Condemning anti-Jewish racism

Not afraid of ruins blogs:

Last Saturday I went to the protest against asset sales organized by Aotearoa Not For Sale. I was marching with my friend Maia, discussing the latest episode of The Good Wife in between chants of ‘hey hey ho ho/John Key has got to go’.

Halfway up Willis St we overheard a guy behind us talking: ‘This is all because John Key is a money-hungry Jew.’ Maia immediately turned around and told him that he was being anti-Semitic and that it wasn’t ok (she’s great like that). The guy explained that she didn’t understand the historical context, that ‘they took over this country with their money’, before finally giving up and telling her ‘you must be Jewish’ (incidentally, she isn’t. Not that it’s relevant’).

By that point I’d already walked away. I was in no mood to hear about how I control the world’s money and am personally responsible for the economic recession.

This wasn’t the first time that anti-Jewish has cropped up at Aotearoa Not For Sale events. Last year a guy named Nathan Symington joined an anti-asset sales march in Auckland holding a skateboard with swastikas chalked on it. The same man was later charged with the racist vandalism of the Symonds St Jewish cemetery.

Now you can’t control who turns up to a protest march, but a good point is made by the author:

There were similar instances of anti-Jewish racism at Occupy spaces in 2011, and on the facebook pages of several of the Occupy groups as well. …

Aotearoa Not For Sale organisers can’t be held personally responsible for the actions of every single person who attends one of their protests. But they do need to take responsibility for ensuring that racism isn’t tolerated—or worse, nurtured.

One way to do that is to stop the nationalist rhetoric. Campaigns against privatization have a nasty habit of appealing to populist nationalism, because it’s an easy way of galvanizing support. That slope is both slippery and dangerous. Its logical conclusion is in racism and . It’s essential that arguments against the privatization of public assets are based on an ethic of economic and social justice, not nationalism.

We see an ever growing level of populist nationalistic rhetoric. It is, as the author says, a very easy way of galvanizing support.

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