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Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Now, please let me explain

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NZ First MP Richard Prosser. Photo / Mark Mitchell
NZ First MP Richard Prosser. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Dear World,

I gather you've heard about a Member of Parliament here called Richard Prosser and some remarks hemade about Muslims and terrorism. Awkward.

Anyway, I'd like to supply you with some context about him because, given he belongs to a political party called NZFirst, you could be forgiven for thinking he's representative of the county. On the contrary. He belongs to a subset of the population that struggles with shoelaces and eats with its fingers.

So it's not surprising that he thinks theremay actually have been a place called Wogistan.

But in a party not noted for depth, Prosser has hidden shallows. In fact, he is an initiated Reikimaster. For the benefit of non-initiates, Reiki is a philosophy thatmaintains you can make things occur by waving at them.

His statements weren't official. They appeared in amagazine called Investigate, whose namehe almost certainly can't spell unaided.

Oh, and I should tell you that he got into Parliament without anyone voting for him. It's thanks to MPs like him that we're having to undertake a time-consuming patchup of our electoral system.

It all started when he had his pocket knife taken off himwhen he was getting on a plane.

I had a pocket knife taken off me when I was 10 and I felt pretty stink about it, too. But I didn't take it out on one of the world's major faiths.

And when it comes to preventing terrorism, I'mhappy to suffer the burden of not being allowed to take my knife on board.

But Richard Prosser isn't. He thinks thatmen aged 19 to 35 who are Muslim or look like a Muslim - you know, that Muslim-ey look they all have - should not be allowed to fly because it is undeniable that "most terrorists are Muslims".

Unfortunately for him, it is totally deniable. Here are somerelevant numbers. According to research quoted in the Washington Post, in the United States in 2011 "30 per cent of terror suspects were Arab; 25 per cent werewhite; and 15 per cent were African-American".

I imagine the figures for terrorism in New Zealand would break down along similarly fractured lines.

Prosser embarrassed his party to the point that he had to issue a terse, four-line press release apologising for, but not retracting, his knuckleheaded remarks.

You could be forgiven for thinking NZFirst itself is a little conflicted. After all, its leader, Winston Peters, has been an adept player of the race card who has frequently played to fears of yellow peril.

Meanwhile, NZFirst board member Curwen Rolinson emphasised that Prosser's opinions were personal and that the MPis "prone to hyperbolistic feats of expression". Hemeant "hyperbolic", but good on himfor having a go.

Hope that clears things up.

Cheers,
New Zealand.

- Herald on Sunday

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