists that the Israeli spy agency Mossad orchestrated the attacks on the World Trade Centre, and another article called 'The Real Agenda behind the Monetary Crisis' calls the world's media 'Jewish-occupied' and claims that Jews control the American Federal Reserve. Yet another article claims that Monica Lewinsky was a Mossad agent, and calls her 'President Clinton's chunky Jewish girlfriend'. The new, April-June issue of Uncensored takes the anti-semitic theme even further - it includes an article alleging that the diary of famous Holocaust victim Anne Frank was a hoax.
I had no idea people like this existed in New Zealand. I knew there were neo-nazis, and I knew there were conspiracy theoriests. But I thought conspiracy theorists were just stupid, not holocaust-denying-evil.

Uncensored have booked the Mt Albert War Memorial Hall for a conference at the end of April, and Scott Hamilton wrote a letter to Cathy Casey (a left-wing Auckland city councillor) asking her to stop Uncensored from using the hall.*

Scott Hamilton also posted this on indymedia (can anyone guess where this is going? I actually advise against following that link). The comment thread on indymedia is full of holocaust denial, and even more horrific forms of anti-semitism. I'm not quoting any of it, it's too disgusting. There are a few people attempting to stand against the waves of awfulness. But they're outnumbered (and once you're arguing 'yes the holocaust actually happened' you're already disrespecting the dead and the survivors).

It blows my mind that there are people who think and write such vile, hateful, nonsense, but the internet has a lot of everything, so it's no surprise that includes vile hateful nonsense. That's not the point of this post.

The point of this post, is that each of those comments are still on indymedia. This is the indymedia mission statement:
The Independent Media centre is a grassroots organization committed to using media production and distribution as a tool for promoting social and economic justice. It is our goal to further the self-determination of people under-represented in media production and content, and to illuminate and analyze local and global issues that impact ecosystems, communities and individuals. We seek to generate alternatives to the biases inherent in the corporate media controlled by profit, and to identify and create positive models for a sustainable and equitable society
. I don't think providing space for a discussion about whether or not the holocaust happened is creating a positive model for a sustainable and equitable society. Many of the statements on that thread are direct impediments to social and economic justice. One of the moderators of indymedia has posted on that thread, and nothing has been hidden, despite two requests to do so.

The problems with indymedia as an open space is something I've written about before. Open spaces replicate all the power imbalances that already exist in society (and also allow space for some that have been festering for some time). I shouldn't even have to write this, but what happened to Jewish people under the Nazis is not some abstract point of academic argument, it's an open wound that causes actual people, actual pain. To fail to hide this stuff is to have a huge sign saying "Jews not welcome". Indymedia is part of the problem, unless it understands that there are many ideas that are directly in opposition to anyone's liberation, and to host them is to be part of that opposition.

* What I originally wanted to write about, which is now relegated to a footnote, is my feeling that the way Scott Hamilton wrote about World War 2 in the post is problematic:
The hall is a public asset that is supposed to commemorate the loss of New Zealand life in war, and to serve the needs of the community around it. I don't believe that our community needs Jew-baiting and Maori-bashing. I think it is particularly inappropriate that Uncensored plans to use the hall on an Anzac weekend, when New Zealanders will be remembering the thousands of their countrymen and women who died opposing the same Nazi ideology that so many of the contributors to Uncensored promote.

I don't know if Scott Hamilton actually believes that or if he's being disingenuous. From what I know of his politics I suspect the latter. I can see why it's very tempting in circumstances such as these, to play on the popular image of world war two as a great war against fascism, and 'our brave boys'. However, for anyone with a serious criticism of imperialism it's important that we acknowledge that that while there may have been many soldiers who saw their participation in the war as part of the fight against fascism in defence of liberty, that's not what was being prioritised by those who were commanding the armies. I don't think it's acceptable to play dumb about these issues, even for a good cause.

4 comments: said...

The World's War Memorials Stink!

All war memorials emit a stench and are wrought in Hell;
This poet knows that man is now not charmed by love sonnets but panicked by smell,
Always drenched in Death - never Life that could entice us to survive-
We are so much better than we are made to breathe and imbibe:
Always fear only fear - stink only of fear!
Eternal damnation to those agents that sneer-
And disallow Free Speech where an answer is so near-
Sublime and merciful: "Love thy neighbour as thy self"
All else is selfish, corrupt and made in Hell!
Bring to the Hall yourself and a mate,
Your good open mind and - oh Ladies a plate!

Brian John Evans
The Talkback Terrorist of New Zealand

Anna said...

Nutty, nutty, nutty.

One thing that (some) extremist-type groups do very well is use the internet to inflate perceptions of the credibility and size of their own 'movements'. I try to comfort myself with this.

Anonymous said...

Nutters everywhere I'm afraid!

Oh, there was a little bit of nastiness from the far left in NZ about Keys "Jewish links" and him being a money trader.... terrible!

Anonymous said...

I'm very strongly anti-Zionist and i don't like Uncensored, it has too much jew bashing and not enough facts!

But what i want to say is don't let the anti-semites distract you from the real (and also intellectual) movement,
questioning the holocaust is not about discrediting jews or anything asinine like that;

It is about a genuine desire to know the truth because the reality is that the facts aren't as transparent as you would expect, there are a huge amount of holes in the official story that needs to be cleared up so we can finally put the matter to rest
Treating the holocaust as if it is sacred will not help a bit
but anyway enough rambling here's something from an expert

(Don't worry its not anti-semitic i promise)

Peace :)