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PENN RAINE: Flipping the Narrative

Labour’s most recent ex PM has curiously spent time following the election enthralling the aligned media by promising that Labour would be business as usual in its support and representation of the country’s workers. Cue the sound of hollow laughter as those people, aka most of us, try to readjust our reality settings to view the blue sky thinking of the last 6 years and the binned promises to do with affordable housing, child poverty, honesty, transparency, and kindness as solid achievements and not just blagging.

As a former leader- and I use the noun very loosely - Hipkins would have us believe that for the last half decade Labour has not been cosying up to the activist classes, pushing racial and identity politics and other ideological fun stuff to the forefront of governance and that when he’s no longer in a position to achieve anything his party previously promised, well, that’s exactly what he’s going to do now the mandate has been wrenched from him.

Clown country.

Messages from the left such as, ‘We were working for you, even though we were working against you. We were kind, tolerant and promoted diversity – except if you stood on Parliament’s lawn and asked us to come down and speak to you. We are proud of our democratic freedoms and liberal progressiveness except if you ask questions that we feel would be better silenced by new laws we will make for your protection’, and perhaps most significantly, ‘We are not racist for proposing a divided NZ, but you are if you ask why’, demonstrate the tussle for the mandate to use certain terminology and thus to manoeuvre the narrative.

They obviously think we’re as stupid as Australians.

This is not my view of the Ozzie IQ but that of Waleed Aly, co-host of Network Ten’s news and current affairs program The Project who, following the Voice referendum result, pointed out that the 60+% of Australians who voted No did not have Bachelor’s degrees or better.


Aly made the claim referring to a map that showed support for the Voice had come from Canberra and areas around cities wherein live what we now refer to as the ‘metropolitan elite’. He failed to note that a year previously the polls showed the vote in favour 60:40, suggesting that in the following 12 months people had taken time to think and do some research- unlike Albo who was tripped up when he claimed that the Uluru Statement was only one page long instead of the 26 that it is.

If Aly thought that his observation might have slapped a Band-Aid on the Yes campaign’s rout, he must have missed the fact that when Aboriginal activist Marcia Langton, the Yes campaign’s poster child, called fellow Australians ‘racist’ and ‘stupid’, Yes support took a crippling hit. After dropping this cultural clanger Langton was suddenly, poof, invisible in the movement. Some of you may remember that a few months before NZ’s election that Ms Mahuta and Mr Jackson became similarly silent and unseen. Lesson: bad optics undermine even campaigns underwritten by big corporates and fawning MSM.

While this is a political own goal, what is also awkward about the Ozzie Left doubling down on the jibe that ‘without a degree you are stupid’, is that it does rather turn the focus onto academia and its lack of current gravitas.

From time to time, a-weary of geo-political rants such as this I am amused by videos of Harvard students being offered $1,000 to correctly answer five general knowledge questions. Their answers to queries such as ‘What does ‘www’ stand for?’ ‘Can you name a novel?’ and ‘What is the capital of Chicago?’ are too often catatonic. But let us suppose that these are anomalies and that in other areas their instruction is intelligent and relevant. Why then since October 7 are we seeing Harvard students and others worldwide clamouring that that Israel is ‘occupying’ the world’s ‘largest open-air prison’?

Let’s assume that Middle Eastern history BCE is too distant to be considered germane in tertiary curricula and that students are simply not aware that the tribes of Israel lived in the area now disputed by Palestinian supporters more than 1000 years before Islam, back when Jews and Arabs, ethnically similar, shared the land. However vaguely held the knowledge that Jewish people have been arguably the most hated, harried, and slaughtered people of the last 2000 years, the Holocaust might be a clue to this history and the reason that post WW2 a majority of UN signatories endorsed the return of a Jewish homeland.

The history of the Middle East did not begin in 1947.

These facts are easily verified by fifteen minutes on the internet (‘www’, you folk at Harvard!) as well as the fact that Israel has not occupied Gaza since 2005 when it withdrew along with tens of thousands of Israelis and left a gap quickly filled by Hamas. Hamas who has received billions of international aid money which does not seem to have trickled down to its citizens’ ordinary lives. Wonder where it went.

And while it is undeniably true that Israel tightly controls the border between the two areas, on October 7 the world saw what happens when it does not.

Campus pro-Palestinian protests have seeded larger mobs in Sydney, London New York and elsewhere howling slogans such as ‘Gas the Jews…f*** the Jews’ in a display of Fascist hatred that surely tips their Antifa ideology on its head as they scream in support of another genocide.

So international students, other revved up mobs-and Te Pati Māori- rally for Hamas with little understanding of real historical events except for a feeling that Palestine is ‘oppressed’ because the Left narrative tells them so. But then so many of the western world’s universities are now Petrie dishes of the grievance culture, where lectures containing solid facts carry ‘offence’ warnings and academic staff have their positions threatened if they persist in discussing ‘academic standards’. They don’t even realise that there is a tragic irony when they wave a banner shouting ‘Queers for Palestine’.

Useful idiots.

For the last two electoral terms the NZ Government and mainstream media have colluded in telling our largely well-intended populace that in matters contrary to Labour narrative we have been subject to mis and dis information. Kate Hannah’s state underwritten Disinformation Project is frequently quoted when the press clutches its pearls in horror at the wicked thoughts we’ve allegedly been having. But despite the scolding we’re receiving from these sources I think we’ve concluded that these terms are often a lazy catch cry to describe one side of politics that the other side doesn’t like, usually what the Left doesn’t like. Misinformation is what you claim when you don’t have the intellectual capacity to mount a counter argument.

I think that the majority of NZ’ers has just mounted a compelling counter argument.

Penn Raine is an educator and writer. She lives in Auckland and south-west France.

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