Editorial | Issue 06

Editorial | Issue 06

I was going to talk about fashion, but then NZ media struck again

Last week, the media pounced on Kim Dotcom for owning a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

People collect some strange things. I have a friend in Sydney who bought an antique taxidermy kiwi. He’s not promoting that people start hunting our iconic native bird again. Some collect their wisdom teeth after they’re pulled. They’re not all doing so because they long to experience the pain again. I own a signed poster of Slash. It doesn’t mean I shoot heroin and fuck with the stars.

I also personally own a copy of Mein Kampf. It’s there to round out my knowledge of a very dark history, although I must admit that I haven’t got around to reading it cover-to-cover. It sits alongside the likes of Night and Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Heck, it’s still in print and you can find it at the public library. It’s both an educational tool (no, not in the sense that it teaches you how to be a Nazi) and a trivial collectible of historical interest. Just Google the book and “Mein Kampf pdf” is the second suggestion you are presented with. Yet most people who have bumped this search so high would agree with Dotcom’s response: “I’m totally against what the Nazis did.”

With the publication in question being a signed first edition, Kim Dotcom’s reasoning is slightly different to my own – it’s more about having too much money and being able to say “oh em gee, look at this cool thing I bought,” which most of us will be guilty of at some time in our lives – but the point remains the same. Ownership of the book doesn’t promote Nazi ideologies, nor does it identify the owner as a Nazi. Continually reminding viewers and readers in the midst of this that “we hope you haven’t forgotten that Dotcom is GERMAN” points to a more sinister xenophobic slant coming from the New Zealand media than anything dodgy on Dotcom’s part.

The last time I checked, it was compulsory for German school kids to visit concentration camps, highlighting how utterly grim they are and aiming to ensure that it never happens again. When I was at Dachau, a concentration camp just out of Munich, the visit was one of the heaviest experiences of my life. Even as someone who’d likely be executed as a conscientious objector if worldwide war broke out again, I was genuinely proud that my grandfather fought against what I was seeing and imagining. Much the same as visiting a concentration camp, acknowledging factors that lead to such atrocities, such as Mein Kampf, will better ensure a well-rounded education that minimises (and hopefully eliminates) the risk of such a thing happening again – in Germany, at least.

Dotcom is trying to say that this attack has come from “the Key machine.” Considering how appropriately Key handled the media faux-scandal of his daughter’s art last year, if this is indeed coming from “the Key machine,” it is perhaps more tactical in the sense that it gives him an opportunity to seem completely reasonable in his response yet again.

For sure, if I were in Dotcom’s shoes, I would avoid owning anything that could be picked up in such a way. But that’s because our media always makes a big deal out of such revelations, not because it’s wrong for him to own it. Some of our media consumers in New Zealand aren’t all that far away from those who watch Fox News in the States, and so this misguidance sadly tends to work. I respect Dotcom for owning the situation; it’ll be interesting to see whether ideology or the PR machine wins out.

Zane Pocock
Critic Editor
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2014.
Posted 7:01pm Sunday 30th March 2014 by Zane Pocock.