Well, it took six years, but finally it happened. Finally, the fact that John Key is a former banker with Jewish ancestry has become a public issue. The issue has been bubbling quietly in youtube comments, but now it’s in the open.
And, sadly, it has to some extent come from the Left. A while back I said racism is a big stick that only the Right can wield. Apparently I was wrong. In a shoo-in for the inaugural Aaron Gilmore Award for Political Stupidity, Labour candidate for Rangitata Steve Gibson has forgotten #votepositive and called John Key a ‘Shylock‘. This is not a good look, especially when you have halfwits and fascists scrawling anti-semitic doodles on John Key’s face.
The Left needs to unequivocally deplore anti-semitism, and this includes dropping candidates who think it’s ok to throw around ethnic slurs.
Labour must have known they were playing with fire when they started making race an issue in this election. They might claim they aren’t talking about race. But they need to take responsibility for the fact that some people are going to hear race and get riled up.
Here in New Zealand, the anti-immigrant sentiment hasn’t consolidated around a single party, despite the best efforts of Winston First and Labour. Dog whistles to xenophobes are the thin end of an ugly and dangerous wedge that ends with the National Front or a kiwi version of UKIP or Golden Dawn. The Left in New Zealand should have no part in it.
Slavoj Zizek has some interesting thoughts on the rise of anti-immigrant politics. He claims a new polarity is emerging in western, particularly European, politics. Instead of centre-left forces fighting with centre-right forces, there is a capitalist force that is socially liberal/moderate fighting with a nationalist/anti-immigrant force (well, that’s sort of what he says. Zizek is always more accurate when misquoted). Nationalist/xenophobic parties are becoming increasingly popular and strident across the continent (the Hungarian case is particularly interesting), and there is a real danger that a party in New Zealand effectively seizes this sentiment. Let’s make sure it’s not a Left party.
Steve Gibson has to go.