Category Archives: Aotearoa (New Zealand)

The Sentencing of Brenton Tarrant: Jailing the Man, not the Great Replacement

Brenton Tarrant was sentenced last week.  The Australian national who butchered, with relish, 51 individuals in Christchurch at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre, found himself facing something unique in New Zealand: jail for life without parole.  He pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one of terrorism.  He also faced a tsunami of victim impact statements – over 200 in all.

The High Court Justice Cameron Mander was not too willing to delve into the substance of Tarrant’s ideas that saw noxious fruition on March 15, 2019.  They constituted merely a “warped and malignant ideology” with moorings “in religious and ethnic antipathy and intolerance.”  What concerned him most was the method. “You slaughtered unarmed and defenceless people.”  Tarrant “maimed and wounded and crippled many others, your victims included the young, and the old, men, women and children.”

It is true enough.  Tarrant was unsparing, pitiless and relentless.  He had hoped to kill more worshippers, intending to strike a note of fear among “non-Europeans.”  He had also prepared for the slaughter well in advance, having undertaken a reconnaissance mission to Al Noor Mosque two months before, sending a drone to identify points of entry and exit.  Such readiness went back as far as 2017, when the Australian had settled in New Zealand with nefarious purpose.  “You came to this country to murder.”

The sentencing of Tarrant served a sequestering purpose.  According to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, “he deserves to be a lifetime of complete and utter silence.”  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison echoed the sentiment.  “It is right that we will never see or hear from him ever again.”  New Zealand authorities are not merely content on keeping him in permanent incarceration on home soil.  They insist that he be returned to Australia.

No one got to receive a full airing of the mindset of Tarrant the ideologue, his own views about the inundation, expunging and racial deletion of white Christians at the hands of the followers of Allah.  There has, in fact, been a concerted effort across social media platforms and publications to expurgate and limit discussion on Tarrant’s cock-eyed view of the world, scribbled out in the rambling manifesto The Great Replacement.  The intention is to avoid the dissemination of hate and incitement; the consequence is its concealment, bowdlerising the views of a mass murderer and limiting its dangerously broader appeal.

The plagiarised title of Tarrant’s tract is itself loosely based on Renaud Camus’s self-published book of the same title from 2012, though Camus himself had little time for the methods of Tarrant, the efforts of “someone who had failed to understand my work.”  But had he?  Both Camus and Tarrant are, at first blush, striking juxtapositions: the former, an ardent, confessional homosexual aesthete and laureate of the Académie Française; the latter, a personal trainer from Grafton, New South Wales who had travelled to Europe on his father’s inheritance money to bear personal witness to immigrant “invasion”.

While not having the cast iron stomach for Tarrant’s bloodiness, Camus was delighted by the notoriety his ideas were getting.  As to whether he resented “the fact that people take notice of ethnic substitution that is in progress in my country?” he posed rhetorically to James McAuley writing for The Washington Post, he was unequivocal.  “No.  To the contrary.”

Tarrant’s language, as expressed in the manifesto, clings to the raft of European identity.  “The origins of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European, my philosophical beliefs are European, my identity is European and, most importantly, my blood is European.”  He sees himself, incoherently and ramblingly, as “an Ethno-nationalist Eco-fascist.  Ethnic autonomy for all peoples with a focus on preservation of nature, and the natural order”.  He sees enemies everywhere: German chancellor Angela Merkel as “mother of all things anti-white and anti-Germanic”; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as “the leader of one of the oldest enemies of our people, and the leader of the largest Islamic group within Europe.”

This streakily misguided, not to mention linguistically and culturally deluded reading, is something that finds voice across the White Supremacist family.  It made an appearance in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 with chants of “Jews will not replace us.”  Ditto in October, 2018 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, were 11 were slain by Robert Bowers claiming to be targeting those who “bring invaders in that kill our people.”  But Tarrant’s preferred target of hatred was not some fabled international Jewish conspiracy but Islam.

These are not the isolated mutterings of a noisy fringe.  They are also entertained by certain political leaders not averse to teasing out the race, culture and even religious card, if it advances a cause.  In Europe, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands’ far-right Freedom Party rallies with the cry that, “Our population is being replaced.  No more.”

The notion of a great replacement has found freight in the views of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.  Orbán’s fear is demographic inundation by swarthy, non-Christian outsiders.  Christianity, he explained last September at the Third Demographic Summit in Budapest, needed to “regain its strength in Europe.”  Population decline was “a general European phenomenon” that arose from the First and Second World Wars, both of which he regards as “brutal civil wars”. To arrest such population decline by accepting non-Europeans would be “effectively … consenting to population replacement: to a process in which the European population is replaced.”

Such views are heartily shared by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who wrote adoringly of Orbán last year as “the first European leader to cry ‘stop’ to the peaceful invasion of 2015 and is now trying to boost Hungary’s flagging birth rate.”  At the centre, then, of this cultural and racial cosmos lie a set of ideas that share a threat with Tarrant’s own form of murderous retribution.  They are all concerned with existential replacement.

The trial, however, left those watching it with a sense of simplicity: wickedness confined to the dock; victims seeking spiritual and emotional compensation through various forms of anger, sadness, forgiveness or lack of.  It was procedural, formulaic and decidedly clear: Tarrant had butchered and must pay the bill.  But there was little stomach for confronting his central contention, less than his method, which has found an audience not merely in the White Supremacist fold, but in public offices from Washington to Budapest.

Permitted Unlawfulness: The New Zealand Coronavirus Lockdown

Limitation is essential to authority.  A government is legitimate only if it is effectively limited.
— Lord Acton,

It is a study both troublesome and perplexing.  To what end can a state trample on human rights ostensibly to preserve such objects a public health?  The coronavirus lockdowns have become a feature of global politics and relentless mandatory intrusion, the health department made sovereign, assisted by vigorous policing.  States have used, and continue to use, all manner of measures to confine individuals to homes, mask them, restrict movement, while, in some cases, shutting them up as dissenters and hurrying them into obscurity.  The end sought: viral suppression, flattening the curve, elimination.  But what might be saved in terms of health will be lost in terms of liberties.

One country made the brave, somewhat quixotic journey to battle the coronavirus to elimination.  New Zealand’s Ardern government was determined to quash it.  In doing so, it imposed one of the most onerous of lockdowns over the course of March and April, 2020.

It was not without controversy, and Wellington lawyer Andrew Borrowdale took issue with its sheer expansiveness.  A particular point of interest for him were the early stages of the five-week lockdown, specifically the calls between March 26 and April 3 by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her officials for New Zealanders to stay home under pain of penalty.  The timing is important here as the stay home restrictions were only formally passed on April 3.

The country’s 1956 Health Act provides for what is called a “Section 70” notice, issued by a Health Officer to restrict movement.  This can be done if the relevant minister has issued an Epidemic Notice pursuant to the Epidemic Preparedness Act of 2006.  This, the Prime Minister did on March 24.  Unfortunately for Ardern, the Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield’s Section 70 notice, which came into effect on March 26, only covered the closure of businesses.  It was, in other words, defective.  There had been, for instance, no formal instrument legitimising the need for New Zealanders to stay at home in their “bubbles” or not go to such public spaces as the beach.

In an assessment by insolvency practitioner and columnist Damien Grant, Ardern proceeded to imperially “issue a slew of orders that were outside her remit.  Parliament had deliberately kept that power out of our elected representatives and placed it into the hands of competent medical officials.”  Those elected representatives were now running amok – at least for a short time.

Other officials also did the same.  The then police commissioner Mike Bush, charges Grant, was operating outside his jurisdictional remit in saying “you’re better to stay on the comfort of your own couch or your own home than be cooling yourself on a very cool bench in a police cell.”

The result of this bungling in drafting was only rectified by another Section 70 notice, designed to square the implemented lockdown measures with what authorities could legally do. But it had taken nine days of over-extended and illegitimate power.

The finding by the New Zealand Supreme Court was not exactly a sweeping triumph for Borrowdale or his lawyer Tiho Mijatov, who had argued that generous and permissive interpretations of such health provisions should not happen even during the course of a pandemic emergency.  The court took with one and gave with another.  But with that, Borrowdale had made a salient and pressing point.  The three judges acknowledged that, even during “times of emergency, and even when the merits of the Government response are not widely contested, the rule of law matters.”  The executive was not entitled to behave absolutely.

While the court dismissed two out of the three grounds, they did accept Borrowdale’s first contention, in part.  They noted announcements by the executive between March 26 and April 3 stating or implying that all New Zealanders needed to “stay at home and in their ‘bubbles’ when there was no such requirement.”  These duly limited “certain rights and freedoms affirmed by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, including, in particular, the rights to freedom of movement, peaceful assembly and association.”  The court accepted “that the requirement was a necessary, reasonable and proportionate response to the COVID-19 crisis at that time” but it “was not prescribed by law.”

The substantive effect of the decision will be minimal, even if the lesson on illegitimate power is telling.  Prosecutions for breaching the lockdown rules will remain, for the most part, valid.  Attorney General David Parker emphasised the didactic point behind the measures: the State as instructor and guide on how to cope with a dangerous pandemic.  “The Government was trying to educate people about the health risks and transition them quickly to take actions that curtailed normal freedoms like staying at home to stop the spread of the virus.”  He claimed these actions to be a success.  “In the end the measures taken by the government worked to eliminate COVID-19, save lives and minimise damage to our economy.”

The virus, however, has shown a guile to throw off epidemiologists, health specialists, and politicians.  Like Galileo’s observation on the earth, it moves.  Even the harshest measures have not guaranteed elimination.  Where there is mobility, there is transmission.  Even the most sedentary of people will eventually feel the urge to step outside.  COVID-19, and more lockdown measures, are now in place in Auckland.  To date, Ardern’s reassurance, and one that may have to be revised in due course, is that community transmission has been prevented.  She is bound to be more legally attuned this time around.

Consortium News Strikes Back: London’s Five Eyes and Freeland’s Nazi Roots Stand Exposed Again

A David vs. Goliath battle between the independent Virginia-based online journal Consortium News and the gigantic Security Communications Establishment of Canada has begun this week. As Consortium News’ Editor-in-Chief, Joe Lauria wrote in his recent press release:

Consortium News has sent libel notices to the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s version of the US National Security Agency, and to a major Canadian television network, Global News, for a report that said Consortium News was “part of a cyber-influence campaign directed by Russia.”

To the knowledge of this Canadian-based writer, no analogous instance of such a lawsuit has ever occurred and the subject of this lawsuit will undoubtedly bring to light some of the ugliest skeletons in the Canadian establishment’s closet that many powerful forces would prefer remain obscured and forgotten.

The Gist of the Fight

On December 10, 2019, Global News ran a widely circulated story citing a classified CSE report which claimed that the Russian Government had used proxies to spread anti-Christia Freeland slander in order to “undermine western democracies”. The CSE report cited by Global News asserted without any evidence that a leading protagonist used by the Russian Government in this endeavor was Consortium News which had run a story on February 27, 2017 entitled the “A Nazi Skeleton in the Family Closet” which explained how Freeland had knowingly covered up the fact that her grandfather Mykhailo Chomiak was a high level Nazi collaborator during WWII.

Since the publication of this 2017 article and the work published even earlier by John Helmer, a fuller picture of Freeland’s Nazi family history and broader post-WWII use of Nazi-affiliated Ukrainian nationalists, has become a thoroughly documented embarrassment for Freeland and the broader deep state/Five Eyes Intelligence conglomerate trying to run the world. This history is even more awkward since the use of hives of second and third generation descendants of these Nazi collaborators both in Canada and Ukraine resulted in the toppling of the pro-Eurasian Yanukovych government in 2014.

After decades of myth-making and spin-doctoring, the Canadian spy agencies managing mass perceptions of the population have developed more than a little hubris as their lies have too often passed unchallenged by their victims, making this situation a nice slap of reality.

Since so much has already been written on the issue of Canada’s Nazi problem (namely here, and here and here and here), I would like to do something a bit different and address the deeper question: What is the Canadian Communication Security Establishment exactly, and from where did the Five Eyes arise over the course of the previous century?

Getting at the Heart of the Five Eyes

To properly answer this with a full appreciation into the historic forces at play, it is vital to jump back in time to the founder of the Rhodes Scholar program that birthed the Freeland phenomenon in our modern age (Freeland after all is a leading Rhodes Scholar and it would do us well to fully understand what that means). This exercise will take us to Cecil Rhodes, Governor of Rhodesia, father of systemic colonial rape of Africa and all around degenerate.

Here we shall find ourselves looking at this degenerate’s 1877 will and testament. It was here that the self-described “race patriot” and “priest of the Church of the British Empire” called for a re-organization of the decaying empire when he said:

Why should we not form a secret society with but one object the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, and for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire… [emphasis added]

Upon Rhodes’ 1902 death, his will served as a manifesto or “guiding spirit” underlying the formation of the deep state and later Five Eyes throughout the 20th  century. Rhodes’ followers and upper level financiers of London like Lord Nathaniel Rothschild and Lord Milner established a scholarship in his name to indoctrinate talented youth from around the world in the halls of Oxford in order to be redeployed back into their home countries in order to infiltrate all branches of influence, public and private, with a focus upon departments of Foreign Affairs. As the late Georgetown Professor Carrol Quigley documented in his Anglo-American Establishment, an international group was created by Rhodes’ disciples named The Round Table led by Milner, Lord Lothian, Leo Amery, and Lionel Curtis who created branches in all Anglo-Saxon nations to coordinate this new British Empire under the banner of “Round Table Movements”.

This group found an early opponent in the form of a Lincoln-admiring Canadian Prime Minister named Wilfred Laurier who had then been striving for deeper cooperation with a USA and independence from Britain (the USA at this time still had a very strong anti-imperial political culture). Sadly in 1911, Laurier’s government was taken down by a Roundtable-steered coup resulting in the defeated Prime Minister famously stating:

Canada is now governed by a junta sitting at London, known as ‘The Round Table’, with ramifications in Toronto, in Winnipeg, in Victoria, with Tories and Grits receiving their ideas from London and insidiously forcing them on their respective parties.

That comment was made in 1915.

By 1916, the Group, under Milner’s leadership, initiated a soft coup in Britain unseating the Labour Party’s Herbert Asquith in order to shape the terms of the post WWI order.

The CFR and Death of the League of Nations

During the Versailles Process of 1919, the Round Table Group, then firmly in charge of the British Government and Foreign Policy infrastructure, created a powerful new think tank called the Royal Institute for International Affairs (aka: Chatham House) which set up sister branches in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The American branch of the RIIA took the name Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in 1921 and was fully staffed with indoctrinated Rhodes Scholars and Fabians all loyal to Rhodes’ vision. This was the group that attempted to impose world government under the League of Nations throughout the 1920s-1930s until it was finally killed by American (and Canadian) nationalists who preferred not to sacrifice their sovereignty to a bankers’ dictatorship.

If you want to know what caused the Five Eyes to come into being and how the USA lost its core anti-imperial character during the 20th century, you would have no satisfying answer if you avoided this fact as too many are in the habit of doing.

In spite of resistance from Laurier’s leading anti-Round Table allies who took back power in 1921 and anti-imperial forces in America who resisted Round Table control over the U.S. State Department under President Harding, the British/CFR problem only became more pronounced by the end of WWII as FDR stated to his son in a moment of frustration in 1943:

You know, any number of times the men in the State Department have tried to conceal messages to me, delay them, hold them up somehow, just because some of those career diplomats over there aren’t in accord with what they know I think. They should be working for Winston. As a matter of fact, a lot of the time, they are [working for Churchill]. Stop to think of ’em: any number of ’em are convinced that the way for America to conduct its foreign policy is to find out what the British are doing and then copy that! I was told six years ago, to clean out that State Department. It’s like the British Foreign Office….

FDR’s son ominously recorded his father saying: “I’ll take care of these matters myself’ was Roosevelt’s now usual response on matters of crucial policy. ‘I am the only person I can trust’.”1

The Five Eyes grows over FDR’s dead body

Even though American-British coded signal sharing began in 1943, no institutional takeover of American intelligence had yet occurred and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was still firmly under control of American nationalists loyal to FDR’s anti-colonial philosophy.

All of that changed with FDR’s April 1945 death and the Round Table groups embedded throughout America’s bureaucracy quickly took over as an Anglophile puppet named Harry Truman became president. Under Truman, the OSS was disbanded, and a new order was installed with the Anglo-American Special Relationship, the UKUSA Signal Intelligence Agreement of March 5, 1946 and the September 8, 1947 formation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Patriots loyal to FDR’s post-war vision like Henry Wallace, Harry Dexter White, and Paul Robeson were torn down under the FBI dictatorship known as McCarthyism.

The policy of cultivating useful Ukrainian intelligence agents, who had been loyal to Hitler’s agenda and could again be useful in the new war against the Soviet Union in the newly emerging Cold War, was hatched in the dirty basement of this post-OSS intelligence complex.

This new order of integrated intelligence saw the birth of the NSA in America, the Communications Security Establishment in Canada and sister organizations in Australia and New Zealand, all coordinating closely with the Royal Institutes/Round Table groups located in each Anglo Saxon nation. This was the fulfillment of Rhodes’ vision and the origins of the Five Eyes. Approaching modern history from this standpoint allows the mind to see clearly that while the American NSA/CIA hand certainly played a dirty role in the post-WWII order, the true guiding mind has always been found an ocean away from America.

The Cat is Stuffed Back into the Bag

Throughout the first three decades of the Cold War, the Five Eyes remained a total secret even to elected politicians. Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was so shocked to discover the existence of covert intelligence connections between the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) alongside its American and British counterparts that he fired its director in 1975. In response to the Prime Minister’s defiance of imperial policy, Sir John Kerr (Australia’s Governor General and actual Head of State) sacked Whitlam in 1975, proving that contrary to popular belief, the Crown’s powers are much more than the symbolic image which today’s perception managers wish us to believe.

In America, a decade of assassinations as well as blatant CIA-run coups abroad resulted in a popular indignation and demand for justice resulting in the famous Church Committee hearings on CIA abuses. In response to this exposure, upper level Deep State assets like Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski conducted two purges of the CIA (1970 and 1978), abolished what little remained of the Board of National Estimates in 1973 and moved many of the CIA’s international covert operations to a new organization which came to be known as the National Endowment for Democracy as outlined in my previous article on the subject.

In Canada a documentary aired on the Fifth Estate entitled  “The Espionage Establishment” in 1974 exposing the public to the Five Eyes and shed light for the first time to the Communications Security Establishment of Canada resulting in hearings in the House of Commons and Senate and a modest restructuring of the organization. While nothing systemic was ultimately addressed, lipstick was put onto the pig as the newly renamed Communications Security Establishment absorbed into the Department of Defense. When CSIS was created in 1984 (after the RCMP’s Intelligence branch was caught red handed organizing the FLQ terrorist cells one too many times), the CSE and new spy agency began coordinating closely with each other and today occupy adjacent buildings from each other in Ottawa.

The natural righteous indignation felt by the masses petered away under a culture of consumerism, cynicism and conformism resulting in a slide into decay which no patriot of FDR’s generation could have imagined possible. Occasional bursts of angst and rage in the popular zeitgeist were absorbed and redirected by Hollywood films like Soylent Green (1973), The Network (1976) and 1984 (1984) (to name a few). Rather than empower the population such films were designed to amplify impotent cynicism, defeatism and misdirect anger towards un-nameable shadowy corporate forces (Soylent Green), Saudi oil barons (The Network), or human nature itself (1984).

With the belief that the causes of injustices could either not be understood, or were supposed to be intrinsic to the human species, the population went to sleep and dream-walked into the New World Order.

Those core moral principles, which leaders like John Kennedy or Martin Luther King fought to awaken in the nation, were rejected by the majority of baby boomers as mere naïve fantasy with no connection to “reality” as they were told it to be. But sadly, without core principles, post-truth liberalism found fertile soil to spread its roots. It is this post-truth order which serves as foundation of today’s liberal order which Freeland has chosen to champion on behalf of those forces and heirs of Rhodes’ vision who wish to become the lords of a uni-polar world.

At this point, you might be asking me: what was the point of writing all this? Wasn’t this article supposed to be about Consortium News’ legal suit against the Communications Security Establishment? Wasn’t it just about exposing Freeland’s Nazi pedigree?

While that is true, as I also said at the beginning, this article is also about David vs. Goliath.

David could not defeat Goliath physically under any circumstance that muscle ruled the fight, but David understood his opponent even better than his opponent understood himself. The fact is by taking on the Canadian branch of the Five Eyes’ protection and use of bona fide Nazis past and present, Consortium News has potentially opened up an infected wound which has nearly brought our civilization to gangrenous levels of decay.

By really understanding the nature of today’s enemy in the same manner as David understood Goliath, and then recognizing a few tiny weaknesses visible in its armor, even a small stone can accomplish miracles.

  1. Elliot Roosevelt, As He Saw It, (1946).

Legitimised Surveillance: Kim Dotcom’s Case Against GCSB

Surveillance activities and the law are often at loggerheads.  The former specialises in destroying privacy; the latter, in so far as it might be adequate, sometimes furnishes a means of preserving it.  When it comes to exposing overly-eager surveillance activity, obstacles arise.  Ironically, the privacy of agents, and the sacrosanct nature of their abuse, become points of issue.  Public interest tests are employed, often against the public.  To expose such conduct might be to compromise the State apparatus altogether.

To prosecute an open case of fair spread and free access to evidence often requires material deemed sordidly compromising.  When it comes to citizens specifically targeted for being persons of undue interest, redress can be monstrously difficult.  On this point, the spooks and their backers have the upper hand.

The case of Kim Dotcom is a study worth pursuing for that reason, not merely because of his notoriety for his cloud sharing service Megaupload and alleged copyright breaches of US law, but because he has been an object of nervous and paranoid persecution by New Zealand and US authorities for years.  Given New Zealand’s status within the intelligence sharing arrangement with the United States, keeping up a front of severe authority is essential.  Dotcom’s irreverence, his effrontery in challenging US copyright law and regulations, not to mention his unabashed backing of WikiLeaks and open information environments, has not earned him friends in Washington.

Between December 16, 2011 and to the conclusion of January 2012, the New Zealand police requested the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to intercept Dotcom’s private communications at the behest of US authorities seeking his extradition.  Dotcom subsequently challenged the legality of his arrest and the search warrants executed on his property on January 20, 2012.  It was duly found that the GCSB had acted unlawfully in their interceptions, having ignored the fact that Dotcom’s resident status protected him from surveillance.

GCSB subsequently admitted liability and, at its invitation, permitted the NZ High Court to enter judgment against it.  This was a necessary ploy, given that the agency did not want to give the game up by revealing what interested them about Dotcom’s activities.  Of interest to Dotcom was securing damages arising from breach of privacy, though it was intended as an action that would, he hoped, expose a broader pattern of unwarranted surveillance.  To that end, the cybernaut’s concern also lay in the exclusion of certain information in the intercepts at the request of GCSB, which had sought an interlocutory order preventing public disclosure.  High Court justice Gilbert J, at first instance, was convinced that letting the material into the public domain would compromise State security.

Fellow justices on the Court of Appeal were also of the same view, and accepted the argument by GCSB that section 70 of the Evidence Act covered the intercept information as “a matter of State”.  Amongst reasons to withhold information would be the likely prejudicing of the security or defence of New Zealand or the international relations of the Government of New Zealand.

In such cases, courts often indulge in an unconvincing exercise of weighing interests. The Court of Appeal observed that “courts have always held that they may balance a protected interest in non-disclosure against the public interest in disclosure.”  But in doing so, “there is no presumption for or against disclosure” when it comes to assessing section 70.

The Court of Appeal was careful to cover ground in the event that they might refuse the disclosure of such information.  It might, for instance, have little to do with evaluating competing interests than a lack of competence or expertise.  On this occasion, “Having assessed the disputed communications”, the CA found “that GCSB’s claim that disclosure would harm national security and international relations is well-founded.”

Unfortunately for those favouring transparency in the field of disclosure in cases of unwarranted, illegal surveillance no quantifiable measure is possible in making such an assessment.  Courts effectively conjure up fictions to justify.  Nominal realities – the existence, for instance, of a State – are accepted, yet the extent of injury impossible to ascertain.  Justices must contend themselves with the sense that what has been supplied to them by government authorities is sufficient.  “We are satisfied that the interest claimed exists and that disclosure would be likely to injure it.  More than that this is not appropriate to say without risking the harm that s 70 is designed to prevent.”  The circle of secrecy is thereby affirmed.

The court also held that the disclosure of those intercepts was not deemed necessary for justice to be done, a problematic point given that the surveillance was found to be illegal to begin with.  Why not see what it was that interested the intelligence services so much, given that it was a breach of law to begin with?

Such reasoning did not convince the appeal court.  The private claim for damages could still be sustained in the absence of disclosure of the intercepts.  “The claim [by Dotcom] will not fail, or be much affected, without the disputed information.  The GCSB has admitted liability.  What is in issue in this proceeding is the quantum of damages for dignitary losses.”  Matters of “methodology and tradecraft” employed by the intelligence agency were entitled to be kept out of the public eye; besides, Dotcom had already received an apology from both the Prime Minister and an admission of liability.

It is worth nothing that Dotcom’s efforts in defending his privacy against state incursions have been lengthy and prolonged, much of it associated with the extradition imbroglio facing him.  In 2015, he filed 52 requests under the Privacy Act seeking “every record mentioning him by name held by every government agency and every then-government minister, plus each agency contracted to work with those entities.”  The bulk of the requests were transferred to the Attorney-General, who declined them on the basis of vexatiousness.  Some of the information sought was also deemed to constitute “trivial” information.  Then came the Privacy Commissioner, who proved equally unsympathetic.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal, however, took a shining to the arguments, finding that the Crown had erred in transferring the requests to the AG and in refusing to consider the requests in the first place.  A range of damages was awarded, including $60,000 for injured feelings and $30,000 for loss of a benefit.  This decision was reversed in the High Court on appeal, with a finding that the transfer of the requests was “for a lawful purpose”.

The outcome of the latest Court of Appeal decision must be seen as a notch for the pro-surveillance lobby.  Outflanked by the privacy action, NZ authorities have preferred to accept a degree of liability while refusing to reveal the content of the privacy breach.  Sue us, by all means, but do not make us reveal what we found in conducting surveillance upon you.  The Secret State, despite a full blooded effort by Dotcom to confront it, remains intact.

No, Srebrenica did not “inspire” Christchurch

Earlier this month, popular ‘progressive’ news website The Intercept published an article entitled “From El Paso to Sarajevo: How White Nationalists Are Inspired by the Bosnia Genocide”, written by journalist and staff writer Murtaza Hussain. The piece argued that many of the perpetrators behind mass shootings and domestic terrorism in the West — from the convicted far right extremist behind the 2011 Norway attacks to the suspect charged in the recent mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand — were influenced by ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs against Bosnian Muslims during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Hussain uses a one-sided and Western-centric account of the inter-ethnic conflict in the Balkans to assess the Islamophobia burgeoning in Europe and the United States today. His analogy employs the same misreading used by NATO to facilitate the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia and justify its illegal military intervention and war crimes against Serbia. It is an irresponsible variety of yellow journalism that should be ruthlessly critiqued whenever it appears, especially at a news organization which purports to be “fearless, adversarial journalism that holds the powerful accountable.” It also does nothing to help address the growing foundations of fascism by diverting attention away from its real origins.

Hussain begins by accurately noting that the Australian-born suspect behind the massacre at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand, Brenton Tarrant, during his live-stream video prior to the carnage, played the song “Remove Kabab” (Serbia Strong”), an upbeat patriotic tune that pays tribute to former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić. Removed from the context of the Yugoslav Wars, the Serbian folk song and its accompanying wartime propaganda video were rediscovered by Western right-wing fanatics like Tarrant when it became a popular internet meme among the online fringe as an anthem for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in reaction to the influx of refugees from the European migrant crisis. The infamous convicted terrorist behind the July 2011 mass shooting and car bombing in Norway, Anders Breivik, also expressed affinity for the Serbs in his epic manifesto and was cited as an influence by Tarrant. However, despite the article title the author provides no evidence whatsoever to support the implication that the El Paso shooter, 21-year old Patrick Crusius, was in any way motivated by the Balkan conflict.

Brenton Tarrant also wrote the names of several historical Serbian military figures who fought against the Ottoman Empire in previous centuries in Cyrillic on his semi-automatic rifle used to carry out the slaughter. Curiously, he also wrote ‘Skanderbeg’, a legendary national hero of Albania who as a medieval military commander, defected from the Ottoman Turks and prevented their expansion toward western Europe in the 15th century. Despite his historical legacy of rescuing ‘Christendom’ from an Islamic empire to which Tarrant was likely referring, Skanderbeg holds varying significance to different peoples and for the predominantly Muslim Albanians he is viewed as a source of national pride and identity.

During WWII when Albania was under the Axis Powers sphere of influence, it was Muslim volunteers who formed the nucleus of the 21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg (1st Albanian), whose foremost victims were Christian Orthodox Serbs, in addition to Jews and Roma. In the Yugoslav Wars, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), de-listed terrorist group backed by NATO which fought against Serbia, sought to establish the modern equivalent of the ethnically pure ‘Greater Albania’ as envisioned by Benito Mussolini during WWII in the Kosovo protectorate. So if the Australian-born gunman was incited by Balkan history, it is because he was as confused and unknowledgeable about the complex subject as Hussain, given that he also wrote the number 14 on his firearm in reference to “the 14 words” from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Before falsifying the history of the Yugoslav Wars, Hussain does correctly observe that:

The Balkans are often condescendingly stereotyped as a backward region stuck in the grip of old prejudices. In reality, Serbs, Croats, and Muslims had lived together as compatriots in the former Yugoslavia for a long time before violent demagogues came to power; it took years of effort during the late 1980s and early 1990s for ultranationalist leaders to drum up the level of fear and hatred necessary for war to start.

Unfortunately, the author does not bother to investigate why they had successfully lived together in harmony as southern slavs for decades (under socialism), nor how such leaders took power and incited the different ethnicities into warring with each other as the country disintegrated, as if everything occurred in a vacuum. Following WWII, partisan leader Josip Broz Tito had indeed united the various Yugoslav peoples in congruity under a popular motto that the country consisted of ‘six republics, five nationalities, four languages, three religions, two alphabets — but one Yugoslav.’ Even the most fervent critics of socialism admit the republic was a relative success as it enjoyed freedom from being undermined by economic embargo as a neutral ‘non-aligned’ country during the Cold War after relations soured between Stalin and Tito and it became a strategic buffer between the West and the Soviets.

Following Tito’s death in 1980, a series of austerity programs sponsored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were put into effect and much like a recent study concluded regarding Weimar Germany in the 1930s, the gutting of the welfare system and the social fabric led to a resurgence of right-wing nationalism in the Balkans. Yugoslavia went through the same neoliberal ‘shock therapy’ as Chile the decade prior when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger sent the CIA to “make the economy scream” to prevent Salvador Allende from taking power, as well as post-Soviet Russia which the author’s The Intercept colleague Naomi Klein described so thoroughly in The Shock Doctrine. Yet for Hussain, the driving force in Yugoslavia’s downfall was bigotry itself, somehow isolated from the disaster capitalism forced upon it.

As only an empire denialist could overlook, Hussain makes no mention of the “encouragement of racism” on the part of U.S. imperialism, beginning with the coercive diplomacy of the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriation Act which instigated the separatist movements by providing aid exclusively to the republics that seceded and declared independence at the exclusion of the Yugoslav government. After the bill was passed by congress at the behest of the George H.W. Bush administration, only the federation of Serbia and Montenegro remained under the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. According to a declassified memorandum, the CIA had already been anticipating this collapse for several years.

Suddenly, much of the population consisting of the many different ethnic communities of the Balkans found themselves trapped within various newly formed ethno-nation states overnight that were not their own. They then began establishing proto-states within these new republics, spurring violent conflicts and territorial disputes resulting in ethnic cleansing (on all sides) across the country. Yugoslavia did not implode simply because of its own internal contradictions, but was the subject of exploitation by a more powerful outside actor seeking to economically and militarily dominate the Caspian Sea region in order to gain access to its crude oil and natural gas resources.

Serbian nationalism only saw a resurgence within Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina once Serbs became hostages under new hostile regimes, when we were told by the NATO acolytes in corporate media that it was Belgrade who were the real nationalists even though most Serbians still identified as Yugoslavs and generally wished to preserve the federation being partitioned. In fact, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague posthumously concluded that the late Serbian and Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević, who died mysteriously while in custody on trial in the Netherlands, was not responsible for war crimes committed during the Bosnian war. When Radovan Karadžić was convicted by the ICTY, it was determined the Bosnian Serbs acted on their own accord and were frequently at variance with Belgrade on the execution of the war:

Based on the evidence before the Chamber regarding the diverging interests that emerged between the Bosnian Serb and Serbian leaderships during the conflict and in particular, Milošević’s repeated criticism and disapproval of the policies and decisions made by the Accused and the Bosnian Serb leadership, the Chamber is not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence presented in this case to find that Slobodan Milošević agreed with the common plan.

Serbs certainly committed their share of war crimes, but why do Western journalists dare not speak of the thousands of Serbs ethnically cleansed in Croatia from the self-proclaimed quasi-state of Krajina? Or the mass deportations of Serbs from Kosovo in the years since? The innocent heroes and stigmatized villains were pre-selected and to do so would be actual “fearless, adversarial journalism.” Many of the war crimes committed by Muslims against Serbs and Croats in the Yugoslav Wars were by foreign mujahideen volunteers whose ranks even consisted of two of the future 9/11 hijackers — the Saudi nationals Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — who allegedly seized American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into The Pentagon. Their barbaric acts included beheadings of Serb victims that were likely inspired by the Ustaše who did the same in WWII.

Hussain repeatedly refers to what took place in Bosnia as a “genocide”, citing the dubious Srebrenica massacre in July 1995. While it is certain that a horrific war crime took place in the town, to use such a politicized term is a slanted parroting of the NATO interventionist narrative. Virtually all of the victims were Bosniak Muslim men and boys as the Bosnian Serbs had specifically evacuated women and children from the enclave and the disputed, highly inflated quantity of Bosniak victims were mostly likely a combination of fatalities from the battle for the town and retaliatory summary executions by Bosnian Serbs once they besieged the territory. Prior to the incident, Srebrenica had been under the protection of the UN peacekeeping forces which Bosnian Muslim warlord Naser Orić had used to shield his militias following their routine attacks on neighboring Serb villages whose losses also numbered in the thousands. UN General Phillipe Morillon testified that the Srebrenica massacre was motivated by retribution for the war crimes committed by Orić:

JUDGE ROBINSON: Are you saying, then, General, that what happened in 1995 was a direct reaction to what Naser Orić did to the Serbs two years before?

THE WITNESS: Yes. Yes, Your Honour. I am convinced of that. This doesn’t mean to pardon or diminish the responsibility of the people who committed that crime, but I am convinced of that, yes.

If there were deliberate killings of large groups based on their ethnonationality on all sides, then what occurred was part of a civil war, not “genocide.” Noam Chomsky observed that while NATO based its intervention on the g-word, one of its member states in Turkey was carrying out far worse atrocities against Kurds and that to use the term was an insult to the victims of the Nazis in the region’s past. Who were the principal victims of the Ustaše and the Nazi puppet regime of the Independent State of Croatia during WWII? Serbs. It is also incredible that for a journalist so fixated on neo-fascism, Hussain did not find it significant that Bosnia and Herzegovina President Alija Izetbegović had been a literal member of the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS “Handschar” (1st Croatian) in his youth during WWII when Bosnia was under the Ustaše and did three years in prison under Tito for his offense.

Why did the UN peacekeepers fail to protect Srebrenica? It is an important question considering it brought the real turning point in the war. Not long after, NATO launched Operation Deliberate Force against Ratko Mladić’s forces resulting in the Bosnian Serbs capitulating to a return to negotiations in the Dayton Accord later that year. The former mayor of Srebrenica, Hakija Meholjić, claimed the town was deliberately sacrificed as part of a ‘red line’ agreement between Izetbegović and U.S. President Bill Clinton in a ‘false flag’ to prompt the NATO intervention, as shown in a 2008 Wikileaks Cable:

Meholjic suggested that Bosniak leaders “sold” Srebrenica to the RS (and abetted genocide) when “key members of the international community started saying publicly that enclaves cannot survive.” (Note: Oric, who left Srebrenica in 1993, was not asked to defend it in 1995; ever since there have been accusations that the then Bosnian leadership deliberately allowed the enclave to fall.

Hussain truly loses any remaining “progressive” credibility when he goes on to praise the Otpor! political organization which organized protests that led to the ouster of “dictator” Milošević (actually thrice democratically-elected) in 2000 following the three month NATO bombing campaign the previous year which left Serbia with the highest cancer rate in Europe from the use of depleted uranium ammunition, “justified” by the same lopsided argument made in the article. Otpor! was portrayed as a bona fide, grassroots movement while behind the scenes it was the recipient of millions of dollars from the US government through “soft power” NGOs and CIA-fronts like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and George Soros’ Open Society Institute, financed by the non-profit industrial complex or what author Arundhati Roy has called the “NGO-ization of resistance.” The success of Otpor! became the formula for Western regime change operations via indistinguishable “pro-democracy” Color Revolutions throughout Eastern Europe in the ensuing decade. Documentary filmmaker Boris Maligurski’s The Weight of Chains series is an excellent overview of the history of Yugoslavia and its first two installments are highly recommended, while the trailer for the forthcoming third film was just released.

Perhaps the reason Hussain unquestioningly heaps praise upon Otpor! is the enormous undisclosed conflict of interest on the part of The Intercept’s ownership in billionaire entrepreneur and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who established the site’s parent organization First Look Media. In The CIA as Organized Crime, journalist and author Douglas Valentine explains how Omidyar’s “philanthropic” investment firm co-financed with the U.S. State Department many of the NGOs in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution such as Center UA which flipped the 2004 Ukrainian election results to a pro-Western candidate. It went on to do the same funding the Euromaidan protests and subsequent coup in 2014 and both so-called Color Revolutions were modeled on the Otpor! movement.  Then, again, the entire premise behind First Look Media is suspect considering it made its name covering the revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden while Omidyar’s eBay simultaneously owns Paypal, one of the biggest backers of NSA surveillance. What better way to commandeer dissent then to throw money at journalists?

Hussain also eagerly mentions that “Russian volunteers” participated in the killings at Srebrenica, omitting the equal number of Greek militiamen. This is another instance of thinly veiled Russophobia and the assignment of guilt towards Moscow for the rise of the far right in the West. Its intention is to include Russia within The Clash of Civilizations narrative which is itself a hypothesis for ‘remaking the world order’ through a division and conquering of Eurasia. Hussain does so by isolating the Yugoslav Wars from its context and weaponizing the region‘s history so as to deflect fault for the Islamophobia in the Anglosphere. However, Samuel P. Huntington excluded the Christian Orthodox nations of Russia and Serbia from his “core civilizations” and rather considered them ‘torn countries’ among the major civilizations. In Brenton Tarrant’s mind he may have been elevating the Yugoslav Wars through his act of terrorism, when all he accomplished was provide ammunition for the Western yellow press to further slander the Serbian victims of U.S. imperialism and drag their name through the mud for something they had nothing to do with.

As for the mass shooting in El Paso, the author should try directing the blame closer to home. One can’t help but be reminded of the brilliant observation made by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (before he became a shill for the Democratic Party) who made a connection between the Columbine High School shooting and its occurrence in the midst of the unilateral “humanitarian intervention” in Yugoslavia on the day the U.S. dropped the most amount of bombs in the Kosovo campaign which he further examined in his film Bowling For Columbine. President Clinton had to give two press conferences the morning of April 20th, 1999 — one addressing the Columbine massacre and another giving an explanation for the NATO killing of civilians in Serbia.

American society is suffering from a severely disconnected collective psyche when it fails to make a connection between mass shootings domestically and its endless wars abroad, the real catalyst for the Islamophobic reaction to the refugee crisis. U.S. gun culture is a product of the Cold War which conditioned a mass psychology of fear and liberals shedding crocodile tears who think gun control legislation is somehow a solution to the problem when it would only put a small band-aid on a much deeper wound are unwilling to explore the real roots of the issue. It’s true the U.S. is the only country that suffers from routine mass shootings like in El Paso and Dayton, but the U.S. is also the only country with 800+ military bases in more than 80 countries around the world while currently bombing 7 different nations. America is an insecure, terrified country that resolves everything with violence, at home and abroad, and until this connection is recognized, mass shootings like El Paso will likely continue just like our wars.

Condescension and Climate Change: Australia and the Failure of the Pacific Islands Forum

It was predictably ugly: in tone, in regret, and, in some ways, disgust.  Australia emerged from the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting isolated, the true spoiler of the party which saw 17 states facing the obstinacy of one.  It had taken place on Tuvalu, some two hours flight north of Fiji.  The capital Funafuti is located on vanishing land; the island state is facing coastal erosion, the pressing issue of salinity, the very crisis of its existence.

Pacific Island leaders were already wise to the accounting cosmetics of Canberra’s accountants prior to the Forum.  It reeked, for instance, of a gesture for permissive pollution to the tune of $500 million: we give you money to boost “resilience” and sandbag your countries against rising water levels; we will keep polluting and emitting with expanded fossil fuel projects because that is what we are good at.

Alex Hawke, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, called the cash promise the “most amount of money Australia has ever spent on climate in the Pacific”.  As Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga explained, “No matter how much money you put on the table, it doesn’t give you the excuse not to do the right thing.”  That right thing was a reduction in emissions, “including not opening your coal mines”.

The PIF leaders were also aware about what disruptive role Australia was going to play.  Australian politicians of the past and present have done little to endear themselves to a forum they have only recently felt more interest in because of China’s increasingly conspicuous presence.  In 2015, when Tony Abbott held the reins of power, his culturally challenged immigration minister Peter Dutton, in conversation with the prime minister, quipped rather darkly that “time doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to have water lapping at your door.”  The remark was a response to a meeting on Syrian refugees which had been running late, or on “Cape York time”, as he put it.

Ahead of the leaders’ forum, an annotated draft of the Pacific Islands Forum declaration revealed a sprinkling of qualifications, repudiations and rejections on the part of the Australian delegation.  The comments from August 7 sought to restrict any total decarbonisation, bans on the future use of coal power plants, opt out clauses for the 1.5C limit in temperature rise, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and the very mention of the term climate change.

When it came to proceedings, Prime Minister Scott Morrison showed his true garish colours: Australia was a small contributor to emissions; it was a global problem, and so others had to do more.  In short, the weak excuse of any emission producing state.  Besides, he kept trumpeting, Australia was a leading investor in the sector of renewables.

Back in Australia, the Australian broadcaster and regular vulgarian Alan Jones was busy attacking the leaders of the gathering, most notably New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who had suggested that Australia “had to answer the Pacific” on the climate change issue.  A sock, he suggested, should have been strategically placed down her throat.  He subsequently suggested that this was a “wilful misrepresentation of what I said obviously distract from the point that she was wrong about climate change and wrong about Australia’s contribution to carbon dioxide levels.”

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was sickeningly unimpressed, having expressed open admiration for New Zealand’s efforts to combat climate change.  “Easy to tell someone to shove a sock down a throat when you’re sitting in the comfort of a studio.  The people of the Pacific, forced to abandon their homes due to climate change, don’t have that luxury.  Try saying it to a Tuvaluan child pleading for help.”

Michael McCormack, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, added the most revealing touch on Australia’s position at the PIF during a revealing business function in the rural town of Wagga Wagga on Friday.  (McCormack, it should be noted, is on record as disputing evidence of an increase in global temperatures.)  With an address heavy with bruising paternalism, he thought the PIF leaders were bellyaching, needlessly lamenting their fate.  He admitted “getting a bit annoyed when we have people in those sorts of countries pointing the finger at Australia and saying we should be shutting down all our resources sector so that, you know, they will continue to survive.”  He had little doubt they would continue to do so, due to the “large aid assistance from Australia” and “because their workers come here and pick our fruit, pick our fruit grown with hard Australian enterprise and endeavour and we welcome them and we always will.”  The only thing lacking in the statement was a Boris Johnson-styled garnish: a reference to cannibalism, or the toothy water melon smiles.

A neat summary of the entire encounter between the Pacific Island leaders and Australia was provided by Tuvalu’s Sopoaga.  “You [Scott Morrison] are concerned about saving your economy in Australia… I am concerned about saving my people in Tuvalu.”

The final communique proved lukewarm and non-committal, a feeble reiteration of existing understandings that climate change was a serious matter.  Bainimarama supplied an acid opinion on the final text.  “We came together in a nation that risks disappearing to the seas, but unfortunately, we settled for the status quo of our communique.  Watered-down climate language has real consequences – like water-logged homes, schools, communities, and ancestral burial grounds.”  Sopoaga was even more dramatic in assessing the response to the weakened language of the communique.  “There were serious arguments and even shouting, crying, leaders were shedding tears.”

Sadly, the main Australian opposition party would not have done much better.  Efforts on the part of Senator Penny Wong to claim a drastically different Labor approach must be put to rest. This is a party torn on the subject of King Coal, energy costs and renewables.

The hysterical aspect to PIF is that Australia’s denuding contribution will only serve to damage its own interests.  In the short-term, Chinese diplomats will be delighted by the self-sabotaging efforts of the Morrison government.  Beijing’s Special Envoy to the Pacific, Ambassador Wang Xuefeng, was on hand to tell the forum that “no matter how the international situation evolves, China will always be a good friend, partner and brother of Pacific Island Countries.” Expect a surge of interest towards the PRC in the forthcoming months.

A longer term consequence is also impossible to ignore.  Fine to joke about having refugee islanders pick the fruit of your country, but to do so requires places to grow fruit.  Rising sea levels may will cause the dreaded vanishing of the island states, but it will also submerge a good deal of Australia’s precariously placed coastal cities.  What a bitter, if not deserved, outcome that would be.

Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common

Writing under the title of “If the El Paso shooter had been Muslim”, Moustafa Bayoumi stated the obvious.

“If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim,” Bayoumi wrote in the British Guardian newspaper on August 6, US President Donald Trump “would be lobbing accusations such as ‘Islam hates us’ in the direction of Muslims and not lecturing the public about video games.”

Bayoumi was referring to the double standards that define much of western official and media discourses regarding violence. When the alleged perpetrator of violence is a Muslim, then the case becomes a matter of national security and is categorically dealt with as an act of terrorism. When the perpetrator is a white male, however, it is a whole different story.

On August 3, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius carried out a mass shooting in a Wal-mart store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 innocent people.

Neither US authorities nor media used the term “terrorism” in describing the heinous act. Instead, the Justice Department is “seriously considering” bringing federal hate crime charges against the killer, CNN reported.

On the other hand, Trump reasoned that “mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” in another attempt at whitewashing violent crimes by white individuals.

The “mental illness” explanation, in particular, has served as the convenient rationale for all similar violence.

For example, when 28-year-old Ilan Long opened fire on college students in Thousand Oaks, California, in November 2018, killing 12 people, Trump offered this logic. “He was a very, very mentally ill person,” he said, referring to Long. “He’s a very sick — well, it’s a mental health problem. He is a very sick puppy. He was a very, very sick guy.”

The mental illness argument was infused repeatedly, including last March, when Brenton Tarrant opened fire on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” Trump said of Tarrant’s anti-Muslim terrorist attack.

Compare this to Trump’s response to the killing of 14 people in San Bernardino, California, which was blamed on two Muslims. Trump immediately assigned the word “terrorism” to the violent act, while calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of the entry of Muslims to the United States, “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on”.

But we do, in fact, know “what is going on”, a truth that goes beyond the typical western double standards. Crusius, Tarrant and many such white terrorists are connected through a deep bond that exceeds the supposed claim of mental illness into something truly sinister.

These individuals are all part of a larger phenomenon, an amalgamation of various ultra-nationalist governments, political movements and groups all around the world, all united by their hate for immigrants, refugees and Muslims.

Crusius and Tarrant were not “lone wolf” terrorists, as some would want us to believe. Even if they were single-handedly responsible for the mass murder of those innocent people, they are members of a large, ideological, militant network that is dedicated to spreading hate and racism, one which sees immigrants — especially Muslims — as “invaders”.

In his “manifesto”, a 74-page document that he posted online shortly before he carried out his heinous act, Tarrant references the far-right, the racist ideologues who inspired him, along with fellow “ethno-soldiers” — like-minded murderers who committed equally horrific acts against civilians.

It was not by accident that Tarrant named his document the “Great Replacement”, as it was framed after a similarly named conspiracy theory made popular by a strong Israel supporter, Renaud Camus.

Camus is an infamous French writer whose “Le Grand Remplacement”, an even more extreme interpretation of Francis Fukuyama’s Clash of Civilizations, envisages a global conflict that sees Muslims as the new enemy.

The Great Replacement, along with other such literature widely popular among the far right, represents the ideological foundation for the, until recently, disorganized and disconnected efforts by various ultra-nationalist movements around the world, all united in their desire to address the “Muslim invasion”.

The common thread between violent white males who commit mass killings is obvious: a deep indoctrination of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and hate for Muslims. Like Tarrant, Crusius also left his own manifesto, one that is, according to CNN, “filled with white nationalist and racist hatred toward immigrants and Hispanics, blaming immigrants and first-generation Americans for taking away jobs and the blending of cultures in the US”.

Moreover, both seemed to subscribe to the same intellectual discourse, as they had posted links to a 16,000-word document on Twitter and 8chan that was “filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments”.

“The writer of the document linked to the El Paso suspect expressed support for the shootings of two mosques in Christchurch,” CNN also reported.

White militants are gripped by the groundless fear that they are being “replaced”. “Great Replacement” promoters argue that Islam and the Islamic civilization are “ethnically replacing” other races, and that such a supposed phenomenon must be stopped, using violent means if necessary. Unsurprisingly, they see Israel as a model country that is succeeding in fighting against the “Muslim menace”.

What makes violent white supremacists even more dangerous is the fact that they now have friends in high places. Trump’s refusal to address the issue of white nationalist militancy in a serious way is no accident. But the American president is not alone. The rising star of Italian politics, Matteo Salvini, for example, has a great deal of sympathy for such movements. Following the Christchurch massacre, the Italian defense minister refused to condemn white extremists. Instead, he said: “The only extremism which should be carefully addressed is the Islamic one.”

The list of far-right ideologues and their benefactors is long and constantly expanding. But their hate-filled speech and disturbing “theories”, along with their fascination with Israeli violence and racism, would have been assigned to the bins of history if it were not for the high price of violence that is now associated with this movement.

Our understanding of white nationalist violence should move beyond the double-standard argument into a more wholesome analysis of the ideological links that tie these individuals and groups together. In the final analysis, no form of violence targeting innocent people should be justified or tolerated, regardless of the skin color, religion or identity of the perpetrators.

Fantasies of Humanity: The Christchurch Pledge and a Regulated Internet

It had to come.  A massacre, broadcast in real time and then shared with viral automatism; the inevitable shock, and the counter from the authorities.  The Christchurch shootings, inflicting fifty-one deaths upon worshippers at two mosques in quiet New Zealand on March 15 this year, have spurred Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.  Laws have been passed regulating guns in her country.  Interest has increased in monitoring white nationalist groups.  But Ardern was never keen keeping the matter local.

In Paris, the NZ Prime Minister, meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, brought other leaders and US tech giants to make a global pledge to “eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.”  The cheer squad feel behind the “Christchurch Call to Action” was unmistakable.  Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the “deadly consequences” of “hateful content online” and his enthusiasm behind the project. “Together, we can create a world where all people – no matter their faith, where they live, or where they are from – are safe and secure both on and offline.”  Stirring stuff.

The opening of the pledge starts with a description: “On 15 March 2019, people looked on in horror as, for 17 minutes, a terrorist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was live streamed.”  The emphasis is significant here: not merely the atrocity itself but the means of its dissemination.  Stress falls upon the fact that “the live stream was viewed some 4,000 times before being removed.”

The premise of the call is exaggerated and forced: that the events were caused by online content the way a child’s violence can be caused by gormless hours of glued-to-screen viewing. Ignore the tingling motivating factors of the shooter in question, a view that was nurtured in the atmosphere of acceptable intolerance.  Ignore, as well, the contested, troubled literature on the “contagion” thesis behind mass shootings and killings.  The shooter becomes less significant than the act of streaming his exploits, or sharing unsavoury matter with chatty dolts on certain chat forums. “The attack was livestreamed, went viral and remains available on the web despite the measures taken to remove it.”

The call is framed is a clunky exercise pillowed by the language of openness, only to then flatten it.  It articulates “the conviction that a free, open and secure internet offers extraordinary benefits to society.  Respect for freedom of expression is fundamental.”  But there is an unqualified injunction: “no one has the right to create and share terrorist and violent extremist content online.”

It seems fluffy, the stuff of head-in-the-cloud enthusiasm, but lodged in such calls is a desperate, confused message with sinister implications.  Commitments, outlined by Trudeau’s office, include “building more inclusive, resilient communities to counter violent radicalisation” and “enforcing rules laws that stop the production and dissemination of terrorist and extremist content online.” Media outlets would also be told “to apply rules when reporting on terrorist events” to avoid amplification of the content.  This is ignorance as antidote, not reason as solution.

Online providers, in turn, are urged to, “Take transparent, specific measures seeking to prevent the upload of terrorist and violent extremist content and to prevent its dissemination on social media and similar content-sharing services”.  The qualifying point is that such measures are “consistent with human rights and fundamental freedoms.”  Transparent processes would include “publishing the consequences of sharing terrorist and violent extremist content”.

Live streaming is the true bugbear here, with the need to implement “immediate, effective measures to mitigate the specific risk that terrorist and violent extremist content is disseminated”. Algorithms that might magnify the spread of material should also be reviewed.

A more “humane” internet is central to Ardern’s vision which, read another way, is one more regulated and policed of its content and uses.  This lies more in the realm of social engineering than it does in free self-correction, the call for presbyters of cyberspace to cull and remove what states, or the tech enforcers, deem inappropriate.  Given that “extremism” and “terrorism” remain very much in the eye of the censoring beholder, the dangers of this should be apparent.  Dissidents, contrarians and commentators are bound to fall foul of the project.

The regulatory attitude outlined in the pledge has been twinned with a business object.  Silicon Valley, to remain in clover, has been convinced to make overtures and moves dealing with the sharing of “terrorist” and “extremist” content.  Having become a punching bag for anxious regulators, Facebook announced that Facebook Live would be barred to those who, in the words of company official Guy Rosen, “have broken certain rules… including our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy”.  A “one strike” policy would be introduced.  Technical advances to combat “adversarial media manipulation” and improved “image and video analysis technology” were needed.

With such high minded calls for regulation and control from government voices, a seminal warning is necessary.  John Perry Barlow, in A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, began his call quite differently.  Traditional states were the problem.  “Governments of the Industrial world, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us.  You have no sovereignty where we gather.”

Such governments, with efforts to bring in the behemoths of Silicon Valley, have stated their clear purpose: to intrude upon Barlow’s world of the cyber mind and clip any sovereign pretext that might have ever existed.  The internet, for them, remains a vigilante playground, difficult to police with its bursts of anarchic sentiment and primeval insensibilities.  While Ardern’s sentiments are probably genuine enough, their authenticity hardly matters before the dangers such initiatives will create.  Symptoms have been confused, if not totally muddled, with causes; technology has been marked as the great threat.

Rising Politics of Intolerance and the Need for Unity

Over the last 20 years extreme right-wing groups have been on the rise throughout the world. They share a belief in white supremacism and conspiracy theories that allege there is a global plot to replace white Christian populations with Muslims and people of color.

As socio-economic inequality has grown and immigration increased the reactionary ideology of tribal nationalism has become more popular and bled into mainstream politics. Far right groups have garnered support and won political power in a number of countries, including Austria, Poland, Hungary, Italy, the US and India.

Rising far-right terror

Within the spectrum of the far right there are varying degrees of bigotry and Neo-Fascist ideals; at the darkest extreme there are the Neo-Nazi’s, a small percentage that holds the most violent views; next are the pro-white, anti-Semitic social conservatives, they form the majority and want a separation of the races; then there is the more moderate wing or Alt Lite, staunchly anti-feminist, anti-political correctness, pro-western chauvinism. All are abhorrent, all are dangerous; a hint of prejudice no matter where it comes from adds to the collective atmosphere of intolerance, fans the flames of division and can incite violence.

While overall terrorism throughout the world is declining, The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) states that, “there has been a real and significant increase in far-right terrorist activity.”

Since 2014, the number of attacks from right-wing extremists has been greater than attacks from Jihadists, and, the Anti-Defamation League reports that during 2018 “right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 murders in the United States [up 35% on 2017].” Globally, between 2013 and 2017 there were 113 attacks “by far-right groups and individuals…. of those 47 attacks took place in 2017.

On 15th March, 50 Muslims were murdered in Christchurch, New Zealand: the indiscriminate attack on two mosques during Friday prayers was carried out by Brenton Tarrent, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist. Prior to the attack Tarrent published a 78-page document entailed The Great Replacement, online. In it he states that the aim of the Christchurch murders was “to take revenge on the [Muslim] invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history…and the thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks throughout European lands.” The manifesto title and many of the ideas promoted in it come from Le Grand Remplacement by 71-year-old Jean Camus and published in 2012.

Camus claims that the white Christian European population is being ousted by immigrants from the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. His views have become highly influential on right-wing groups, nationalist and identitarian movements across Europe, the US and elsewhere. Although Camus is particularly concerned with France and preserving French culture, he believes that all Western countries are faced with what he calls, “ethnic and civilizational substitution”, in which over the course of a single generation a civilization is transformed by immigration.

As a result of wars in the Middle East and economic insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa large numbers of migrants have indeed fled to Europe and elsewhere seeking safety and a new life. The influx of migrants/refugees into western countries presents societal challenges and change, but is not a threat or an act of ‘replacement’. The vast majority of migrants do not want to leave their homeland and travel to a country they do not know; people migrate to escape conflict, persecution and economic hardship, much of it caused by the foreign policies of western powers over decades, the exploitation of poor countries over centuries and the concentration of global economic wealth.

Cries of hate; modes of tolerance

Far-right terrorism is a transnational issue; extremists from different countries are more connected than ever and work together. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies relates the example of how in early 2018 members of the Rise Above Movement  (RAM, a white supremacist group based in California) “traveled to Germany, Ukraine, and Italy to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday and to meet with members of European white supremacist groups.” They posted photographs on Instagram with the RAM logo and words like “RAPEFUGEES ARE NOT WELCOME HERE”.

In Ukraine RAM members are reported to have met with Azov Battalion, a paramilitary unit of the Ukrainian National Guard believed to be training and radicalizing white supremacist organizations based in the United States.

The internet plays a crucial role in the work of such groups: social media platforms are employed by both Islamist and right-wing extremists to spread propaganda, organize training, make travel arrangements for events/protests, raise funds and recruit members. Extreme right-wing Internet channels spread lies, exaggerate and mislead; when challenged the sacred cow of freedom of speech is invoked to justify the use of inflammatory language. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right, but when it leads to murderous violence it violates the most basic human right, the right to life; freedom of speech needs to be conditioned by a sense of social responsibility, respect and understanding of others.

Acts of hate and intolerance of all kinds have been increasing exponentially across the western world in recent years. The 2016 election of Donald Trump in the US, the highly divisive EU referendum in Britain the same year and the influx of refugees fleeing wars and economic hardship triggered a wave of crimes against immigrants, particularly Muslims, as well as other minority groups. Liberal politicians, especially women, have also been targeted, many receiving hate mail and violent threats from right-wing extremists.

The current hatred of Muslims was aroused by the 9/11 attacks and inflamed by the ‘War on Terror’ announced by President George W. Bush in 2007; prejudice normalized, the far right flourished. A 2010 poll conducted by Gallup found that almost half of Muslim Americans experienced racial or religious discrimination, which is on par with “Hispanic Americans (48%) and African Americans (45%),” and, according to research by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency a third of Muslims in Europe say they face discrimination effecting employment, access to public services and housing.

Mainstream politicians stir up discrimination and incite hate; President Trump openly expresses hostility to foreign nationals and consistently makes and retweets Islamophobic comments, he has banned people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, talks of the US being invaded and is building a ‘wall’ on the Mexican/US border. He is not alone in pandering to prejudice, many right and far right leaning politicians in western democracies have been guilty of fanning the fires. A striking example was the recent action by UK Home Secretary, Sajid David when he stripped Shamima Begum of her British citizenship. The 19 year old, who was in the final days of pregnancy when the announcement was made, had made the mistake of going to Syria in 2016 to support ISIS and marry an ISIS fighter. Her baby was born inside a refugee camp in Syria and, due to lack of proper medical care, died three weeks later.

Not only is the action to make her stateless illegal, it panders to the rhetoric of right wing populism and, instead of fostering forgiveness and compassion, adds to the creation of an environment in which judgment, intolerance and retribution flourish.

Unity not division

Protectionist ideals flourish in an atmosphere of fear, of economic instability and an unstable political environment; such insecure conditions strengthen inward-looking insular attitudes allowing the divisive ‘us versus them’ ideology to become the norm. Divisions of all kinds feed the idea of separation, create distrust, suspicion and fear; and fear leads to conflict and hate.

A cornerstone of the economic system and many aspects of contemporary life is competition; competition encourages division. Competition and aggression go together: the sense that we must compete or fight to survive, that others – especially others that are dissimilar – are regarded as opponents, rivals, competitors wanting what we have, which we must defend at all costs. Trust is nowhere in such an unjust world, society fractures along flag waving lines, violence erupts.

One of the consequences of this combative socio-economic system is inequality – of wealth, income, opportunity, influence, access to culture etc., etc. This social poison fuels a range of ills including mistrust, particularly of ‘the other’, someone who looks, talks and prays differently. Societies with the highest levels of inequality have the lowest levels of trust.

Competition, socio-economic inequality and poverty are not the cause of right-wing extremism, neither is the spread of misinformation or the use of inflammatory language, but collectively they form a powerful force in the creation of circumstances in which negative human tendencies like fear and aggression, are inflamed.

Division in any form, including nationalism, and competition go against human nature; if we are to free the world of all forms of extremism and hate they need to be driven out of society and from the systems under which we live. Unity is the keynote of the times, unity with the greatest level of diversity; modes of living that encourage tolerance and unite people must be actively inculcated. This means rejecting competition and embracing cooperation; it means sharing resources, information and wealth equitably; it means building trust and right relationships. Only then will there be peace within our communities and the wider world.

On My Visit to New Zealand

I visited the city of Christchurch on May 23, 2018, as part of a larger speaking tour in New Zealand that also took me to Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin.

New Zealand is an exceptional country, different from other countries that are often lumped under the generalized designation of the ‘western world.’ Almost immediately after my arrival to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most populous city, I was struck by the overt friendliness, hospitality and diversity.

This is not to downgrade the ongoing struggles in the country, lead among them being the campaign for land rights as championed by the Maori people, the original inhabitants of New Zealand; but, indeed, there was something refreshingly different about New Zealanders.

Just the fact that the Maori language, “Te Reo”, is one of the three official languages in the country, the others being English  and Sign Language, immediately sets New Zealand apart from other colonized spaces, where indigenous peoples, cultures, languages and rights are, to various extents, inconsequential.

It is due to the empowered position of the indigenous Maori culture, that New Zealand is, compared to other countries, more inclusive and more accepting of refugees and immigrants. And that is likely why New Zealand – and Christchurch, in particular – was chosen as a target for the terrorist attacks carried out by an Australian national on March 15.

The Australian terrorist – whose name will not be mentioned here in honor of a call made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, as not to celebrate the infamy of the senseless murderer – wanted to send a message that immigrants, particularly Muslims, are not safe, not even in New Zealand.

But his attempt backfired. Not only will he live “the rest of his life in isolation in prison”, as promised by New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, who was speaking at the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emergency conference in Turkey on March 22, but the horrific crime has brought New Zealanders even closer together.

There is something sorrowful, yet beautiful, about Christchurch. This small, welcoming city, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, was devastated on February 22, 2011 by a massive earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed much of the town.

Last May, I spoke at Christchurch’s Cardboard Cathedral, an innovative structure that was built as a temporary replacement to the Anglican Cathedral that was destroyed in the earthquake.

In my talk, I commended the people for their beautiful church, and for their own resilience in the face of hardship. The diversity, openness and solidarity of the audience reflected the larger reality throughout the city, in fact, throughout the country. For me, Christchurch was not a place of tragedy, but a source of hope.

My audience, which also included members of the Muslim community, some coming from Al Noor Mosque – the main target of the recent attack – listened and engaged me as I argued that the genuine authentic voices of ordinary people should be placed at the core of our understanding of the past, and our hope for a better future. While the focus of my talk was the history of the Palestinian people, the message exceeded the struggle for freedom in Palestine into the struggle and rights of all indigenous groups, guided by such uplifting experiences as that of the Maori people of New Zealand itself.

I also had the chance to meet with Marama Davidson, co-leader of the Green Party, among other MPs. It was strange to be in a position where solidarity from politicians came across as genuine as that of the unconditional solidarity of ordinary activists – once again, highlighting the uniqueness of New Zealand’s progressive politics and leadership.

Experiencing that myself, it was no surprise to see the outpouring of genuine love and support by Prime Minister Ardern and many members of her cabinet and parliament following the mosque attack. The fact that she, along with numerous women throughout the country, wore symbolic head-scarves in order to send a message to Muslims that they are not alone, while countless thousands of New Zealanders mourned the victims who perished in Al Noor and Linwood mosques, was unprecedented in the recent history of Western-Muslim relationship.

In fact, on Friday March 22, when all of New Zealand’s TV and radio stations transmitted the call for Muslim prayer, and as Muslims and non-Muslims rallied together in a massive display of human solidarity while mourning their dead, for a moment, all Muslims became New Zealanders and all New Zealanders became Muslims.

At the end of my talk, a group of Muslims from the mosque approached me with a gift, a box of dates to break my fast, as it was the month of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and repentance for Muslims worldwide. With much gratitude I took the box of dates and promised to visit Al Noor when I return to the country in the future.

A few months later, as I watched the horrific images on television of the terrorist attack that struck this peaceful city, I immediately thought of the Cardboard Cathedral, of the beautiful solidarity of the Maori, of the numerous embraces of so many New Zealanders, and, of the kindly Muslims and the box of dates.

I also understood why the undeserving-to-be named terrorist chose to strike Christchurch, and the underlying message he wanted to send to Muslims, immigrants, New Zealanders and all of those who champion peaceful co-existence and tolerance worldwide.

But he failed. In fact, all other foot soldiers of racism and hate will continue to fail because tragedy often unites us. Collective pain helps us see each other as human beings first, where our differences, however great, can never be enough to justify or even explain why 3-year-old Mucad Ibrahim had to die, along with 49 other, beautiful and innocent people.

However, one can be comforted by the Maori saying, “Ka mate te kāinga tahi, ka ora te kāinga rua” – “when one house dies, the second lives”. It means that good things can always emerge from misfortune.

It will take much time for Christchurch, and the whole of New Zealand, to heal from this terrible misfortune. But the strength, will and courage of so many communities should be enough to turn a horrific terrorist act into an opportunity to heal our collective wounds, not just in New Zealand, but the world over.