Wiig, Anita and why Bob Clarkson should shut his stupid gob
When I was at University, the crush of my life was Anita McNaught. She was smart and sexy in that posh English rose, private school girl kind of way, just like Jackie Brown is. But I have to admit that I was taken aback recently to find out that Anita’s husband, the recently kidnapped and released cameraman Olaf Wiig, worked for Fox News. It was weird because lot’s of my lefty friends also privately questioned Anita with ‘someone who would work for Fox’? Even my more conservative friends wondered aloud at how that worked, the darling of the liberal media and princess of the working class, Anita McNaught with some European sounding Aryan God who worked for Satan’s official mouthpiece - Fox News.
Of course such thoughts were petty side salad brain snacking to the awful reality for those involved and the wider human concern shown was heartfelt and deep as was the threat to the future of journalism in the covering of the Palestinian conflict. Those things said, the fact that Olaf worked for Fox News still lingered in the spoiling kinda way a police raid on Christmas morning has on Christmas Dinner.
All these Seinfeldian concerns melted the moment I watched Olaf in his first Fox News interview. The man had already gone up in my evaluation of him when he announced on his release that he hoped his kidnapping would not stop other journalists from going to and reporting on the Palestinian occupation. I thought that was pretty bloody courageous of him, but more was to come. On his first major Fox News interview, Olaf and Steve Centanni recounted their experience. Olaf then starts on what will go down as one of the great moments in televised national face slapping I have ever been privileged to view.
Olaf explains that when they were first interrogated by their captors they accused Olaf of being an American. “Dude”, he said (he honestly said Dude), “I’m a New Zealander. New Zealand has a difficult relationship with America, we do not support them in their war with Iraq. We do not support them with their policies in Palestine”. The sharp intake of air from the Fox interviewer and Steve Centanni was like the sudden snap freezing of hospitality Eskimo style. But Olaf didn’t blink an eye, here is he pointing out, with some amount of glee, that he was not a target because as a New Zealander, we do not support and have never supported America and its mad adventures. He goes onto say that after a moment of discussion amongst themselves, their captors come back to Olaf and tell him that they have asked around about New Zealand, “New Zealand is fine, you do not kill Muslims” – the sheer balls required to front up on the most religiously pro Bush News Network and slap America’s face with the reality of their foreign policy made me ashamed I ever doubted Anita.
The fact that the kidnappers would release Olaf because he was a New Zealander follows a similar situation when Taliban leaders were asked whether NZ was a target for them prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s response was, “Where is New Zealand?”. It is a reminder that we are not seen as a target by the Muslim world, that our voice against America’s adventures and our support of the Palestinian cause has kept us immune from being lumped in ‘with the west’. Which brings me to big mouth Bob Clarkson. We are not a target for Muslim extremists, why the hell would you go out of your way to create ill feeling and stir up cultural anger over something as stupid as veils? Why would we even try and stir resentment when we are in such an important position, why not show both sides of the debate how we can live together by being an example of tolerant co-habitation rather than the race baiting thuggery of Clarkson’s knuckle-dragging rhetoric. This is not the voice of appeasement, it is one of realizing that we could have a unique position within the Muslim world and the West, and we need dialogue between people more now than ever before.