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Marc My Words - 3 December 2005

Marc My Words…
3 December 2005

Political comment
Marc Alexander


Narrow-mindedness is ignorance dressed up as certainty

Moral indignation is rarely moral; it is mostly indignation of the self righteous variety, made up of a whole lot of "I told you so" strictures accompanied by unpalatable prescriptions of what we ought to do. We get a few of these every year. Someone with an axe to grind invites an ideological representative from some impressive sounding organization to come and spend a week here, do some thorough research over a cup of Bovril and a pink lamington and then lecture us about how we're falling short.

This time around it was a United Nations 'expert' Professor Rodolfo Stavenhagen who after nine days knew enough about our country that he could issue a two and a half page proclamation stating the tiresome and the predictable. Amongst his many concerns were the different life expectancies between Maori and non-Maori. Also the disparity between Maori and non-Maori in their representation in the crime statistics. The good professor went on to note that Maori efforts to seek redress for past "land grabs by the Crown and white settlers" had only been partially successful".

The whole thrust of Professor Rodolfo's disquiet could be summed up in the human rights concerns facing New Zealand in dealing with its "indigenous people". Its par for the course to have well meaning theoreticians expound their two cents worth, it keeps them off the streets and makes us all momentarily ashamed of being white, middle class, and part of the nasty elite that supposedly perpetuates the institutional racism we're being accused of.

It is ludicrous that we should consider the advice from some pompous professorial ass from beyond our borders who is regurgitating a politically correct recommendation distilled from a human rights perspective that is itself politically correct. The whole question and answer tautology is based on a number of false assumptions anyway.

Since when has the mere assertion of human rights violations based on race been considered tantamount to guilt anyway? Has it not occurred to any that discrepancies in life expectancies could more readily be based on the known factors of diet, exercise, and life-style choice?

To simply refer to mortality rates as a function of race is to throw our hands up in despair and blame race. That would be utterly stupid and absurd.

If you want a decent shot at living a long life then put away the fish and chips, the bags of lollies, and the fifteen slices of toasted white bread saturated in butter. Get up off that couch, turn the TV off and get active. Instead of complaining that the only things that fits is a pair of 6XL elasticized track pants and all the while finding fault with the Treaty of Waitangi, take a good look in the mirror. Where are the malicious white people forcing you to eat and drink so much rubbish?

It is also true that men die before women - and it isn't because women are the first to be rescued from sinking ships! Who should we blame for that? In New Zealand women are catered for by the politically correct Ministry of Women's Affairs. There are breast and cervical screening programmes, Women's Refuge, and a host of other gender based programmes sponsored by the taxpayer.

And men? No prostate screening (despite a higher death rate than breast and cervical cancer), not much to help men who have been sexually abused, or who have been sidelined in their role as fathers, and certainly no Ministry to advocate for men's needs. Should Kiwi men run to the UN and plead our paucity of human rights? Maybe, just maybe, we should just own the problem and advocate for ourselves instead of weeping into our beers and saying how cruel life is for us poor defeated men! Hell, we're not even allowed to sit next to unaccompanied children on airplanes without automatically being assumed to be a paedophile.

That is despite all the evidence to the contrary! There has never been a case of sexual assault on a plane between a man and an unaccompanied child. If there was any need to reduce the possibility of sexual abuse on a plane, then the policymakers of Quantas would be better off by banning family members and step-fathers from sitting near their kids - since they are the groups most likely to offend! The very idea that one gender is singled out on a presumption of guilt is as stupid as singling out race as a presumption.

And as for crime? It's true that Maori and Pacific Islanders are over represented in prison. But the gender disparity of criminal offending is much greater than that between Maori and non-Maori. Arbitrarily creating stereotypes are meaningless unless accompanied by causative factors. Potentially we could find a whole list of identifiers that would be equally meaningless.

Are we supposed to conclude that Maori or Pacific Islanders are inherently more evil, violent or less socially responsible? That would be an utter absurdity! It would be as dim-witted as the politically correct Society of St. Nicholases in Switzerland which has recently issued a ruling to its 100 professional Santa Clauses banning them from allowing children on their laps after parents expressed concern about close contact between their children and the men. Mad!!

As a group pornographers as a group are overwhelmingly white, male, and middle class. So too are the financiers of the drug pushers. The point is there is an abundance of stereotypes if we want to find them. Race is not the main cause for being in prison; it is the choice to commit crime, and then be caught - period. It sounds so obvious, I'm almost embarrassed to say it. The longer we perpetuate causes that aren't really causes (like race), the more we create expectations that people will live up to.

In an odd way, the more that people with a string of university degrees underscore the race based inequalities, the greater the propensity to attribute fault to race, and do less to address the problems. There is the unintended consequence in which the public is subjected to the psychological pressure to conform not only to provide the obligatory resources but the foundation of blame is laid on another segment of the population. The result is counterproductive and feeds the very bigotry that is denounced.

No one can deny that inequities have occurred in our past. Those injustices happened right across the board. We do have a choice: do we want to be retarded by grievances from our past or to move forward as a nation solving problems as they arise? We have seen our share of wars and the one lesson we have learned from is that blood was spilled by both Maori and non-Maori in defending our shared future. It would not honour them if we betray their unity of purpose in battle by remaining divided in peace.


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