Last week, Nathan Symington was charged with vandalising Jewish graves with swastikas. His facebook page confirms that he is a nazi. The police may be wrong, he may not have vandalised those graves, but there is enough material on his facebook page to condemn his political beliefs. For the purpose of this post, what matters is that he is a nazi, and that there is a significant chance that he was involved in vadalising those graves.
Nathan Symington had his anti-semitism endorsed and reinforced at at least two left-wing forums.
Today I'm not talking about anti-semitism generally in NZ (which is something I've been writing a post on for ages and I think is super important), but about the way the NZ left tolerates and even reinforces the most vile extreme anti-semitism from unabashed nazis (I really don't want to be talking about that - because I don't want it to be true - but given that it is naming that is better than being silent).
Nathan Symington is facebook friends with Occupy Auckland (Still! Apparently Occupy Auckland isn't that discriminating). Apparently he also attended some Occupy Auckland events.
That, in itself, is horrendous.
What is worse is that his nazi beliefs were reinforced at Occupy, and by the Occupy Auckland facebook feed. Anti-semitic conspiracy theories were repeated at both the Occupy Auckland and Occupy Wellington camps. There was a serious push-back in Wellington (this post is part of that effort). But people had to fight really hard to make clear that anti-semitic conspiracy theories weren't welcome, and they didn't necessarily win.
Nathan Symington also attended the Aotearoa is not for sale demonstration. This is from his facebook page:
He commented "Nationalism is the key"
I think there is a bigger question here, about the way nationalism is used in anti-asset sales material. Anti-privatisation organisation does not need nationalism. The decision to extensively use nationalism is a conscious one that the people involved in the Aotearoa is not for sale campaign have made. I think it was a mistake (and I hope to make a longer post about that one day - but I probably won't).
I think people who promoted nationalism in the name of oppposing asset sales should think about how easily Nathan Symington fit into the demo. The person who designed that poster probably never asked "what would a nazi think of this?" - but they probably should have. If we're using propaganda that reassures nazis of their pre-existing beliefs, and they're happy to march along - then we're doing something wrong.
There were thousands of people in that march. Which might explain why no-one did anything about the fact that one of them was carrying swastikas. I've been on a march where we only realised at hte end that nazis had marched with us (they werne't carrying swastikas). But not marching with nazis; the idea that we have nothing in common with nazis, should be the most basic, fundamental, universally held belief on the left.
Ever since I saw Nathan Symington's facebook I have felt totally disgusted and depressed about the New Zealand left. That Symington could have felt any support, or reassurance, or validation from his experiences in the left, when (if) he vadalised hte graves - that should never happened.
But even now, even once he's been arrested, it doesn't stop. Nathan Symington has marked himself as attending this street party against privatisation. Someone brought this up on the Aotearoa is not for sale facebook page, and asked that he wasn't invited. Rather than saying "yes not standing with nazis who probably destroyed graves is a priority for us" - those who were running the Aotearoa is not for sale facebook page deleted the thread who brought it up. Apparently that's how incoherent parts of the left are on anti-semitism - it's a bigger problem to say 'hey lets do something abou the nazis' than for a nazi to attend.
Note: I've edited to clarify that when someone brought this issue up the people running the facebook page deleted it. The people running the Aotearoa is Not For Sale facebook page (and this event) have consistently deleted posts that try and talk about this, and have not given a clear indication of their position.