Friday, October 24, 2008
It's begun. Helen's in red, John's wearing his best blue tie, Rodney's pulled out the yellow blazer... New Zealand's politicians officially have election fever. And with election fever comes politicians on billboards. And with politicians on billboards comes a scientific certainty: anybody with a strong opinion and a spray can (or a stanley knife) can and will make their mark.
Case in point – the above billboard on the Dominion Rd underpass depicting ACT Party leader (and former Dancing with the Stars contestant) Rodney Hide as Adolf Hitler. If you click to enlarge it, you'll be able to see a Hitler-esque moustache, a swastika and the words MEIN FUHRER (a title referring to Hitler as the supreme ruler of Germany). This comes just days after a comment on Darren Rickard's Political Animal blog, which said "Rodney Hide is a...joke. He reminds me of Adolph Hitler..."
This is a label that no politician would want next to their name, but presumably even more insulting to Rodney Hide for the following reasons.
If the National Party wins the upcoming election, their obvious coalition partner will be the ACT Party, meaning that Rodney Hide will be in parliament alongside John Key, the son of an Austrian Jewish woman. And when Helen Clark suspended diplomatic relations with Jerusalem after two Israeli men attempted to gain fraudulent New Zealand passports in 2004, it was Rodney Hide who spoke out, calling Helen Clark's anti-Israeli sentiments, (his words) "an embarrassment". Further, the following quote "I continue to enjoy your blog. It's excellent." -- Rodney Hide, Member of Parliament, and Leader of the ACT Party, New Zealand. is prominently displayed on Canadian academic John P Palmer's EclectEcon blog, which bears a Friend of Israel logo. Hardly anti-semitic.
I gave the ACT Party a call to see what they had to say about it all, and they directed me to Chaz Te Runa, ACT's communications officer. Upon reaching him, I was told that not only could I not have a comment, but I couldn't even make an appointment for an interview until next week.
If I was working for a political party and someone called me with news that the party's leader had been depicted on a billboard as Adolf Hitler, I think I'd have something to say about it.
I hope to get a comment from Mr Hide soon.
In the interests of full disclosure I am of Jewish lineage – through my maternal great grandfather.