Monday, 8 February 2016

White Man's Waitangi

Prime Minister Key celebrating celibating Waitangi day

Hopefully everyone had a good Waitangi weekend. Happy Waitangi Day in regards to Saturday, or happy 'New Zealand day' if you're a moron with the mental processing power of a manual toothbrush. I say that as an introduction to a post I have no idea which direction it will head in. I like to have a few encompassing 'themes', with two or three primary arguments to drive its content. All I know is that I have a good feeling about this blog more than my other failed attempts. For one reason, I feel inclined to write a draft for a post almost every day (except Sundays) and so, I am saturated with ideas. I've only released three posts prior, and they give a small taste of the kinds of subjects we will be covering. Yet I haven't delved into my most radical political ideas and I am unsure if this post will do so. I chose Waitangi, because keeping a blog alive is easier if you keep up with current events. I am not like these pundits who feel the need to comment daily, stretching (or snapping) the truth wherever necessary in order to keep a viewer base satisfied. But I will discuss current events whenever I get the chance, and the most recent local event has been our national holiday. When it comes to the subject of Waitangi, I tend to think historically, as I have often done, but these days I am much more forward thinking. I am still in some ways conflicted about Waitangi day, and perhaps I try to soften the blows of these conflicting feelings by adopting a more diplomatic and detached approach. I think many Kiwis do this. We try to find common ground in Waitangi, which is why a holiday that should be seen as remembering the past, and understanding the cultural divisions of this country, these days is usually just celebrated in the way we best know how – gather friends and family at get drunk! Historically, we may be a nation of complex cultural divides and a colonist/native relationship unlike that seen anywhere else in the world, but today we are trying to find things we have in common – but this is not feasible anymore. As we globalise, we are becoming more and more divided. We aren't an egalitarian agricultural society any more than the U.S is a nation of cowboys and Indians.

But I like to find common ground amongst fellow countrymen! Come gather all ye for I believe there are things we all should be willing to agree on, without necessitating the Mike Hosking 'forget it ever happened' approach to Waitangi day. For those who don't know, Hosking is 'the man with the face', also the man who profoundly asserted that Waitangi day is 'too much history', because we all know that one day per year devoted to drinking and eating is more history than Kiwis can handle.
Mike's Minute, referring to the amount of
time you're allowed to think backwards - everything
beforehand becomes irrelevant.
'Hey now, you're oversimplifying his argument'. Okay, whatever, but we can all agree, for example, that the Treaty of Waitangi was deceitful. Whether it was deceitful in its nature, by design or by accident, it doesn't matter – but we should agree that it was deceitful. I'm not saying us Pakeha now need to surrender ourselves as slaves to the Maori, or go back to England. I'm not saying we need to expand the Maori electorate or instill new Waitangi Tribunal Powers. What I'm asking is a lot easier – just that we admit to ourselves that the treaty was unfair, which sounds easy but is more difficult than we think. Just ask a neo-nazi about the holocaust ('I get that a lot,' he'll say), and how they often minimize the death toll. There is no reason for them to do so – it doesn't add any weight to their argument, nor does it make the Third Reich look any more angelic. In my opinion, the Nazi's could have killed 6 million, 600,000 or 6,000, but they are still equally evil in their capacity to cause suffering for such a dystopian cause. I'm not for one second comparing New Zealand colonialism to the Third Reich, but I am saying that you don't need to give up your integrity as a 'New Zealander' by admitting that we were founded on an unfair piece of legislation. This is nothing surprising – the British were masters at this shit, right up to the 1920's – just study how they imposed a mandate in Iraq.

Now, how the hell am I? Well, I am an almost entirely Anglo-Saxon (for lack of a better word, it arguably sounds the coolest) New Zealander, descended from English, Scottish and Scandinavian families. I have some Maori in me, but I cannot connect it with any Iwi therefore I do not consider myself the least bit Maori. When we were kids in school we hear a lot of insulting Maori jokes uttered by white kids, under the justification that 'I'm got Maori in me'. Yeah, no, you've got Maori in you, but you're 98% white, you're 2% Maori, and 100% twat. That being said, I consider myself primarily British, I adore English culture, but like the best of us, we have no trouble being self-critical - just watch any old British sitcom. I don't deny that the British Empire inflicted untold amounts of suffering on the world, probably at a 2:1 ratio for the good they accomplished, and if you can't embrace that as a possibility, then maybe this is 'too much history' for you. But please don't take it that way - we're not asking you to admit to what whites in the United States or Australia did, that is, full on genocide against the indigenous people. If we feel awkward discussing the historical baggage of Waitangi, think what it's like as an Australian asked about their treatment of Aborigines. At that point I concede that stories about white committing infanticide against natives is too much history for even me. Yet we talk about 'pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps' and wonder why natives don't listen to us – probably because we don't make an effort to relate to their situation. It is understandable in on sense, because we've never experienced their situation, but If we did make an effort, maybe they'll return the favour and try see things from our view. Is it really that hard to do? Apparently it is.

But that gets me to my next point: Australians. Not too long before Waitangi, they celebrate 'Australia day', a day devoted to the glorious, triumphant moment in which a bunch of ships landed on a port to start a prison, something which Australians can surely look back on with tear-filling pride. But evidently, they don't, and instead they tend to do the exact same shit we do – BBQ's, Beers, and in some cases, getting angry at anybody who questions the meaning behind their precious day, like the case of this cafe owner, exercising Australia's famous 'self-mocking' humour, which even the government itself admits to on its website.

Nowadays, you're getting some New Zealanders inspired by the Australian model, in that we should change the name to 'New Zealand day' and turn it strictly into a celebration of our country as a whole, rather than the divisions that created it. There are so many reasons this idea sucks, but to put it simply, we must understand the essential difference between the Australia and Waitangi days. The former is a day of recognition of the first white men to arrive in Australia. The latter is a day of recognition of New Zealand's single most important piece of historic legislature – one that tied us to Britain's constitution and established the very rocky framework for cultural relations between Pakeha and Maori. It is devoted to acknowledging these very real conditions that formulate parts of New Zealand's political and social framework whether you like it or not. The goal is not to divide, or to incite terror, hatred or antagonism anymore than Easter is a day to encourage grave-digging. The purpose of the holiday is, once again, to just fucking acknowledge what happened. But instead, we have people like Mike Hosking encouraging us to forget about the whole damn thin. Oh, and books like this:

blood splatter effects always help

On the back if you can't read that small writing, it actually warns us of the 'National-Maori party coalition's plan to hijack our constitution and so as to turn all non-Maoris into second class citizens.'

I am concerned about many things in this country's future, but the Maori undertaking a secretive Bilderberg-like mission to turn me into a slave is not one of them, yet I have friends reading this book, and the message gathered from it is not the message they should be gathering: that is, the dangers of corporate interests, like that of Ngai Tahu, influencing politics to give special treatment to Iwi, a point that I still find of little relevance to the big picture of our society, after all, why focus on just the Iwi, and not infinitely more powerful corporations like Apple's shady expenditures within the country? I don't like these kinds of books because they are divisive. Not just in the sense that it encourages people to fear Iwi, but it manages to avoid looking at the bigger picture of corporate influence. That's why Americans are voting for Donald Trump because of 'job stealing illegal immigrants', despite the fact that pragmatic businessmen like Donald Trump are the reason jobs get outsourced to overseas.  Books like this and people like Trump have one thing in common: playing into people's fears in order to avoid the bigger picture.

But friends who read this book do not walk away with anti-corporate feelings, instead bashing Maori Iwi for their feelings of entitlement. Coming back with this view is like being asked to write an essay on the causes of World War 2 and just writing 'The French Were Pussies'. Once again, we're missing the bigger picture.

Part of the big picture goes back to our failure to understand a fundamental rule of human nature: that some people see things differently than we do, and we can criticise their views, we can point out the endless flaws in their logic, but there's one thing we can't do: and that is to stop people from feeling marginalised just by telling them they shouldn't. If some Maori activist starts up a whole new era of Waitangi-oriented criticism, if we see the rise of a charismatic, gaffe-free Hone Harewira type,  there may be bucketloads of content for pundits to criticise, but in the end, that won't matter. If the 2016 U.S presidential election has taught us one thing so far, it's that a truly populist leader is immune to criticism, as long as they have a sizeable part of the nation agreeing with them. John Key has dominated the opinion polls despite no shortage of criticism about his political and personal character, and under the volatile politics of Waitangi, it would be foolish for them to assume the same can't happen on the other end of the spectrum.

First there was White Man's Burden, then there was White Man's Guilt. Now there is White Man's Folly: oblivious to the notion of the first step to helping people: make an effort to understand their pain – not necessarily to concede to their point of view - but to admit that they have the right, as human beings, to actually feel that pain. It takes a Tory to say 'you don't have the right to feel undermined'. Whether or not you think people should feel undermined doesn't matter as long as they feel they are. You can have pundits belching out talking points every day, but you will still have a population filled with dissatisfied people. It's like a Youtube comment war, in which witty comebacks and insults and exchanged like stock on Wall Street, but you know
the face of guiding light
nobody's changing anyone's view. People go into debates not to convince other people, because they know they won't. People go into debates to win. Likewise, pundits don't broadcast their opinionated faces across mainstream television to convince the masses who are just waiting for a guiding light to show them the way. I assure you, if there is anyone on this earth that actually fucking knows what the hell the human race should be doing, that person is not being paid by advertisement-fueled media companies to appear on mainstream television. Ask a scientist or some shit. He'll tell you. In fact, just ask your neighbours, your friends and colleagues. We don't do that enough these days, and I think that's why pundits reign supreme. People don't talk to each other about what a wanker Bill O'Reilly clearly is, instead we express that in comment pages for videos and articles, thus increasing the amount of times has name has been mentioned on the internet. If there's one thing that guy wants, it's people sharing his name on the internet - and buying his Killing books

Because democracy isn't just the right to vote every three years, or the right to listen to rich twats on TV. Rather, it is the right to voice your opinion to anyone and everyone. Instead we delegate that power to people like Paul Henry, of whom there is a consensus that nobody wants to hear speak. That's why we get books like 'Twisting The Treaty', because some part of us want to believe there is some illuminati-like conspiracy theory by the Iwi's to take over this country and turn us into slaves. That shit sells, but that does not make it truth. The whole truth is quite boring in some regards, and if a hundred years from now, if we have effectively ended celebrations of Waitangi day, let it happen only because most of us effectively find history boring, not because a bunch of shitty old white men told us to, or because some right-wing proportion of the population, the same kind who preach the horrors of political correctness, campaign to change the holiday to the most politically correct bullshit name ever: 'New Zealand Day'. We can't have our cake and eat it too. If we're going to simplify this nation's history in an attempt to ease the divisions of the past, we better be prepared to break a few eggs before we can create that omelet.

Or we could always just go to war with terrorists. That works too.

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