Hey TM, I was in Australia when I caught my first Yellow Peril post, on MC Jin. And damn, I felt homesick, like, I am in my country of birth but not in my hood and Auckland is, for all its many faults, a unique city. So that was very influential on my return - never thanked you for it but now is the time.
And see if you can get some time in UNOOSA and stop us from colonising outer space.
Kia kaha, kia manawanui!
I think the sentiments on chilling out are probably a bit easier to make if you don't live in Ruatoki and have armed police searching your school buses... but I appreciate the historical background. We should be asking where the Weapons of Mass Destruction are though, all that's shown up so far is hunting gear.
Can't help but wonder whether the police were thinking that they needed a way to get back onto the front pages "protecting public safety" rather than for sexual assaults - nothing like public fear of Maori activists and "hippies" (as they were bizarrely described on RNZ) to help with that PR work.
Great and sensitive post Russell.
Surely those who are doing the outraged "anyone doing that to a baby is shockingly unfit for being in care of an infant" are stating the obvious. The problem comes from the way the media's focus on the obviousness of the symptom creates a demand for "solutions" to the "crisis", the tougher the better for the middle class who have no idea what it is like inside that kind of a family.
So Glenn Pearce et al could have a think about their own need for a "solution" and what it might look like, because appealing solutions such as "reducing welfare" and "being tougher on crime" have never worked, while what does work is improving intergenerational income and education attainment levels (a much slower thing to change, therefore not so useful for selling papers or getting voted into office). The media use these kinds of tragic events for selling papers but hardly do much to support a more informed public... good thing we have PA, then.
In social policy we always do well to remember H.L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."
Great post Russell! Good to see some common sense forwarded in this debate. One of the things that irritates me the most about the media industry in this discussion is how intent they are in misrepresenting the basis of intellectual property rights and intimidating the customers who are the source of their existence. They know that it's a bundle of rights and there is no such thing as pure property ownership in any common-law based system, and that copyright is not a property right anyway, but they keep at it.
In Australia, the director of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (see, call it theft enough times and it will stick), said a couple of years back about the consumer's right to back up their media:
Consumers are not entitled to replacement goods if they break their crystal glasses or stain their new clothes. Once a right exists to create an unprotected copy of a DVD film, that film is then exposed to unrestricted copying, whether a single copy for personal use or 10,000 copies for sale around the world.
Re: all these white guys who want to reunify the left, isn't their problem that they missed the basic civil rights, anti-colonial and feminist messages, which basically add up to "sorry, your time for telling the entire world what it should be doing is over." Accepting that it might not be a good idea to have a "solution" for Iraq could be a good start, which I think is part of Russel's point.
The whole problem with the classical (white) left liberal strategy is that it pretends that politics should be about "issues, not individuals" when a) there are obviously a whole lot of individuals on the left who they don't like but don't call out by name ("Anti-Americans" for example, who have somehow infected the Left from... where exactly?), so it's hypocritical; and b) representative media democracy is about electing personalities, so it won't work.
Unfortunately, guys like Cohen have probably worked out that they're never going to get elected because no one likes them, so a better strategy is to write an insider expose of what's wrong with your former political allies that panders to the prejudices of the mainstream. Cool.
I think in these discussions there is a relative gap between how non-Maori culture views identity (often about an individualised identity based on where one is born or lives) and how Maori see themselves (as a collective with a much more expansive sense of identity/culture that is not really individualised). Whenever the discussion moves to individual people, of course, all identity categories break down and are mere instruments of control. People should be whoever they want, that's human rights. The problem comes when people who have no sense of collective ethnic identity want to use the term "New Zealander" to enforce a sense of equality between Maori and non-Maori. There are a couple of problems:
1) The difference between "New Zealander" and "Australian" (or "US", "Canadian", "English") is relatively minor in the scheme of things. You don't see groups of English people setting up specialised social services in healthcare or education because the "New Zealand" model is at odds with their cultural values.
2) The very institution of "New Zealand" was co-extensive with the loss of land and self-determination for Maori. So the concept of "New Zealand" has a lot of work to do to turn it into something that can serve as an aspirational identity for Maori in the same way it does for Pakeha.
As Matt points out there are multiple identifications - I think Tze Ming's point is that by identifying as "New Zealand" AGAINST Asian/Maori/European etc. the "New Zealanders" are essentially denying the ability of others to be NZ citizens differently - they want to claim NZness for themselves, and allow others to be New Zealanders as long as they share the values "we all have in common". Yet when we really talk about "what we all have in common" that is specifically NZ (as opposed to white settler), it's a fairly small and narrow set of experiences in the larger scheme of things. (not to say it's unimportant, just obviously not the same difference that langauge/race/colonisation issues bring about).
Here's a backgrounder on the definition, and why one isn't really necessary or desirable. The bottom line here is that Maori were very involved in developing the recently scuttled (by New Zealand!) United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Pakeha weren't. You don't see too many Pakeha at indigenous peoples' conferences, for good reason. While I appreciate that many kiwis find this unsettling, in the end the problem with talking in English is that New Zealanders can't control it or "find other, less loaded terms", without also gaining agreement in England and the US, at least. Which kind of proves Manakura's point.
Chris, it comes down to language. Maori are of Aotearoa, Pakeha are of New Zealand. There's a completely different relationship to land embedded in those terms, which Pakeha can experience as well to a degree, if they learn Te Reo. But when we learn it (better than me I hope) we realise that, in fact, we are different within the terms of the language, but it's not really a problem either, it just means you behave in a certain way (i.e. not claim mana whenua).
B Jones: Brilliant statistics. You've said it all.
A bit worried about the "oh it's all too hard for the NZers" line. I think we can lay off those who identify as ethnic "New Zealanders" when the white-dominated media lays off the "Asians".
Really, there's a union jack in that flag for a reason.
Whenever dominant cultures start disclaiming ethnicity in favour of nationalism, I get reminded of the LA Times editorial during world war two :
“A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched — so a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parents — grows up to be Japanese, not an American.”
The language is cleaned up, but some of those sentiments are still common enough among a certain group of NZers.