Two readers offer their reflections on our collective reaction to the Aisling Symes tragedy:
The Best of Us, The Worst of Us, revealed in Aisling Symes Tragedy
Sadly the body of Aisling Symes has been discovered and the means of her tragic death are understood.
During this time of grief and outpouring of public support for her family, there may also be a time for some reflection.
On her shocking disappearance, and at the very peak of the speculation that an Asian woman may have been involved in the Aisling’s disappearance, Winston Peters intentionally used the fear inducing term “human tsunami” to smear immigrants and grab the headlines.
The search for Aisling brought out the very best in many people. Though jumping to wrong conclusions can sometimes expose an ugly side to the New Zealand psyche.
In my view, Winston Peters, hate mongering, against immigrants at the height of this emergency is one of those ugly things that sometimes arise in times of a national crisis, a demagogue who tries to exploit the crisis for their own ends.
The sight of our country’s prime political opportunist, appearing on national TV, attempting to make political capital from this terrible tragedy, was disturbing to say the least.
Scape goating immigrants has worked for Peters in the past, to lift New Zealand First poll ratings whenever they fell into the margin of error. But by preying on the atmosphere of suspicion engendered against Asians, around the Aisling Symes disappearance, Peters may have finally gone to far.
This time Winston Peters may have misread the mood of the public, possibly even further alienating his remaining New Zealand First supporters.
All I can say if this happens, is good riddance.
A Few Thoughts on Child Snatching
The sad outcome to the disappearance of Aisling Symes has left me with some questions about the way New Zealanders responded to the story. The most obvious answer has turned out to be the case; she has wandered away, fallen or crawled into a drain and died. It’s a tragedy and our thoughts go out to the family.
However, what worries me is the reaction in the MSM, on the internet and around the smoko room. Very quickly we abandoned the most likely answer to the disappearance and assumed that she had been kidnapped. Thankfully, the Police were professional in their response and carried on the ground search, while also acting on the possibility of a kidnapping.
The wider community response, however, did not involve much common sense. The con artist Deb Webber was coopted by TVNZ’s news crew to â€˜solve’ the mystery, despite her 100% failure rate in all her previous scams. The McCann’s, the English parents of a missing child, quickly gave their support to the Symes family, as if what is supposed to have happened to their child must have happened to Aisling, too. Parents in West Auckland expressed fears for their own children’s potential to be the next victim, despite no actual crime having been committed. Elderly Asians with dogs were scrutinised as if they were the embodiment of evil.
The rush to assume that Aisling had been snatched defies logic. There have been very few actual kidnappings in NZ, of either adults or kids. When it involves children, it is usual a parent or other relative as part of a custody dispute and these are usually resolved without physical harm to the child. The last child kidnap and murder by a stranger I can recall is that of Teresa McCormack in Napier two decades ago. But I still talk to parents who drive their kids to school because they fear their offspring will whisked away by paedophiles if they aren’t dropped off at the school gates.
Why do we feel our kids are at risk? We live in one of the safest countries in the world. The murder rate is low, the kidnapping rate is inconsequential and Lord knows how much petrol is wasted on short school runs for kids who would be better off getting the exercise a walk to school brings.
Is it the media? Is it the Senseless Sentencing Trust? Is it Minnie Dean? Whatever it is, we need to wake up to the chilling affect our collective paranoia has on our society. We should be sad about the loss of Aisling Symes, but we should also be sad about what we learned about ourselves in the last week as well.
– The Voice of Reason