The Left has a problem here. Political violence in the past has often been associated with the far Right, but these days it’s the self-righteous rage of the Left that presents by far the greater threat to democracy.
It manifests itself not just in outright violence, but also in the howling down of any opinions that challenge Leftist orthodoxy. Alarmingly, this intolerance of dissent has taken hold in universities, once regarded as bastions of free speech and critical thought.
This process has been hastened by the rise of identity politics, which aggrieved minority groups use as a platform for demanding special treatment, and by the fashionable dogma of post-modernism, which dismisses reason and truth as artificial constructs that serve the interests of ruling elites.
And of course if you are a guy and try to discuss or debate something, someone accuses you of mansplaining.
Being a generally moderate society, New Zealand has yet to be exposed to the worst excesses of Leftist fundamentalism, such as the incidents in Hamburg or Caracas. But that’s not to say it can’t happen here. …
We see it too in the use of language designed to demonise opponents and de-legitimise dissent. On a recent Facebook post, Maori activist Joe Trinder described the lobby group Hobson’s Pledge as a “hate group” – the far Left’s standard term of denunciation for any group that threatens to stand in the way of the identity politics agenda.
Hobson’s Pledge is the group founded by Brash to promote the concept of equality before the law, regardless of ethnicity. This is hardly a novel or dangerous idea; on the contrary, it’s in line with basic democratic principles.
But it makes Brash the enemy of people like Trinder, who advocates special treatment for Maori. So he calls Hobson’s Pledge a “hate group”, thereby putting it on the same level as the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party.
This is a gross and offensive distortion of what Hobson’s Pledge stands for, but that’s unlikely to worry Trinder. It also implies that Brash is some sort of reincarnated Joseph Goebbels, although there’s no evidence to indicate there’s a racist bone in his body.
Trinder’s Facebook post gave his followers licence to unleash a torrent of abusive obscenities against Brash. Some threatened violence; others called for Hobson’s Pledge billboards to be torn down. So much for free speech and diversity.
There’s room in the political system for both Trinder and Brash. The difference is that Brash doesn’t try to bully his opponents into silence, threaten them or subject them to vile personal abuse. So why do Trinder and his followers think it’s acceptable?
A good question.