Wren's Week: Allow me to introduce myself

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John Wren has received an outpouring of support on Twitter since his suspension (Image by Dan Jensen)

While still fighting to be reinstated on Twitter, John Wren takes this opportunity to tell you a bit about himself.

A BIT OF A DIFFERENT Wren’s Week this week considering some of the allegations made by my detractors.

Yep. I’m still not back on Twitter. The ridiculous assertion of impersonation still stands, at least within Twitter’s environs. At least three requests have been made outlining the outlandishness of the charges, yet they have stubbornly refused to move. What has become clear since last week, though, is that it is unlikely the Government was directly involved. My take-down was seemingly at the hands of a coordinated attack by extreme Left Greens and Socialist Alliance Antifa types. I was effectively taken out by friendly fire. Many have outed themselves through their gloating. They have given a free kick to the Liberals in the lead-up to the Election.

But why did they target John Wren? Well, I’ve discussed Greens absolutism in the past, where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. Greens absolutism saw the Rudd ETS demolished (because it didn’t go far enough for them). Had they not destroyed it, the ETS would have become entrenched before the Liberals took power and would have been much harder to dismantle. Their absolutism means even now we don’t have a mechanism to cost carbon and control emissions. That decision alone set Australia back a decade. There are many examples of Greens’ absolutism, but this is not the point of the article.

In the five years that the John Wren account was active, it had sent out over 82,000 tweets. One of my detractors has posted screenshots based on searches of keywords. There are about 30 tweets which, taken out of context, could seem racist or sexist or homophobic in some way. They have made these judgements without knowing anything about my personal background. Regardless, they have decided to focus on the 0.0365% of tweets made and decided they are what define me. Not the 99.9635% of tweets that apparently do not.

Perhaps it might help to understand the origins of the John Wren account and my personal background so that readers can judge for themselves.

Around five years ago, over a few beers with some friends, we were reminiscing about the 1980s, as you do when you’re brought up in them. Someone mentioned the virtual AI character Max Headroom and that led to a discussion about whether it would be possible using social media to create a well-regarded virtual politician with a large following (an electorate) that he or she would represent. This was how John Wren was created.

I was initially responsible for all the account’s tweets, but about two-and-a-half years ago I decided I needed help as I also have a business to run. I recruited a couple of Labor Party friends and we worked the account on a roster. We very much tried to keep the style consistent, but if you knew what to look for there were differences between all of us. Subtle, but obvious once you could see it. Some of the team have come and gone since then. Overall, there have been eight people working on the account through that time. In the last two years, I’ve been personally responsible for maybe 25-30% of this content. I remain the central coordinator.

There are naturally large chunks of me in the John Wren persona. So, what has shaped me?

My great grandfather was an Irish Catholic migrant to Glasgow who worked in the Clyde shipyards. By all accounts, he was shop-steward and a solid union man. My grandmother, his daughter, migrated to New Zealand by herself at the age of 16 seeking a life better than the slums of Glasgow. She was raped on board ship by one of the seamen and arrived in Auckland, aged 16, alone and pregnant, in the 1930s just before the Depression was about to hit. Her strength of character shone through and she chose to have the baby (my uncle) as an unwed mother and not adopt him out as was the norm in those days.

A few years later, she married my grandfather who was a wharfie on the Auckland waterfront. In 1951, NZ was wrecked by severe industrial unrest with the Waterfront strikes that effectively closed-down NZ’s vital exports of meat and dairy to the UK. It paralysed the nation. My grandfather was on the picket lines and my Glaswegian grandmother headed up the Women’s Auxiliary supporting their striking husbands. Her political career was born.

She went on to become Auckland's first elected female city councillor and pioneered state housing for low-income families, particularly single mothers (as she had been). TVNZ made a documentary about her and 1,500 people turned up to her funeral to show their respects. My father was the first in the family to attend university. He went on to become President of the NZ Primary Teachers’ Union. Unionism and the fight for the working man are in my blood.

My mother’s side of the family is Jewish. My grandparents met in Canada in the 1930s and my grandfather literally “rode the rails” across Canada looking for work during the Great Depression. He found itinerant work in mines and logging camps and, during this period, developed a strong loathing of Capitalism. He and the millions of others who were suffering could see how unbridled Capitalism was affecting their lives. He became a Communist.

During the war, he worked on shipyards in Vancouver as a riveter building battleships. After the war and totally brainwashed by Soviet propaganda, family history says they actually tried to migrate to the alleged workers’ utopia of Stalin’s USSR. The last thing the USSR needed at that time was westernised Jewish migrants (they were already sending returned Red Army soldiers to Siberian gulags for “re-education”). Their application was rejected.

My grandfather then read somewhere about NZ, a utopia where the Maori and Pakeha people lived in harmony and life was easy. The race relations bit wasn’t really correct, but economically NZ was strong, literally living off the sheep’s back. They migrated. In NZ they ran market gardens, saved their pennies and in true socialist style became landlords of small milk bars (in NZ, “dairies” and “superettes”) all over Auckland. My grandfather’s passion for the USSR never waned, though. He learned Russian, subscribed to various Soviet propaganda mags (Sputnik and Pravda) and was a leading member of the NZ-USSR Friendship Society (probably a KGB front).

So, when I am accused of anti-Semitism, naturally I laugh it off. It’s rubbish. I am an atheist, but culturally Jewish. The homophobia allegations are also interesting. I may have made one or two off-colour jokes, but I also campaigned vigorously for same-sex marriage last year and in January was invited to and attended my first gay wedding. Those who follow me will have also seen me regularly challenging the likes of Lyle Shelton and others. As for racism, it’s just nonsense, too. I cannot recall ever discriminating on the basis of skin colour. Again, my followers will recall me calling out the African gang lies last year. In fact, the RWNJ trolls really attacked me for it. Misogyny? I hold doors open for women, hold their chairs for them at restaurants. It’s the way I was brought up. If that’s sexist, so be it. I certainly don’t discriminate on gender (or lack thereof even).

You be the judge. Am I a racist misogynist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, bigot as charged? Or not?

Meanwhile, the fight to reinstate my account goes on. One of my followers, so incensed by my ban, is circulating a petition to Twitter. You can sign it here.

Back to my normal column next week. Solidarity Comrades!

You can sign the petition to have John Wren reinstated on Twitter here.

John Wren will hopefully be back on Twitter soon. Stay tuned.

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