Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The witless on the pitiless

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Chris Cormack,

    You did describe them as a ‘rush of misguided Maori Sentiment’ which implies to me, that their views are Maori sentiment, if not, then wouldn’t it just be misguided sentiment?

    I'm sorry it came across that way, then, because I was well aware of what Henare and Jones had said. So let's try it this way: "Maori who have rushed to offer sympathy for Bin laden seem to have little idea of what he would have thought of their own culture". The comparison to Te Kooti seems particularly inapt in that context.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Ewan Morris,

    Just for the record, this is my transcription and translation of the most relevant part of the interview with Hone Harawira on Te Karere. I have no wish to defend his comments, but I think we should be accurate about exactly what he said.

    Scotty Morrison: ...engari, he tangata whawhai mo te tino rangatiratanga o tona iwi, ne ra? Mo ona whakapono?
    [...but he was a person who fought for the tino rangatiratanga of his people, wasn't he? For his beliefs?]
    Hone Harawira: Ae, ahakoa nga korero a tauiwi, e mohio ana, e tangi ana tona whanau i tenei ra, tona hapu, tona iwi, ki tenei tangata e tu ana, e whawhai ana mo tona ake tino rangatiratanga, mo tona ake whenua, mo tona ake iwi, te iwi taketake o reira.
    [Yes, despite what non-Maori have said, his family, tribe and people are mourning today for this person who is standing up and fighting for his tino rangatiratanga, for his land, for his people, the indigenous people of that place.]

    Since Nov 2006 • 48 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But your own argument shows that saying

    the rush of misguided Maori sentiment

    puts your comment entirely on the wrong foot. You start by claiming there is a rush of Māori sentiment (compared to what, Pākehā sentiment?) and that also suggests there is also a lot of it (thus a rush).

    No one is disputing that Dr. Walker's comments aren't notable; we're disputing the need to bring the notion that this says something about Māori.

    Also, a small, but important point; you keep misspelling "Māori." The macron is not optional.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Che Tibby,

    do you think that might be an assumption?

    Unless you can find me any evidence that those involved had a clue in that respect, then I think it's a valid assumption.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Russell Brown,

    i mean, you're assuming what OBL might have thought of maori.

    we have no evidence that he'd even heard of them. my weak knowledge of his worldview is that OBL would likely just think them to be "potential muslims".

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    If anything, it all reinforces the Peoples' Front of Judeafication of Maori politics.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Che Tibby,

    we have no evidence that he’d even heard of them. my weak knowledge of his worldview is that OBL would likely just think them to be “potential muslims”.

    The overwhelming majority of Maori are Christian, to some degree. OBL had views on Christianity, but I'm fairly certain "a source of future converts" was not one of those views - at the least, not the one at the forefront of his thinking.

    How dare they grant Bin Laden a quick and merciful death? How dare they let him off without being held to account for his crimes in front of the world?

    It does strike me that everyone who thinks merely shooting in the head someone responsible for everything OBL was responsible for counts as revenge is...distinctly unimaginative. (But that's one of the major points of civilisation, really; avoiding imaginative forms of vengeance.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • alobar,

    you’re assuming what OBL might have thought of maori

    seems to me RB's only assuming what OBL thought of some aspects of maori culture , e.g idolatry

    auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Che Tibby,

    i mean, you’re assuming what OBL might have thought of maori.

    we have no evidence that he’d even heard of them. my weak knowledge of his worldview is that OBL would likely just think them to be “potential muslims”.

    No, about their culture. He would have despised it, for the reasons I noted. Do you seriously think he'd have embraced a culture in which music plays such a part? In which carvings, and whole houses, are imbued with the wairua of ancestors?

    He called on Muslims to attack Australia for its support of another indigenous people, the Timorese in their "separation from the Islamic world". Although you had to love Jose Ramos Horta's response.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    The knee jerk martyrdom from the left and the unpleasant celebratory noise from the right on this are both pretty ugly.

    I think the victims of the last decade (and more) were owed the time in court regardless of how difficult such an undertaking was to be. Surely it was no more troublesome than the ten years of evil, bloody war, and trillions of dollars spent getting to that compound.

    And it seems fairly clear that a shot in the head was the intended endgame even before the SEALS went in, given what we've been told of the operation's timeline and that we now know there was no firefight to speak of. It seems to have been a targeted assassination, after which any discussion of the Rules Of Engagement are merely a useful deflection.

    Richard Jackson in The Hindu wrote a worthy op/ed which summed up much of what I been thinking better than many of the words I've read to date:

    The fact that Osama bin Laden, a man who fought his enemies with violence that frequently killed the innocent, is now dead is from many perspectives a positive development. That the world now has one less influential leader who is willing to kill and destroy as a means of engendering political change is hopefully a small step towards a more peaceful world…

    But it's a pity that the U.S. chose to pursue a massive ‘war on terrorism' as a response to bin Laden's violent campaign, a war in which far more innocent people have been killed and injured than bin Laden's initial attacks. Their deaths are also part of this story and must be counted and acknowledged in our reflections on the real costs of this so-called act of ‘justice'

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • R A Hurley,

    I think what Russell is doing here is taking Bin Laden at his word regarding his Muslim beliefs. The fact that Bin Laden was willing to leverage his personal fortune and risk his own safety to promulgate those beliefs is, I think, good evidence to suggest he took them very seriously indeed. This, in turn, supports the conclusion that he would not suspend them lightly.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Righto, I've amended the intro for clarity and accuracy, and added a note that I'd changed it:

    We have, inevitably, seen expressions of sympathy for the late Osama, Bin Laden, a man who deserves no sympathy, let alone credit for his actions and beliefs. But expressions from one quarter strike me as particularly misguided. Those Maori who have expressed sympathetic sentiments in the memory of Bin Laden seem to have no grasp of what Bin Laden would have thought about Maori culture.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • NBH, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    The overwhelming majority of Maori are Christian, to some degree

    That's not quite true Lucy, at least in terms of formal identification. In the 2006 Census around 57% of Māori who gave an answer stated an affiliation with 'Christian' or 'Māori Christian' (primarily Ratana or Ringatu) religions - roughly similar to the population as a whole (though note that those stats are pulled together quickly from Stats NZ's Table Builder, so there's probably a whole heap of caveats to add).

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He called on Muslims to attack Australia for its support of another indigenous people, the Timorese in their “separation from the Islamic world”.

    sure, but there the attack is on an active opponent al qaeda, for their support of some people leaving the Umma.

    i think the issue is that what OBL might have thought of maori is irrelevant. you can argue that misguided people like the old duffer Walker shouldn't see OBL as any kind of hero, but you're ignoring the old maxim 'the enemy of my enemy etc".

    if you're a pissed off and impoverished *anyone* with a grunge against colonialist like the NZL Crown or the US of A, seeing someone like OBL sticking it to The Man will raise a cheer.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to HORansome,

    you keep misspelling “Māori.” The macron is not optional.

    Nah. On two grounds.
    (i) if you’ve borrowed the word into English, then you’re under no obligation to keep the macron; this is consistent with the disappearance of accent marks on French borrowings such as deja vu .
    (ii) even within te reo, you are under no obligation to use a macron per se – though you should mark vowel length in some agreed way; and the macron has official support.
    (The alternative Maaori is also available, though not as good a choice linguistically; or we could use other markers such as Ma:ori.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    But it’s a pity that the U.S. chose to pursue a massive ‘war on terrorism’ as a response to bin Laden’s violent campaign, a war in which far more innocent people have been killed and injured than bin Laden’s initial attacks. Their deaths are also part of this story and must be counted and acknowledged in our reflections on the real costs of this so-called act of ‘justice’

    Indeed, and I’ve written about that a lot. The other blog post I wrote this morning is about accountability for civilian victims in that war.

    But the Iraqi death toll also includes more than 1700 suicide bombers, most of whom took others with them. Human Rights Watch published a report on the many thousands of civilian victims of insurgent groups, the most prominent of those being al-Qaeda in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army in Iraq, which all deliberately targeted civilians:

    They have assassinated government officials, politicians, judges, journalists, humanitarian aid workers and those deemed to be collaborating with the foreign forces in Iraq. They have tortured and summarily executed, sometimes by beheading, persons in their custody. And attacks against legitimate military targets, such as army convoys, have been carried out in such a manner that the foreseeable loss of civilian life was far disproportionate to the military gain. All of these attacks are serious violations of international humanitarian law-war crimes-and in some cases they are crimes against humanity.

    The US and its allies are absolutely complicit in that they created the conditions for this to happen. But let’s not forget who killed and tortured those thousands of people, and how.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ewan Morris,

    Just for the record, this is my transcription and translation of the most relevant part of the interview with Hone Harawira on Te Karere. I have no wish to defend his comments, but I think we should be accurate about exactly what he said.

    Thanks for that. But I think the full transcript, including Morrison's question, makes it look worse.

    Harawira is specifically framing his statement as a rebuttal to what "non-Maori" say about Bin Laden. He's pretty close to presenting what he says as a Maori perspective there, isn't he?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But let’s not forget who killed those thousands of people, and how.

    Absolutely, and to all of those, at the very least, and sidestepping any arguments about the legal niceties of justice, I think a moral injustice has been done by not putting OBL in front of a tribunal or court - I would've preferred the Hague or something/somewhere that reflected that this was not just an American hell - and summarily executing him.

    That the US opened the gates to that hell a little wider does not excuse those who pulled the triggers one little bit.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • R A Hurley, in reply to Che Tibby,

    you can argue that misguided people like the old duffer Walker shouldn’t see OBL as any kind of hero, but you’re ignoring the old maxim ’the enemy of my enemy etc”. if you’re a pissed off and impoverished *anyone* with a grunge against colonialist like the NZL Crown or the US of A, seeing someone like OBL sticking it to The Man will raise a cheer.

    You’re generalising motives to the “pissed off and impoverished” in a very offhand way here. I realise that it’s hard for even the most hard-headed rationalist to get through a day without doing something like this, but when you’re suggesting that the “pissed off and impoverished” are approving of terrorism, I think extra care might be warranted. It’s possible you’re right, but it will take a bit more work to adequately show that Maori, or any other group that have suffered at the hands of the powerful, think that Osama Bin Laden is anything other than a murderous idiot.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I would’ve preferred the Hague or something/somewhere that reflected that this was not just an American hell

    Me too. But you can imagine how that would have gone down in the wingnutosphere.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to R A Hurley,

    Osama Bin Laden is anything other than a murderous idiot.

    Murderous and a thousand other things, yes. An idiot? Perhaps not - he achieved huge parts of what he wanted to achieve.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Ewan Morris,

    Harawira is specifically framing his statement as a rebuttal to what "non-Maori" say about Bin Laden. He's pretty close to presenting what he says as a Maori perspective there, isn't he?

    I've translated "tauiwi" as non-Maori, but perhaps in the context it would be better to translate it as people who are not of Osama bin Laden's iwi (whatever that might be). I don't pretend to know exactly what Hone Harawira was trying to say, but I would suggest that he was drawing a contrast between how bin Laden had been portrayed in the West generally and how he was viewed by his own people. Again, I'm not trying to defend what he said, because the very best interpretation you can place on it was that he was dangerously ambiguous about what he thought of bin Laden, and you certainly can read his statement as supporting the view that bin Laden was some kind of freedom fighter.

    Since Nov 2006 • 48 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Che Tibby,

    i think the issue is that what OBL might have thought of maori is irrelevant. you can argue that misguided people like the old duffer Walker shouldn’t see OBL as any kind of hero, but you’re ignoring the old maxim ’the enemy of my enemy etc”.

    That's my point, though. Anyone who sees Bin Laden in those terms simply doesn't understand what he believed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Russell Brown,

    anyone who sees Bin Laden in those terms simply doesn’t understand what he believed.

    might just be the same quandary as well-heeled hipsters in Che t-shirts.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Che Tibby,

    might just be the same quandary as well-heeled hipsters in Che t-shirts.

    Good comparison. (And I say that as someone who long ago owned a Che shirt as a popular culture statement rather than a political one.) Che Guevara was a thug -- although not on the millennial scale of Bin Laden.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

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