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Maxim Institute: The Threat From Within

No. 165, 14 July 2005


-The threat from within
- Vandalism - selective indignation?
- Marriage Bill will codify common law
- New Evidence
- South Island Political Forums
- Rewarding good teachers


The threat from within

The bomb attacks in London are a sober reminder to be vigilant, not just about the threat of terrorism, but of the need to uphold and preserve the freedoms central to the West. The tragedy affects all New Zealanders, and not just because large numbers of Kiwis live in London, but because both nations are based on the principles underpinning western civilisation.

It is important to remember that those who orchestrate terror attacks may destroy lives and buildings, but they are unlikely to destroy an entire nation unless the social fabric and institutions of that society are already crumbling internally. The Roman Empire, for example, did not collapse solely because of the strength of the attackers, but because internal institutions were already severely weakened.

In a speech following the London attacks, British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke of the importance of protecting "what we hold dear" and of "our determination to defend our values and our way of life". But in order to do this the people of the Western civilised nations that Tony Blair refers to in his speech, must identify what they are fighting to protect. They need to re-focus on what it is that unifies them as an individual nation state and also as part of Western civilisation.

In society platitudes about difference and diversity abound, but if we want a strong nation that will withstand attack, we need to emphasise commonality. We are united by: the rule of law, property rights, the importance of individual freedom, and an understanding that authority doesn't ultimately rest in the state, but in the transcendent. These things aren't the topics of everyday conversation and tend to surface only in response to a national crisis.

Like the British people, we too need to appreciate the virtues of social order which find their expression in non-government institutions such as the family and the church. History suggests we ignore the maintenance of these at our own peril.

Vandalism - selective indignation?

There has been widespread condemnation of those responsible for the vandalism of Auckland mosques following the attacks in London last week. Six mosques had windows broken and the words 'RIP LONDON' scrawled on their walls. Religious and political leaders have deplored the behaviour, and rightly so. This sort of thing stirs up ethnic and religious unrest and wrongly suggests that all Muslims - even those living 12,000 kilometres away from the terrorists - were somehow responsible.

Like adherents of other numerically large faiths, there is a widespread variation of belief within Islam, and those responsible (assuming they were linked to al-Qaeda and inspired by Jihad against the West) represent only a small minority. Many New Zealand Muslims are grateful to have escaped war-torn homelands and seek a more peaceful and tolerant society.

What we haven't heard about, though, are the recent attacks on Christian churches in Taupo. A number of worship centres including Taupo Baptist, St Andrew's Anglican, and St Paul's Church have been vandalised in the town with considerable damage caused. Beyond the local area this hasn't made national news, but in light of the publicity surrounding the Auckland mosques it is reasonable to ask why.

Could it be that the politicised notion of tolerance that has become fashionable means that attacks (verbal or tangible) on Christianity are now somehow less serious than those directed at other faiths? Christians don't fit under the profile of a 'minority' or 'oppressed group'. On the contrary, for many Christianity represents a 'hegemonic' order whose principles are not only outdated, but to be challenged and resisted.

While it is right to condemn any wanton destruction, our leaders show selective indignation when they speak out about one instance, while ignoring others.

Marriage Bill will codify common law

MPs will soon debate the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill. The Private Members Bill introduced by United Future MP Larry Baldock will change the Marriage Act 1955 to specify that marriage is between one man and one woman. It is likely to be voted on for the first time in less than two weeks on Wednesday, 27 July.

The Bill will make explicit in law what has always been presumed and generally understood: that marriage is between a man and a woman only. The present legislation does not explicitly state this but it is a long-held assumption in common law.

To date, challenges to the Act have resulted in the Court of Appeal upholding marriage as a union between a man and a woman only. There is, however, no guarantee the Courts will continue to accept the common law view. It is possible, even in the near future, that the Courts will reinterpret and/or redefine the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples.

Marriage remains foundational to society and it is important to contest attempts to redefine it. If passed, Mr Baldock's Bill will ensure that elected representatives are dealing with the issue, rather than an unelected judiciary (the Courts). Other countries have already have made similar legislative moves to protect marriage, including Australia and various North American states.

The vote, however, is likely to be very close. If you support the Bill, please call or write to your local MP and express your support for strengthening marriage.

To read more about the Marriage Amendment Bill visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/current_page/marriage_amendment_bill.html

To read the Bill, visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/bills/Marriage _(Gender_Clarification)_Bill.rtf

New Evidence

The winter edition of "Evidence" is out now. The lead article by Dr Michael Reid examines the effects of the 1989 Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act, and surrounding events on the growth of children's rights in New Zealand. The issues will be explored in more detail in his forthcoming book "From Innocents to Agents".

For details on how to get your copy of Evidence visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/publication_page/publications.html#1

South Island Political Forums

The Political Forum road show will visit the South Island next week with three debates: Christchurch, Thursday July 21 Invercargill, Friday July 22 Alexandra, Monday July 25

Don't miss out on the opportunity to put a question to our politicians. For details of a Forum near you visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/events

Rewarding good teachers

To read an article by former teacher and Principal Bruce Logan (Maxim's Director), on rewarding good teachers published in the Taranaki Daily News last week, visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/M050706.php

Thought For The Week

Roger Scruton

National loyalty is founded in the love of place, of the customs and traditions that have been inscribed in the landscape and of the desire to protect these good things through a common law and a common loyalty.


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