THE RIGHT-HAND ORGANIZERS of the now suppressed occupation of Parliament will by no means consider themselves defeated. Rather, they will celebrate their dramatic migration from unnoticed ideological fringes to the brilliance of prime-time politics. Exactly in the same way that a largely unknown provincial agitator was catapulted to the forefront of the German national stage by his failed “Beer Hall Putsch” of 1923, the rioters of 03/02/22 managed to seize New Zealand center through the ear.
The daily blogEditor-in-Chief Martyn Bradbury estimates that the dramatic events of 2/3/22 recruited 100,000 followers for the Alt-Right string pullers behind the Occupation and its cataclysmic finale. If he’s right, then that’s about enough voting power to hit the MMP’s 5% threshold and get 6 seats in the House of Representatives – assuming, of course, the Alt-Right can. reach an ideological consensus strong enough to allow the creation of a coherent political party.
There is, however, no evidence to suggest that such a gathering of the volatile elements on display on the grounds of Parliament is imminent. Paradoxically, the same social media that drove Freedom Village activities to around 30,000 people a day during the occupation, too easily encourages the losers of big debates to fend for themselves. Not only that, but it provides a public stage where the personal animosities of the main players can be played out for the edification of friends and foes alike.
In the absence of an Adolf Hitler-like figure with the intellectual, ideological, rhetorical and political skills required to transform the feisty and divisive Alt-Right into an effective electoral force, the findings of the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG) of the SIS are almost certainly correct. The place of effective action on the Alt-Right will be reduced to the level of the “Lone Wolf”. Those dangerously alienated individuals who consider themselves either the “saviors” of their race or the “avengers” of those whose rights and freedoms have been stripped away by tyrannical blood-drinking pedophiles.
This is about terrorism – pure and simple. Many within the national security community, even as they witnessed the fire and smoke of Day 23, thought of what more organized and tactically aggressive leadership could have accomplished. on the first or second day of the protest, when the defenses and defenders of Parliament were weakest.
If 500 or 1,000 such brawlers who threw cobblestones at police on 2/3/22 rushed up the steps of the Parliament Buildings on 9/2/22 and forced open the doors – who could have stopped them? Would New Zealanders, like Americans, have received live footage of a crazed anti-vaxxer sitting in the president’s chair? Would a mob of lynchers swinging with a noose climb the stairwells of Beehive shouting “Ja-cin-daaa!” And, after seeing a dozen of their comrades shot dead by the Prime Minister’s bodyguards, would they have set fire, not to the tents, but to the Hive itself?
There are senior officials across Wellington today brooding in alarm over what could so easily have happened because, just as the Royal Commission into the Christchurch mosque shooting warned, far too few much attention has been given by those whose duty it is to protect the national security of New Zealand, the Alt-Right and its allied subversives and terrorists.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster will not be the least worried about these officials. He will ask all sorts of questions about why his own intelligence division failed to anticipate the scale of the crisis that the foreign-inspired alt-right proponents of Convoy 2022 were determined to cause on the grounds of Parliament. . One can only imagine the cold fury with which the prime minister directed the same questions at New Zealand’s chief enforcer.
With the events of March 15, 2019 – and now March 2, 2022 – etched in her mind, Jacinda Ardern will be more determined than ever to curb the expression of hate speech. On his side of the House (and among a fair proportion of those seated on the opposite side), there will now be even less patience for those trying to wave the banner of free speech.
Among the public, there will likely be an outpouring of support for the government’s position. In the minds of more and more New Zealanders, it is now the defense of society itself that must take precedence. Increasingly, defenders of free speech will be seen as defenders of those who not only use their free speech to shout “Fire! in a crowded theater, but then do everything they can to persuade the audience to burn down the theater.
That so many members of the Free Speech movement genuflect to the right, rather than the left, will only harden the resolve of those who are determined to silence the peddlers of arson and murder who – to use the expression of the Prime Minister – have “desecrated” the holy places of New Zealand democracy.
Crackdowns on hate speech will only be the beginning. It is highly likely that the Law Commission will be tasked with examining the effectiveness of the legal weapons currently at the disposal of a beleaguered government. Geoffrey Palmer’s dizzying bonfire on the repressive instruments of state power has taken on a less admirable glow. Bonfires are out of fashion.
Finally, there is the formidable apparatus of New Zealand’s national security community, most notably the SIS and the GCSB. It must now be assumed that those who blithely unleash prejudice and hatred online will simultaneously announce themselves as “persons of interest” to all who wield the swords of state protection.
For the rock-throwers and tent-burners out there, girding their loins for another crack at the lizard people and their lackeys, the most helpful advice is simple and straightforward:
From now on, assume you are not alone.