Friday 6 March 2020

Shane Jones’s Critics Offer Grist To NZ First’s “Populist-Nationalist” Mill.

Bring It On! So much grist for Mr Jones’s populist-nationalist mill! With it, he will grind and grind and grind. The “population policy” debate, which Mr Jones is relentlessly stoking with his inflammatory rhetoric, is NZ First’s last shot at garnering sufficient electoral support to secure its return to Parliament.

WHAT SORT OF PEOPLE do you suppose Shane Jones wants to come out swinging over his anti-Indian remarks? Is he hoping to be roundly rebuked by his friends and whanau in the impoverished North? Would a blistering broadside from hard-working tradies in the provinces fit the bill? What about elderly Pakeha voters with cherished memories of a time when the only ethnic group they had to keep their eye on were the “Maarees”? The answer, of course, is “None of the Above”.

Indeed, if he found himself under attack from the groups listed above, Mr Jones would be forced to entirely re-think his own – and NZ First’s – strategy for re-election. Fortunately for the Minister in Charge of the Pork Barrel, this will not be necessary. So far, the sort of people objecting to Mr Jones’ remarks are exactly the sort of people he was hoping to make hopping mad.

Not only has Mr Jones’s carefully crafted denigration of Indian university students triggered all the usual suspects on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but they have also succeeded in hooking three much larger fish: a Race Relations Commissioner, a Vice-Chancellor and a Professor.

From each of these representatives of New Zealand’s cultural and bureaucratic elites have come great dollops of outrage.

“While this is not the first time prominent figures have resorted to xenophobic dog-whistle politics in an election year,” finger-wagged the Vice-Chancellor and the Professor, “the Christchurch atrocity highlighted the very real dangers of allowing such narratives to go unchallenged.”

Jackpot! In their social-liberal rage, Jones’s critics have associated him with the man alleged to have gunned down 51 Muslims in Christchurch on 15 March last year. Mr Jones’s audience, who are, it is pretty safe to say, members of the same “beer drinking, plain speaking, red meat eating” fraternity to which the Minister, by his own admission, belongs, will wax indignant at this association. In their eyes, at least, talking frankly about immigration is not even remotely in the same ball-park as mass murder.

These same folk will respond with equal indignation to the remarks of the Race Relations Commissioner, who blasted Mr Jones for his “irresponsible” comments which, he insisted, “emboldened those who held racist and xenophobic views”.

No more than the Vice-Chancellor and the Professor, could the Commissioner forbear from referring to the Christchurch Massacre. The anniversary of the 15 March Christchurch mosque shootings was, he said, “a reminder of the ugliness of racism and hate”.

So much grist for Mr Jones’s populist-nationalist mill! With it, he will grind and grind and grind. The “population policy” debate, which Mr Jones is relentlessly stoking with his inflammatory rhetoric, is NZ First’s last shot at garnering sufficient electoral support to secure its return to Parliament. That it has every chance of succeeding is not only because there are hundreds-of-thousands of New Zealanders who are alarmed and dismayed at the unprecedented scale and speed of this country’s demographic evolution; but also by the blank refusal of the “elites” to give them any say in the matter.

Oh, how Mr Jones must have rubbed his hands in glee when he read the Vice-Chancellor’s and the Professor’s penultimate admonitory sentence:

“Today, all states are confronted by security, economic and environmental challenges that do not respect territorial borders and cannot be resolved by populist-nationalist politicians promising to ‘take back control’ of national sovereignty in New Zealand or anywhere else.”

This is precisely the sort of sneering, condescending, “we experts know best” rhetoric that gave the world Brexit and Trump. The sort of behaviour that demonstrates as nothing else can the sheer vastness of the gulf that separates the guardians of this deracinated, globalised culture, from its victims.

Populist-nationalism has always been NZ First’s stock-in-trade. In the past, its expression has generally possessed a tongue-in-cheek quality that allowed New Zealand to steer clear of the dark pathways down which the populist-nationalists of Europe and the USA have descended.

In the general election of 2020, however, NZ First finds itself fighting for its life. Which is why, in the eyes of NZ First’s political strategists, those dark pathways are fast taking on the appearance of escape routes.

Race Relations Commissioners, Vice-Chancellors and Professors need to wise-up – and quickly. Heaping vitriol on Shane Jones won’t kill his “racist and xenophobic views”, it will only make them stronger.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 6 March 2020.


David Stone said...

" In their eyes, at least, talking frankly about immigration is not even remotely in the same ball-park as mass murder."
From his own statement mass immigration was indeed the trigger of the CH CH shooter. So though he can't be excused the reality of human nature is that some will go to extremes the a perceived injustice is being imposed .
If there was no mass immigration happening in NZ or AU the Christchurch Massacre would not have happened. With the mass immigration continuing, from countries where working conditions and recompense fall far short of NZ's , with the clear intent of reducing the standard of living of the mass of workers there is real injustice being done to NZ workers , that has nothing to do with the ethnicity of the immigrants, only the general standard of living in the country they came from. It is a perfectly logical choice for an Indian with no prospect in India but poverty , to work for nothing for his Indian boss in NZ for several years, if at the end of that time he /She gets a NZ passport.
While the policy persists the Ch Ch incident will be repeated. That's not a wish or advocation, it's just how it is.


David George said...

Jones has always struck me as an unprincipled, "ends justify the means", sort of character. Skinning his lizard on the public dime, fascistic like interference in companies, highly suspect goings on with his PGF baby and these latest "indiscretions" tend to confirm suspicions.
How much traction he can garner with this latest outburst depends on the other main parties; NZF can largely be neutralised by the adoption of a far more conservative immigration policy from National in particular. There is little doubt that the more anti immigration stance of Labour and NZF was a vote winner at the expense of National.

It's a reflection of the current culture that the question of immigration is portrayed as racist/xenophobic; that impression is, sadly, not helped by these sorts of outbursts. It's a perfectly reasonable subject for discussion, including it's effect on the alteration of our culture(S?). There is, among the progressive woke, a very destructive lack of recognition, respect or gratitude for our cultural heritage. Do they not feel that at all or perhaps it's a lack of self awareness.

A women I know (family member’s ex) is a hard out wokester, she’d by horrified to be called racist; racists are basically non human as far as she’s concerned. We (her and I) were talking with a Maori couple we know - English is their first and only language. I noticed something strange; she was altering her speech, clipping her vocabulary and speaking more slowly like you would to a child.
Perhaps she was just being overly agreeable but it seemed to me she believed they were a bit stupid and I’m sure they picked that up as well.
As Jordan Peterson has said; people show what they truly believe by their actions; watch what they do, not what they say they believe.

John Hurley said...

What made me see red was a tweet from HRC: "Corona Virus: Wash your hands; don't be racist and xenophobic".
Where racist got our today (because it silences dissent and is like being called paedophile) and xenophobia means you have seen the future and if you don't like it you must be mad.
The HRC acts as a bridge over those whose wills might thwart elite goals.
Winston (unfortunately) is the builder who started the house but didn't finish it (let the weather get in - didn't come back). I see Simon Bridges for the Auckland Chamber of Commerce getting stuck into Jones for his appalling anti-neoliberalism racism.

Nick J said...

It would seem that there is a worldwide phenomenon where the plebs are no longer voting as the wealthy classes tell them. Brexit, Trump. The Extreme Centre as Tariq Ali calls it is dead in the water. The hyper wealthy and their enabling class of technocrats can no longer align their interests with enough voters. The edges are fraying.

People like Jones are called populist... which means they are popular. Their causes are popular, they wouldn't get traction otherwise. If Jones calls out immigration it is because it is a real issue to enough people to be a popular issue. Call him racist, ditto.

Our political elites are gravely mistaken if they believe that they can sweep popular issues under the carpet and lecture people how to think and vote.

Don Franks said...

Shane Jones comments are undeniably racist. If some dispossesed and powerless people are attracted to Jones foul ideas, that does not make those ideas right.

John Hurley said...

A nation only exists in the collective (and faulted) imaginations of its people. What makes a bunch of elites (Dean of Chc Cathedral) think they can insert a version of nationhood that is "diverse" and glued by sweetness and love when our minds (by default) are set as "them and us". The only people confident in the big milieu are high income, high status elites (and ofcourse the migrants)?

Nick J said...

Don, when two cultures / races stand off and assess each other they will make value judgements based upon their own values. Is that racism? Is it a natural cautionary stance when faced by the unfamiliar? Is it unreasonable that there might be unbridgable cultural divides, or must a culture subdue their own values in favour of another? In these circumstances what is racism?

It's easy to call Jones racist, its not so simple to address the questions. I'm not here to defend Jones but I do feel that his supporters questions are too easily dismissed.