The Fundy Post - Issue Three
The Fundy Post - Issue Three
Fri, 28 May 2004
Three At Last
And We're back. Usual rules apply: read, enjoy; if you go to the website - www.nzarh.org.nz/thepost.htm - you can click on the links and read them. If you like the Post, pass it on to kith and kin. If you don't, email us and we will remove you from the mailing list. If you have comments and suggestions, email us and we will read them; promise.
Blessed Are The Homemakers
Our friends at Maxim love to use poll results to support their views, so here' s one they won't like. In a recent National Business Review-Phillips Fox poll, New Zealanders' were asked about their confidence in institutions. Organised religion came close to the bottom of the list, narrowly ahead of Big Business, The Media and Parliament in the no-confidence stakes. Everything else in community life was far more popular, including General Practitioners, Small Business, Primary Schools, Universities, Police, Military, Secondary Schools, TV news, Banks, Newspapers and the Courts.
According to the NBR, churches were least trusted by clerks, homemakers and supporters of the Greens and New Zealand First. We would like to cater to these groups, but we have little to say about office stationery, housework, organic farming or immigration policy.
Hit The Road, Bill
You wouldn't have noticed, but a new campaign started in the war against the Civil Unions Bill last week: the Marriage Matters roadshow toured New Zealand. Organised by Focus on the Family New Zealand, the show rallies the troops with this dire warning:
Marriage is under attack! Civil Union legislation has the potential to seriously undermine Marriage as the building block of society. It is important to realize that Christians can play a strategic role in warming society to the concept of Christian marriage, not only by example but also by expressing clearly the benefits of marriage to the individual, to children & the family, and to society as a whole.
Come and find out how you can become part of the solution for marriages in New Zealand before its too late!
Speakers included United Future MP Larry Baldock, Ian Grant of Parenting with Confidence and Michael Duncan of Carey Baptist College. No alarms and no surprises amongst this lot, but the guest star was Dr Bill Maier, who is Vice-President and Psychologist in Residence at the Focus on the Family mothership in Colorado Springs.
Dr Maier offers advice to Focus fans on parenting. In his spare time, he attacks homosexuality. His current concerns are gays and lesbians being allowed to join the Big Brother/Big Sister programme and supermarket chain Wal-Mart, which has included sexual orientation in its equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination policies. He is an advocate of reparative therapy: straightening gays who are unhappy with their orientation. He also thinks spanking children is a good thing.
The meetings seem to have passed without incident. See Craig Young's articles at GayNZ for more about Maier and Marriage Matters.
If Focus are sending their head shrink here, then they must be worried. Are they thinking that a successful Civil Unions Bill will increase pressure for law changes in American states? Over there, Massachusetts has already authorised same-sex marriages and a bill is before the California Assembly; Governor Schwarzenegger has said he will not veto a law. In response, the President has proposed a Federal Marriage Amendment, which would enshrine in the Constitution that marriage is solely a union between a man and a woman. So much for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, you might say. However, if same-sex marriages are unconstitutional, progressive states might circumvent the matter by introducing civil unions, as Vermont has already done.
If New Zealand legislation is shown to work effectively and TV news reports show kiwis getting civilly united, the American religious right's dire warnings will look pretty silly. So it would be in their best interests to do anything to stop our Civil Unions Bill passing. Just a thought.
We publish this news item without alteration or comment:
In Louisville, Ky., Republican Party activists John Lowler and Peter Hayes feuded recently over their status at the next state convention, with Lowler alleging that Hayes punched him. Lowler had first accused Hayes of smearing him by suggesting that he had recently had gay sex. (Lowler acknowledges that he used to be gay but says he is now straight.) Hayes said it was Lowler who smeared first by denigrating Hayes' religion, the Unification Church (led by Rev. Sun Myung Moon). Hayes told the Louisville Courier-Journal in April that Lowler had taunted him by saying, "Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie." (However, Lowler said he could recall saying only "Moonie, Moonie, Moonie.")
>From News of the Weird in the North Carolina online magazine Relish, 13 May 2004
Take The Skinheads Bowling
It is a good time for fascists. The National Front's counter-demonstration against the anti-racism march in Christchurch got the tiny party a lot of publicity. Party leader Kyle Chapman was profiled in the Sunday Star Times and interviewed by National Radio, bFM and others. Not bad for an organisation which reportedly has about 200 members and is aiming to get the 500 necessary to register as a political party.
Mr Chapman's supporters will also be delighted to know that Holocaust-denying pseudo-Historian David Irving is coming to New Zealand in September for a four date tour (locations to be confirmed).
According to the the Sunday Star Times, Mr Chapman wants his party to become the acceptable face of the extreme right and to have a Member of Parliament within five years. Having once been a fire-bomber, Mr Chapman is now a born-again Christian, with a picture of Jesus on his living room wall. Does getting religion make him gentle and cuddly? No: his policies ( anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, pro-guns and pro-death penalty) are commonplace among both fascists and the religious right. Doubtless they will find a constituency among the sort of people who contribute to talk radio shows.
His supporters, however, still seem to be worshipping Wodin and the Furhrer. A quick search of noticeboards on Fascist websites like Stormfront and Whiterevolution found several National Front supporters and members, who post comments under pseudonyms such as Waffen SS Panzerkommando, Blood and Honour Christchurch and Razor88 (the number 88 is code for Heil Hitler). One regular poster is Grenadier, who for a self-styled "revolutionary" is too candid with personal details: he is from Holland and his real name is Dennis. Until recently, he was the NF's Webmeister. He signs off his messages with a quotation from Mein Kampf.
One posting tell us some more information on why NF Wellington organiser Brent "Snake" Gebbie left the NF, an incident mentioned in the Sunday Star Times interview. According to an insider calling himself NZTrooper, "Snake did not turn out to have the Nationalist spirit. He seems too concerned about what the other cultures think of us and wanted to change our policies to suit Assians and other forign cultures who have lived in NZ for a couple of generations. He went away from the European Colloniel objectives that NF in NZ and Australia are all about. He is also against us training our men and setting up our people to defend themselves. It seemed all a bit to lefty" [spelling original].
We wouldn't be surprised if a respectable political party were to distance itself from someone who called himself Snake, but he seems to have been the moderate. The reference to "setting up our people to defend themselves" raised our eyebrows; there is apparently an organisation called The Militia associated with the NF.
Mr Chapman believes the political climate in New Zealand is ripe for the rise of the NF and that "people are tired of being told how to think by leftists, do-gooders and the politically correct" He cites Don Brash's Orewa speech for helping to change the mood, but due credit should also be given to other commentators. Much of Mr Chapman's rhetoric resonates with the sentiments that are constantly made in newspaper op-ed pieces by members of the Maxim Institute.
That reference to political correctness reminds us of the Maxim Institute's Forum, "Political Correctness, the End of an Error?" in March. One its two overseas speakers was Peter Wood, an Anthropology professor who also contributed an article to the New Zealand Herald which attacked "diversity" as "the fashionable way of talking about the role in society of various categories of people: ethnic minorities, homosexuals, immigrants, the handicapped, and sometimes women: people who are said to have suffered ill-treatment by the dominant culture." He would prefer that New Zealand "choose to go forward with a vision of nationhood that continues your tradition of Western culture suffused with the heroic spirit of a Polynesian people". No doubt we will be waving wearing uniforms and waving flags as we go forward.
Maxim's other guest was Frank Ellis of Leeds University, who was also a speaker at the 2000 conference of American Renaissance, along with some other nasties, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Guardian. He is also on the advisory board of the Occidental Quarterly, a "Journal of Nationalist Thought and Opinion". The Quarterly's Statement of Principles begins, "The West is a cultural compound of our Classical, Christian, and Germanic past." Dr Ellis has also contributed his views to the Canadian Heritage Alliance (you thought all Canadians are nice people; think again). Maxim has published Dr Ellis' latest work Political Correctness and the theoretical struggle; from Lenin and Mao to Marcuse and Foucault. This thoughtful work aims to show that PC is a dastardly totalitarian plot.
Of course, Maxim is not overtly racist, but then it is not overtly anything. It won't speak openly about race, just as it won't openly proclaim itself as an organisation of the Christian Right. Maxim is too smart to do either. But it can't abide anything that threatens its vision of recreating New Zealand in the mould of 19th Century Britain. In an article in the Otago Daily Times of 12th November 2003, entitled "Immigration - the issue that won't go away", Bruce Logan talks of immigration as a problem because of Government-imposed "cultural pluralism" which undermines the "solid sub-stream of national agreement" on which democracy is supposedly based. Its not the immigrants that are the problem, you see, but the Government, which allows them to be foreign. Logan wants immigrants to assimilate into New Zealand culture. He doesn't define this culture, but it is apparently understood by "ordinary New Zealanders" and it " is distinct from the cultures which have contributed to it". It looks as if the deadline for contributions from other cultures has passed. "New Zealandness" is static: you can come here, but leave all your foreign notions behind.
Logan paraphrases a rant by Teddy Roosevelt to suggest that "Any man who says he is a New Zealander, but something else also, isn't a New Zealander at all... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language." So, Bruce, are you going to tell Maori that their culture and language are not welcome?
Logan's colleague John McNeil is more candid: he doesn't want Muslims here. To quote from his article in The Otago Daily Times of 28 October 2002 "New Zealanders generally do not appreciate to what degree Muslims despise Western secular values as decadent, materialistic, corrupt and immoral...this means that they feel a duty to Islamicise the values of the surrounding culture." Does this mean that Muslims will be turning up at our homes at inconvenient times, offering to share the word of Allah?
McNeil suggests that the Human Rights Act will lead to female circumcision, polygamy and the stoning of adulterers, on the grounds that all cultures will have to be accepted equally. This is ridiculous, but it all helps to create fear and intolerance.
Tolerance is also something Maxim cannot abide. In a woolly piece in the Northland Age of 28 March 2004, by Amanda McGrail [why do they all have Scottish names at Maxim?] the Human Rights Commission is attacked again, as is the notion of hate crimes legislation. McGrail believes "The government cannot protect my so called 'right not to be discriminated against' without taking away someone else's liberty to think independently." For McGrail, tolerance is being forced to "like everything equally", to "hold no value judgements at all". Intolerance, apparently "is the foundation of our justice system, because such things as rape and murder are not tolerated. Call us old-fashioned, but we thought justice was the foundation of our justice system.
Reading a Maxim contributor claiming that her right to free speech is being muzzled makes us smirk. Maxim is very effective at getting its views heard and most of those views are about limiting the rights of others. It is fundamentally authoritarian.
Maxim presents itself as the concerned voice of "civil society", but behind the hand-wringing and the faux-academic posturing is a determined effort to appeal to dark prejudices. It feeds the paranoid fantasies of Mr Chapman and his supporters. It is trying to create an intolerant society. To do so it portrays all the notions it despises as part of a sinister Government plot to change the way New Zealanders think, which chimes nicely with the far right's claim to represent the real views of the people, and to act upon it.
We Shall Mock Them On The Beaches
One Muslim at least is interested in islamicising the local culture. Minister Louis Farrakhan in a stirring sermon called "The Duty of The Righteous in a Time of War" told his followers:
We have a global assignment. Africa is ours, Australia, New Zealand, the Isles of the Pacific. No part of the Earth should you feel estranged from, in order to claim any part of the Earth in the future. No matter what your color or your race, you will have to claim the earth that was created by Allah (God) for the righteous.
Should we be worried? On the one hand, Louis Farrakhan is the leader of Nation of Islam, America's most prominent Black Muslim organisation with thousands of dedicated followers. On the other, he is nuts. Allah has revealed much strange knowledge to Farrakhan, including the truth that an evil African scientist created the white race in his laboratory. Farrakhan is also an admirer of Hitler and a virulent anti-Semite.
But why the interest in New Zealand? For one thing, Farrakhan has visited here, so he is probably up-to-date on seabed and foreshore issues and wants to stake his claim before it is too late. For another, the Nation of Islam was founded by a New Zealander. Well, not quite: Wallace Dodd Fard arrived in the Detroit ghetto in 1930. He preached a mixture of Islam, gnosticism and the views of Joseph Rutherford, president of the Jehovah's Witnesses; he also claimed that a giant invisible aircraft had been built by black scientists in Japan thousands of years ago. His origins are as mysterious as his teachings: to his followers he claimed he was a merchant from Mecca; to his common-law wife he was either Fred or Wallace Dodd, born in New Zealand in 1891 of Polynesian and English parents. Some sources say he was born in Hawaii to an English father and a Maori mother. To the FBI, who had finger prints, he was Wallie D. Ford, a white ex-convict from San Quentin, born in Portland, Oregon.
Whoever he was, Wallace Dodd Fard disappeared in 1934, telling another ex-wife that he was returning to New Zealand. His movement prospered in his absence, led first by Elijah Muhammad, then Malcolm X and then by Louis Farrakhan, born Louis Walcott and briefly known as Louis X.
Confused? So you should be. Everything about the Nation of Islam is both sinister and ludicrous. Conventional Muslims have denounced Farrakhan for his racism and his bizarre teachings, but it is difficult to take him seriously. Like his idol Hitler, Farrakhan has a taste for creating quasi-military groups among his followers and dressing them in natty but weird uniforms. One of these groups is called the Fruit of Islam.
If further proof of insanity is needed, a recent convert to the Nation of Islam is Michael Jackson, whose life is now being organised by Farrakhan's son-in-law.
From Here to Claire
Here endeth the third post. Before we go, we should pay due homage and act like ours is a real blog by listing those blogs that have quoted us:
Russell Brown, who provides essential daily reading
Matthew Walker, who has some lovely photos of Florence, which filled us with nostalgia
Hans, who has great links and has gone to Rarotonga for a while
Claire, who is doing a school journalism project on same-sex marriage
Percy, who really does not like us and thinks we should stop picking on Christians. We hope you like the Nation of Islam bit, Percy.
We are also delighted to have been selected by the World News Network, who put us on many of their websites, including Dentists and Dating. We don't understand, as we have never dated a dentist, but thanks anyway.
The aforementioned Percy was a bit confused by the title Fundy Post but assumed, correctly, that it means fundamentalist. The only other Fundy we know of is New Brunswick's magnificent Bay of Fundy, which has whales and the world's highest tides. If you are from the Bay of Fundy, we would love to hear from you: this is a Canadian-friendly website. Gretzky Rocks.
Speaking of New Brunswick, the next NZARH monthly meeting will be addressed by Professor Fred Donnelley of the University of New Brunswick, who will be speaking about the Rationalist writer W. Winwood Reade. The meeting is a 7pm on Queen's Birthday, Monday 7th June.
If you cannot wait to visit until then, come to one of the weekly meetings of the Auckland University Atheists. Every Tuesday, we watch DVDs. Currently showing: Blackadder and a programme about life in the next few million years. All welcome.
All meetings are at Rationalist House, 64 Symonds Street, Auckland. All welcome, regardless of beliefs and university status.