The parallels may not be immediately obvious, but the same phrase could be applied to the confected outrage over the speaking tour of Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, aka Posie Parker.
Okay, we’re not talking about war here. Nonetheless, Borges’ description fits a situation where a rational person can only wonder what all the fuss is about.
It seems to me that the most damning thing that can be said about Parker (and I’m using her silly pseudonym here only because it’s quicker to type than her real name) is that she’s an accomplished self-promoter who appears to revel in her notoriety. But that doesn’t negate her basic premise – nor, crucially, her right to freedom of speech. As far as I’m aware she’s not advocating violence or persecution.
But Parker’s rally in Melbourne was gate-crashed by publicity-seeking neo-Nazis and noisy trans-gender advocates (pardon the oxymoron) who demand that society accept, contrary to biological reality and all human understanding, that men can be women.
Stir in some hysterical and brazenly misleading media coverage, add a liberal sprinkling of political opportunism and cowardice, and presto! What should have been a one-day wonder – and a minor one at that – has blown up into a full-on moral panic.
Parker has rightly been allowed to proceed with her visit. That should never have been in doubt in a country that professes to be a liberal democracy.
The other side of the same coin is that LGBTQI+ activists are entitled to stage protest rallies (as are any local neo-Nazis, as long as they keep it peaceful). But the trans-gender advocates should realise that by drawing attention to Parker’s visit, they are giving oxygen to someone they despise.
They probably do realise that, of course, but it’s outweighed by their desire to parade their outrage. To ignore Parker would be to pass up an opportunity to engage in what they do best: exhibitionism.
The most depressing aspect of this three-ringed circus was the haste with which politicians rushed to denounce Parker for expressing an opinion shared by all but a tiny, ideologically deranged segment of the population.
Chris Hipkins, Grant Robertson and Michael Woods, anxious to demonstrate their woke credentials, all wanted to let us know how much they detest Parker, even as they grudgingly acknowledged her right to speak. It would have been better all round if they had kept out of it, but of course that would have deprived them of a chance to signal their solidarity with the legions of oppressed trans-gender people being callously trampled underfoot by mainstream society.
Even Christopher Luxon apparently felt obliged to distance himself from Parker’s views, obviously regarding the radical idea that only women can be women as altogether too subversive to contemplate.
What sort of Alice in Wonderland world have we ended up in? Is the leader of the National Party so intimidated by the wokesters that he has to show he’s onside with them? Is it possible he thinks his craven equivocation might convince them to vote for him?
It’s far more likely that he will drive more disillusioned National voters into the welcoming arms of ACT. That dull clunking sound you just heard was Luxon’s popularity rating dropping by another couple of points.
Karl du Fresne, a freelance journalist, is the former editor of The Dominion newspaper. He blogs at karldufresne.blogspot.co.nz.