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Un-Kiwi Activities?

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of Team Trump or worked in his White House?”

That's the question that's tripping up high-flying kiwi Mr Chris Liddell.

His Accuser-in-Chief is PR specialist Mr Neale Jones who was once Chief of Staff to Labour leaders Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern.

Given his background, we should expect him to be of reasonable judgement and careful with his words.

Mr Jones told Newshub that Mr Liddell as President Trump's "right-hand man" has "disgraced himself and his country, and he should be a social pariah for his choices."

He wants New Zealanders to despise, reject and cast out Mr Liddell.

Mr Jones went further on Twitter, "There needs to be consequence for industrial scale dishonesty and complicity with fascism".

He thereby equates Mr Liddell to a modern-day Himmler, Goering or Goebbels.

The invective is dangerously overblown. It demonstrates a shocking lack of historical understanding and reasoning. It diminishes the evil of fascism and tramples its victims.

The invective is dangerous because someone may well believe it. I would hope I would have no hesitation in knocking off Hitler or his off-siders given the chance. That’s why Mr Jones' choice of words is so odious. It is inciting.

That said, I would not want Mr Jones shut down for “hate speech”.

He should be free to say what he wants. It’s part of the price of living in a free society. Plus it’s helpful. His words tell me nothing about Mr Liddell. But they tell me all I need to know about Mr Jones.

National Party Leader Judith Collins is more coy. She told Radio New Zealand, “The rioting that took place in the US Capitol was a disgraceful attack on democracy".

"Mr Liddell's ties to the Trump Administration cannot be overlooked here, making it difficult to see how he would be suitable to uphold the OECD's strong commitment to democracy."

For Mrs Collins, Mr Liddell was a great choice to head the OECD until a rag-tag bunch of protestors gained entry to the United States Capitol. The protestors rendered him unfit.

That's an extraordinary stretch of liability. Mr Liddell has presumably never met nor doesn't know the protestors. And yet for Mrs Collins the protestors’ actions make Mr Liddell unfit to head the OECD.

ACT leader David Seymour at least ties his denouncement to Mr Liddell’s actions or lack thereof. He says his party will no longer support Liddell's nomination because of “his refusal to denounce the more recent events”.

When it was explained to him that Mr Liddell had, indeed, denounced the protestors, Mr Seymour recovered by saying his denouncement was "insufficient given the gravity of the events that occurred.”

Mr Seymour's position appears as follows: “We would support Mr Liddell but first he has to denounce those protestors to our satisfaction. Then, and only then, will he be suitable.” It seems a little precious.

Before the White House, Mr Liddell was CFO of Microsoft and CFO of General Motors. That’s an impressive set of achievements. It certainly sets him apart from those who denounce him.

It would also make for an interesting day if he ever got called before a Select Committee Inquiring into Un-Kiwi Activities. Mr Liddell could call the recruitment boards from Microsoft and General Motors in support, and perhaps, even President Donald Trump himself.

I have no doubt they would make us proud to call Mr Liddell a dinkum kiwi.

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