My Duty is not Clear and I am Worried
Something strange is happening in New Zealand, and I can't figure it out. Because the bottom line is not clear, I am not sure where my duty lies. Do I treat this as spectacle, or am I, implicitly, involved? Put it another way: is this just another disaster movie, interesting but none of my business, or is this the Time of Testing, trundling into town but with no standard bearer to clearly advertise its arrival?
What is happening, if the international media can be believed, is that armed New Zealand police have been cracking down on terrorist organizations which have been stockpiling arms and undergoing military training in mysterious camps.
From an international perspective, it all looks very simple. For example, www.bloomburg.com has a clearcut headline which says "New Zealand Anti-Terror Police Seize Weapons in Raid (Update2)"
To the BBC, the story is nice and simple, and runs thus:
[Police Commissioner Howard Broad said those arrested had used firearms and other weapons at military-style training camps.
Among those held was the prominent Maori rights campaigner, Tame Iti.
The North Island raids were the first use of the country's Terrorism Suppression Act.
The people targeted were from "a range of motivations" and from various ethnicities, the police chief said.
"Based on the information and the activity known to have taken place, I decided it was prudent that action should be taken in the interests of public safety," Mr Broad said.]
But if you are from New Zealand then you know that these people with "a range of motivations" are not new on the scene. They have always been there, and it has never, until now, been thought to call in the Waffen SS to come storming in with live ammunition chambered in their guns.
It seems pretty clear that the people on the scene are familiar faces. A "save our sails" mob which may have got a bit out of hand, as they apparently seem to see taking down and defeating the coal industry as part of their snail-saving mandate.
But the eco movement is not exactly new on the scene.
And, in New Zealand, unresolved tensions over land rights have been grumbling on all through my lifetime. While I was at university, there was a major standoff involving the police and Maori activists who had laid claim to some land near the coast in Auckland.
However, why the guns and raids now? What has changed?
I have been watching, for the second time, Terry Gillian's BRAZIL, his brilliant comic riff on George Orwell's 1984. It's about a world of jackbooted repression and state intimidation in the name of security. It's significantly scarier than the movie I've been watching back to back with it, that movie being STARSHIP TROOPERS (plotline: brave gung-ho military types fight Very Large Bugs, Extremely Noisily (and fight them in French for some reason, presumably because of a quirk of the download I've managed to get my hands on.)
Looking at the New Zealand situation, it seems that there are two ways to interpret it. One is to think it is symptomatic of a government which, being short, for the moment, of useful ideas, has chosen to create a homegrown terrorism problem out of the thin stuff of its own imagination.
One might imagine that, if everyone keeps their heads, this will all blow over, and that the New Zealand government will not actually go down the same Fascist dictatorship route that the United States of America has been taking in recent years.
But, alternatively, it's possible that the long-awaited hour of testing has come at last. That this is the time to send out the signal, to waken the sleepers, to pour water on the dehydrated dragons teeth, to turn the key in the lock and open the secret armory, the one which holds the repository of Semtex, polonium and cobalt 90, along with the well-oiled machineguns.
Is this, then, the hour to hand out the guns and ammunition? Or is it, rather, time to go look for some popcorn and enjoy the show?
I can't decide.
Probably I will think better once I close down STARSHIP TROOPERS so I can think with an unoccupied mind, but I have no plans to do that until I have succeeded in downloading LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, the Warner Brothers trailer of which I have successfully downloaded and watched.
On top of the problem of the movies playing (or soon to be played) on my computer screen, I have the problem of the movies playing in my own mind, most recently the wraith ships. Of which more later, but not right now ...