http://www.makepovertyhistory.org.nz beautiful monsters: Spot the difference...

August 25, 2004

Spot the difference...

Quite a few people have been saying things like, what’s the difference between the comments Tamaki made, and counter protestors comparing Tamaki to Hitler. Isn’t that hateful too? Tactics like bringing along children and doing the haka have been accepted when used by other groups… And Destiny aren’t saying hateful things… and so on. Here are some of my thoughts. In no particular order…


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lining up


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colourful countering

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Hate is a very strong word. And I would not say that the majority of the people there were “haters and wreckers”. I might describe them as misguided, ill informed perhaps. But the fact is, they were there to support Tamaki, and they were going along with his messages of hate (the same way that people in Germany went along with…)

When I looked up “hate” on dictionary.com it came up with phrases like “to feel hostility or animosity toward… to detest…” I don’t think it is too strong a word to describe Tamaki's behaviour.

And do I feel hate towards Tamaki? Mostly I feel sadness, fear, and concern. I wonder why he’s ended up feeling the way he does. It’s hard to feel love towards him... the same as it’s hard to feel love for the guys who have raped and abused me. But I do recognise that he’s a person. He has the capacity for love, creativity, compassion… and he has done some good. There were young people there yesterday who, through Destiny, had managed to break free from addictions, or from living on the streets. And I say, great!

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Other protests I’ve been on have sometimes include an angry, even hateful element. And that has been really sad. I’ve backed away from protests where I believe in the cause, but where anger has taken over. Anger has its time and place, but in the long run I don’t believe it’s productive.

But every protest I’ve been on, from GE Free to the Peace Movement to the Hikoi for the foreshore and seabed has been incredibly creative. There have been beautiful costumes and banners, witty slogans, spontaneous singing and dancing. People have given out flowers, or free cake. At the GE free tent city people strung scraps of material together into banners, and shared huge pots of chai tea. There were discussions and debates. Yes, sometimes we got things wrong. We’d had some bad experiences with cops and got a bit paranoid, and as a result a friend of mine was made to feel very unwelcome because he didn’t look like a hippie and therefore might have been an under cover cop. I’m very sad that he was treated that way. And yeah, after the cops started to take away our tents and our gear, and we were left soaking wet in the rain, shivering, hungry, some of us got a bit angry and shouted angrily in the direction of the cops. But over all, these were a couple of incidents in an event that spanned days… and that was filled with experiences of creativity, and some healthy debate.


Spot the difference



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The counter march…


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Destiny Marches

Yesterday at Parliament, I did not see that kind of creativity. Most of the banners were official Destiny ones, some were hand painted but many had the same slogans, straight out of Destiny press releases. There was a strong sense of people following. I did not see the Destiny people sit down in a big circle on parliament lawn and have a debate. Ok, so it would have been a big circle! But they didn’t break up into small groups and have a debate either. They punched the air and shouted in unison to the speeches of their leaders.

Oh, and can I just say that I have never been part of a protest that had a "VIP Lounge". Or security with nifty headsets. Or one person who could be easily identified as the leader. Let alone a leader who drove off in a flash car. 6

I’ve been on protests where there were children before... but they’ve always been very well informed and articulate about the issues. The kids I encountered yesterday were bright, intelligent, but they really didn’t have a clue what it was all about. They were there because their parents had brought them, and some of them had been told a few very vague things about the reason for the event. The kids were mostly either hyped up or terrified by the crowd. Most of them were friendly and eager to talk, but their parents certainly weren’t keen for them to talk to counter protestors.


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As for the haka... well, I do think there were some differences. Ok, so there’s the All Blacks… and it seems a bit more appropriate in that context because it’s all about competition, and only one side can win, and part of winning is always going to be trying to get the better of the other team... through intimidation if necessary. I don’t think this is a good thing (I played for the BOP rep team for waterpolo in highschool, and sometimes it got nasty I can tell you! I was scratched and clawed at, held under water, my togs ripped down...) A certain amount of behaviour that might not be considered appropriate in other contexts seems to be socially accepted when it comes to sports. For whatever reason.

Then there is haka for performance, for tourism, etc. And in those situations it is not directed at a specific group of people. As a form of protest... there were some spontaneous and some rehearsed haka performances at the hikoi for the foreshore and seabed... but these were directed at The Crown, rather than at individual members of society.


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But yesterday... it was an event at which it was made clear that people like me are not wanted in society. I was told I was an abomination, a pervert, a tool of Satan, the cause of the ruination of society, and that I didn’t have the same rights as other people. And then several hundred men and boys did a haka. How could I not feel personally threatened?

It was weird yesterday, because in some ways it was similar to the hikoi. For one thing, I was an ethnic minority in my own country, which is not a common occurrence for me. For another, it was huge. But at the hikoi I was treated with dignity, respect, and love. I was made to feel welcome, honoured, appreciated. Yesterday, I did not feel welcomed, or respected. Quite the contrary.

I went home feeling shaken, frightened, vulnerable and tearful.

But, I imagine, a lot of the Destiny crowd would have gone home experiencing a real buzz, and a sense of camaraderie and pride. I say this because I used to be involved in fundamentalist churches. I never went to an event on this scale, but I experienced a lot of hype, and I know what it felt like to be part of. It was exciting. It was powerful. It was addictive.

Finally, as I said in the comments to my last blog, no one is saying that Tamaki has set up a gas chamber behind his mansion... But an awful lot of people drew the same parallel... from my parents to a Listener columnist, from a random guy in the street to the woman behind the counter in a coffee shop I went to today. These people weren’t the radical leftist fringe. And I don’t believe that in making these comparisons we are denying the horror of what happened during the holocaust. But the holocaust didn’t come out of nowhere. It started with the kind of behaviour that we saw in Wellington yesterday. And that is very very worrying.


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I don't like talking about "us" and "them" but it's hard not to. And I don't want to sound like a Buffyphile, but Willow's words back in season one kept echoing in my mind:

"...when I walked in there... it wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun."

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This is the 4th post relating to the Destiny Enough Is Enough march.
Go to post 1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6

Posted by Fionnaigh at August 25, 2004 12:52 AM
Comments

Thanks for your thoughts. I think it says a lot that those Destiny would see as the "enemy" (yourself included I guess) are acting in a more Christian manner than they are themselves… it's quite sad to see.

Do you think maybe some of the problem is that these people aren't used to protesting? It sounds like you've attended a few, and as such you're reasonably comfortable in that environment. I'd imagine that the majority of the Destiny group are not regular protesters, and may have simply found themselves in a strange environment, unsure how to respond.

That said, the level of aggression is disturbing. It saddens me to see Christians who have lost the ability to treat other people as fellow humans.

Posted by: Matt Wilson at August 25, 2004 03:18 PM

I think it's a mistake to see it as a protest directed at the public. It was a rally to consolidate Tamaki's flock: rev them up, give them an enemy, and let them feel the great rush of collective action. I should think that from that POV it was an enormous success for Destiny.

And that's why they don't care how they looked or behaved - it wasn't for us, it was for themselves.

Posted by: stephen at August 26, 2004 07:33 AM

Disagree completely, Stephen. In fact, the message was definitely tailored for a broader audience than current or potential Destiny members.

While Tamaki played up the "make gays, protitutes, and abortions illegal" part of his message, he largely played down the "women submit to men" and "state supression of religions, and denominations of Christianity, that Destiny does not like", both of which feature heavily in the for-the-Destiny-faithful sermons. Presumably he did not want any Catholics, Anglicans, or whatnot who share his enthusiasm for the former messages to realise that in his worldview, they're next against the wall.

Posted by: Rodger Donaldson at August 26, 2004 10:13 AM

i wonder what he's really afraid of?
heres a quote from gaynz.com from one of his TV programmes:

5: EVERY MAN AND BOY WILL BE SEXUALLY PERVERTED!
"We don't go for this reform bill about homosexuals! But the fact is that THEY ARE THERE. They are making laws, making legislation... listen to me... right now they are not only normalising it, they are beginning to perpetuate it! And they're beginning to create it so that eventually you've got Sodom and Gomorrah where every single man and every single boy is sexually perverted!"

Posted by: Jo Dunning at August 27, 2004 07:13 AM