Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Telling The Majority "Where To Get Off"

Straight From Central Casting: The millionaire Invercargill businessman and Act Party donor, Louis Crimp, has instantly become the pin-up boy of the Liberal Left's anti-racist agenda. But, loathsome though they may be, is the Left's confidence in the social and political marginality of Mr Crimp's views on Maori culture really justified? Recent local government polls on seperate Maori representation suggest otherwise. Is it possible that the bi-cultural project and democracy are essentially incompatible?

LOUIS CRIMP could have come straight from Central Casting. His narrow face, those pinched features: all the Invercargill businessman needed to complete the quintessential red-neck ensemble was a greasy pair of denim overalls and a shotgun. Certainly, his reported assertion that: “All the white New Zealanders I've spoken to don’t like the Maoris, the way they are full of crime and welfare”, fitted him out perfectly for the red-neck role.

How did New Zealand’s liberal intelligentsia respond to this “racist” eruption from the Deep South? Curiously, with considerable satisfaction. Here, in all its brutal honesty, was living proof of the Left’s fondest prejudices. In Mr Crimp they were confronted with the sum of all their cultural fears.

“But wait,” (as they say on the infomercials) “there’s more!” Not only was Mr Crimp guilty of (ahem) cultural insensitivity, but he was also a millionaire and a major donor to the Act Party. Talk about your “three-strikes” policy! Strike One: Guilty of being a redneck. Strike Two: Guilty of being a rapacious capitalist. Strike Three: Guilty of donating $125,000 to the Act Party’s election campaign. For the promoters of a bicultural, decolonised, anti-capitalist New Zealand, Mr Crimp is the political gift that keeps on giving.

But are those for whom Mr Crimp’s unapologetic expressions of racial unease constitute a weird sort of vindication genuinely representative of majority opinion in New Zealand? What if the dream of bi-culturalism, now so deeply embedded in the social policy agenda of the political class, is most emphatically not the dream of those who live outside the magic circles of elite policy formation and its unmandated bureaucratic implementation? What if, three decades of bi-cultural propaganda notwithstanding, a majority of New Zealanders continue to harbour attitudes toward Maori not all that dissimilar to Mr Crimp’s? What then?

Before answering that question, let’s see if we can find any evidence which might help us to determine whether the bi-cultural message has been accepted by a clear majority of New Zealanders; or, if it is only among Maori that the concept of a Treaty of Waitangi-based “partnership” between  coloniser and colonised continues to resonate.

On the same day as Mr Crimp’s remarks were published, the people of Nelson, in one of those curious historical coincidences, concluded a postal ballot on whether or not their city council should guarantee Maori representation around the council-table by creating a special Maori ward. According to The Nelson Mail, the voters’ answer to this bi-culturally-based question was an emphatic “No!” Of the 15,387 votes received, 3,131 were in support of the proposal, with 12,298 in opposition. The turn-out was 43 percent. At 79 percent of those participating, the result was within 1 percentage point of the findings of The Nelson Mail’s own opinion poll on the issue.

Nelson City’s response matches closely the response of voters in Waikato District who, in a similar ballot, concluding on 5 April 2012, voted 80 percent to 20 percent against separate Maori representation.

Nor is this opposition to separate Maori representation limited to provincial New Zealand. A survey of 1,031 New Zealanders conducted by Consumerlink (a department of the Colmar Brunton polling agency) found that 72.4 percent of Pakeha who answered Yes or No supported the abolition of both the Maori roll and the Maori seats, with 70.08 percent also favouring the abolition of the Waitangi Tribunal. On the question of separate Maori representation on local bodies, 73.29 percent of Pakeha voted against.

It would be quite wrong to extrapolate these figures into some sort of confirmation of Mr Crimp’s caustic assertion that most “white” New Zealanders “don’t like the Maoris”. They do, however, raise serious doubts about the actual level of support for the entire bi-cultural project. It is at least arguable that what most Pakeha New Zealanders really “don’t like” is the whole notion of Maori separatism. Were Pakeha given a choice between the present approach to race-relations, and one which advanced the principle of undifferentiated citizenship in a unitary and colour-blind state, all the evidence suggests that the latter option would win the support of more than two-thirds of the General Electorate.

In other words, the bi-cultural project cannot withstand the audit of democracy and must be imposed from above. That, at least, is the opinion of Race Relations Commissioner, Joris de Bres, who responded to the Nelson ballot by saying that the law should be changed so Maori seats are a right, rather than subject to a vote of the majority: “To put it to a general vote without a very informed electorate, I think, always runs the risk of the minority being told where to get off.” Better, presumably, for a minority to tell the majority where to get off?

Call me a red-neck if you will, but I “don’t like” that at all.

This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 22 May 2012.


Stephen said...

Do you mean that if a majority on New Zealanders are opposed to homosexual law reform (or want to again make it a crime; or want to unravel equal rights for women; or to re-introduce the death penalty; or disestablish the union movement then the majority rules? The dictatorship of the majority is as frightening as any other form of dictatorship. Does Mr Trotter beleive that here are any "rights" that should be entrenched and are not subject to the whim of the majority?

Mike Moroney said...

In the absence of
A culture on which to stand,
Democracy crimps.

Sanctuary said...

Why, people often ask, are the European economists, technocrats and bureaucrats so determined to keep the single currency? It isn't just the parasites of Brussels’ and Chicago school economic gangsters who support the Euro; the European establishment all support the Euro and the European project and they will impose its vision from above no matter what the democratic protestations of the Southern Europeans. I think this is because they are haunted by the fear of what failure means - a return to ideological and ethnic wars that cursed Europe through the 20th century. However bad the Euro and the technocratic EU ruled from Brussels might be it is better than the frightful alternative. So terrified are the European establishment elites of the beasts of the 20th century escaping again that they cannot even bring themselves to admit they exists anymore, and instead they pretend they are not there, hoping that by starving them of legitimacy and oxygen and daylight the Breeviks and the Golden Dawns and the UKIPs and the National Fronts will somehow vanish.

Maybe a similar world view informs our bureaucratic policy makers, media elites and the technocrats in charge of the "unmandated bureaucratic implementation" of bi-culturalism? No matter how bad, they may reason, their view of the future might be it cannot be worse than the alternative vision of national self-immolation via racial conflict held out by the likes of Louis Crimp and his cheerleaders? It cannot be denied that the Pakeha ruling elite has been at least partially cowed into making concessions to Maori because of the implicit threat of violence - the over-reaction of the Urewera raids can scarcely be explained except in terms of a Pakeha establishment nightmare coming true - and it seems to me our establishment is at least as petrified of our caged beasts as their the European counterparts are of theirs.

Graeme Edgeler said...

If de Bres' concerns are about the electorate being uneducated, wouldn't a sensible measure for him be to try to educate them?

TB Ooi 黃定茂 said...

The concept of democracy and a host of other Western-initiated ideologies such as capitalism, socialism, human rights, freedom of speech... are not infallible. Look at the countries which supposedly uphold such ideals and the abysmal prospect of social justice and equality they project. To achieve happiness, peace and a meaningful existence, we need to return to the core of human values and virtue and what transcends the physical reality.

Poverty straddles all ethnic groups, some may be more heightened than others, all nonetheless necessitate the attention and compassion of the more fortunate ones and those who formulate policies.

The presence of social injustice in the midst of abundance reflects poorly on the ethics and conscience of those who are successful. It may also be the source of strife and upheavals which will threaten the very peace of those who have amidst the have-nots.(Look at the former South Africa).

In any case, agreements and treaties have to be honored as civil societies go. But the underprivileged also need to reflect upon themselves as to what truly afflicts their communities and come up with genuinely effective remedies. The mindset of entitlement and blaming others for one's ills will not improve one's lot no matter how much one succeeds in getting through gratuitous benefits.

Tiger Mountain said...

He’s a “very cheeky Crimpie” alright and rather brain damaged in some as yet unknown manner going on his television appearances.

Until more working and middle class pākehā ‘get it’ this type of crap will persist. Māori in substantial numbers must go forward or everyone is ultimately held back.

It is well past payback time for several centuries of iwi asset stripping. The travails of the Māori Party have revealed essential flaws in the identity model of politics. So ‘Neo-tribalists’ and brown table types cut little ice with me despite the positive role some such played in the Talleys/AFFCO lockout.

Re Graeme Edgeler: Joris has been hammering TOW education for years, I attended my first Te Tiriti workshop in late 70s under the old WEA and it shaped my thinking ever since. I concentrate on giving tau iwi a rev up, and don’t even wear a bone carving.

Lew said...

Dear Chris, you're a redneck.

And, true to form, you leave out the most relevant bit of data: the
fact that somewhat more than 90% of the votes cast in the recent
election were cast for parties that are committed to the cultural
status-quo of ongoing engagement and negotiation in good faith between
Pākehā and Māori. And why shouldn't they? Pākehā have been (literally,
in many cases) making out like bandits from it.

Not long ago, you made the claim that I was in the service of that
tiny fraction of the political spectrum occupied by Louis Crimp and
his ilk. Perhaps, given your recent declarations on matters Māori, you
might reconsider your own place on that spectrum. If you're so sure of
your argument here, I suggest you get in contact with John Ansell, hit
up Louis Crimp for some financial support, and start your own
political party campaigning on these themes. It was pretty close in
2005, after all.

It's never too late to make a difference, Chris. And given his
performance on Campbell Live last night, Crimp could use a
ghostwriter with your sensibilities.


Chris Trotter said...

Here you are, Lew.



Lew said...

I see your pro-forma lighthearted redneck apologism and raise you one listen of Neil Young's "Southern Man", which I can't be arsed looking up on youtube.

And sorry about the formatting on the last one; it wasn't meant to come out looking like bad verse.


Anonymous said...

"The dictatorship of the majority is as frightening as any other form of dictatorship."

This is not true at all. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. successfully managed to convince a sufficient number of his compatriots of the justice of his cause by appealing to their common sense of reason, common humanity, and universal moral principles.

Many multiculturalists aim to relativise these notions and partition humanity off into self contained enclaves of cultural identity between which there can be no common standards of reason or ethics. The same people then want to enforce a norm of tolerance or democracy (despite giving no clear account of how these are supposed to be any less relative).

At least King wasn't hobbled by some lunatics declaring that his view was "just a cultural perspective". The tyranny which makes it impossible to speak truth to power is the worse tyranny. It makes every request an unreasonable demand.

Most New Zealanders don't accept biculturalism because they have correctly divined that it is conceptually incoherent and they are being sold a bridge. They are far less critical of race based measures that can be given a general justification (such as doing things about the appalling levels of Maori educational attainment).

Morgan Godfery said...

I’m afraid you’ve misrepresented the situation in Nelson, Chris. The decision to oppose Maori wards was as much of an “up yours” to the Nelson City Council as it was a rejection of the idea of guaranteed Maori representation. The Nelson City Council botched the entire process. I was in correspondence with Tracey Neal, a senior reporter from the Nelson Mail, and she states that “the majority of public opposition has always been about the process and not the essence of Maori representation”. Scanning letters to the editor and some opinion pieces in the Nelson Mail it’ll become clear to you that the vote against a Maori ward on the Nelson City Council was, more than anything, a vote against the Nelson City Council and the process they undertook.

It’s true Pakeha New Zealanders dislike the idea of Maori separatism, but so do Maori. Framing the debate in such a way is misleading. Treaty settlements, Maori seats, Te Puni Kokiri and other “separatist” initiatives have not resulted in a more separate society. In fact, Maori are more integrated in New Zealand society than ever before. For example, it would have been unheard of to have a Maori attending Wellington’s elite Scot’s College. Even in 2004 Maori made up less than 2% of the school roll. As a testament to the increasing integration that figure now stands at over 5%. Anecdotally speaking, you’re more likely to have a Maori neighbour, Maori work colleague or a Maori classmate. Decades ago this would have been unheard of. How, I must ask, do Maori seats lead to a more separate society? How, over the course of time that the Maori electoral seats have been in existence, have Maori become more separate?

It’s sad too, Chris, that you’re advocating the imposition of majority rule against a minority that has the deck stacked against them.

Peter Malcouronne said...

Nice clip, Trotsky. But do you have one for the vegetarian eco-socialist rednecks in the room?

P.S. You have some great commenters here at Bowalley Road. Sanctuary, the Mountain Tiger, Victor et al are top drawer.

Chris Trotter said...

A very fine presentation of the case for the Defence, Morgan. I'm glad to see that Victoria's Law School can still turn 'em out.

Now about those opinion poll findings ...

Chris Trotter said...

I'll have a wee squiz on YouTube, Lew. See what I can find.

Of course, if I locate one "Southern Man", I'll simply have to raise you one "Sweet Home Alabama"!

Anonymous said...

Chris, you're scaring me.

Victor said...

At a certain level of abstraction, I agree with you, Chris.

To say that one person's vote counts for more than another's is to disrespect a quartile of your fellow beings. The same goes for entrenching rights for one part of the community and not for another.

Moreover,whilst democracy might not be Teng Ooi's favourite school of virtue, it has, on the whole, been a barrier against the worst forms of misgovernance.

In addition, of course, there's something inherently unhealthy and potentially unstable and dangerous about a society ruled in defiance of popular consensus on a major issue.

However, at a more utilitarian level, I think we should also look at the benefits New Zealand has gained from the admittedly wishy-washy, unspeakably PC and inherently undemocratic notion of "Treaty Partnership".

It's not just that we've staved off a tidal wave of resentful violence from a community with very real inherited causes of grievance (though that is itself a mercy).

We've also become the scene of perhaps the most impressive revival of an indigenous people in those bits of the globe settled by Europeans over the last couple of centuries. When all is said and done, that's something in which both Maori and Pakeha can take some legitimate pride.

Of course, as the stats constantly remind us, far too large a percentage of Maori has failed to benefit adequately from this revival.

Moreover, the revival has had some consequences that I could happily live without (c.f. the 'Brown Table' or the career of Hekia Parata).

Even so, would we really prefer the Australian or North American models of indigenous development?

I suspect we can live with this largely fruitful mush for the moment. But the rub will come when, for one reason or another, we feel the need to make deep-rooted constitutional changes (e.g. introducing a written constitution with an entrenched bill of rights, abandoning the monarchy or even reconsidering our relationship with Australia).

At that point, we'll have to make hard choices about the kind of country we want to be. Let's hope those choices don't tear us apart.

guerilla surgeon said...

“All the white New Zealanders I've spoken to don’t like the Maoris, the way they are full of crime and welfare”, Goes to show what circles he moves in :-).

guerilla surgeon said...

There's a story from a few years back how someone who was assaulting a woman put someone who tried to help in the hospital, and then won Lotto or something similar. And when he was asked if perhaps the money should go to his victim who was suffering semi-permanent damage, he just laughed and said "get over it" everybody I know who was white was really angry at that.

It's funny isn't it it's always the ones who've done the wrong who seem to think we should move on at a certain time. Perhaps the victims should have a little bit more say in when we in fact do move on. We could start by teaching pakeha New Zealanders a little bit of history and empathy.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to see people saying that the so called tyranny of the majority is somehow unfair-in fact of course the tyranny by a minority is far worse.
I do wish people would really read some history instead of just swallowing what some of the modern historians say so completely.Its far more interesting anc complex that they think. Every race has its share of villians.
The most promising sign for this country is the continuing growth of a Maori middle class. They are unlikely to be any more tolerant of the separatists policies that are being pushed by most political parties than anyone else.
No country has ever prospered under the sort of divisive policies we have increasingly been following for the last 30+ years and neither shall we. Equality is not divisable nor one law for all an empty slogan.

Anonymous said...

I have to take issue with Morgan Godfrey re Scots College.
I am of Burmese German Scottish whakapapa.

I clearly recall fellow students of Samoan Fijian and various Asian lineages in my college days (the 1950's).

There were no obvious Maori students but I clearly recall discovering some that were.

Going to Scots College depends on parental wealth, not race.

My family at the time was pretty broke but we managed.

Anonymous said...

" Anecdotally speaking, you’re more likely to have a Maori neighbour, Maori work colleague or a Maori classmate. Decades ago this would have been unheard of"

Truly hilarious. The chattering classes imagine what is true for them is the case for the rest of us.

So some Maori now get to attend an "elite" school. What a great victory for social justice. I can't wait for the day when National has a Maori PM that will screw over the poor instead of some pakeha dude. That will be a great day for freedom.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Sarah.

Happy to publish your comment - minus the defamatory remarks at the end.

And I'd put to you the same question I put to Morgan Godfrey.

How do you "explain away" those opinion poll results ... ?

Anonymous said...

The result in Nelson was almost an
exact mirror of the result in the Waikato District Council poll.
People recognice a con when they see one.

AIC said...

Victor - an excellent comment.

Given our history, I can fully support the Treaty process as a means of at least providing some recognition of past injustices, as well as a degree of economic and cultural sovereignty. Similarly, from a utilitarian perspective initiatives like Whanau Ora or Kohanga Reo are justifiable ways of delivering more general social objectives.

However, I think what aggrieves me about the likes of Maori Wards is that they represent what appears to me to be an unnecessary level of bureaucracy. I have similar views about the inclusion of boiler plate ToW clauses in legislation. In a secular, democratic country, I don't believe Maori cultural beliefs, however strongly held, should be influencing policy.

Anonymous said...

"How did New Zealand’s liberal intelligentsia respond to this “racist” eruption from the Deep South? Curiously, with considerable satisfaction."

I was quite amused to read on the front page of The Herald a few weeks ago about the Fijian who had his rental advert removed from Trademe because he said his "ideal" tenants were "European"; nobody bats an eyelid at the equivalent Asian-only adverts on Trademe, and they wouldn't make the front page in The Herald either. In the same vein, it's hard to see that kind of reaction being made made to an (hypothetical) errant donor to the Mana Party; would the liberal intelligentsia, who are prone to calling themselves by epithets such as "ngäti päkehä", not mostly nod in agreement?

guerilla surgeon said...

"I do wish people would really read some history instead of just swallowing what some of the modern historians say so completely.Its far more interesting anc complex that they think."

What a fatuous statement. I know historisns and they have never denied that every group has villains. When I worked in that area it was made clear that not everything Maori did was ethical, not everything the government did was wrong.

And who is writing that non historian history you're talking about? In my experience, which is reasonable if not considerable, it's amateurs who oversimplify - or simply get it wrong.

markus said...

A few earlier opinion poll results:

(1) Heylen 1971

(a) Support/Oppose Separate Maori seats in Parliament ? Support 39% / Oppose 55%

(b) Is there racial discrimination in New Zealand ?

Yes and serious 20% / Yes but not serious problem 52% / No 25%

(2) Levine/Robinson (Victoria University survey of voters) 1976: Support/Oppose separate Maori seats in Parliament ? Support 27% / Oppose 64%

(3) Heylen 1980:

(a) Support/Oppose separate Maori seats in Parliament ? Support 41% / Oppose 56%

(b) Are Maori discriminated against or disadvantaged ? Yes 38% / No 61%

(4) Herald-National Research Bureau 1988:

Pro-Treaty 28% / Anti-Treaty 62% (Pro = (i) Deal with Treaty through Waitangi Tribunal as at present OR (ii) Give full force of law) / (Anti = (i) Abolish OR (ii) Re-Negotiate)

(5) New Zealand Values Survey (Massey University) 1998:

(a) Pro-Treaty 30% / Anti-Treaty 63%

(6) Herald-Digi (February 2004) following Brash Orewa speech:

(a) Support/Oppose Brash proposals to remove racial distinctions from government services ? Support 75%/ Oppose 15%

(b) Do Maori have right to special treatment ? Yes 16%/ No 76%

(c) Special treatment Maori get from government is : Too Much 74% / About Right 16% / Too Little 3%

(d) Do local Maori have a right to be specially consulted by city councils ? Yes 40% / No 52%

(e) Support/Oppose retaining separate Maori seats in Parliament ? Support 31% / Oppose 62%

(f) Support/Oppose specialist Maori schools ? Yes 41% / No 55%

(g) Support/Oppose specialist Maori health services ? Yes 33% / No 62%

(h) Special help for Maori to enter tertiary education ? Yes 22% / No 69%

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it is true the majority of white people in NZ are racist but I'm sorry to break it to you if settlers could vote for the extinction of other races they would have done it by now. You can call for a referendum but after you win Maori will still be Maori and still be here. Otoh White people will be a minority in this country very soon and then we can have a referendum and vote this kind of primitive backwards settler mentality into extinction. Tick. Tock.

Chris Trotter said...

If that is your strategy Anonymous@12:53am, then I'm afraid you're headed for disappointment.

A minority group pushing such an openly discriminatory agenda would very soon see the majority respond in kind.

By opening the floodgates of immigration to the majority culture's "kith and kin" their government would rapidly swamp whatever gains the minority culture believed they were making by natural increase.

On a more limited scale, it's already happening - ever been to the North Shore?

Anonymous said...

My point is in the future you will be a minority group and your discriminatory agenda will no longer be the vote winner it is at the moment.

It is not up for a vote anyway, Maori are not going to assimilate. It has been more than 100 years the white majority has demanded Indigenous people disappear and it hasn't happened, despite democracy. Sorry if the existence of Indigenous people interferes with your political theories, you'll just gave to learn to live with it. Do you think Maori seats are something white people bestowed as a gift? Maori seats are already a compromise for tino rangatiratanga, if the system is not willing to accommodate Maori aspirations then we can go outside their system. In someways that would be better for Mapri and definitely far worse for your assimilationist agenda.

Chris Trotter said...

And my point, again, to you, Anonymous@11:15am, is that the shift of power you describe is not going to happen.

Quite apart from the "Immigration Option", there is the political problem (from your perspective) of all those Maori who identify first and foremost as New Zealanders.

The NZ Study of Values places their number at around 50 percent of Maori. (Have you never noticed the discrepancy between the Census calculation of NZ's Maori population and the number of Maori electors registered on the Maori Roll?)

Going "outside their [the Pakeha's?] system" is not a solution, either. The fate of Messrs Iti and Kemara is surely proof of that!

Of course, you could say that with better leadership, more deadly weapons and improved tactics the terrorist road would deliver real political gains.

In reality, all it would deliver is brutal suppression, turning every Maori community into another Ruatoki, and destroying everything successive generations of Maori leaders have so painstakingly constructed out of the catastrophe of the 1860s and 70s.

That might appeal to you, Anonymous@11:15am - but I wouldn't put it to a vote.

Anonymous said...

ChrisTrotter the shift in power I was talking about is already happening. Have you been to the nth shore yourself? Or Auckland? Or for that matter the nth island? Demographic trends are not a matter of opinion, the majority of NZers will not be white in my lifetime and probably in yours. Nz is just the name of a country, it is not synonymous with whiteness or white nz culture. There is no point assimilating with a dying culture, it is not going to happen.

Maori are working with the NZ state, that's what Maori seats etc are about. As long as the state works with Maori then most people will have no problem with the state but if white NZ wants to separate yourselves then we will find our own solutions. You can make threats and ridiculous predictions about race war but those things have already been tried and already failed. The state has invaded it Maori villages, burnt women and children alive in churches, destroyed institutions that were built over generations - you tried that, Maori are still here. Taame has been arrested before, Tuhoe are still here. the fact remains. Theorize all you want.

Chris Trotter said...

Oh, is THAT what you're on about - demographic projections!

Yes, if everything stays the same, what you describe would, indeed, come to pass. But change any one of the inputs into that prediction - increased immigration from Europe and North America, for example, and less from East and South Asia (which, as I stated above, is already happening) and the picture will change.

And even if all the countries of origin of new immigrants remained the same, New Zealand would, in a generation or so, become a country dominated by Europeans (still the largest group) and Asians - especially Chinese.

And if you think Maori will get a better deal under this regime, well, then you're even more deluded than you appear.

Just pay a visit to Tibet, or the lands if the Uighurs, and then tell me you're looking forward to a New Zealand in which the blessings of British imperialism are augmented by those of Han chauvinism.

And, since you clearly don't seem to understand how much has happened over the course of the past 250 years, I'd point out the pretty obvious fact that the Maori of the pre-Europoean era have gone forever. The Maori that live in NZ today are a very different people, both genetically and culturally, from those encountered by Captain Cook in 1769.

And as for the policies of imperialism not working. Um, as I recall, the primary goal of those who settled New Zealand was to acquire land from the Maori and transform that land into personal and/or collective wealth.

And, what do you know? Looking around me in 2012, I find that the descendants of the settlers have ended up with most of the wealth, and nearly all of the land.

Some failure!

Edward said...

The end of your post leaves me feeling rather cold, for a number of reasons, so I'll just leave you with a quote:

"Majority rule is a kind of tyranny when people don't respect each other enough to form their opinions responsibly" - Louise Antony