OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Peter Brown: *Hug*

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  • David Haywood,

    By the way, to address a comment from another thread...

    RE: Russell Brown shaving off his beard so as to be more presentable on the telly.

    Russell, have you thought of going to a tidy moustache like the other Mr [Peter] Brown? I understand the ladies go wild for a nice pencil 'tachie.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Fair enough to talk about immigrant numbers (even including the number zero).

    I hope not. Zero would preclude immigration on the basis of family/partnership, and deny the right to family life involving those with passports from places other than NZ and, presumably, Oz.

    I secretly suspect the mustachioed Mr Brown wouldn't actually mind as long as the partners weren't these "horrible" Asian sorts. Although what better form of "integration" is there than joining an established Kiwi family I wonder?

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Rodger: my observation about the economic underpinnings of antipathy towards migrants was specifically directed at Neil, who brought up the "grievances of less well-off white communities" in Britain. I agree that there are many other sources of discord.

    Having said that, I think that economic fear makes those other sources of discord more powerful. I think this is what Bebel meant when he said "antisemitism is the socialism of fools".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    There's a school of thought that the American style of integration has been a success compared to those of France or Britain. People retain a distinct ethnic identity -- often down through generations -- but also salute the flag.

    Plus I believe in the States you forfeit your original passport when you become a U.S. citizen so you are making a complete commitment.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    __New York benefits greatly from having a Little Italy and a Chinatown etc. Is not being completely integrated always so bad?__

    Well, it is when poor integration in Little Italy and Irish communities fed into the importation and development of the Mafia in the case of Little Italy, and gave rise to Irish gangs, the attempted Fenian invasions of Canada, and the like. So I would suggest that's about the worst throwaway example you could have come up with.

    Well you're assuming that it's the lack of integration that led to all those things, rather than just, enough people involved in the Mafia and gangs actually immigrated and they brought that with them. Or a crappy immigration system which just dumped people on the docks in New York, and left few options open to them.

    I'm not sure where the idea that immigration is only a good thing comes from, but if you bring people to your country you get the good with some bad.

    But the idea that you can 'integrate' people, and yet expect them to retain the good parts of their culture, but not the bad parts... not likely.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Apropos ethnic neighbourhood in American cities: the Italians have largely left Little Italy. The Chinatowns are shrinking. The Jews have moved on and out to the suburbs, and in general, after a few generations, immigrants have dispersed and assimilated, leaving behind a remnant for tourists or such of their fellow countryfolk as continue to emigrate.

    Immigrants cluster a) because they can get support from those who have already arrived and b) if they don't have money, they'll go where it's cheap to live, which is probably where their mates are. Once they (or their descendants) don't need the support, and have attained a reasonable standard of welfare, they leave, and some other group will take over. Anyway, American immigrant neighbourhoods are transient, like they are the rest of the world over.

    The more persistent Chinatowns are a special case, the legacy of harsh discrimination against the Chinese in America.

    Eg, my great-grandparents' old district in the UK was Chappletown (sp?) in Leeds, and it was solidly Eastern European Jewish. Their children upped and left, and the jews were replaced by West Indians, but even they are starting to move on, and probably be replaced by whatever the current newest group in the UK is.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Eg, my great-grandparents' old district in the UK was Chappletown (sp?) in Leeds, and it was solidly Eastern European Jewish. Their children upped and left, and the jews were replaced by West Indians, but even they are starting to move on, and probably be replaced by whatever the current newest group in the UK is.

    Or, as also seems to happen, gentrification and social mobility is going to start running the other way. There might might be a few grey beards out who can remember when Ponsonby was significantly browner and further down the socio-economic ladder than it is nowadays.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    But let's not just make up shit in the manner of Mr Brown...

    Kieth Ng says he wants to give Mr Brown a hug...

    Kieth writes there is a "genuine alienation" reflected in the anti-immigrant sentiment, I agree but think both cause and possible solutions are different.

    Kieth refers respectfully to how Obama portrays racism as pervasive. How Obama says that racism of a woman admitting to having private thoughts of being afraid is the same a man lecturing hundreds of people that a race is evil. Kieth says that we need to accept racism as a fragment of all cultures, incurably present. Kieth treats us to a lament of not standing up and protecting a National Front racist. And in conclusion the wisdom imparted is that we should tolerate racists.

    I disagree, I think that is all BS. I think there is a difference between a woman making casual remarks and a man making speeches saying a race is evil. I think that Obama is an "elegant" politician dancing his way around the Clinton campaign's smearing. I think that any racism of the serious kind is a minor lunatic fringe (National Front etc.) in New Zealand and that New Zealanders are most definitely not a racist bunch.

    I think that genuine alienation is due to the economic effects caused by immigration felt amoung poor New Zealanders and it is this that motivates anti-immigrant feeling. See the link. I think that economic problems caused by immigration can have economic solutions, that economic solutions are far more practical than giving a hug to a racist. For example reduce tax to zero on income under $15,000 - to mitigate some wage disparity and provide shared equity to first home buyers to alleviate some of the cost.

    Of course I could be wrong. All racism might be equal, therefore we might be all equally dangerously racist. Dangerous racism might be everywhere with us New Zealanders an inherently racist lot. Show me a survey, some data. And then once the assertion is proven - tell me how this is going to be cured with a hug.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Angus,

    To clarify: I certainly didn't intend to imply that you were making anything up -- apologies if it came across that way.

    Rather I was emphasizing that having a debate about immigration wasn't the basis of my objection to Peter Brown -- it was his devious claims and manipulation of the Stats NZ figures.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    I read the blog you linked to Keith and I couldn't help chuckling when I came to this bit:

    One woman came to his aid. In hindsight, I wish I had done the same. Eventually, he was led to safety inside the Law School. The man guarding the door asked the people chasing Olsen to back off. One replied: "But he's a fascist!"

    For some reason in my mind I heard Eric Idle (__a la__ Monty Pithon) follow the last bit with "killing's too good for 'im"

    Speaking of comedy, even Michael Laws had to cut off one of his callers this morning when she insisted that the Asians would be decimating our dog and cat populations. His initial response was that they only ate dog in their own countries, not NZ, but she insisted that any increase in Asian immigration would force them to eat our pets.

    Some European countries consider horse a delicacy.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    __One woman came to his aid. In hindsight, I wish I had done the same. Eventually, he was led to safety inside the Law School. The man guarding the door asked the people chasing Olsen to back off. One replied: "But he's a fascist!"__

    For some reason in my mind I heard Eric Idle (a la Monty Pithon) follow the last bit with "killing's too good for 'im"

    But seriously, I realised last year around the "terror raid" time that the ability of some self-professed "anarchists" to coldly dehumanise anyone at political odds with them was really quite creepy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    David,

    To clarify: suggestion that anti-immigrant sentiment being tapped by Mr Brown is generated by an innate racism of a substantial number of New Zealanders is one of them "massive and unsubstantiated generalizations about groups of people" that should not be made.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • J Wilkinson,

    Hi Keith - I heard you on The Panel yesterday when you talked about this idea of hugging PB.

    I pictured what this hug might look like and it reminded me of my dear old dad.

    My dad is a NZ First supporter; he thinks Winston is great. He's 80 and has lived through hardships I can't imagine. He's worked hard all his life and has a big family.

    I'm his youngest child. Everyone in our family loves my father dearly. He's a great, honest, down to earth man.

    But change frightens him; just like you said, it's not race that's the issue...it's change.

    I tell my dad I love him every time I talk to him; he tells me he loves me in return. It took him years to do so, mind; and many of my siblings still have never uttered the "l" word in his presence.

    Back to hugs.

    Dad doesn't do hugs...it's strange, but he just doesn't like the intimacy.

    Rather than hugs, maybe it should be dialogue. A little bit at a time.

    People who resist change find it a lot easier...

    Grafton • Since Feb 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    To clarify: suggestion that anti-immigrant sentiment being tapped by Mr Brown is generated by an innate racism of a substantial number of New Zealanders is one of them "massive and unsubstantiated generalizations about groups of people" that should not be made.

    I don't think the claim that 5-10% of NZers have some sort of racism is out of line. I know several... in fact, I think if I explored the issue with a bunch of people, I could probably get to double figures out of a couple of hundred acquaintances.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Angus Robertson wrote:

    David,

    To clarify: suggestion that anti-immigrant sentiment being tapped by Mr Brown is generated by an innate racism of a substantial number of New Zealanders is one of them "massive and unsubstantiated generalizations about groups of people" that should not be made.

    Now I require clarification, Angus. I assume you're suggesting that I have made such claims. Just to remind you of my statements on the matter:

    Here's an alternative hypothesis: what if -- plain and simple -- Mr Brown simply has an irrational dislike for people whose physical appearance is different from his.

    And, furthermore, perhaps he suspects that there are a small minority of other sad people like him. And, not to take things too far, maybe he hopes that these misguided people will vote for him...

    and:

    It's even been suggested to me that we should accept the fact that a significant proportion of New Zealanders are xenophobic, and devise a pragmatic immigration policy that will frighten the xenophobes as little as possible. I don't personally agree with that, but it's a valid point to raise for discussion.

    I don't have any statistical data on racism among New Zealand First supporters (I imagine that it would be very difficult to measure, in any case, and it all depends on your definition of 'substantial' and 'racist'), but I also don't believe I've ever made any particular claims on the subject.

    I will say, however, that I have personally encountered a depressing amount of anti-Asian-immigrant prejudice in New Zealand. Not, as I believe you suggest, a general anti-immigrant prejudice; but, as in the case of Mr Brown, a specifically anti-Asian one.

    I wish I hadn't encountered these unpleasant attitudes -- but I have.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    But the fact is that Peter Brown is a Member of Parliament. He serves on a select committee, and could have a real influence over the running of this country. And he is the Associate-Spokesman for Immigration for his party, for crying out loud.

    It is inexcusable that he -- allegedly -- isn't aware of rudimentary facts like the English language requirements for immigrants. It is inexcusable that he describes the prospect of an increased Asian population (many of them New Zealand born) as "horrible".

    I expect my elected representatives to be a bit better than that... and I sure as hell refuse to feel sorry for this idiot.

    Were you being deliberately sarcastic about your expectation of our elected representatives, or are some of them redeemable in your view? I'd always been more of the view that MP's not having a clue about their subject is more the norm than the exception, particularly as the 3 yearly insanity is almost upon us once more.

    When I think about all of the thoughtful comments already made here it is with some sadness that I think one of the posts on the first page of comments hit the nail on the head with the reference to middle class echo chambers and the disconnect with the angst and concerns of a large chunk of the working class.

    At the end of the day, whether you call it xenophobia or racism, a large, large number of New Zealanders have a great deal of trouble accepting difference. The worst part is that very often, those who have been the subject of this sort of treatment are tragically adept at denigrating those who are different from themselves. When people who have been subject to the indignity and humiliation of discrimination do the same to others, why should we be surprised that this seems to also happen amongst the majority of the population who probably haven't been on the receiving end?

    I would venture that the ease with which almost all groups can be made to feel superior to others is the very reason that statements which play on fears and distrust get made by vote seeking politicians.

    Yellow Hordes, Maori owning the beaches, waves of whinging poms or arrogant yanks buying all our high country are all fairly commonly heard complaints in many and varied locations. The truth of such statements don't matter a damn to most, it is as a lot of others have suggested simply the symptom of a (probably extremely large) number of people who are feeling lost, threatened, uncertain, and probably to an extent unwelcome in this place we call New Zealand.

    Perhaps it is something that needs to be discussed openly, and without calls of rascim or bigotry being thrown around, lest we simply end up with an echo chamber, where we can all agree with each other, and where potentially a large proportion of our fellow countrymen regardless of colour/ethnicity/preference for marmite or vegemite stay silent and don't engage in a debate that really is quite important.

    I worry that people lecturing others about what they should or should not think doesn't help, and in most cases only drives people to keep their thoughts to themselves and to feel anger because they cannot express their thoughts or fears, and where these fester and becomes potentially much more unpleasant.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I don't think the claim that 5-10% of NZers have some sort of racism is out of line. I know several... in fact, I think if I explored the issue with a bunch of people, I could probably get to double figures out of a couple of hundred acquaintances.

    Or you could start with the 43% who according to the TVNZ7-Colmar Brunton poll in the "Kingmaker debate" said they thought Maori were the most privileged group in our society.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I have just got home from a long and ethnically diverse night at Tanuki's cave... And suddenly I is all in favour of mass Asian migration, especially the girls...

    Errr gotta go...

    k thnx

    Bye.

    :D

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Perhaps it is something that needs to be discussed openly, and without calls of rascim or bigotry being thrown around, lest we simply end up with an echo chamber, where we can all agree with each other, and where potentially a large proportion of our fellow countrymen regardless of colour/ethnicity/preference for marmite or vegemite stay silent and don't engage in a debate that really is quite important.

    Yes, AS, but can I insist once more on a fundamental rule of engagement (courtesy of Tom Stoppard): Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Nobody is entitled to their own facts.

    And Mr Brown is not entitled to just make shit up.

    For the record, I've come to the conclusion that Peter Brown isn't a racist at all -- he's something much, much worse. A politician facing electoral oblivion who has cynically decided that a good chunk of his party's potential supporters are -- hate Asian immigrants, think everything was Shangri-La before the dirty foreigners can in and brought all our assets.

    And from a slightly different angle, why the hell should I "debate" people who will continue telling flat out lies about gay men being promiscuous paedophiles seeking to recruit children into their 'lifestyle' no matter how often these claims are rebutted. They're either liars or fools, and I need to have something approximately in the vicinity of a life.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed6502,

    A lot to post here, so I'm having to split it up.

    I/S: If we want to shift immigration away from Auckland, then we need to shift economic opportunity. And that's a rather more difficult proposition.

    Very good point. The problem is that Auckland gets most of the long-haul flights, and hence, most of the immigrants. AirNZ claims it's an economy of scale issue. For Wellington, the runway's too short for overseas flights beyond Aussie, and to extend it would probably require a Think Big. Unless Ohakea can be developed for joint military/civilian use, and a Shinkansen link built between Ohakea and Wellington...

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed6502,

    Tom Semmens:

    I have just got home from a long and ethnically diverse night at Tanuki's cave... And suddenly I is all in favour of mass Asian migration, especially the girls...

    I second that, having dined at Tanuki's with a motley crew while I was up in AKL for the Armageddon Expo. When the said invasion comes, how do I enlist to be its 5th Column? :)

    One other thing I/S - go to any of the Nordic countries we so strive to emulate and check out how many black or indeed even swarthy faces you see. Try and migrate to Norway. They are progressive countries that seem to practice what is basically a "whites only and then only some" type policy. Why? I suspect because they know they've got it good and they don't particularly care to share that goodness with others.

    I think Scandinavia isn't the best comparison for NZ, it being an Old World region and NZ being a New World one. Personally I think Canada would be a better benchmark for us.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    In regards to integration issues, the problem isn't the quantity of immigrants. In places like Hawaii and San Fran, Asians have a very large presence and are part of the furniture. Rather, we were late to the party, only adopting the current points system framework in the late 1980s. In a way we've had to pressure-cook our way from bi-culturalism to multi-culturalism, whereas North America & Australia had the luxury of waiting a generation or more for the immigrants to blend in. Furthermore, up until recently we've taken a "you're on your own, sunshine" policy towards integration.

    On the flipside, Mark Broatch wrote in the Sunday Star Times last year:

    On this side of the ditch we heard endlessly about Australia's multiculturalism during the 80s and 90s - well, where is it? Don't tell me to go to Cabramatta for the Vietnamese food or Fairfield for the South American vibe - that's 32km from the CBD. That's the length of the Routeburn Track. If you were in Auckland city, your favourite Asian dish would be in Papakura. Almost everyone's a shade of white bread, lightly toasted. The old immigrants, from Athens and Rome, have retired and their children gone professional and merged into Middle Australia. We need the SBS channel more than they do.

    SBS - now I want that on FreeView. And Broatch continues:

    Some of my best friends are Australians. No, not really. I wish I knew more. But whereas New Zealanders seem to aspire to a kind of classless middle-classdom, a lot of Australians seem to revel in being plain speaking, proudly working class, leather- skinned, fagged Ockers. The women in the designer shops, of course, are impossibly petite and impeccably made-up. And this entire continent is obsessed with sport in a way we can hardly imagine. Despite the gay life, too, there's a conservative streak a mile wide. Imagine this headline in this country: "No more sit-down money for blacks". New Zealanders, for all their faults, tend to be much more like the Dutch of the Pacific - live and let live. Oh, and a word to those loveable larrikins - you're not funny and you're not clever.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5430 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    And suddenly I is all in favour of mass Asian migration, especially the girls

    Were they under 18?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    Yes, AS, but can I insist once more on a fundamental rule of engagement (courtesy of Tom Stoppard): Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Nobody is entitled to their own facts.

    I think that sounds more than fair. My only concern, however, is that having spent many years watching various government agencies in action, particulalrly in terms of their approach to purchasing research, there may be some fairly significant challenges in finding facts that haven't been tweaked, massaged, or just plain made up to suit the needs of the agency waving the cheque book. Even if the facts are accurate, the interpretation can be equally dodgy.

    A politician facing electoral oblivion who has cynically decided that a good chunk of his party's potential supporters are -- hate Asian immigrants, think everything was Shangri-La before the dirty foreigners can in and brought all our assets.ext

    Yep. On the NZfirst motivation, you are probably right. It is the type of wedge politics that sadly works extremely well here, and has been employed by lots of parties in recent memory. The saddest thing is, it works.

    And from a slightly different angle, why the hell should I "debate" people who will continue telling flat out lies

    Homophobia in this country is quite spectacular, and like rascism, it is deeply entrenched and unlikely to go away anytime soon. I have no idea what to do to fix it.

    Legislating against discrimination hasn't had any effect on what people appear to really think, and while arguing with idiots is never a profitable exercise, we do seem to be lucky in that sometimes the general populace decides that something is simply not right and attitudes change...

    While it probably doesn't help, the views you talk about sound like the views of total munters. There is no known way to win an argument with munters. Even if they know they are wrong, or even if they don't believe what they are saying, they will continue the same argument they had before.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Rather, we were late to the party, only adopting the current points system framework in the late 1980s.

    And if we want to have a real 'debate' about immigration policy, how's this for starters:

    1) Aren't we just deluding ourselves that we can just import our skilled workforce -- health, education, Police immediately come to mind -- without seriously addressing issues around training and retention?

    2) If we're going to talk about 'culture', perhaps we should stop treating 'Europeans' and 'Asians' as some homogeneous mass. I think you might find a focus group of Italians, German and French (or Chinese, Japanese and Koreans) would have a few words on say about that. It also does little except expose the abysmal cultural, political and historical ignorance of 'Kiwis'.

    Might also be useful for someone to point out to Mr. Brown the bitter little irony that New Zealand's cultural, artistic and academic life was vastly enhanced by refugees from the Third Reich both before and after the Second World War. Yes, even by those 'whinging Poms' fleeing the grey austerity of bombed-out Britain.

    3) And my long-term bug-bear, the New Zealand Immigration Service -- which continues to make the Hawkes Bay DHB look like a veritable Borg Collective of efficiency and service. I'm surprised that anyone wants to come here at all considering the stories I've heard from virtually every immigrant I know.

    Legislating against discrimination hasn't had any effect on what people appear to really think, and while arguing with idiots is never a profitable exercise, we do seem to be lucky in that sometimes the general populace decides that something is simply not right and attitudes change...

    Sure, and one reason why I don't want to waste time on reality denialists is that I'd rather put the time and energy into people who can't deal with fact. And might I add from my own experience, it's delightful that so often the people I've expected to be vile homophobic monsters just aren't. They might not be down with the whole 'gay thing' (not that I expect them to), but they're more interested in just getting on with their lives and repay the courtesy to others.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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