Monday, August 11, 2014

Another odd thing

Three weeks ago, I wrote about a silly “security” email from the US Consulate in Auckland. There were three more emails just like it. Did I get another this week?

At first, I was sent one of those emails every week, largely because there were Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Auckland every weekend. The emails appeared to have standard text, the only thing that changed was the date/time of the event (although, I noticed the first estimated 1500 participants and the last two said 2000). So, apparently a real person actually checks the text before sending them out—though not very well, in my opinion.

Yesterday there was a pro-Israel demonstration in Auckland. So, naturally, I got a "Security Message for U.S. Citizens" email about it, right? I mean, they previously warned that, “even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence,” so I should “avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstration.”


I have no idea why this was the case, why they warned me weekly about pro-Palestinian demonstrations, but said nothing about an upcoming pro-Israel demonstration. It could have been that the latest one was expected to have maybe a quarter as many participants, but if “even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence,” then surely the number of participants isn’t the only factor? After all, passions on this issue are running red-hot, and the Consulate's previous warnings that “New Zealand Police are aware of the protest and are monitoring it” must have been true of this latest one, too.

I’d like to think that Consular staff finally learned something, that after having issued several silly, over-the-top "Security Message” emails that were completely culturally tone-deaf about New Zealand, maybe they pulled their heads in a bit. While I’d like to think that, I don’t know if that’s a valid conclusion.

After all, alerting US citizens to public demonstrations on matters of heated public passion is a reasonable thing for the Consulate to do—minus the dark warnings of violence, of course. There could be any number of reasons why people might want to avoid such things, and not all of them are political.

I heard about yesterday’s demonstration on TVNZ’s One News last night, but couldn’t find anything about it on their website or any other mainstream website. In fact, the ONLY mention I could find was on a pro-Israel Australia/NZ blog/news amalgamation site. Today, One News has the story online (linked to above), and it’s still the only mainstream news report I could find.

I have questions, but no answers here—I have no idea why this latest demonstration didn’t get anything approaching the same level of attention as the previous pro-Palestinian demonstrations did. Were all sides expecting violence at the first ones, but not the latest? Or, is everybody simply bored of the whole thing, especially when, of course, they don’t turn violent?

I thought the emails from the Consulate were odd because of their cultural tone-deafness—I expected better from diplomats. The lack of any email this time is just another odd thing in this whole odd story.

No comments: