Mike Moore Gets it Mainly Right

Former Prime Minister, Mike Moore, disapproves of the Exclusive Brethren lifestyle.
However to his credit he defends their right to free speech and has grave concerns over Labour’s threats against the church.

From the NZ Herald

Hat Tip David Farrar, Kiwi Blog

Even Enemies Have Rights

Because, from a liberal perspective, it’s hard to defend people who oppose everything you stand for. All the more reason to stand up for your opponents’ rights. That’s what makes us better than them.

The threat to change labour law because the Brethren are “enemies of the state”, as Stalin once described opponents, is dangerous.

If you oppose the Government, will the next step be to investigate their tax status? Have they a tax privilege and preference as a church? But then what?

These are political responses to a political threat, a slippery slide to the kind of Peronist politics we witnessed during the worst excesses of the Muldoon National Government, when police reports on MPs, and Security Intelligence Service reports, were made public by the Prime Minister.

Communists and their foul practices did exist in New Zealand. They did their best to destroy us social democrats. However, it was wrong to destroy their civil liberties in the name of wider freedom in New Zealand.

Mike Moore is spot on with his remarks on Labour and the Exclusive Brethren. He is also correct in his assessment of the communist threat to NZ society in the ’80s. He would be more accurate to use the word “do” rather than “did“.

He is also right to criticise any attack on the civil liberties of even our societies worst enemies.

However, I think Mr Moore is wrong to imply that PM Muldoon’s release of Security Intelligence Service data on certain Marxist-Leninists in the early ’80s was somehow wrong.

PM Muldoon released a few titbits from the SIS, mainly on Socialist Unity Party influence in the unions and Workers Communist League influence in the 1981 anti Springbok Tour movement.

I have read the material released and have found it to be (minus one or two errors on the names of organisations) very accurate.

In other words I believe it to have been substantially true.

We pay the Security Intelligence Service to monitor those who seek to covertly undermine our personal liberties and the security of the nation.

The SUP and WCL were both very active in doing exactly that. Many of their “descendants” are still at it.

Why should the public not be made aware of what our secretive civil servants uncover? Why should we not have as much information as possible about those who are bent on subverting our free society?

Totalitarian subversives are worse than criminals, in that they can destroy or retard whole nations. Our police warn us about criminals, why should not the SIS warn us about our political enemies?

In the USA and many other Western countries, the security services are much more open about their successes. Books are written by ex officers and the public is given a lot of information about the spies, traitors and subversives in their midst.

The SIS has traditionally been reluctant to reveal anything about its good work.

This has resulted in many of the public thinking (a) there are no real threats (b) the SIS are a bunch of incompetent cowboys who waste lots of money for little result.

If the SIS and other security bodies were more open about their successes they might get more public support.

It might also prevent ex Prime Ministers who should know better, implying that the public should not be told about the enemies they pay taxes to uncover.

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