COVID Fascism Fizzles Out in New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (she/her) held such promise. In the spring of 2020, the then 39-year-old New Zealand prime minister emerged on the world stage as the COVID drama’s anti-Trump.

Ardern was calm, we were told, where Trump was capricious, compassionate where Trump was callous, and disciplined where Trump was improvisational. She was, in short, the modern major general of the emerging fascist new world order, and the media swooned.

The New York Times headlined an April 2020 op-ed, “In a Crisis, True Leaders Stand Out: Swift action, compassion and trust in science mark the most effective responses to the coronavirus.”

When the “liberal” Ardern promised “the most significant restrictions on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history,” the Times praised her for her “swift and decisive action.”

The Atlantic outgushed the Times. “Since March, New Zealand has been unique in staking out a national goal of not just flattening the curve of coronavirus cases,” wrote Uri Friedman, “but eliminating the virus altogether. And it is on track to do it.”

Ardern was common sense personified. “She justified severe policies with practical examples,” Friedman continued. “People needed to stay local, because what if they drove off to some remote destination and their car broke down?” OMG!

Added Friedman, “She said she knows as a parent that it’s really hard to avoid playgrounds, but the virus can live on surfaces for 72 hours.” Right… science.

On reviewing the New Zealand COVID timeline, I was reminded of rebel leader Esposito’s speech in the Woody Allen film, Bananas.

“From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish,” Esposito declared. “In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now...16 years old!”

On March 25, 2020, Ardern outcrazied Esposito, putting the country on complete “Lockdown” status four days before anyone had died of COVID.

On April 25, the country moved from Lockdown status to “Restrict.” On June 8, with the borders closed and no new cases reported, the restrictions were lifted, but on August 11, four new cases surfaced, and once again Ardern put the “Kiwis” on Restrict.

By October 7, the whole country was back to normal, sort of, but on February 14, 2021, three new cases were reported, and it was back to Restrict.

For the next six months, the nation yo-yoed between normal and Restrict. Other than closing New Zealand to the world and treating her citizens like kindergarteners, Ardern’s finger-in-the-dike strategy seemed to be working.

Until it wasn’t. Her positively medieval “zero-COVID” policy led to this headline-making story from August 2021, “New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern locks down nation over single Covid case.”

Science! “The best thing we can do to get out of this as quickly as we can is to go hard,” said Ardern after imposing once more the nation’s toughest level 4 Lockdown rules.

“We have made the decision on the basis that it is better to start high and go down levels rather than to go low, not contain the virus and see it move quickly.”

After seven weeks into a three-day Lockdown, Ardern finally abandoned her increasingly futile zero-COVID policy, and the virus ran through New Zealand’s population in 2021-2022 much as it had done the rest of the world a year earlier.

Despite a vaccination rate of 77 percent and 18 months to prepare for an epidemic, more than one out of three New Zealanders contracted the disease, including Ardern herself. Nearly 2,000 died.

As the cases mounted, the “swift and decisive” Ardern rotated her nation once more through the various levels of oppression. To Ardern’s seeming surprise, the gratuitous restrictions and mandates caused a major public backlash.

In March 2022, protestors set up camp on Parliament grounds in Wellington, the nation’s capital, and stayed for three weeks until routed by the police.

To dislodge the protestors authorities resorted to cruel and unusual measures, including turning on the sprinklers and “blast[ing] Barry Manilow tunes.” Where was Amnesty International when the protestors needed them?

For the prime minister, the protest was her very own January 6. Said Ardern, “I was both angry and also deeply saddened. To see the Parliament -- your Parliament, our Parliament -- desecrated in that way, and a children’s playground destroyed, by a small group of illegal protesters.”

After ruining countless businesses and deforming millions of lives, the ever-compassionate PM would have the nation weep for a broken playground.

Added Ardern. “But, as I say, it’s not something that will define New Zealand’s response to this pandemic.” Unfortunately, she was right. Most Kiwis put up with the nonsense.

On Monday, September 12, Ardern may not have intended to show how perversely she mismanaged New Zealand these past thirty months, but that is exactly what she did.

The one-time poster girl for well-intentioned oppression announced the lifting of virtually all COVID restrictions, including mask wearing and vaccine mandates. Voila! Just like that.

“Finally,” said Ardern at a press conference, “rather than feeling that COVID dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control.”

In truth, COVID never dictated what happened to New Zealanders. With the eager backing of the world’s media, Ardern did. That’s what dictators do.

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Image: Christchurch City Council Newsline/Kirk Hargreaves

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