An ugly side of the Right, one that a lot of people thought was long defeated, has reemerged in recent weeks. Yesterday we had David Garrett’s ‘sterilise the poor because they might become criminals or breed criminals’ and last week we had arguably more disturbing comments from Judith Collins about how she wanted to restore “fear” of the Police.
In a free society we shouldn’t fear the agents of the State. Collins thinks we should because her ideology is about the use of power by the powerful to preserve their privilege, it is not about freedom and democracy. Liberty is a nicety to people like her, easily pushed aside. Their solution to every issue is more unchecked power to the State to crush any threat.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that even Garth George, who himself tends toward the jackbooted end of the Right, thinks that Collins is too extreme:
“[In the wake of the] vicious and mindless assaults on four police officers that happened on the weekend before last.
As usual, all we have had so far is a series of knee-jerk reactions from politicians, senior policemen and the police officers’ union.
Prime Minister John Key and Police Minister Judith Collins talk about introducing harsher penalties for attacks on police. They say that this would send a clear message that police should be “feared and respected”.
But the last thing we need is for our police to be feared. That would not only rob them of any respect we might have left for them, but would really put us on a par with Third World, Communist and former Communist countries.
What we need is our police force to be restored to a state whereby it engenders and deserves the public esteem, admiration and co-operation”
Unfortunately, this government’s solution to crime is just to smash the boot down harder. It simply does not work.
But I think in some ways they don’t intend it to. Collins and her ilk perceive an endless battle where those with power and privilege use the force of the State to repress the rest who, unjustly, want to take more for themselves. Collins doesn’t think that giving the Police greater freedom of operation and laying down harsher sentences will stop crime but it will unshackle the agents of the State from restrictions and checks on their power.
The sad thing is that in the battle between Simon Power and Collins she appears to be winning. Power has abdicated his ministerial responsibility for the Three Strikes Bill rather than vigorously oppose it because it goes against his principles, the recommendations of the Ministry of Justice and other, and common sense. The failure of the so-called ‘classical liberals’ like Power is leaving the door open to hardliners like Collins.
This is all a microcosm of what is happening in the States where the hard core of the Right – the Tea Party movement- is becoming increasingly radicalised and militant, and the moderate Right has no answer for it. Dangerous times over there.