We’ve Got a Problem

The three men responsible for the 2008 attack on the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) base at Waihopai — a schoolteacher, a Catholic priest and a farmer, who openly admitted to the crimes — were acquitted of all charges in Wellington District Court. “After a week-long trial, the jury took a mere two hours to rule that the men should be set free since they were acting for the greater good,” writes Forbes deputy lifestyle editor Eric Arnold. “Were they?” Arnold pontificates. “Perhaps. The extension of U.S. government tentacles around the world is often troubling even to Americans. But the jury’s decision is much more troubling. It conveys to the rest of the country — and to the larger world — that in New Zealand crime is OK if you believe you’re in the right. It also shows that xenophobia is becoming as [much a part of New Zealand culture] as rugby and meat pies. I can’t say that I saw the crime or even the acquittal coming, but I don’t find either surprising. Spend a year in rural New Zealand and you’ll learn that the country, for all the virtues and benefits it enjoys by being small and far-flung, is also greatly impaired by these two things, for they stir a sense of one-dimensional, nativist paranoia in many of its people that only grows stronger by the day … Progressive people affect change by using their brains, not their sickles and their sense of paranoia. History’s already seen how that sort of thing shakes out, and I’d hate to see it repeat in New Zealand.”

Tags: Eric Arnold  Forbes  Government Communications Security Bureau  Waihopai