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Brash's attempt to create a tolerant society

Dr Brash and his attempt to create a tolerant society

- by being intolerant of those who are not his fellow atheists

By Garnet Milne

Dr Brash in his Orewa speech of the 31 January has shown his true colours. The statements the media are focusing on are quite understandably his comments on immigration. The National Party leader suggested the policy needing a re-think, because immigration could be undermining New Zealand values we all allegedly hold in common:

"Looking ahead, we will be devoting particular attention to three more issues. The first of these is immigration, not least because it is intimately connected to economic policy. Indeed, immigration has been thought of by many people as being relevant only to the economy. How do we fill gaps in the workforce? What level of gross immigration is needed to offset the steady outflow of New Zealanders? How do we ensure there are enough people of working age to ensure that older New Zealanders are cared for in their old age? But just as importantly, how do we do this while retaining the common values that bind us together as a nation?

New Zealand is a liberal, tolerant and secular society, a society that embraces the Western Enlightenment ideals of personal liberty, private property and rationality as the basis of decision-making. These are values so central to our society that we hardly even think about them. Immigration can add greatly to our society, but it also has the potential to undermine the glue that holds our society together. [Brash - Orewa 2006]"

What we have here is the same kind of philosophical schizophrenia evident in Brash’s views on prayer. A couple of years ago, when asked if he believed in God (he is the son of a Presbyterian minister), he replied that he did not believe in the existence of a being with whom he could have a conversation. In other words he does not believe in the existence of a personal God and he does not believe in prayer. And yet lo and behold when it came to seeking publicity at Waitangi a year later, Dr Brash protested his annoyance that he was not allowed to say a prayer at the Marae.

In his 2006 Orewa speech we see the same contradictions in play. Hoping to grab the remainder of the New Zealand First vote, Dr Brash has signalled in his speech that immigration is in his sights. He essentially states that we are letting in immigrants who are at odds with our values and who may be helping to tear New Zealand apart. In his words “Immigration…has the potential to undermine the glue that holds our society together’.

But notice the problem Dr Brash has made for himself. He was made to look foolish when wanting to pray having admitted that he does not believe in either God or prayer. Now he wants to preserve the secular value of tolerance which is derived from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment by being intolerant of those who do not accept Enlightenment values.

Susan Wood quite intelligently asked him whether he was referring to Muslim immigrants. Of course he denied it, but clearly he understands that there is considerable disquiet in New Zealand since 9-11 with the number of Muslims coming into New Zealand and with the theatrics surrounding Mr Zaoui. He is also aware of the widespread concern over the burgeoning Asian population in New Zealand. Brash is appealing to the xenophobic majority in New Zealand, but he is being totally hypocritical. As Brash pointed out his own wife is Chinese.

Yet he sees the only culture worth preserving as that “liberal, tolerant and secular society ... that embraces the Western Enlightenment ideals of personal liberty, private property and rationality as the basis of decision-making”. While this “culture”, which he claims is mainstream New Zealand, is indeed threatened by a militant jihadist Islam, it is also a culture which is at odds with biblical Christianity. As Christians we have seen the godless fruits of the Enlightenment in New Zealand all right. They are evident in Dr Brash’s own voting patterns in Parliament.

Brash is very keen on “rationality as the basis of decision-making” and obviously therefore opposed to decision-making based on morality derived from Christianity. We have seen him exercise his own “rationality” when he voted for the legalising of prostitution – a career choice now popular among 12 year-olds who are selling their bodies to make easy money. This is the fruit of the Enlightenment.

The gambling epidemic, alcohol and drug abuse are also fruits of man’s fallen and autonomous reason torn loose from the revealed will of God. Other results of Enlightenment ethics include the 20,000 children killed in their mothers’ wombs, and exploding prison populations making New Zealand among the highest prisoner per population ratio in the world. Let’s also not forget that the Enlightenment gave us the French revolution.

Brash’s speech, therefore, reveals another agenda. Christian values are no longer considered part of the New Zealand ethos -secularism rules. Logic demands that if Brash does not want Muslims here, then neither does he want Christians.

He is an example, as his Labour nemesis Helen Clark is also, of a someone who has lost all moral bearings. He will appeal to the intolerant racist rednecks in our society to maintain a society characterised by "tolerance". He does not want immigrants becoming New Zealanders who oppose his own atheistic Enlightenment values, and presumably has no time for those of us who are New Zealanders and who reject his secularism.

Dr Brash is rebelling against the values of his religious forbears. Even fellow atheist Helen Clark can see through Brash’s views on immigration. As the Dominion web-site reported: ‘Miss Clark also said comments by Dr Brash, published in an Auckland newspaper this morning, about the importance of New Zealand's secular society were a "little rich" coming from "someone who was happy to take a great deal of money from a fundamentalist sect (the Exclusive Brethren) which would very much like to see a different sort of society"’.

But then again you should read the latest Investigate magazine for Labour’s source of campaign funds.


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