By Byron Clark
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This must-read new book maps New Zealand's alt-right underworld and unearths the roots of the occupation that ended in a violent protest on the grounds of Parliament.
Speaking after the chaos of the protest that stopped the nation, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference, 'One day, it will be our job to try and understand how a group of people could succumb to such wild and dangerous mis- and disinformation.'
That day isn't in the future. Mis- and disinformation had been identified as a problem before the convoy to parliament had even been suggested. While that protest looked like something that 'couldn't happen here', things that supposedly couldn't happen here seemed to be happening with alarming frequency. Three years prior, an armed gunman had entered two mosques in Christchurch and taken the lives of 51 worshipers, an event that shocked a country where mass shootings are almost unheard of. A few months later, a New Zealand Defence Force soldier who had founded a far-right group was arrested, and is awaiting court martial, accused of espionage.
We are no longer living in ordinary times, where political violence is unimaginable, and conspiracy theorists are marginal figures whose ideas can be laughed at. How did things get to this point?
Fear: New Zealand's Hostile Underworld of Extremists helps make sense of the tributaries feeding the river of alt-right activism, identifies the main perpetrators, and looks at why New Zealand is susceptible to misinformation, conspiracy theory and fear-mongering.