Sunday, February 15, 2004

State of the Nation

If you'd asked me a year ago what I level of maturity my nation had achieved I problem would have given you a pretty positive response. This time last year NZ was like a teenager in late adolescence. Sure it was a bit splotchy, over-eager, brash, and prone to the occasional outbursts. But it had gone beyond the stages of squalling and drumming its heels fitfully upon the bedroom floor every time the ethnic neighbour next door was mentioned.

My, what a difference a few weeks makes. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the National Party we have managed, as a nation, to regress to about the stage of a two year old. Right now we're sitting in the corner, sulking, with a earthy aroma of discontent wafting invidiously from our collective nappy. Basically we're in the shit and if the opinion polls are right the vast majority of us actually enjoy that smelly squishy sensation that is the racist poo we are sitting in.

I refer of course to "that" speech made by National leader Don Brash in Orewa. On first examination his platitudes about "one standard for all NZers" comes across as trite and shallow electioneering. It's been done before and I can handle it. Then the references to the Treaty and special treatment for Maori started appearing ... you know the usual redneck bullshit you'd expect to hear from the likes of ACT. I assumed that most people would see it for the shallow vote-grabbing shite it was and dismiss it accordingly. Boy was I wrong! All of a sudden a party that was dead and buried in the polls has risen Lazarus like from the grave. The fact that this Lazarus happened to be jumpstarted back to life on a unhealthy jolt of bias, racial hatred, twisted information, and out and out lies (I refer here to the infamous "tangi leave" remark) doesn't seem to bother all that many people. It doesn't say a lot for us as a nation that an appeal to our baser side has evoked such a response.

I won't debate the whole Maori rights issue here. Those who know what I'm talking about will have heard all the arguments ad infinitum ad nauseam so I won't bore you with a repeat. I will say this though; next time Doctor Brash opens his mouth to talk about race issues consider these few points:
1) He's the guy who made a former woodwork teacher from St Bedes the Minister of Maori Affairs. (a white middle class Catholic no less)
2) Where's Brash's previous connection with Maori and Maori issues. (Maybe his role as Reserve Bank Governor was more diverse than I thought).
3) When dealing with issues of race always consult a financial expert (and next time you're arrested by police may sure you get a plumber to represent you in Court!)

Finally for the Brash supporters who're probably dismissing me as one of the loony left right now. In his defence, at least we know where we stand with him. I'll give him that. Unlike Bill English (who was all over the goddamn place) we know where Doctor Brash's position is. I'll respect him for that but not for the message he's pushing. A message based on fear and jealousy can only breed festering hatred.