Jim Hopkins on current issues

Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: Whistling in the wind of equality

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Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia Photo / Mark Mitchell
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia Photo / Mark Mitchell

It will happen. Some day, this will be seen for what it is; a passing fad, a fashion of thought. That's what happens. It always has. Look at history, a cavalcade of mad ideas that once held sway, then became the stuff of satire. Logic, certainly the kind that influences ideologies, has always been a moveable feast.

Let that be a comfort, folks, and this as well. Our dogmas are doomed, as surely as any before them. Very soon, the baby boomers will lose their grip on our institutions and attitudes as they doddle into their dotage. Eventually - probably sooner rather than later - all the bollocks we've foisted on the world will be put aside and dismissed as a nullity.

You won't have to listen to twits asserting that some people, genetically advantaged people - however polyglot that advantage may be - actually own the wind. Or have privileged and pre-emptive access to its benefits.

Under today's rules, in today's ideology, such expansive, expensive, fanciful racial capitalism is not only permitted but encouraged.

Jeers aren't allowed. Unless you're willing to be labelled a redneck or a racist. Don't dis the dogma, dude. It doesn't pay. Them as makes the rules aren't listening.

Here's the proof. Ten days ago, 80 parliamentarians - each possessed of a privileged and superior conscience - solemnly declared themselves in favour of equality. Equal rights are essential, they said - in the matter of marriage. We will brook no discrimination, they said - in the matter of marriage.

A week later, we're banging on about access to water being a matter of racial preferment. A week later, the well-paid Chair of a gratuitous and unnecessary Statutory Board - created by the same parliament that's just declared its solemn commitment to marital equality - announces a $300,000,000 wish list of services and facilities allocated on a racial basis. A week later David Rankin insists his tribe has a Treaty right to inherit the wind.

Illogical, illiberal, corrosive, preferential, guaranteed to inspire delusional aspirations, this is a social sore, as divisive and discriminatory as those laws that once allotted seats on buses and places in school. Yet no parliamentary champion of equality - not one - has stood up and said so, at least not credibly, not yet.

We live in our mythologies. We always have. But this mythology's had its day. It's as antiquated as apartheid, because it is a form of apartheid; separate development, predicated on race. Good intentions don't guarantee good outcomes. It's time our elites acknowledged that.

And they will - eventually. Don't hold your breath. It'll take a while. Indeed, the irony of things as they are is that it may be Maori who'll need to initiate the change.

The lawyers won't do it. The Treaty is for them what the iPad is for Apple - a new way to make money. The academics won't do it - too many careers (and departments) depend on the new orthodoxies for their existence and advancement.

The bureaucrats won't do it - they created the orthodoxies in the first place. And the big political parties don't know how to do it without scaring their smaller partners.

Which leaves the Maori Party. If it wants to be something other than Mana Lite - inevitably comprised by coalition - it could choose to chart a new course and become the real parliamentary champion of equality. By denouncing discrimination of every kind. By putting grievances aside. By forgetting the past and focusing on a future without fear or favours.

A change of heart and mind, for sure, a new mythology, if you will, but one guaranteed to resonate and generate support far wider than the Maori Seats. So, Pita, Tariana, the brawl's in your court. The wheel will turn. That we know. But this way, you'd do the turning.

FOOTNOTE: Speaking of change, it's happening here too. The Harold gets a makeover next week - new look, new size, new stuff. Which won't include this column, alas, not every week. From time to time, perchance, as the author's or editor's whims decree but there will be another face in this space (and voice in this spoice) next Friday.

From memory, this column started last century. The photo was definitely taken more than 10 years ago. Sorry about that, but there's only so many wrinkles Botox can beat. One thing you can't beat is the privilege of wittering away each week in a great paper like this and for that I thank Tim Murphy, who commissioned this "light-hearted look at the events of the week."

It's been fun. The extinguished poet laureate, Sir Jam Hipkins and I have enjoyed the journey. Nine centuries ago, Europe's first scientist, Roger Bacon, wrote, "There are as many rainbows as there are observers." I hope some of you have seen some. And they've made you laugh a bit or think a bit or both.

Thank you for your letters and emails. Thank you for your thoughts. Thank you for sharing two centuries of words. Now read on ...

- NZ Herald

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