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The Tragic Toll of Hatred

By Ad Astra

Stan Grant is an outstanding journalist. His capacity to undertake brilliantly forensic analyses and thereby discern meaning within the tumult of contemporary political behaviour sets him apart from most of his colleagues. So good are his political credentials that our PM invited him to enter politics, an offer Grant declined. I was fortunate to hear him speak on ABC TV afternoon news in the aftermath of the massacre of fifty Muslims at worship in two mosques in Christchurch.

I can do no better than to direct you to the opening video of this piece. It records him speaking with two ABC news presenters about radicalization. You can view the video here at the top of this ABC article.

His comments were influenced by his analysis of The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction a 2016 book by political scientist Mark Lilla, professor of humanities at Columbia University in New York City.

The essence of Grant’s analysis is a follows:

  • Radicalized groups drink from the same well, poisoned with grievance, resentment, hatred, and the desire for vengeance.
  • The grievance is rooted in a belief in some form of historical wrong, fear or anxiety.

Lilla calls this mental state ’The shipwrecked mind’, where people see the future drifting by like debris from a shipwreck.

Grant described the behaviour of these radicalized groups as follows:

  • They ‘catastrophise’ the world.
  • They show no interest in finding things in common with others, in things that unite, in pluralism.
  • They see those holding other beliefs as permanent enemies against whom they seek violent retribution.

He sees the world as becoming more divided, illustrating his thesis by reference to well-known groups that resort to violence as their remedy for perceived past grievances: Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Far Right Extremists, White Supremacists.

It was easy to for him to advance contemporary examples of longstanding grievances:

Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, who talks of ‘a hundred years of humiliation’ of China by foreign powers; Russian President Vladimir Putin, who paints the end of the Soviet empire as the ‘great catastrophe of the 20th Century’; and neo-Nazis who burn with deep resentment at the defeat of Germany in two world wars and the humiliation they suffered afterwards. They have evolved into the white supremacist movements that have infiltrated many countries around the world, no less New Zealand, where the terrorist that killed fifty Muslims at worship proudly paraded telltale white supremacist hand signals even as he was exposed in shackles before the media.

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, still resents the collapse of the Ottoman Empire way back in 1923. In the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, he revealed yet another long-standing resentment: what happened at Gallipoli a century ago. Using a video of the Christchurch massacre in his current election campaign, he criticized the Anzacs for their role in the Gallipoli operation and threatened Australians and New Zealanders who come to Turkey exhibiting anti-Islam sentiment with ‘being sent back in coffins like their grandfathers’. His minders said: ‘he was taken out of context’, a well-worn excuse. He has reassured New Zealand Deputy PM Winston Peters, but has he apologised, has he withdrawn the videotape of the massacre from his campaigning? An ancient resentment still burns in his heart, and for him, retribution remains a current option. His words stand in sharp contrast to the touching words attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, First President of Turkey, which reached out to the mothers of his enemies at Gallopili.

“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours,
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries,
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well”.

The genesis of latter-day terrorism is the deep-seated hatred internalized by those who zealously harbour long-past grievances, insults, wrongs, fears, and anxieties. Nothing can erase them. They have become the raison d’être of their existence, their fervent cause.

Is there any remedy?

New Zealanders have pointed the way: replace hatred with love. The outpouring of empathy and love towards the victims, their families, and other Muslims, has set the example. In many countries, others have followed. Tributes have been left, Muslims have been embraced, and comforting words have been uttered. The milk of human kindness has been on display the world over. For many, generosity of spirit has swept away anger and resentment. It has been replaced by a warm embrace of love for fellow humans, no matter who they are. ‘Love one another’ has become the prevailing sentiment, a catchphrase that has its origins in ancient writings. But how long will it prevail? Can it counter the anger, resentment, hatred and desire for revenge that still motivates radicalized groups? Who can we rely upon to sing the good song of love and reconciliation?

Once we could look to our religious leaders. Now few people give them credence, all the more so as their feet of clay have been relentlessly exposed. The people are deserting their churches, disillusioned. To whom can they turn?

Could it be that we have no one left but our political leaders? After Christchurch, we saw the leadership for which we long. The words, actions and demeanour of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern have set a fine example, acknowledged the world over. Her empathy, her love, her kindness, her resoluteness, her purposeful actions, her calmness, together characterized her finest hour. If she can be such an inspiration to her people in their time of deep distress, could we not expect the same from our leaders? To whom else can we turn?

It is sad that we have no one of her calibre here. We do have politicians who understand the evil of hate and the balm of love. Several are active in their churches. Yet we see no Jacinda Ardern!

What we see is the mouthing of platitudes, the use of words that signal empathy and love, yet fail to counter the dog whistling, the oblique references to ‘others’ who are different to us, to those who ‘threaten’ to invade our shores, to those with ‘criminal’ records who seek medical refuge here whom our leaders tell us will bring all manner of trouble to our country.

The people are not mugs. They see our politicians deliberately setting out to alarm us about these awful ‘others’, who would do us harm. And we know why: they want to scare us away from their political opponents, who are monotonously labelled: ‘soft on border control’. It’s all political! To gain an advantage, they enthusiastically demean their opponents, scratching around for that extra vote. The damage they are doing to the electorate day after day is of no concern to them.

There are no Jacinda Arderns here! All we have is Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, Pauline Hanson, Fraser Anning, Cory Bernardi, and their ilk; the pitiable list goes on. What hope have we?

The only hope we have is to rid ourselves of this pox upon our nation. We want an Ardern. As we can’t find one among our current crop of ministers, let’s start again when next we get the chance. We might not do much better, but at least it’s worth a try.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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  1. Josephus

    Penny Wong? Sarah Hanson Young, or Nick McKim? Yes, a Stan Grant, or a Waleed Aly? Tim Costello?
    So few. Too many angry and bigoted people. Often I feel that the planet is better off without us.

  2. Keitha Granville

    Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong jump out to me as potential Aussie “Jacinda Ardern’s” in the current house.
    We had our own, Julia Gillard, but for some reason we allowed her to be trashed.

  3. Stevn

    ” The grievance is rooted in a belief ” is where that sentence should have stopped.

    Belief, Ideology, Faith are the real issue. Not individually, but as a whole.

  4. Jack Cade

    Penny Wong is the best mind in parliament, and the best performer. But there are three reasons why she wouldn’t become our PM. Firstly she is a senator.That could be remedied, but the other two reasons are right at the rotten core of the Australian electorate and political discourse: her gender and ethnicity.
    Her marital status MAY be a drawback with a large minority of the electorate.

  5. Joe Carli

    It’s all well and good, Ad Astra, to say : “Let us draw a line under these insidious deeds and start anew”…but blood has flowed…a lot of blood…a lot of culture has been destroyed, a lot of territory has been stolen, a lot of humiliation has been served upon so many people…and it is not THEIR humiliation, THEIR territory, THEIR culture….nor THEIR blood that has been wasted. Where injustice has been done AND seen to be done, so must justice be served and goods and servitude repatriated. I don’t see any intent for that to happen just a matter of fact, the injustice continues un-abated.

    It is well and good for those who, finding themselves in a favourable cultural, social and financial position to say : “Let us shake hands and call a peace..Let us be friends now.”….but those on the hurting side can see the “strings of jewellery and purses of stolen wealth” held secretly in the other hand behind their back…

    If there is to be a peace, there must also be a reckoning..and given the “quality” of middle-class graduates that pepper our politics at this point in time…I just cannot see that happening.

  6. Phil.

    This hatred is nothing new, people talk like this all started about last Sunday. The English and the French especially, are the instigators of all all this hate. A good start to burying the hatchet would be, to put Bush, Blair and Howard on a scaffold and hang them by their thumbs for a week or so and let an Arab say from Iraq give them the coup de grâce. With a base ball bat for Bush a cricket bat for Blair and for Howard, forget Howard, he’s already died from fright. Then move on, oh I don’t what about Hillary Clinton next? For the destruction of Libya? So many places so little time. I will never forget stopping in Aden in what is now the temporary capital of Yemen. I was 11 yrs old, I watched a couple of English MP’s beating the shit out of a local shop keeper in a market. His crime? His shoes were too expensive. Yea lets all be friends. Nonsense.

  7. wam

    The advantages of Adhern:
    She is a woman as are 38% of members in parliament
    NZ is one country
    The population is less than sydney
    Maori has one language and a treaty
    university first year free from tuition fees
    limits on overseas worker per sector
    one minister for xxxx
    Yes nz/aust is a silly comparison just like comparing our and finnish education system

    Stan Grant has been a long term developing voice and worthy of your writing, Ad Astra.

    Stevn is spot on belief is the truth and we are not allowed to question beliefs to find out what son of a small car considers truth?

  8. Zathras

    Imagine if Howard had shut down Hanson years ago when he had the chance and then went on not to politically exploit the Tampa incident or jump onto the anti-Asian bandwagon and deliberately play the racist card.

    Perhaps we would now be more like New Zealand and have avoided much of the divisive hatred that infects our society.

    Then again, considering him as somebody who provided a personal reference to a convicted pedophile and his ongoing anti-Aboriginal stance I realise I expected too much.

  9. MöbiusEcko

    Zathras, Howard was on the anti-Asian bandwagon way before Hanson. As opposition leader, he walked down the streets of Springvale, Victoria, which was overwhelmingly Asian, and in a not too subtle dig at Asians, said there were too many immigrants coming into Australia.

    Philip Dorling – Australia Institute Research Paper May 2017. In reaction to White Nationalist and other right-wing reactions to the influx of Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s and early 1980s, historian Professor Geoffrey Blainey’s 1984 call for reduced Asian immigration, and then Liberal Opposition Leader John Howard’s 1988 “One Australia” policy that urged Asian immigration be “slowed down a little” to reduce “social tensions”


    I can’t vouch for this because of fading memory, but I think at the time Howard may have declaimed Fraser’s policy on Vietnamese refugees and Asian immigration.

  10. Zathras


    Further to Howard (who is known to refer to Aboriginals as “boongs” in private conversation), he also once said that seeing Asian faces in Sydney made him feel “uncomfortable”. (It’s strange that Daley suffered a huge political blowback.)

    He was just a product of his time – a fifties, intolerant redneck with white supremacist undertones with the desire to officially promote the history of the West as the reason behind civilisation while ignoring “the black armband” view of uncomfortable parts of our own history.

    Yet somehow his legacy lives on.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Papers released about a decade ago under the 30-year rule revealed that Howard was the LNP’s most vociferous critic of Fraser’s humanitarian plan to allow Vietnamese ‘boat people’ into Australia.

    He has always been a nasty piece of work when it comes to refugees.

  12. Steve Davis

    A good article, but I agree with Joe Carli who said; “Where injustice has been done AND seen to be done, so must justice be served and goods and servitude repatriated. I don’t see any intent for that to happen just a matter of fact, the injustice continues un-abated.”

    Which is why I see the author’s reference to Putin as unwarranted.

    Russian grievances against the West are not historical – they are ongoing.

    The break-up of the Soviet Union proceeded on assurances that NATO would not expand towards Russia, an undertaking that was immediately broken.

    Russia is surrounded by missiles aimed at its heart, and yet the Russians are accused of paranoia and aggression!

  13. Jagger

    “There are no Jacinda Arderns here! All we have is Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, Pauline Hanson, Fraser Anning, Cory Bernardi, and their ilk; the pitiable list goes on. What hope have we?”
    The same Stan Grant that had to take a week to think about Morriscum’s offer to join the aforementioned group. Umm

  14. Kerry

    Personally I find Stan Grant’s journalism to be superficial and tepid.
    In the video link provided Stan perversely links the middle Eastern Regime change wars with rhetoric from leaders of Russia and China who had nothing to do with these wars, where he should have linked them to the US and Allies.

    It is the US who is currently perpetrating the most violence in the world not China and not Russia. it is only a month or so since the US backed an attempted coup in Venezuela, yet not a mention of US backed regime change wars by Mr Grant as a primary source of radicalisation and division, not to mention their hand in creating radical islamists in the first place.

    Did I miss something or Isn’t it a big fat clue as to Stan Grants true position that our right wing PM asked him to become a politician?

    Ad Astra I completely agree with the intent content of your article but I am not convinced that Stan Grant is a messenger of peace or reconciliation. In the interview you posted he is shamelessly propagandising for the Empire and making many false equivalencies in the process.

    In my opinion, Stan Grant is hustling for someone or something and it ain’t truth and justice. This is an example of politicising the tragedy in Christchurch and creating scapegoats, rather than looking for real answers.

  15. Jaquix

    Jagger, you took the words right out of my mouth! 100%.

  16. whatever

    Scotty will adopt the Nuremberg Rally tradition of uniting all the crazy racists and suburban militia behind him.

  17. Kaye Lee


    I also have reservations about Stan Grant’s journalism. He is certainly passionate when speaking about Indigenous affairs but I too find his analysis of pretty much anything else superficial. He, somewhat like Ellen Fanning, is not a good interviewer in that he doesn’t listen and react to what the interviewee is saying. He, like Fanning, is more likely to interrupt with the next thing they have written down than to actually explore what the other person is saying.

  18. Alcibiades

    Stan perversely links the middle Eastern Regime change wars with rhetoric from leaders of Russia and China who had nothing to do with these wars, where he should have linked them to the US and Allies.

    ‘Tis Verboten. Conscious self censorship & self moderated doublethink (Reality control).

    So is any recollection of even recent history, events, context, motives or consequent … blowback.

    World emperor Trump has granted Israel sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights & Lebanese Shebaa Farms, illegally seized, occupied/annexed, as a result of an illegal war of aggression(1967). With the added bonus of possibly saving Bibi’s corrupt arse in the imminent Israeli election.

    International Law, the UN Charter, UNSC resolutions, Treaties & State agreements, Sovereignty, etc mean nothing.

    The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

    The ‘Rules based order’ of the supposed ‘International community’ … civilisation.

  19. Kaye Lee

    The strong or the rich?

  20. Alcibiades

    A quote from Thucydides.

    Requires the comparative application of strength to become rich, to stay rich or become even richer requires the application of ever more strength, without riches how can strength be maintained ? (in the context of States & er Mafiosa)

  21. Kaye Lee

    It also depends what you consider strength I suppose. I think Jacinda Adearn displayed great strength. I think James Packer displays none.

  22. Alcibiades


  23. Lambert Simnel

    Don’t agree with Adastra when there many actually quite legitimate grievances that fire people up and often so little redress.

    Any signs of redress for Syrians, Palestinians, Afghanis, Iraqis and Yemenis?

  24. Phil.

    Incoming…………………………Stan Grant is that far up himself his shoe laces are hanging out his own arse. I have yet to find a more obsequious creep. A know all with out peer.

  25. Lambert Simnel

    Well parodied n the TV show “Frontline”.

  26. Phil.

    ‘ Well parodied n the TV show “Frontline”.’

    Indeed. Good point.

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