Trotter on Right Wing Blogs

It hasn’t appeared online yet so I’ve copied below yesterday’s Chris Trotter column on right-wing bloggers.

Trotter praises the video parody “Pay It Back” as proof positive that right now it’s the right-wing that is making all the running and (it’s only fair to say) having all the fun.

However the rest of the column is a near semi-hysterical rant as he compares the bloggers to the Third Reich and commits the very same sins he accusses bloggers of. He also compares us to the McCarthy era and the US South fight to maintain segretation. yes – seriously!

So not only am I a Nazi, an anti-Semite, a racist and a McCarthyite, but according to Trotter I also hate women, gays, lesbians, Maori and immigrants.

Something has happened to Chris Trotter in the last two to three months. His columns used to be amongst the best in NZ. Everyone from right to left hung off them and he was quoted everywhere. But something seems to have happened to him, and every week he gets more bizarre from supporting corruption so long as National is kept out of office, to this hysterical rant. He makes Matthew Hooton sound like Colin James in comparison 🙂

Anyway here is the article.


Chris Trotter in Auckland

I FEEL unclean, as if I’ve just passed through a town in the grip of the plague.

I feel compromised, as if I’ve inadvertently opened a madman’s diary. I feel angry and aggrieved — and frightened.

I’ve been in the realm of the right-wing bloggers.

There is a style of political expression that delights in extremity and feeds on its elaboration.

In the past, the rhetoric it produced was restricted to the dinner tables of capitalism’s most vociferous middle-class defenders, and the bar-rooms of its most ignorant working-class dupes.

It was pernicious, but it was also confined — like a dangerous pitbull terrier — to the practitioner’s immediate circle of family, friends, workmates and acquaintances.

Only rarely was it permitted to break out of this confined political space to assault the wider public sphere — usually when those at the summit of society felt threatened by the stirrings of those at the base.

The incessant drum-beat of anti-democratic and anti-Semitic propaganda that characterised the politics of Weimar Germany, is probably the most vivid historical example of this phenomenon.

Other examples include the vicious red-baiting of the McCarthy era, and the outpouring of racist propaganda in the Deep South during the campaign for black civil rights in the early 1960s.

What differentiates those earlier periods of ugly political extremism from the present, is that they were permitted to continue only for as long as they served the interests of those who unleashed them.

Newspaper editors could decide when to publish the ravings of abusive letter-writers and when to consign them to the rubbish-bin.

Whether or not inflammatory utterances were banned as seditious or protected as free speech was entirely at the discretion of the judiciary.

Police commanders could issue permits for political demonstrations, or break them up as threats to public order.

In other words, the extremists’ ability to influence political events was strictly controlled.

Today, the development of the Internet and the explosive growth of the Worldwide Web has undermined the authorities’ ability to switch political extremism on and off like a gigantic megaphone.

The essentially anarchic nature of the Internet affords extremists of every hue — red and blue — unprecedented access to the sort of audiences activists formerly required considerable wealth and power to reach.

But right- and left-wing bloggers don’t need a set of multi-million-dollar printing presses or a network of radio and television transmitters to reach thousands of people. All they need is a personal computer and a phone connection.

This leaves political extremists completely free to peddle their most objectionable material directly to the public. They do not have to pass Go (secure the blessing of The Powers That Be) and they do not need to collect $200 (get their hands on the TPTB’s money).

The only constraint currently operating on political extremism is the imagination of its growing army of propagandists.

The current (quite brilliant) video parody of The Rolling Stones hit-single Paint It Black — “I see a red card and they got to pay it back. They stole from public funds now they must pay it back . . .” — is proof positive that right now it’s the right-wing that is making all the running and (it’s only fair to say) having all the fun.

And if there was nothing more in the right-wing blogosphere than clever video parodies there would be no genuine cause for concern.

Sadly, there is much, much more — and it is neither funny nor clever.

I hardly know where to begin to describe — let alone explain — the viciousness of the (mostly) young New Zealand males who inhabit this fetid environment. Their hostility towards the Left extends far beyond honest disagreements between fair-minded citizens over how best to organise human society.

In their eyes, the Labour Government is not merely mistaken, it is evil.

No term of abuse is too strong; no accusation too bizarre; no punishment too condign for Helen Clark and her “Liar-bour” colleagues.

And here I have to say that, inspiring and infusing a great deal of what ends up in the right-wing blogosphere, are deep-seated and profoundly disturbing feelings of hatred towards women, gays, lesbians, Maori and immigrants.

It has required only a single generation for the dragon’s teeth sown in the 1970s and 80s by the reckless identity politicians of the Left to produce a truly terrifying harvest.

The chilling lines of W. B. Yeats’s 1921 poem, The Second Coming, have finally, and to my great disquiet, assumed an ominously contemporary resonance: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.

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