Cowardly attack tarnishes New Zealand's brand
I'm not the greatest fan of racial intolerance.DION TUUTA
OPINION: Kia ora koutou.
I know that my column is usually supposed to comment on Maori issues but I was deeply saddened on Friday when I read that some lowlife scumbag had defaced Jewish graves in central Auckland with anti-Semitic graffiti.
About 20 headstones were vandalised sometime between Wednesday and Friday.
Some headstones had large graffiti swastikas crudely sprayed on them while others had expletive-ridden anti-Semitic messages scrawled over them.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm not the greatest fan of racial intolerance.
But whoever did this abhorrent and cowardly act was careful enough to ensure that they weren't witnessed and are therefore likely to escape punishment. That's a real pity.
A cemetery is a wahi tapu. I don't care whose cemetery it is, what religion they practise or what ethnic group they belong to. A cemetery is a wahi tapu. The idea of someone desecrating the burial site of someone else's ancestors or loved ones is repugnant. What is more disturbing is the idea that someone could hold so much hatred, intolerance and ignorance inside them that they think it is acceptable to desecrate the graves of the dead as some kind of political statement.
The graffiti attack coincided with the annual National Front march to Parliament which was scheduled to be held on Saturday.
There is no suggestion of any link between the two events, and I'm sure the National Front and its members would be affronted (no pun intended) at the mere suggestion there could be a link. But what a coincidence.
Ironically, the nazi-styled attack on the graves also coincided with the timing of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the battle of El Alamein where 1100 New Zealand servicemen gave their lives fighting for peace against the Nazis and their allies.
I'm sure the 21 New Zealand veterans attending the commemorations would be horrified and disgusted if they knew of what was happening back at home while they are away honouring their fallen comrades.
The desecration of the graves prompted a protest on Saturday by about 30 protesters opposed to discrimination and intolerance.
The attack clearly touched a raw nerve of the group Socialists Aotearoa which blamed the National Front and issued a challenge, warning the organisation not to march in Auckland or there would be consequences. Which just goes to demonstrate how intolerance does nothing but breed intolerance.
No-one seems immune.
In this case the intolerance of some idiot who vandalised 20 Jewish graves is met with anger and intolerance from a political group looking for a scrap.
Brilliant. Apart from outraging the community and damaging whatever warped cause the vandal thought he was advocating by defacing gravestones, for me it raises the question of whether society can ever truly overcome intolerance or whether we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Hopefully this was the act of a sad and confused individual, and not indicative of some wider and growing deep-seated bigotry emerging in our society.
New Zealand likes to think of itself as a fairly tolerant and easy- going society and on the whole it is. But the world is a small place now and events like this do nothing to promote our brand internationally.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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