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Deeply Divisive

Entry 1126, on 2009-12-06 at 22:04:20 (Rating 4, Politics)

Many people think of New Zealand as being a nice, peaceful country which doesn't have a lot of the problems that other parts of the world suffer from. Part of this is because it is so isolated and another part is because of the low population. New Zealand is supposed to be a very "green" country but that's largely because of the low population and increasing intense agriculture (especially dairy) is threatening that image.

Another problem which seems to have become a lot more apparent recently is the racial issue. This has always been a problem and it occasionally gets worse when specific incidents occur. The big problem at the moment is the Maori Party being part of the governing coalition and making various race based demands.

In some ways they have a perfect right to do that, of course, because they are there to represent Maori and that's what they are doing. I would expect Act to be there pushing policies which are advantageous to their support base which includes groups like big business. And I would expect the Greens (if they ever get into a position of power) to support policies which environmentalists would approve of.

But in another way the Maori party has less justification for its activities because they are race based. Racism is quite rightly considered a greater injustice than following a philosophy which favours business or environmentalism or unions or anything else which is open to everyone.

That's why the racist agenda of the Maori Party is so divisive. Their more extreme members - Hone Harawira is the prime example obviously - are racist and they really don't belong in parliament. After Harawira effectively called all white New Zealanders "white motherfuckers" and when so many of his supporters agreed, the outer appearance of harmony in New Zealand disappeared. Now when I see anyone of Maori ancestry I wonder if that's the way he or she really feels about me.

There are plenty of other extremist nutters around: political conservatives, religious fundamentalist, new age believers, and science deniers being just a few examples. But you never know who they are until the subject they are particularly nutty about is discussed. I just recently found a person I had worked with for years was a creationist and suddenly the reason for some of his odd behaviour became obvious. But just meeting him socially or at work would not lead me to believe he was harbouring in particularly crazy beliefs.

But with race the dividing lines are obvious. Which group a person belongs to is apparent from their physical appearance and an unconscious bias is almost impossible to avoid. That's why the racism inherent in the Maori Party is so damaging. The fact that they have been given this power by a relatively conservative party like National is bizarre.

Maybe getting the underlying resentment out into the open instead of hiding it will help in the end, but I would have to say that at this point its just dividing the country into two opposing groups.

On one side we have Maori, some of whom want to get whatever they can from the system. They want every special privilege, every hand out of land, automatic representation on organisations, and every special political right they can get. Other Maori are just embarrassed by these demands and would prefer to just be treated like every other New Zealander but they aren't the ones making all the noise.

On the other side we have the rest of New Zealand. Some are resentful of Maori and see them as nothing more than useless whiners who should have been all killed off in the Maori wars (yes, I really have heard someone say that). Others feel guilt for the behaviour of the European settlers or just follow whatever political correctness happens to be in vogue and think Maori should get special treatment. And others (like myself) want to see everyone teated the same way and think artificial distinctions like race should be ignored.

So not only is there conflict between Maori and non-Maori but there is also conflict within the groups. Its not good for the country and its not going to get better until we see the end of racist political organisations like the Maori Party. Chances are they will self-destruct but how long will that take and how much damage will be done until then?

I think potentially it could get bad. In fact, with this current government, that's almost guaranteed!

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