The Harawira apology that wasn't really an apology didn't help to calm the anxieties of the public. It was probably a time best used for reflection, rather for than launching a tirade aimed at Phil Goff.
But all that aside, why do we care about this man and what he has said and done? He bunked off when he was supposed to be working. So give him a telling-off. Big deal. He used some "colourful" language in an email to a former supporter (a private email, might I add). So we have established that he's an idiot. But is he really a racist villain?
I smell a double standard. If we want to castigate our politicians for using racist language, let's start with Michael Laws, mayor of Wanganui. The things he has said, both in print and on radio, are far more inciting than anything Harawira said in his (again, private) email.
And the newspapers and media networks that continue to whip this story up include Fairfax, for whom Laws writes a weekly column, and Mediaworks, the owner of RadioLive (which employs Laws to spew hate and racism across the airwaves) and TV3. So those media outlets are clearly quite happy for a racist to go about his work. But when it's someone else's racist, it's a different story.
Here's another double standard. When Paul Holmes made his "cheeky darky" comments on live radio in 2003 there were a large number of complaints to the Race Relations Commissioner. The number of complaints re3ceived by the Race Relations Commissioner about Harawira is well in excess of that number, and complaints are still being received.
Why? I'm not convinced Harawira's comments were any worse than Holmes'. Both were offensive, perhaps even grossly offensive. And remember (and I'm sorry to keep labouring this) Harawira's words were contained in a private email. Holmes was live on air and intended to be heard. So why the record number of complaints about Harawira? To quote Ali G:
Is it cos I is black?That is not to excuse the comments, but the reaction indicates that when a brown person makes a racist comment we take it more seriously. And that it's not as bad when the racist is a white man.
Isn't that racism?