Garth George

Garth George is a Herald columnist

Garth George: Multiculturalism threatens free thinking

Hone Harawira with his wife Hilda (left), grandchildren (from left) Kahi Harawira and Fetuao Faavae, and his mother, Titewhai Harawira. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Hone Harawira with his wife Hilda (left), grandchildren (from left) Kahi Harawira and Fetuao Faavae, and his mother, Titewhai Harawira. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Back in the late 1960s the National Party's fierce liberal, Ralph Hanan, Minister of Justice, Attorney-General and Minister of Maori Affairs, ushered through Parliament the controversial Maori Affairs Amendment Act of 1967.

Maori bitterly opposed the act. They feared it would bring more land loss.

Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, the well-remembered and admired Labour member for Southern Maori, reckoned it was "nothing more than sugar-coating on an otherwise bitter pill of accelerated alienation of Maori land".

During this controversy Mr Hanan confided to my father, who was his full-time political organiser in his Invercargill electorate: "These race relations problems will in years to come solve themselves through intermarriage. The time will come when there are no Maori or Pakeha - we'll all be light brown."

Mr Hanan was, fortunately, dead wrong, and I was reminded of that when I read of Hone Harawira admitting at the weekend he "wouldn't be comfortable" if one of his seven children came home with a Pakeha.

Mr Harawira said he did not have an issue with his family dating Pacific Islanders, and acknowledged the difference in attitude probably indicated prejudice - "But how many people don't have prejudices?"

That's a very pertinent question but, predictably, Prime Minister John Key - and no doubt hundreds of thousands of other New Zealanders including Tau Henare - found Mr Harawira's comment "ridiculous", and insisted if one of his children brought home a Maori it would, all else being equal, be okay.

What I want to know is what Pakeha Mr Key's attitude to mixed marriages, or paleface Tau Henare's, has to do with Mr Harawira's attitude to the subject.

As far as I'm concerned, Mr Harawira is perfectly entitled to his feelings and to do whatever he can to ensure that the question never arises. If, as a rangatira of his people, he wants his children to marry men or women of his own race, so they present him with mokopuna of his own race, then he is absolutely entitled to.

And don't try to tell me, as Maori academic Margaret Mutu does, that the Harawiras still feel a lot of hate and distrust for Pakeha. Why don't we simply acknowledge Hone Harawira is a Maori who takes great pride in his race and wants to keep his bloodline pure?

We don't because most of us, from the Prime Minister down, have become unthinking victims of the doctrine of multiculturalism, in all its politically correct dissimulation and deception.

As Britain's Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, says in his book The Home We Build Together: Recreating Society, multiculturalism is a threat to liberal democracy, stifles free speech and has "led not to integration but to segregation". Lord Sacks defines multiculturalism as an attempt to affirm diverse communities and make ethnic and religious minorities more respected. But, he says, the movement has run its course.

"Liberal democracy is in danger. The politics of freedom risks descending into the politics of fear," Lord Sacks says.

Britain's politics had been poisoned by the rise of identity politics, as minorities and aggrieved groups jockeyed first for rights, then for special treatment.

The process, he says, began with Jews, before being taken up by blacks, women and gays. The effect had been inexorably divisive.

"A culture of victimhood sets group against group, each claiming that its pain, injury, oppression, humiliation is greater than that of others."

Kenan Malik, an Indian-born British academic, writer, lecturer and broadcaster, puts it this way: "The irony of multiculturalism is that, as a political process, it undermines what is valuable about cultural diversity. Diversity is important, not in and of itself, but because it allows us to expand our horizons, to compare and contrast different values, beliefs and lifestyles, and make judgments upon them."

But it was precisely such dialogue and debate, and the making of such judgments, that contemporary multiculturalism attempted to suppress in the name of "tolerance" and "respect".

"A truly plural society would be one in which citizens have full freedom to pursue their different values or practices in private, while in the public sphere all citizens would be treated as political equals whatever the differences in their private lives.

"Today, however, pluralism has come to mean the very opposite. The right to practice a particular religion, speak a particular language, follow a particular cultural practice is seen as a public good rather than a private freedom. Different interest groups demand to have their 'differences' institutionalised in the public sphere. And to enforce such a vision we have to call in the Thought Police.

"Multiculturalism is an authoritarian, anti-human outlook. True political progress requires not recognition but action, not respect but questioning, not the invocation of the Thought Police but the forging of common bonds and collective struggles."

We have the same problems here. Hone Harawira's desire to have purebred Maori grandchildren is a private matter.

Our Thought Police can mind their own business.

- NZ Herald

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