Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Dunne Speaks: Beware the Ides of March

In school, we all learnt the phrase, "Beware the Ides of March" courtesy of Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar. The soothsayer's warning to Caesar was brushed aside and Caesar assassinated a little later in the day. For the last nearly 420 years since Shakespeare wrote the phrase, it has become a harbinger of impending doom.

Friday 15 March, the day of the Mosque shootings in Christchurch, marked the Ides of March for 2019. In many ways, it was our equivalent of the 9/11 attacks in New York, so dramatic was its impact.

As events around 9/11 were unfolding, President George W Bush was visiting a school in Florida. Photographers have recorded his being advised by aides whispering in his ear of what was happening, and all the while he had to sit quietly, and stonefaced through a students' performance, gathering his thoughts, before his hurried departure. His subsequent public addresses helped - indeed had to - quell the shock, grief, anger and horror of the American people, while at the same time having to come to grips with what had happened, or might be about to yet happen, and working out the national response. The photograph showing him addressing the people, megaphone in hand, from the rubble of the World Trade Centre, quickly became a metaphoric and iconic symbol of defiance and determination.

Prime Minister Jacinda Adern would have faced similar circumstances and emotions as last Friday afternoon's tragedies began to unfold. Like President Bush, she would have had limited time to process the information being received, and deal with her own inevitable emotions and reactions, before being expected to address the nation, both to offer information about what had happened; comfort to the distraught and bereaved, and reassurance to the country about the national response. Her subsequent now iconic photograph at the Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre with the Christchurch Muslim community was, like President Bush's all those years ago, a classic example of a picture being being worth a thousand words.

The image of a pained Prime Minister wearing a hijab, like that of a President in windbreaker and speaking into a megaphone, conveyed all the appropriate emotions - empathy, determination, resolution, and even the fear that both leaders must have felt about the path their countries may now had begun to travel down. Above all, they were images of their humanity, something we often forget about our political leaders. They too have feelings like the rest of us about the evil, injustice or whatever of the events, but they also have the responsibility of laying those to one side, and representing the nation as a whole, as they deal with what has happened.

Both President Bush and the Prime Minister gained the warm glow of popular support for their measured responses to the appalling tragedies which, undoubtedly, coupled no doubt with massive bursts of adrenalin, helped sustain them during the dark days. Sadly, as we know from the case of President Bush, mistakes and errors of judgement are likely to occur as time passes, and the immediate wave of public sympathy wanes. That is not a politically loaded observation, nor a judgement call. It is simply a statement of fact. They are both human beings, after all, and no human being is ever perfect.

The essential point is that the Prime Minister, like President Bush before her, is genuinely trying to her best, as she sees it, by the country in these unprecedented circumstances. Her efforts deserve the tolerance of our support, whatever our political allegiances. Normal political hostilities will resume over time, but, for now, the situation is one that should be above the partisan fray.

Many words have been spoken and written about the victims and their families since last Friday. No matter how eloquent, how undoubtedly well-meant and sincere, or how compassionate, they are inadequate compensation for the lives so needlessly lost, but they are the best human beings can do in such circumstances. May all of us in our daily lives stand resolutely with those who have suffered and been so pained, and may we determine to never let hatred and intolerance take firm hold in our land. Kia kaha.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Compensating Afghan Civilian Casualties

Reportedly, there have been nine incidents resulting in 17 civilian deaths and injuries (seven of the dead were children) caused by ordnance left behind on what used to be the firing range of our Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamiyan province.

Given that the NZ Defence Force has needed to be hauled kicking and screaming into belatedly arranging an adequate clean-up of its old firing range… what would it take before New Zealand offers to pay compensation to the families of those who suffered death and injury from what was left behind on our watch? More>>

 

Children's Day: Commissioner Calls For Govt Commitment

“Three decades on, we are able to celebrate some significant changes for children like the recent launch of a Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. But we still have a long way to go to prioritise children’s rights.” More>>

ALSO:

Elections: Proposed Electorate Boundaries Released

The Representation Commission is proposing changes to half of New Zealand’s electorates and establishing a new electorate in south Auckland… More>>

ALSO:

"Effectively A Permanent Amnesty": Final Month For Gun Ban Compensation

The firearms buy-back comes to an end a month from today, but the police say the amnesty for returning banned guns will continue into next year and beyond. More>>

ALSO:


SPECIAL GUNS FOR FOREIGN SECURITY:


MORE ARMED POLICE:

Overseas Investment Rules: New National Interest Test

The Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers... More>>

ALSO:

Matter Of Trust: Peters Says NZ First Loans Legal

"Allegations raised this morning by Stuff Limited / Fairfax concern a party matter but I am confident that New Zealand First has operated within electoral laws, now and for the last 27 years." More>>

ALSO:

PGF CONFLICT OF INTEREST:

Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Age Problem, And The Port Hills

Labour has been steadily improving its gender balance to the point where there are now 21 women in its caucus out of 46 MPs in all... Yet Labour has been just as steadily losing the generational battle to the Greens. More>>

ALSO:

Charles & Camilla: Visit Takes Royals From Waitangi To Christchurch

Domestic violence services, conservation and education are all on the list for the royal tour. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will spend a week travelling the country from Waitangi to Christchurch. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels