Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What NOT to learn from Waitangi Day

PC has written an excellent post on Waitangi Day and what it could be, and being in the “mother country” of course, I wont have that day off. However, I can reflect on what it is like to be away from all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that is around when the usual tribe of tired old collectivists seek to treat people on the basis of “ethnicity” not behaviour.
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As PC has said:
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What the Treaty did do, for which we can all be thankful, was to bring British law to NZ at a time when British law was actually intended to protect the rights of British citizens, and it promised to extend that protection to all who lived here. For many and often differing reasons, that was what the chieftains signed up to. To become British citizens, with all the rights and privileges thereof.
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Indeed!
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And yes, I do know that for some, these rights and privileges were in practice more limited, due to sexism for one, and racism. I know the 19th century was hardly a period of colourblind government anywhere, but in the realm of colonialism the Treaty was a significant step. No such rights and privileges for Australian aborigines.
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Unfortunately, Waitangi Day perennially becomes the rallying point for those who prefer tribalism and separatism, those who believe in intergenerational blame and guilt, and moreso the idea that you can blame your current life on what happened to your ancestors.
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It is identity politics, the notion that what matters most is not what you do, but what group you “identify” with. Interwoven with this is the belief that people treat you according to that identity, and that statistics can “prove” unfair treatment if members of an “identity” perform “below average”. You know what I mean, the idea that more Maori are in prison not because they committed crimes, but because “the system” was against them. Those of other identities don’t have this disadvantage because the system was “designed by and for them”. It denies objective analysis, it denies those who reject identity politics as either part of the problem, or traitors.
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The corollary of that is the notion that ones life today is directly attributable to what someone else’s ancestors did generations ago. To carry the notion that being unhealthy, being poorly educated and committing crimes is because you carry the pain of your forefathers is to be psychologically unhinged. No one can doubt that one’s inheritance matters, but what is done with it matters too. In fact far more important that material inheritance is the psychological one.
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Did you have parents who loved you, taught the value of hard work, education, respect and support you as your grew and learnt? That is far more likely to influence whether you commit crime, get a job, look after yourself and do the same to your children. Then beyond that is what you do with THAT personal inheritance. Sadly far too many Maori are being told that they don’t have choices, that it isn’t their parents fault they bashed them up or neglected them, but “society”.
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Waitangi Day could be a day to celebrate the founding of a nation-state, the opportunities it brings to those who live there, the relative freedom, lack of corruption and rule of law that exists.
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When you see those advancing “tino rangitiratanga” ask yourself what they mean by that? Do they mean the individual freedom and private property rights that British law SHOULD have granted them (and all citizens)? Or do they mean they want more government, government based on race, interventionist government, with more taxes and more control over education, broadcasting, property rights and the economy? Is it a coincidence that almost all those advocating “tino rangitiratanga” get inspiration from authoritarian socialists?
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So don't think of Waitangi Day by race - race is not an objective way to judge a person and it has no place in any considerations of state. Waitangi Day should be a day to celebrate the common nationhood of New Zealand.
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Then take the concept of one law for all - colourblind - and ask politicians this year, election year, whether they believe in that and what they'll do about it. Chances are the two main party leaders wont deliver.

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