HAVING read some of the responses to the right-wing, anti-Muslim flyers distributed to households around Whanganui a week or so ago, I see a niche market for my "Trump Bracelet".
This is a small elastic band with the word TRUTH written on it, so that as the elastic is stretched so is the truth.
It is important to challenge those engaged in truth-stretching and fear-mongering.
One of the much mongered notions is that immigration, especially Muslims, will undermine our Kiwi "traditions and beliefs". I am not sure which beliefs these are ... is it our motley collection of religions that are in danger?
We have more fundamentalist churches with more and varying degrees of beliefs than you can wag a finger at, and some of them regard their particular set of beliefs as the only one. So which of these embodies our tradition?
Some do not celebrate the same festivals as others, but we roll with that and do not see this as a threat to our national identity.
Our high level of tolerance for religious diversity is one of the things we can boast about in a world in which the mongers of fear say we should abandon tolerance for xenophobia.
It is easy to play the xenophon - Donald Trump and Winston Peters are both quite adept performers. For some who live here, the sound of the xenophon can be distressing, particularly if you came from a country where it is an instrument of discrimination.
The tune most often played on the xenophon is that waves of immigrants are overwhelming the land and using their influence to "bully" us out of what makes us Kiwis.
This always has a resounding ring to it and enables blame for social or economic woes to be diverted by politicians as a power play.
Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson stirred up fears of non-existent waves of immigrants swamping the UK to stoke the anti-European Union vote that resulted in Brexit. The facts and "truths" were stretched to fit the agenda and immediately abandoned when the economic and social repercussions of the Brexit vote loomed as reality.
In Australia, successive governments have demonised asylum seekers and fuelled fears of Muslims as "terrorists" to a point where families are harassed in the streets for their religious beliefs.
Pauline Hanson has returned to Parliament in Canberra preaching a message of hatred for foreigners but seems to have missed the point that Aboriginal people have been there for 40,000 years and the white fella is an upstart recent arrival.
The recent story of a highly educated immigrant to New Zealand who struggled to get job interviews till he changed his name to one that was more English should make us ashamed.
There is no risk of New Zealand being overwhelmed by people of other ethnicities or religious beliefs.
The greater risk is that a growing level of intolerance will mean we may lose many of our most skilled immigrants to other countries where they feel welcome. This is most obvious in health where many of those who staff our hospitals have come to us from all around the world.
I recall sitting on a commuter train in Sydney on my way to work at a tertiary children's hospital staffed by specialists from all over the world and hearing two women discussing their various concerns about all the foreign doctors.
"If you suddenly became critically ill, would you say 'no' to accepting treatment from a foreign doctor or would you accept their skills and allow them to save your life?" I asked.
The women looked thoughtful and you could hear the gears engaging with this idea.
■ Terry Sarten is a social worker, writer and musician. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org