}

Thursday, June 27, 2019

It’s just cake


The photo above is from NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Instagram account, and shows her right after she finished making the birthday cake for her daughter Neve’s first birthday. It’s a charming and perfectly ordinary photo of a mother who’s managed to conquer her child’s first birthday cake. It showed something most people could simply like without thinking about it at all..

Sadly, that wasn’t true for everyone.

New Zealand, like every other western country, has its share of hard-line partisans, and also like everywhere else, they can be found all over the political spectrum. But when it comes to pure churlishness and perpetual grumpiness, no one can beat our friends on the Right. A simple birthday cake became their latest object of fauxrage.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted her photo a few days ago. This was the reaction from one of her “critics”:
That was mild compared to this bizarre criticism:


That was a bizarre and churlish reaction, given that National Party Prime Ministers were not always depicted in serious situations:

As stupid and churlish as the criticism is, it’s simply routine for some of our friends on the Right: They seem to always look for the worst, most cynical possible view on every conceivable situation—but only if the Left is associated with it, of course. John Key was occasionally at the receiving end of such treatment, and the Right called it “Key Derangement Syndrome”, a dismissive term they used for quite literally any criticism of Key, no matter how legitimate, focused, or on point.

Welcome to the corollary, “Jacinda Derangement Syndrome”, in which they usually don’t even bother to attempt to offer legitimate criticism of policy or agenda, and instead they attack cakes (or similarly superficial things). It’s petty, it’s childish, it’s mean-spirited, it’s trolling—and it’s ever-present. This is only one example, and I’m highlighting it because it’s frankly so stupid.

There’s an obvious large serving of rightwing hypocrisy here. They attacked Jacinda because her photo wasn’t of a serious situation when, in fact, their own party leaders have all been depicted by the media in similarly non-serious settings. Jacinda’s photo was also her own personal one, posted on Instagram and NOT a media portrayal. Are they really trying to say that a politician can never post something light-hearted on their social media accounts? Seriously? Do they really want to go there?!

I can remember a social media photo of John Key standing next to his then teenaged son Max who was “planking” (anyone remember that fad anymore?). Bill English also posted photos with his kids. The current leader of the National Party has probably done the same (I can’t be sure; I don’t follow any social media accounts he may have). What the Right seems to be saying is that there can never be a non-serious portrayal of a Labour Party leader at any time, anywhere, whether in the newsmedia or shared to their own social media accounts. But for a National Party leader? Well, that’s obviously different, right? That’s called hypocrisy.

The bottom like here is that if New Zealand’s rightwing truly wants me or anyone else to take them seriously, they need to grow up first.

New Zealand, like every other western country, has its share of hard-line partisans, and, like everywhere else, they can be found all over the political spectrum. But when it comes to pure churlishness and perpetual grumpiness, no one can beat our friends on the Right. Their birthday cake fauxrage was just their latest example.

Despite that one thing should be clear to all rational people: It was just a cake.

Footnotes: The two Twitter screengrabs are redacted. The first one is from someone with a non-public account, and the Tweet may have been deleted, surviving only as a screengrab. Perhaps they realised how awful they sounded and thought better of it? Let’s give them a chance to repent and go and sin no more. The second one is redacted somewhat against my better judgement: It’s from a public account, but someone who could be a bot or foreign troll for all I know. In that case, it was about not giving any oxygen to someone who may or may not even be real. Neither screengrab was among the worst examples of the fauxrage I saw, but unlike so many other examples, they were neither defamatory nor obscene (and people wonder why I avoid Twitter nowadays…). The comparison image contains examples widely shared on Twitter at the same time, and copyright for those the images lies with their respective owners; they are included here for purposes of example and illustration in the context of robust political debate in matters of public interest.

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