Don Brash in the last few weeks has said some of the same sort of things that got me in a slight amount of trouble in university.
It was when I realised that free speech was something that you took into your own hands at university. I learnt that there was a received wisdom, and it had a long list. Some of that was things I agree with, other I don’t. The ones I didn’t were the notion that ethnicity should ever matter, and that people were not responsible for their own lifestyle. I talked of what being Maori “really was” and why someone who is born of certain parents should be entitled to a special place at university. I talked of how the only way Maori health statistics could make a huge step forward is if they stopped smoking so much, ate better and exercised more. None of this is rocket science and it wasn’t new in the late 1980s.
However, I got hounded. I was told I had a racist point of view, that I didn’t take into account the Treaty, that I ignored poverty and how much Maori had lost – and that to be Maori you had to “feel” Maori. My response was that I could “feel” Maori and that would be legitimate – except I guess there would be a committee to decide whether I really did feel what I said. I found that there was an accepted view of Maori having been oppressed, not responsible for what they do and all being disadvantaged. Being the son of lower-middle class Scottish immigrants, who came to NZ with virtually nothing, I found this rather grating. However, as I wasn’t Maori/Polynesian, female or gay, so I was part of the power hierarchy that ran the world – and the assumption was that everything was easy for me. So nice to have non-Maori women judge me so thoroughly. Fascists!
I had to keep my mouth shut- there was an unofficial longlist of opinions that would raise irrational responses ranging from patronising sadness (oh dear, poor boy doesn’t know better) to anger at how offensive I could be. The list included a wide and varied type of issues:
- The government should give more money to Maori;
- There should be a separate Maori legal system;
- Education should be free;
- Free market reforms are wrong;
- All women are oppressed, men are the oppressors;
- Ronald Reagan is an evil warmongerer, the USA is the cause of so much trouble in the world;
- All women have a right to state funded free contraception and abortion on demand;
- Nuclear weapons are bad and all countries should disarm;
- Nuclear power is unsafe;
- Prisons are wrong and Maori commit crime because of the Treaty breaches;
- Pornography should be banned because it insults all women;
- Free speech is a right, except when it offends or upsets anyone;
- It is impossible for non-Maori to understand the special relationship Maori have with the land, sea, sky and spirits;
- Maori spirits should be respected, but Christians should accommodate blasphemy;
- Building motorways is bad;
- Big business is bad and the world is being taken over by transnational corporations;
- Free trade is bad, because it oppresses poor countries and it doesn’t work and doesn’t exist anyway.
Get the picture? Buy into the leftwing manifesto or get sneered at.
Brash was foolish talking about the blood purity of Maori – because it is irrelevant. The notion of being Maori, English, Japanese, Mexican or Serbian is psychological. Race is, at the most, a relatively minor biological feature which should have about as much interest to us all as hair and eye colour. I am sure that if statistics were gathered for blondes, brunettes and redheads there would be umpteen overs and unders in health, education, sports, crime, wealth etc. The discrimination as well is obvious. Blondes are stereotyped as stupid, redheads as having anger problems. These characteristics are more objective than being Maori – being Maori is a state of mind. Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with having an affinity to others as such, especially if you appreciate having some shared DNA and culture. This is part of the diversity of being human – but it is not a reason for the state to think of you differently. The heterogeneity of humanity is a good thing – and when the state has discriminated, it deserves attention – but the state does not do so anymore and has not for some time. Brash would have been better simply saying that whether or not people are Maori should be irrelevant to government. He shouldn’t get embroiled into whether there is anything objective about being Maori – because, realistically, it should not matter.
As far as lung cancer is concerned, Brash is dead right. Maori die more of lung cancer because more smoke, and that is their choice. There has not been tobacco advertising now for around 18 years, and for some years before that it was quite innocuous – promoting brands rather than “you should smoke”. Most people start smoking in their teens, and it happens because they are trying to be adults – because they are sheeple, following their peers and because it annoys adults. Thousands stop smoking by choice – those who don’t do so knowing the dangers – this is because the dangers have been publicly known since the 1960s at the latest.
Unfortunately, in New Zealand in 2006, it is ok for a Labour government and a Green MP to tell you what to eat and when to exercise, but not for a Caucasian male National Party MP to point out that if more Maori people choose to smoke than non-Maori, it is no wonder that more will die of lung cancer. Brash is a victim of the insidious political correctness cultivated by the left – the same political correctness that makes excuses for those who beat up their kids, because of their race.
To top it off, for Winston Peters, who once proclaimed the same policies as Brash on Maori affairs, who campaigned as such, to call Brash evil is such incredible hypocrisy (Winston is hunting for the Maori vote again). Let’s see some quotes from Winston to see how he plays the race card:
“We have now reached the point where you can wander down Queen Street in Auckland and wonder if you are still in New Zealand or some other country”
"We are being dragged into the status of an Asian colony and it is time that New Zealanders were placed first in their own country."
Yes, Winston courted the votes of his greedly grey grizzler constituency – you know the ones that think anyone who looks Asian is a “Jap” and “doesn’t bloody trust them, remember the war?”. How about the ones who say “they’re different from us”, “they’ll take our jobs”. Winston knows the prejudices he milks, the fear he stoked among Asian immigrants – and now he’s in bed with the Labour Party. I need say no more.