Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

Bedrocks in his head

Well hey, I agree with Don Brash. New Zealand's most important quality is that its people believe liberty, equality and fraternity are the basic foundations of society and the state. Of course 'I agree with Don Brash' also means 'I disagree with Don Brash' because he totally contradicts himself at the end.

It feels like a rehash of the election - I guess now he's fighting to maintain his position as party leader: a lot of the arguments going on, on both sides, are old territory and I'm a bit bored. Can't we just use semaphore? It'd save a lot of time.

Left arm straight: 'You're targeting Muslims/Maori/Asians/whoever we are this time, my mosque/marae/large ugly house was just vandalised again, and your speech feels like a dogwhistle racist attack.'
Right arm straight: 'No it's not, my wife's Singaporean, I'm promoting New Zealand values.'
Left arm right angle at elbow: 'democratic values aren't the exclusive intellectual and political domain of the West, nor of New Zealand'
Right arm ditto: 'Yes, but they're the ones we like, and we don't want people who won't subscribe to those values to be New Zealanders; in fact, by definition, they aren't real New Zealanders if they don't.'
Left arm straight out waved in circle: 'You mean any person who doesn't subscribe to those values isn't a real New Zealander, like the budding neo-nazi kids who just vandalised my mosque/marae/large ugly house - or just non-white immigrants?'
Right arm waving goodbye: 'They're the only ones we can pick out in a crowd.'

It's a distraction from the main problem I have with the speech, but it has to be pointed out that the illiberal, conservative and fundamentalist elements of New Zealand are being most meaningfully reinforced not by immigration, but by locally grown Christian fundamentalists. I haven't noticed any massive local Muslim campaigns against gay rights or mosques putting out instruction manuals on how to beat Satan out of your children. In parliament, opposition to the Civil Unions Bill had a far higher New Zealand Christian head-count than an immigrant one, that's for sure. Ashraf Choudry may have felt internally conflicted, but he didn't go on a hunger-strike and week long prayer session like that guy from - what was it - United Future? New Zealand First?

Moreover, in the national press it is Pakeha pundits (need I name names?) who launch inexplicable tirades against the homosexual menace and 'the Sisterhood' in government - and they are lauded as being bravely anti-PC. Imagine the reaction from the same Pakeha pundits if a 'Muslim commentator' did the same.

You can see why it's so bloody confusing when people suddenly start standing up for Enlightenment values when any mention of the 'F' word these days (Feminism, not Fatwa) raises such a sneer from those courageous anti-PC warriors.

So yes, hypocritical dog-whistling etcetera. But the freakiest part of the Brash speech is absolutely not his anodyne commitment to liberal democracy as being fundamental to New Zealand; but his concluding comments denying the moral authority to claim citizenship, to anyone who is exercising their most fundamental liberal democratic right to criticise the government. And the people he targets to have their rights removed, are specifically Muslim.

These polar opposite viewpoints are bridged by a tricky question. If he doesn't want people who don't believe in bedrock democratic values, and there are so many of them flooding in (even if they can't even organise a community pamphlet on how to beat the devil out of your children or your wife) how will he able to screen them out? If you read the speech, it's quite clear that he actually doesn't know, other than bring in more white Australians, and hold people to an 'implied contract.'

It's important to recognise that there's an implied contract between New Zealand and would-be citizens: New Zealand offers you citizenship with all the rights and privileges of being in every respect a Kiwi, but in return you owe New Zealand your loyalty and commitment. You can't be a New Zealander and seek to undermine New Zealand. You can't be a New Zealander and claim that some other law takes precedence over the law of the New Zealand Parliament. You can't be a New Zealander and write to foreign newspapers urging a boycott of New Zealand exports, as one would-be citizen did recently in reaction to the publication by two newspapers of some cartoons satirizing Mohammed.

Yes you fucking well can. That's the whole point of those 'bedrock values'. What he is suggesting - no, explictly saying, is that immigrants must simultaneously embrace democratic values without having the right to actually exercise them. In his veiled (yeah yeah) swipe at shariah law, following his logic, even New Zealand Permanent Residents should not have the right to criticise the government for not complying with international human rights conventions if the government passes laws that conflict with those conventions. For example, any non-citizen who submitted a critical opinion in this vein on the Immigration Act review, supporting human rights and due process, would be endangering their moral authority if not actual applications to remain in this country. Meanwhile Pakeha have the right to say what they want to whoever they want, and mediabash any minority they like in whatever 14th century religious terms they prefer, without their loyalty or status being challenged. (EDIT: As long as even they didn't somehow act against New Zealand's economic interests internationally, because that, according to Brash, would be treason.)

Of course, this would make New Zealand one of those countries that isn't worth migrating to. Problem solved.