The Windschuttle Affair -Truth the first casualty.
It’s interesting how reluctant we are to call a lie a lie, when challenging those who have told one. The circumlocutions which tiptoe round this offence against the truth of things (but can anything be more important in public debate than addressing the truth of things?) include… a fabrication, a prevarication, an untruth, a misapprehension, misrepresentation…
Yet a deliberate claim that something has been said or done which did simply did not happen is either essentially a downright lie, or a delusion. Gerry Brownlee, for example, claimed that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery review panel could not possibly undertake its task for what some people would regard as the already generous rates of pay available.
Apparently this was completely untrue. Although this National Party minister told his colleagues that the panel must be paid more than twice the recommended rate because it wasn’t possible for them do it for less, reportedly, he had never even asked them.
Some might classify this is a downright lie…unless, perchance, even one of the four member panel, whose members consisted of John Hansen, Jenny Shipley, Anake Goodall and Murray Sherwin had already stated that this was the case – and sown confusion in the minister’s mind.
Not John Hansen – who told the Herald he would have done the job for the original fee – and might even have waived it. The reaction of the other panelists was not reported. Jenny Shipley apparently did not respond to interview requests. However, Brownlee states that he did not discuss pay with the nominees.
The question remains: why then, in such worryingly straitened times, would this minister say to his colleagues – “It will not be possible to secure their services under the current fees range” – if it was palpably untrue? This matter of a Minister of the Crown apparently deliberately misleading his colleagues needs further investigation. Something is very wrong here.
Moreover, how out of touch with the reality of most New Zealanders’ lives is Gerry Brownlee to regard a pay rate of up to $655 a day for a panel chairman and $415 for panel members as inadequate? So very many in Christchurch have lost everything – their houses, their businesses, the future – in the case of some, their hope of better days – and of ever again being back on a healthy financial footing. Was this an appropriate time to try to jack up pay rates for a hand-picked few? We need better answers from this minister. But accountability from politicians is now apparently largely wishful thinking.
Another important question of accountability arises in relation to reports by the New Zealand media on the supposed New Zealand link with the Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik, through Keith Windschuttle’s address to the 2006 SummerSounds Symposium, which I founded and organised for a decade and a half to provide much-needed debate across the whole spectrum of political belief – before it morphed into our pro-democracy movement – 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand. See http://www.100days.co.nz
The distinguished editor of Quadrant, Australia’s foremost literary/political magazine, delivered a fine address to this symposium.
To read his paper, click on the link below http://www.sydneyline.com/Adversary%20Culture.htm
There is nothing in Keith Windschuttle’s paper, outlining the problems which face the West, particularly through the left-wing infiltration of universities, which the murderous Breivik could possibly use to justify his rampage of killing. The former left-wing editor of The New Statesman, Paul Johnson, a much respected right-wing historian and columnist issued the same warning as Keith Windschuttle during his own time in New Zealand. Breivik also invoked others such as the highly reputable philosophers John Stuart Mill and Roger Scruton, and, far from being a fundamentalist Christian, a label too loosely applied by media like the politicised New York Times, he claimed, in his manifesto, to dislike their “soft heartedness” and stated that a Christian fundamentalist theocracy is unwanted – it is ” a secular European society” he was aiming for. He apparently supports celebrating Christmas simply to annoy Muslims.
The Nelson Mail provided a far more balanced assessment of Breivik’s claim, with columnist Karl du Fresne stressing the moderate nature of Windschuttle’s address, and emphasising that he is “an absolutely respectable historian…who ” takes a more conservative view than a lot of his colleagues, and he’s a great defender of Western society and culture. I don’t recall him saying anything exceptional at that seminar.”
The New Zealand Herald however, astonishingly enough, without checking back, quoted comedian Mike King claiming he himself chaired the session. “I do remember Keith as a typical… academic with a superiority complex, who believed that all indigenous people’s (sic) histories of oppression by colonizers were made up by white PC apologists.”
Mike’s statement, alas, was downright bizarre. Although he had attended the Summer Sounds Symposium in previous years, doing a fine job of presiding over the Being Upstanding voluntary contributions on the Saturday evenings with the brilliant Jim Hopkins, it was news to me to read in the Herald that he had actually chaired Keith Windschuttle’s session. The Herald, too, has at last conceded that this was not the case. Mike was not even present in 2006, so his statement of recall was completely wrong. It has done a great disservice not only to a fine speech, but was utterly misleading in relation to the format of the symposia. Radical activism has never had any place in these debates – it is sad to see Mike indulging in it at a stage when this country has been hijacked – not by majority Maori, but by determined and radicalized, already wealthy iwi and downright narcissistic power groups fomenting unrest for self-advantage. Worse, the National Party is following a well-trodden path by its policies of appeasement, and its indifference to the truth of so many important issues affecting us. However, the rest of us know well that day that the truth of issues is regarded as irrelevant shows that we have gone a long way down a very dangerous path.
It is high time for New Zealanders to wake up to the fact that we are being constantly bombarded with politicized distortions of the truth – even downright lies – all of which are damaging our country. Nearly all of these involve moves for self-advantage, in one way or another.
The majority can be linked to successive government’s damaging policies, all part of that creeping state intrusion whereby political deal-making and back-scratching strengthens politicians’ hold on power, and encourages the growth of damaging radicalism and separatist movements, with their inevitable backlash.
We’re now undoubtedly faced with the weakening of democracy – as Keith Windschuttle has well illustrated. Don’t miss reading his important and timely address, accessible through the link above – or separately on our Articles page.
Can any of us afford to say that it’s none of our business?
If you want to help to claim back New Zealand – Tell everybody – www.100days.co.nz
© Amy Brooke