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United States moves closer to theocracy - nothing to worry about in Aotearoa?
On 7 December 1941, Imperial Japan launched a war on the American people. It would forever become a date of infamy, said then US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, eightyone years ago.
On 24/25 June 2022, conservatives launched their war on 166.24 million American women. That date, also, will forever live on as a date of infamy.
Shockwaves from the United States Supreme Court decision- where just five people voted to remove bodily autonomy for over 166 million American women - has reverberated around the world. The United State's self-declared global defender of individual liberty has become an object of mocking derision.
American women are in shock, as the full force of repressive, misogynistic conservatism has taken over their lives and turned it upside down. Over half the population of the United States now have less rights than their parents and grandparents had. The Patriarchy has regained control over the reproductive choices for women in the United States
To enforce the new oppression, authoritarian conservatism - backed up with militarised, thuggish police - will be enforcing the nascent, proto-Gilead with brutish force.
In Aotearoa, women have also reacted with understandable shock, horror, and visceral anger:
One of National's neo-con MPs - Simon O'Connor - was publicly vilified for crassly "celebrating" the US Supreme Court's decision:
National's leader Chris Luxon, and his party strategists, moved quickly to rein in the errant MP and cauterise public anger.
Note David Farrier's succinct analysis of Mr O'Connor's support for theocratic oppression of women: "suck shit". And note that arch fantasist/conspiracist, Chantelle Baker, has "liked" Mr O'Connor's comment. So we know where she stands: bodily autonomy for vaccines against a deadly disease, but not bodily autonomy for an unwanted pregnancy, rape, ectopic pregnancy, incest, etc. So much for "sovereign citizenship".
The fallout from the United States has clearly been felt by conservative/centre-right parties around the world. Aotearoa being no exception. Current leader of the National Party, Christopher Luxon, was moved to reiterate three times in the media that his party would not relitigate abortion laws in Aotearoa.
Suspicions still linger that Mr Luxon and the conservative wing of the NZ National Party are not to be fully trusted if National wins the election next year.
National party supporters have taken to social media protesting that events in the United States have no bearing on New Zealand. This was highlighted by public relations consultant and former National government press secretary, Ben Thomas, who 'tweeted' on 26 June:
Firstly. Referring to wholesale destruction of a sizeable chunk of the population is not a "culture war". A war on women, certainly. But the disparaging term "culture war" fails to recognise the historical significance of what has just occurred in the United States.
We do not refer to ending slavery in the US in the 1800s as a "culture war". We do not refer to the rise of Nazism in 1920s/30s Germany as a "culture war". We do not call the over throw of apartheid as a "culture war".
Why is it a "culture war" when over half the population of a country are suddenly stripped of bodily autonomy by a handful of unelected people?
Let's call it what it truly is. Oppression. Fascism. Theocratic conservatism gone mad.
Secondly. How naive is it to think that trying people are trying "to will US culture wars into existence here"?
Has Mr Thomas not been paying any attention to events in Aotearoa for the last thirtyeight years?
1984: The fourth Labour Government introduced radical, neo-liberal "reforms" imported from the United States. The ideology was a product of the Chicago School of Economics and promoted by Milton Friedman. Despite failures of that ideology, it is a system that remains with us, under-pinning our current economic policies. The social calamity resulting from the inequity caused by that system are still with us today.
Neo-liberalism wasn't "willed into existence". It was deliberately introduced by people in power, with precision and determination, irrespective of the damage to our social fabric.
2022: The occupation at Parliament was a free-for-all of every conceivable conspiracist fantasy currently circulating on the internet. Whether "New World Order", Agenda 21, the "Jewish takeover", the "Great Replacement/Reset", anti-flouride, and of course, anti-vaccination - much of it emanating from the United States:
We also have our very own Trump supporters:
On Twitter, Peter Ashford replied to Ben Thomas:
"Have you paid no goddam attention to Voices for Freedom, Groundswell, Counterspin Media et al? We have US media interests actively funding culture wars in NZ."
And Tina Ngata also did not hold back in schooling those who naively believe that American socio-political events have no bearing on our society:
"If you think the same forces that have resulted in the o/turn of Roe Vs Wade in the USA are not also at play in NZ you need to wake tf up. 1. Colonial patriarchy 2. MAGA 3. White supremacy 4. Christian fundamentalism"
As Tainui Stephens wrote in e-Tangata earlier this year:
"While we’re distant from wars overseas, or even protests here at home, we get the news, the tweets, the grams, the podcasts. Our challenge is to sort out the truth from the bullshit. To develop your own bullshit detector takes time — and personal experience."
Peter, Tina, and Tainui have recognised the simple reality that though we might be at the bottom of the world geographically, covid19 has taught us that we are not isolated. And with satellite communications; television (albeit slowly dying); streaming services; social media and the rest of the internet - we might as well be situated up-state from New York city.
We can no more prevent infection from American cultural, social, and political hegemony than we could stop omicron at the borders.
But I suspect Mr Thomas knows this.
His remark that we should "stop trying to will US culture wars into existence here" was Mr Thomas doing what any good public relations consultant does when his client is getting media 'heat' - take control of the narrative.
But judging from the angry responses to his tweet, not only did it fail to work, but he probably made matters worse. Five people in the United States have dictated to millions of women that their reproductive rights no longer count. Trying to tell New Zealand women that this was little more than a "US culture war" - implying it will have no effect on us here in Aotearoa - was never going to fly.
Effectively, he was saying to women: "don't worry your pretty little heads about it". Not in those words perhaps, but the meaning was clear enough.
National Archives (US): FDR’s “Day of Infamy” Speech
The Standard: Christopher Luxon’s many and varied abortion takes
The Spinoff: Ben Thomas - Disclosure Statement
Wikipedia: Fourth Labour Government of New Zealand
Wikipedia: Chicago School Economics
Wikipedia: Milton Friedman
E-tangata: In thrall to bullshit
Gordon Campbell: National’s ongoing problems with abortion
Kiwipolitico: A Note of Caution
No Right Turn: Still digging
The Standard: Christopher Luxon’s many and varied abortion takes
Acknowledgement: Emma Cook
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