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Insulting Sir Pita
Entry 1741, on 2015-09-21 at 20:56:15 (Rating 4, News)
Political commentator Rodney Hide used to be a New Zealand politician and was leader of our libertarian party, Act. Like most libertarians he had some great ideas and I agreed with a lot of what he said, except, in most cases, when it came to economics where I find libertarianism is hopelessly simplistic and unrealistic.
But this blog post isn't about economics, it's about political correctness, something that most libertarians are very good at criticising, rejecting, and generally ridiculing. And of course, I enjoy ridiculing PC too, so let's look at the issue Hide was offering his opinion on this time.
Most people (even those not in rugby-playing nations) are aware that the Rugby World Cup is currently being played in England and Wales. Like all good sport there is a significant psychological factor involved and one effort by an English rugby team was to ridicule the All Black haka (a Maori war dance traditionally performed by the ABs before every game) with their spoof, called the "hakarena".
The first thing I thought when I saw this is that someone will get offended and suggest it is racist, disrespectful, or inappropriate in some other way, and I wasn't disappointed!
Another ex-politician (this time from the Maori Party), Pita Sharples, said "The haka is very meaningful to us. To actually mimic it and deliberately bring it into ridicule is, to me, insulting."
OK, so he's insulted. Well I'm insulted that he's insulted over something so trivial. So what? Who cares if he's insulted or not? I think many minority groups take what they perceive to be there culture away too seriously. Sharples should be pleased that the haka is being given so much publicity because that's one way that his culture can get more recognition.
But I do have to wonder about what his culture really is, because his full title is "Sir Pita Sharples". Yes, the Maori activist and the person who felt the need to constantly defend his people against the perceived and real threats from the "crown" has accepted a knighthood from the very entity he spent most of his life fighting against. What a hypocrite!
And like many of the PC thought police, Sharples thinks we should all be offended and take action. He said "The Maori and New Zealanders in London could react to that big time." I'm not quite sure what he has in mind but considering the whole idea of the hakarena was to stir up trouble and possibly put the All Blacks off their game (as well as being just a bit of fun) I would have thought just ignoring the whole thing would be the best possible response.
According to some sources the All Blacks are also "incensed" and "unimpressed" and are contemplating escalating the "psychological warfare". That's cool, but I hope the ABs are not genuinely upset and in reality find it mildly amusing. I don't think the ABs have made any official response but anything they do say would need to conform to PC rules, of course.
In general, being too precious about your culture is just counter-productive. By insisting that Maori words should be pronounced "correctly" you just discourage people from using the language at all, by insisting that any humorous imitation of customs is insulting you just make it harder to have those customs presented at all, and by taking your culture too seriously you just create resentment and invite further ridicule.
Oh, and one other thing, I have ten times as much respect for (All Black captain) Richie McCaw who rejected being given a knighthood that I have for one self-serving politician who accepted one in apparent conflict with his pro-Maori, anti-establishment views from the past.
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