Chris Lynch: Framing debates as left or right is pointless

Author
Chris Lynch,
Publish Date
Fri, 23 Apr 2021, 11:04AM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing during a 24-hour visit there in April 2019. Photo / Supplied
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing during a 24-hour visit there in April 2019. Photo / Supplied

Chris Lynch: Framing debates as left or right is pointless

Author
Chris Lynch,
Publish Date
Fri, 23 Apr 2021, 11:04AM

I posted an opinion piece on my public Facebook page about New Zealand's relationship with China and the comments were eye-opening.

The article was written by the Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor at the Telegraph who accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of "cosying up to China's communist rulers comes at a time when the consensus among the world's leading democracies is that Beijing poses the greatest threat to long-term well-being and prosperity."

The comment was of course opinion, but as it stands right now, it happened to be fact.

The Government is in a difficult place, having to balance the country's economic realities with China and its friendship with the Five Eyes Alliance.

It's a shame people can't contribute to meaningful discussions without framing debates as "left v right."

What I was surprised by is that anyone who dared to criticise the Government was seen as nothing more than a "right-wing bully." Out came the name calling.

Some comments even suggested that the opinion by the writer needed to be "balanced" with an opinion that counteracted his argument. Opinion doesn't require balance - because it's opinion.

Nevertheless, several comments were critical of me posting an opinion from someone who dared to have a crack at Ardern's government. One commentator suggested I should have been creating a more "patriotic" atmosphere on Facebook, while another wanted a more "appropriate opinion".

This attitude highlights the dangers of the cult of personality politics, whereby supporters overlook fundamental issues of democracy and human rights violations because they see any criticism as an unnecessary attack on their preferred political party.

Criticism of Government policy was met with juvenile responses, placing dissenting voices as a "right-wing" box.

This is a dangerous mindset, but one political parties would welcome - unbridled blinded love.

Since when did we become so one-eyed, focused and closed-minded to other viewpoints?

Then there was the "whataboutism" argument. "National was in bed with China too." I've challenged Simon Bridges about National's questionable relationship with China, but right now, they're not the ones in power.

We should be able to discuss issues relating to the governance of New Zealand, without flippant comments like "I'm so disappointed in you" for posting an opinion piece that challenges the status quo.

Even one commentator suggested he was looking forward to Facebook from" stopping opinions" that deviated from his own political persuasions.

Ironically, the comment was made on a post about China, a country that silences its critics with jail time, or magically makes critics disappear.

We may not always agree on issues but endorsing an environment that cuddles one political viewpoint is dangerous.

Our country is founded on the principles of democracy. And the minute that starts to change, we all lose out.

*Chris Lynch hosts Canterbury Mornings on Newstalk ZB Canterbury weekday mornings from 9am