Desperate for an ‘alt-right’ white-supremacist story, especially of the home-grown variety, ever-ready Stuff has no shortage of bunnies eager to burrow one where none existed before. Bunnies have poor eyesight and perhaps that’s why latitude should be granted their execrable piece from Sunday 12 Jan. “White supremacists, Satanists, and terrorists: The true story of NZ’s ‘hideous virus’ of a book” – perhaps the writer simply didn’t see the facts in plain view. Less generously, perhaps they ignored them, or maybe, disgracefully, they changed them.

Beginning with bated breath, scribbler Joel MacManus tells us, “The final hours of [mass-murderer] Santino Legan’s life were filled with anger and hatred.” Implying Legan was a white-supremacist (there’s no evidence he was), Joel tells us the murdering Iranian-Italian-American psychopath “drove to the [Gilroy Garlic] festival, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and six high capacity magazines, he made a series [if two is a ‘series’] of Instagram posts lashing out at the world around him. The last thing he ever posted on the internet was a book recommendation: “Read Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard.”

Except that wasn’t the last thing Legan posted. That particular notoriety belongs to the rhetorical question “Why overcrowd towns and pave more open spaces to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats”: bad form, one would think, for a white-supremacist. US law enforcement stated Legan’s reading material included both ‘white-supremacist literature and radical-Muslim’ readings, the latter memory-holed by our own lefty-press. Nevertheless, that’s just the introduction to the meaty matter of the ‘hideous virus’, perhaps the norovirus, of the ‘NZ book’.

The so-called ‘NZ book’ wasn’t written by a New Zealander – the author, Ragnar Redbeard, was actually Irish-born and left New Zealand five years before the tome appeared. The screed wasn’t written in New Zealand – that dubious honour belongs to Australia, and it wasn’t even published here – it was published in Chicago, (that’s a long way from Ngaruawahia, Mr MacManus). But, yeah, NZ book; man. Of course it was.

What is true? Arthur Desmond (the real Ragnar Redbeard) resided here for up to seventeen years, during which time he was heavily involved in the triple-treat artistry of politics, bullshit, and fraud. It takes but a tiny flicker of the brain-matter to correctly guess which side of the aisle his talents tainted: the left. He was far-left.

His politics are described by MacManus as “fairly normal”. They were not. They could only be thought of as “fairly normal” by the standards of conversation conducted in the Stuff cafeteria. He was a radical.

Playing down Desmond’s lefty credentials further, the Stuff yarn relates “He gained some prominence in the union movement”. No mention, then, of his extreme advocacy for taxing land-holders to bankruptcy or of his personal triumph, a ‘newspaper’ intended to stick it to the bosses while waxing lyrical for socialism, titled the ‘Tribune’.

Described as:

The BFD.

The rag was reported as “atrocious hash”, “cooked by blatherskites”. In other words: an earlier version of Stuff.

“If blatant abuse, envy and spitefulness will make a paper succeed, a great future is in store for the Tribune.”

But there was a problem for the newspaper bigger than Desmond’s personal politics. He was bludging – using a space managed by the Auckland Employers’ Association (AEA) without paying rent, asking consent, or even their knowledge. He was thrown out.

Bitter, spiteful, angry ‘Arfer’ forged a letter, and publicly libelled the head of the AEA, Mr F.G. Ewington, using his own, prominent at the time, political profile to defame Ewington in the following month. Desmond was exposed, and therefore finished. Although working men of those times may have begrudged their bosses and succumbed to slightly racist tendencies, they absolutely, white-hot, despised liars in their midst and would not forgive them. Ironically, modern Labour embraces them.

Desmond ended up in Australia, desperate to evade ignominy, but retaining his lefty bent. In the Aussie Labor party he was, for a time, influential and chummy with other similarly racially-slanted provocateurs like Harry Holland, the future leader of the New Zealand Labour Party.

So: there you have it. As so often, when it suits their purposes, a left-bent, lying, pathological racist is portrayed as a ‘wink-wink’ right-winger. Charitably, this could be sheer incompetence; a good bet with any Stuff misrepresentation of fact. But, given the story’s accompanying illustration and caption, I think it’s a deliberate fraud; something Arthur Desmond himself would be so very proud of:

The BFD. Screenshot source Stuff.

Do you see what they did there? Poor Arthur, his racist politics so repugnant to his fellow socialists, is ejected from their company, so horrified are they at his views. 

What if Stuff’s caption was pure blarney, completely invented? A strong clue that Stuff’s writer is clueless, is in the caption “a cartoon from 1880”, it was actually 1890, but never mind, let’s get to the Stuff mendacity. 

In the original Arthur Desmond is not being “fired”, he owns the paper; how could he be fired? He is depicted, truthfully, as a squatter, refusing to pay rent, being evicted by the very man he would slander using a forged letter as ‘evidence’ the next month. Here’s the original, from November 22nd, 1890, un-doctored by Stuff:

The BFD.

Stuff may do well to heed the caption: “The tripe boom in danger of bursting”. Their 2020 take on the 1890 cartoon is a misleading invention, with almost no relation to reality.

Eventually becoming alienated and threatened with legal redress in Australia arising from some of his more peculiar views and conspiracy theories, Desmond travelled to the USA where nobody really knows what eventually happened to him post book-publication or indeed what the motivation, the inspiration, was for the raggedly collection of thoughts, it could hardly be called ‘philosophy’, known as ‘Might is Right’.

One historian, according to William Ray writing for RNZ in 2017, probably best summed up Mr Arthur Desmond, his thoughts and his works:

“he went “so far to the left that [he] dropped off the edge.”

That’s another warning Stuff would do well to heed.

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Living in Wellington idbkiwi is self-employed in a non-governmental role which suits his masochistic tendencies. He watches very little television, preferring to read or research, but still subscribes to the daily paper despite his distillation of dismay and disappointment at the very low standards of the modern press on every opening of the awful rag. He is married, to an obviously very unfortunate woman, and has a family who allegedly loves him despite his right-wing nut-job views on life and the meaning of. He believes laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you, closely, very closely, followed by wine. He hopes to reach retirement, both alive and eventually.