This article was submitted to Canta shortly after a white-pride counter demonstration largely organized by students. It probably wasn’t published as Canta usually requires articles to be submitted a week in advance – this makes it difficult for students to submit articles covering recent events. The Canta issue the following week was a recipe book – it no doubt aided indebted students in adding 21 ingredients to their shopping list for a single meal, as well as how to spend a sizeable chunk of course related costs on spaghetti bolognese. That said, the issue did reveal all we ‘need’ to know about our exec.
Right Wing Resisted – Perry Hyde
In a scene of almost cinematic symbolism, a brief stammer in the tirade of heated verbal exchange drew ears to softer sound. Beyond the line of precautionary police officers, about halfway between us and them, stood a lone monk-clad man. Although seemingly helpless in his demeanor, he was pouring every inch of his being into his dream-for-peace rendition of Pokarekare ana. It was in this brief moment that I contemplated the significance of such a confrontation. Here we were, students in 21st century Aotearoa, mustered on the rugged streets of post-quake Christchurch, yelling at Nazis.
This last Saturday marked the 5th consecutive year of Right-Wing-Resistance‘s annual White-Pride World-Wide demonstration in Christchurch. In synchrony with similar actions around the world, they marched in protest of ongoing racial injustices such as white oppression, white-culture dilution and white subordination, all of which they actually believe actually exist. The march, under placards such as “Diversity = White-Genocide” and “Anti-Racist = Anti-White” was totally “not racist” and if anything, I was informed, us “anti-whites” were the racist ones. Members dressed appropriately; amongst an acceptable variation of white-pride and “Hitler was right” T-shirts were the prestigious Neo-Nazi security uniforms – ordered on commission from China no doubt. Nothing shows pride in one’s skin colour like defacing it with ink, which probably explained the grotesque bazaar of body-arts – swastikas, heathen heraldry and pissed-looking eagles were a favourite. Yep, these are the kind of people you’d rather cross the street to avoid. They love that. It’s arguably their greatest accomplishment.
In collaboration with a number of organizations including Anti-Racist-Action, the Mana Movement, Fightback Aotearoa, International Socialists and UC Marx Soc (the latter few familiar to our opposition as “filthy-red commie-scum”), the people of Christchurch mounted a counter-demonstration. Despite a last-minute change in location from New Brighton to Cathedral Square – evidently an attempt to curb our numbers – we still managed to muster a crowd twice as large. Before long, a diligent row of police separated the two groups, and the atmosphere became considerably more hostile. Verbal abuse hailed from both sides – though unified chants came predominantly from ours. Soon enough, some of our chants began to slip down the slope of political correctness. “Hey, Ho, Racism has got to go!” and “Immigrants are welcome, racists are not!” became “Nazi Scum!” and “You’re a joke!”. Was this really justified? Was it right to fight hate with hate?
One particular member certainly did not think so. Dressed half-way between a Zen-monk and a Jedi-knight (which sounds awesome and totally was), he took issue with conduct from both sides. He claimed our opposition was full of pain, disillusioned and vulnerable. Could he be right? Though his justifications relied on new-age appeal-to-nature sentiments (which are apparently objectively true for everyone), perhaps he had a point. Could our opposition, largely consisting of economically-disadvantaged individuals, be erroneously identifying immigrants as an explanation for their grievances? If so, did we really have a moral high-ground to belittle them for ignorant action spurred by desperation? Perhaps these issues may have been worthy of discussion, though on the day it appeared our opposition seemed more interested in making jokes about Hitler’s gas bill, swearing more than all other words combined, and convincing themselves they were not racist.
We also can’t ignore the fact that intimidation was their primary political weapon. Our tactic was social disapproval – we needed to show prospective “recruits”, onlookers (including tourists) and the wider public (via the media) that the people of Aotearoa would not tolerate racial supremacy – perhaps harsh denouncement was necessary to achieve this. Some have also argued that our counter-demonstration gives them greater public forum to push their bigotry. But the fact that they changed their location at the last minute shows that our presence was without a doubt against their interests – this alone provided us with a victory from the get-go.
Amidst all the chaos, members of our counter-demonstration figured that some good should come of what was a largely negative confrontation. As we were unable to fulfill our ultimate agenda of committing genocide on the white-European race, we resorted to an adequate compromise. Subsequently, more than $100 in donations was raised for the Canterbury Refugee Council – an organization committed to the social development of refugee communities in our region. Long after police had escorted our opposition from the square, people remained to discuss the issue of discrimination in it’s less salient forms, throughout all of our society. Flyers were distributed for a lecture the following evening, as well as magazines and pamphlets with relevant articles. It was impressive to see how a simple instance of activism could stimulate engagement in addressing societies ills.
One only needs to look at Golden Dawn in Greece, and Svoboda in Ukraine to understand how politically legitimate these groups can become without early and fierce opposition (and more recently, the European parliament!). Our counter-demonstration this past Saturday provided just that. So as bizarre as my Saturday spent yelling at Nazis was, it was also very inspiring. It showed me that the people of Aotearoa, no matter what their colour, culture or creeds, are both willing and able to stand in solidarity against fascism, racism, misogyny, homophobia; against discrimination in all it’s vile forms.