Leighton Smith: Blame game brings us crashing back to earth

Author
Leighton Smith,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Saturday, 23 March 2019, 8:43AM

COMMENT:

Following the end of the Vietnam war, we existed in what some considered to be a golden period. If you were born and/or grew up during that time, conflict of the order of the first half of the 20th Century was non-existent.

Yes, there were localised incidents, but essentially it was an era of growth, full employment and improved living standards to the point of luxury. But eventually it was accompanied by one of the great human failings, complacency.

All that ended with 9/11. Since that dramatic event, life assumed a different perspective.

Apart from the Rainbow Warrior, the closest terror event to New Zealand were the Bali bombings of 2002, where three Kiwis were killed out of a total of 202 deaths.

That was, incredibly, 17 years ago. It means that anyone under the age of, say, 25 may have no direct knowledge of it. To a large portion of the population, it is ancient history.

The terror that New Zealand had been spared arrived on Friday, March 15. It will have a profound effect.

What will come of it depends upon forces not yet revealed. There is a mood for change.

The government is intent on altering gun laws and will do so with much public support. Understandably. But that alone will not satisfy those who have at heart changing the structure and direction of New Zealand.

What is already being challenged is the culture developed over 3000 years, and has contributed more than any other to the betterment of mankind. Not without imperfection, but with fewer failings and more promise than any other.

It began with the Greeks and continued as an assemblage of what various other cultures have contributed, based on time, place and compatibility.

And let's throw in a good deal of common sense. Generally known as Western Civilisation, it is not discriminatory as some try to tag it, but can provide promise to anyone. Not promise of guaranteed results, but of opportunity.

The reported growing attraction of younger people throughout the world to socialism (read progressivism) is disappointing but not surprising.

Attribute it to education, massive student debt, the destruction of the American dream, and let's add the New Zealand dream.

In addition, entitlement and expectation has been incubating for a few decades. Rights without responsibility, results without effort.

Which allows me to transition to another aspect of change. George Friedman, from Geopolitical Futures recently wrote under the heading, "What has Happened to Us."

He said: "We are not going back. The vast social and political animosity tearing at the fabric of the world will resolve itself ... it will leave behind a changed world. That's our point about 2019. It is a year in which the old world has died, but many think it can still be resurrected.

"It is a year where the new world has not yet emerged. There are those who will welcome it. There are those who will loathe it. It will be what it must be. A new world with new rules. History is profoundly indifferent to our preferences. We live. We die. We love. We hate. We do so all under the pressure of reality. And the world is on edge."

The savagery of the Christchurch killings demanded a period of restraint, of empathy, and reflection.

It didn't last long. International commentary is well advanced in the blame game which, I suspect, encouraged an earlier than desirable return to normal in New Zealand.

As is usual, the tragedy will be used as leverage for political advantage. It's just a matter of time. The change to gun laws will be followed by attempts to restrict free speech, and should that be allowed to happen, New Zealand will be the poorer for it.

A few years ago, commentator Andrew Bolt was charged and convicted of hate speech under Australian legislation. It was a travesty of justice and there is much to learn from his experience.

The change of emphasis from objectivity to subjectivity in speech is absurd. We are already experiencing it in New Zealand in the corporate world.

Douglas Murray, author of The Strange Death of Europe, asks "who should we blame for the New Zealand atrocity?" And summarises the speech battle this way "rather than inciting acts of violent rage by discussing such issues, it is possible that the organs willing to break the silence may in fact be engaged in diffusing a societal problem rather than exacerbating it."

He was referring to the Rotherham paedophile scandal, particularly The Times journalists who wrote about it.

In conclusion, Tom Chivers, under the heading of "stop trying to explain mass shootings", in referring to Christchurch, said "it is natural and human to look for reasons for terrible things and there are reasons: the killer was a racist, sensational coverage encourages other mass killings. But if you are looking for a reason as to why there are more of these terrible things than there used to be, then you probably won't find it. Because it is not at all clear that there are."

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