Bill Ralston: To my bile-ridden, Islamophobic letter writer

by Bill Ralston / 01 April, 2019
Photo/Getty Images

Photo/Getty Images

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The hate-filled rantings of Islamophobes will not be tolerated.

No sooner had the Listener published my March 30 column mourning the death of 50 people, murdered while praying in Christchurch, with almost as many worshippers wounded and maimed, than my wife and I received a vile email from a bile-ridden Islamo­phobe. It consisted of screeds of hatred about Muslims, its basic thesis being that all Islamic refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants were violent terrorists just waiting to enslave us.

I shall not quote this fascist at length, but his deranged position on the Christchurch shootings is worth mentioning. “Any moslum [sic] moving anywhere (at any time) is never an immigrant but a [derogatory term]. Like Brevic [Breivik] in Norway, Christ­church was a desperate but ill-considered, hate-of-slavery response.”

Ill-considered? Is that all this man can say about an act of mass murder? The Anders Behring Breivik he misspelt refers to the Norwegian right-wing terrorist who gunned down 69 youngsters and blew up eight more innocent people in 2011. He, too, hated Muslims.

Worse still, the email’s author referred me to the writings of Richard Dawkins, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Katie Hopkins. In his 4464 words of deranged hate, the man also added dozens of links to equally obscene sites he believed backed his unhinged political ravings. I forwarded his email to the Security Intelligence Service, which, I suspect, is now finally showing some interest in the babblings of the alt-right, and I hope he enjoys the visit.

As a result of that column, I will also not be opening any parcels from my letter box for a while and I’m considering buying body armour. What is happening to our country?

I recently asked that question of a Labour Party strategist, and added that Jacinda Ardern looked set for a long term as Prime Minister as a result of the surge in goodwill she has received for her handling of the crisis. My friend quietly noted that two years after the massacre in Norway, its Labour Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, was thrown out of office.

I should point out I am no Jacindamaniac. The last time we met, just before she became Prime Minister, I had a spat with her over a childish wisecrack she had made about me. I also worked for National’s Nikki Kaye on two campaigns against Ardern in Auckland Central. That history aside, I should note that her handling of this crisis has, to date, been superb.

By defining the Muslim com­munity as one of “us”, by wearing a headscarf in an Islamic centre, by almost immediately banning military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles and by leading the country in grieving for and support of Muslims here and around the world, she made this her defining moment as a political leader. She has done very well.

So far, Government action has been fast and decisive, as it needed to be, before time passed and public memory of the events dimmed. Mainstream international media coverage of the Prime Minister has been sympathetic and laudatory.

However, in 18 months’ time, the next election will not be decided on the tragic events in Christchurch. It will revolve around issues such as changes the Government wants to the tax regime, the number of houses it has provided for home seekers, the adequacy of the health and education systems and the resilience of the economy.

If Ardern wants to avoid Stoltenberg’s fate, she will need to bring her new-found leadership skills to bear on those issues.

Meantime, I wonder if my Islamophobic correspondent has had a knock on his door yet.

This article was first published in the April 6, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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