Karl du Fresne is somewhat taken aback by the cross spectrum venom on display
It’s hard to recall a more concerted gang-up against a public figure than the one that followed last week’s launch of former National Party leader Don Brash’s Hobson’s Pledge movement, which wants an end to race-based preference.
The mild-mannered Brash is no stranger to public kickings, but even he must have been taken aback by the sheer venom of the backlash.
Maori broadcaster Willie Jackson said he was crazy. Labour leader Andrew Little called him racist (now that’s original). Prime minister John Key, Brash’s successor as National leader, belittled him by saying he sounded like a broken record.
Almost without exception, the media reaction was contemptuous. One political editor dismissed Brash as a jack-in-the-box – “wind him up and out he pops, shouting ‘boo’ over race relations”.
Columnist Toby Manhire suggested Brash and his supporters should start a colony on Mars. Hone Harawira labelled him a redneck – the default option for Maori activists stumped for a proper argument.
Media interviewers, including Radio New Zealand’s Mihingarangi Forbes and TV3’s Lisa Owen, were openly hostile. There was no pretence of the journalistic neutrality once required of broadcasters. No surprises there.
It is remarkable that wanting a non-apartheid solution to New Zealand legislation can produce that much upset. Read more »