OnPoint by Keith Ng

An Indian, a Pakistani & a Broadcaster Walk into a Kmart

A guy walks into a Kmart to buy some underwear on a Wednesday morning. His underwear is on the verge of critical collapse - why else would you buy new underwear, amirite? But the line is massive. It takes ten minutes to get through check-out.

On Saturday morning, as he’s luxuriating in his new underwear, scratching his butt through the fine cotton-polyester blend, he flicks through the paper and sees Duncan Garner’s article.

It describes him as a part of a human snake, and that the faces on that snake - his face - was what a nightmarish future would look like. That he was the reason there was a line, he was the reason things weren’t working.

But not the guy in line in front of him who was also buying underwear. Because he’s Indian, and the guy in front of him was not.


I’m incredulous that Garner is now playing the victim. He expects sympathy for the abuse that he’s received for writing this piece, but shows so little for the people he scapegoated, whose only crime is buying underwear from Kmart.

Immigrants are real people too. We need to buy underwear. We have chores to do. We don’t like waiting in line. And we, like every other New Zealander, have a very real stake in the future of New Zealand.

Yes, we need a space to talk about immigration and about infrastructure. But the thing that stops us from doing that isn’t people being over-sensitive about racism - it’s people who make it about race.

When Garner looked around Kmart, he didn’t see too many people or too few check-out counters - he saw Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, and Syrians.*

Garner described his nightmarish future as one of “broken cities, poor planning, congested highways and stolen dreams”. But instead of comparing it with say, Los Angeles, it remind him of “anywhere in South East Asia”. And in talking about overpopulation he highlights that “there’ll be more Asians than Maori”.

For an article that was supposed to be about planning and infrastructure, it spends a lot of time talking about race... then insisting that it’s not really about race even though you might think it’s about race because it sounds like it’s about race.

This makes the solution real simple: If you want to have a discussion about immigration/infrastructure/planning and you don’t want it to be a race thing, don’t throw race into the mix. It’s that bloody easy.


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He didn’t, of course. Unless Garner can distinguish between Indian Punjabis and Pakistani Punjabis, between Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils, and between Syrians and Iraqis, he really just saw a bunch of brown people and started naming countries.