But when you read the report, you realise that de Bres really has very little power to do anything. So what exactly were they wanting him to do? Condemn the language used by Harawira? He did that. Prosecute him? He has no power to. Kick Harawira out of Parliament? Again, he has no power.
Muriel Newman has been writing and talking a lot about race relations lately. You may wonder why we should give two hoots what one of the crazier ex-MPs of a loopy political party thinks about Maori. After all, there never has been a shortage of crazy people ready to opine on race relations. But Newman seems to have drawn to her a number of prominent people in the business community (I will explore these links in a future post). Her views on race may be odious, but they appear to have the support of many on the right.
Newman seems to believe we live in a society where people are already treated equally, and where discrimination does not exist. This opinion should not surprise anyone. Newman represents the views of a small minority at the very top end of society, people with money and privilege who don’t want others telling them what they can do. She dresses up this call to selfishness as an equality issue, by describing the institutions that exist to promote and protect the vulnerable, the Human Rights Commission and Race Relations Commission, as “promoting racial superiority and separatism”. Newman says those institutions are a waste of money and ought to be abolished.
Newman will readily acknowledge that Maori and other ethnic groups are over-represented in crime and prison population statistics. But she says this has nothing to do with racial inequality.
For the race relations watchdog to try to blame the fact that Maori commit over half of the crimes serious enough to land them in jail on racism is a complete and utter cop-out.Newman identifies a number of other reasons why Maori fail – poor education, alcohol and drug problems, poor health and welfare dependency. But she refuses to acknowledge a racial link to these factors. And that is where the flaws in her argument stand out.
Because it just doesn’t make sense to say racial inequality has nothing to do with these problems, when the statistics themselves show that Pakeha do better. Maori and Pakeha have been living side by side for generations. If racial inequality does not exist, why are Maori not doing just as well?
It follows then that if you don’t believe racial inequality exists, or that our societal structure (largely based on European values) plays some part in disadvantaging Maori, you must have to believe Maori are lazy and stupid. Because what other explanation is there?
Is that what Newman is so carefully trying to dance around? It might explain why she is so hostile to Maori, and to institutions designed to represent them. Newman’s support of the nonsensical theory that the Celts and Chinese arrived in New Zealand before Maori (her "expert" Gavin Menzies has been widely discredited) might also be motivated in part by this hostility.
To pretend that racism doesn’t adversely affect minorities is to ignore the bleedingly obvious. It is as laughable as the claims frequently made about “Maori privilege”. Those claims are usually made by people who enjoy the privileges most Maori can only dream of.