The attendance of Wellington City Councillors at an Antifa counter-demonstration, ostensibly to protest fascism, invoked the question, who exactly are the fascists here?
On Tuesday a ‘Freedom’ demonstration took place in Wellington. Although the protest was against the covid vaccine mandates in particular, and for some the government in general, opposition seized on the fact that it was organised by Brian Tamaki, also the founder of a conservative church which opposed gay marriage. Thus the protest was to some extent tainted by association. As well as this discouraging some protesters, politicians and media are allowing the association to empower fascist hate groups such as Antifa.
The Wellington Antifa organisation, Pōneke Anti-Fascist Coalition promotes a parallel between fascism and ‘anti-vaxx ideology’, and indeed all ‘conspiracies’ (i.e. dissent).
‘We are a group of people based in Pōneke/Wellington who are standing up against fascism, anti-vaxx ideology, conspiracy theories and bigotry in all its forms. Love community, hate fascism!’
Pōneke Anti-Fascist Coalition organised a counter-demonstration to Tamaki’s Freedom protest. Wellington City Councillors Fleur Fitzsimons and Rebecca Matthews, and a few other local election candidates attended the demonstration posing under Antifa insignia and the Antifa slogans ‘Love Community Hate Fascism’ and ‘Fascist Trash’.
Response to the boastful tweets of the councillors was furious.
There is indeed much about Wellington City Council culture that is redolent of fascism. Two common definitions of fascism that are relevant:
The Councillors’ desire to suppress free speech, well demonstrated by their hostility both to this protest and to February’s ‘Freedom Village’, is just one expression of what is now WCC culture. The Council is imposing on the city a deeply unpopular cycle network – because they can. The Council approves in principle the expansion of Wellington’s (ample) reserves at the expense of private property, overturning traditional rights and causing huge angst and material loss – because they can. The Council is pushing towards co-governance, without referendum – because they can.
2) Achieving political ends through bullying, intimidation, through to violence. Intimidation was a strategy of the Italian Fascists in the 1930, and is now an Antifa hallmark.
There is, of course, a sliding scale, when it comes to bullying. At one end: at Onslow-Western local election meetings of 2019, a recurring theme of candidates was that the people who should decide every issue from climate change to town planning were school children, because they were going to live longer. Every time a member of the audience queried the Council’s vision of a city of apartment buildings, up would bounce Rebecca Matthews and inform the sea of grey heads that ‘there is an age divide here. Younger people …’.
As Matthews started, with disenfranchising the elderly, so she has continued. Venom is directed at all opponents. Anyone who loves Wellington as it is, is a ‘f….. NIMBY’. And not just by Matthews. Anyone who opposes democracy being replaced by co-governance is deemed racist by a body of councillors . The sniping and whinging at Council meetings in order to cow opposition has to be heard to be believed. Take, for example, the Council’s meeting to approve the Proposed District Plan. Every councillor had the chance to speak, but this did not stop Fleur Fitzsimons and others wasting everyone’s time at the end by complaining about how people voted. Those chairing the meetings clearly feel it is not in their best interests to rein in this behaviour.
Matthews and co. may have established for themselves a reputation as bullies, however it is quite a step to attending what was essentially an Antifa rally.
The protest passed off peacefully, and and there is no evidence that violence was planned, or is planned in the future, by Poneke Antifa. I am certainly not accusing Wellington councillors of planning riots. But the fact remains that Poneke Antifa is a nasty hate group that works to suppress dissent by equating it with fascism: a gobsmacking example of projectionism. By attending an Antifa rally, by standing under Antifa slogans and insignia, by joining with them in accusing all anti-mandate protesters of fascism and hate, Wellington councillors, like the media, are empowering the Antifa movement – and fascism.
Wellington Scoop: Hundreds of anti-protest demonstrators watch arrival of “Freedom” marchers, via the lens of twitter.
A recent poll showed that satisfaction with Wellington City Council’s decision-making process is down to 12%. From Benoi Pette,12%:
‘This report was presented by officers to the Mayor and the Councillors on the 28th of June. The video of the meeting is available online and lasts one hour and a half. The section about satisfaction starts at the 46th minute.
‘In this presentation, the officers never mention, ever, the actual figure of 12%, as if it was too shameful, too dirty to dare say it. They list what Wellingtonians said were the three main reasons for this, let’s try, “low” level of satisfaction:
- Not listening to the public (someone, somewhere suggested it some time ago);
- Political issues (the in-fighting);
- Lack of transparency in decision-making.
‘Then an officer offers his own analysis. Yes, the rating is not great, but it is also relatively stable. I’ll be guessing here you always have to see the positive in things.