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From Culture War to Cold War...?

Wed 3 Oct 2007 In: Comment View at Wayback

As time goes on, the New Zealand Christian Right is divided over its choice of targets. Either fight us, and lose, or face off against a new group of designated 'outsiders.' If one looks at the current Christian Right individuals and pressure groups targeting us, they seem to be insignificant small fry within their movement- Christian News, the Society for Promotion of Community Standards, or Garnet Milne. In each case, it's absurdly easy to craft rebuttals to their arguments, such as they are. None of their discourse is aimed at substantive political goals, because we've won most of those battles already. So, who or what are the new targets that I referred to above? The Maxim Institute seems to have its sights set on the Muslim community. It isn't hard to work out why- geopolitical significance, and a ready made scapegoat that connects it to overseas centre-right organisations, quite apart from antiquated interfaith conflicts and rivalries that span over a millennium, enhanced by the events of 9/11 and the Iraqi War. Added to which, there's the prospect of new significance as a centre-right electoral constituency if it can mobilise its adherents. With what? Conspiracy theories, which is really nothing new. During the sixties, seventies and eighties, South Africa's apartheid regime mobilised gullible and malicious figures across the western world to support their racist dictatorship, oppose 'liberal' immigration policies and multiculturalist government policies, and fundamentalist churches provided an ideal constituency within countries like Britain and New Zealand. While Pretoria has changed hands since then, the fundamentalist community is the same, gullible one, homogenising diverse societies, political systems and denominational differences within Islam into a generic Radical Islamist mix. The only difference is its sponsor. Still, when one looks at the recent Mosques and Miracles conference, it is possible to see the warning signs if one cares to look- particularly when it comes to calls for restrictions on Muslim immigration. How is this relevant in New Zealand? According to the most recent census, Muslims are the sixth largest belief category in New Zealand, behind secularists, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and spiritualists. Moreover, apart from concerns like Middle Eastern solidarity (understandably) and refugee and asylum policy (in the context of the Ahmed Zaoui case), New Zealand Muslims are not attracted to defensive fundamentalist militancy of their own, as has been the case in Australia and Britain, where opportunist centre-right governments pandered to anti-immigrant racists without realising what consequences might ensue. This is not to say that New Zealand LGBT communities should ignore the plight of Iraqi and Iranian counterparts, particularly when it comes to refugee and asylum intake needs. However, let us not also forget that desecration of cemeteries, vandalism of places of worship, and harassment and intimidation of groups and individuals have no place in a multicultural, multifaith pluralist society like our own either. In New Zealand, the fundamentalist community has aligned itself with neofascist organisations, like the League of Rights, in the past. Let us insure that they do not get into the same slime-stained bed without a spotlight being shone on it. Craig Young - 3rd October 2007    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Wednesday, 3rd October 2007 - 10:57pm

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