Ground rules on discussing immigration, culture etc

There was a series of posts yesterday here that made a range of claims and generalisations that were unsupported by evidence, and some were obviously wrong.

I have no problem with things like immigration, culture, multiculturalism etc here, but want to detail some ground rules.

If you comment on contentious issues in particular then back up your claims with facts. ‘Supporting’ links to overseas sites of dubious credibility will be viewed with suspicion – it can take time to check these out so they may be suspending pending time to deal with them, or deleted.

Multiculturalism

‘Multiculturalism’ has a variety of meanings and purposes so be specific about what you mean by it.

Dictionary definition:

the presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.

That applies to many countries, and has applied to New Zealand for decades if not centuries.

Wikipedia:

The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology, of political philosophy, and of colloquial use. In sociology and in everyday usage, it is a synonym for “ethnic pluralism“, with the two terms often used interchangeably, for example, a cultural pluralism in which various ethnic groups collaborate and enter into a dialogue with one another without having to sacrifice their particular identities. It can describe a mixed ethnic community area where multiple cultural traditions exist (such as New York City) or a single country within which they do (such as Switzerland, Belgium or Russia). Groups associated with an aboriginal or autochthonous ethnic group and foreigner ethnic groups are often the focus.

In reference to sociology, multiculturalism is the end-state of either a natural or artificial process (for example: legally-controlled immigration) and occurs on either a large national scale or on a smaller scale within a nation’s communities. On a smaller scale this can occur artificially when a jurisdiction is established or expanded by amalgamating areas with two or more different cultures (e.g. French Canada and English Canada). On a large scale, it can occur as a result of either legal or illegal migration to and from different jurisdictions around the world (for example, Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain by Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the 5th century or the colonization of the Americas by Europeans, Africans and Asians since the 16th century).

So it is not just something that has happened over the last few years. Britain has had major cultural influences from the Romans, Vikings, Angles, Saxons, Jutes and French, and has major influxes of immigrants for centuries, notably in the 1800s when work and population expanded due to the industrial revolution.

Critics of multiculturalism often debate whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable, paradoxical, or even desirable.

It is argued that nation states, who would previously have been synonymous with a distinctive cultural identity of their own, lose out to enforced multiculturalism and that this ultimately erodes the host nations’ distinct culture

nation state (or nation-state) is a state in which the great majority shares the same culture and is conscious of it.

New Zealand has not been a ‘nation state’ since Europeans started settling here in numbers in the 1800s.

Ethnocentrism

Definition: evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture

That probably applies to everyone to some extent.

This was quoted:

One of the most damning statements against multicultural society comes from sociobiology and it is this:

Ethnocentrism is not a White disorder and evidence is emerging that immigrant communities harbour invidious attitude towards Anglo Australians, disparaging their culture and the legitimacy of their central place in national identity

That’s an ‘Anglo Australian’ superiority statement that applies fault only to others when a lot of the fault with “disparaging their culture and the legitimacy of their central place in national identity” is with those who see themselves as superior ‘Anglos’.

It ignores an obvious fact – Aborigines. Their culture is unique and is probably the longest established culture (or cultures) in the world.

It also ignores the fact that many other cultures other than ‘Anglo’ have been a part of the Australian mix for a long time.

Shutting down dissent

“The cofuffle about hate speech is really about shutting down dissent.”

No it’s not. It is largely an attempt to reduce speech that is derogatory, divisive, inflammatory and harmful, and speech that promotes superiority rather than equal status. It’s going to be a challenging debate on a difficult issue.

Only those who see themselves as dissenters claim that it is about shutting down dissent. An extreme version of this is those who claim that tightening up our lax gun laws is an attempt to shut down the ability of the population to violently oust a government – I have seen this alluded to at Kiwiblog and Whale Oil, with a UN conspiracy also being mentioned.

“European culture is New Zealand’s founding culture”

That’s obviously nonsense. Polynesian culture is Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding culture, dating back about a thousand years. European culture has had a major impact over the last two centuries, but even that has been a diverse range of cultures.

Other cultures made lesser but still notable impacts, like Chinese, Lebanese and Dalmatian. And over the last fifty years there have been major influxes of various nationalities and cultures, including a range of Polynesian cultures, Asian cultures (the first significant influx of Muslims was actually a mix of those two, Indian Fijians), South Africans, Chinese, Indian, Philippino and others.

‘European culture’ seems to be a euphemism for white superiority.

The white class

Some seem to see ‘white’ as a superior class with a culture that must be preserved. Many of the white Anglos/Europeans who emigrated to New Zealand did so to escape the oppressive class system in England.

You have to be careful about classing people as ‘white’ in New Zealand, many white looking people have a variety of racial and ethnic family histories.

It’s somewhat ironic that those who promote their ‘white class’ as superior are of a small fringe of New Zealand society.

The bottom line

Anyone wanting to promote what I perceive as some sort of white/Anglo/European superiority agenda will need to back up their arguments with sound reasoning and facts – and not cherry picked facts that distort the true picture.

The more sweeping generalisations, unsupported claims and conspiracies that are made the less tolerance I will have for giving you an unmoderated forum.

Final word

There is no cultural or ethnic majority in New Zealand. We are a diverse mix of cultures. Sure, some have been more prominent than others, but that doesn’t make them stand out on their own or superior or inferior.

We need to value our uniqueness and our similarities whatever our ethnic or cultural background is.

And we need to accept that all of this is changing. The culture I live in in my small corner of the country is significantly different to the one I grew up in, and in many respects it is richer and better. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t go back to what it was, it doesn’t exist any more.

Leave a comment

36 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  7th April 2019

    Values are a lot more important than culture. We should focus more on them.

    Reply
    • I agree. Arguing about culture is like arguing about fish and chips versus hangi versus pizza versus chow mein.

      Bad values are evident in all cultures and religions. Promoting good values regardless of style of living and religion is a much better approach.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  7th April 2019

      a very rare uptick for you Al.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  7th April 2019

      The challenge to define “New Zealand values” is one that, despite continual references to it, even relatively recently by good old dog-whistling NZF, I have yet to see met. I’ve not yet seen them defined & listed anywhere.

      Some people have even given the impression they seem to think it all hinges primarily around “property rights”.

      I recall seeing some online survey that was attempting to do it. I wonder how they’re getting on.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  7th April 2019

        I think you define them by what you try to teach your kids. That’s not really difficult though you might miss out a few at first. My first pass:

        Honesty, kindness, empathy, self-reliance, adaptability, enthusiasm, courage, independence.

        Reply
  2. Conspiratoor

     /  7th April 2019

    While we are on definitions perhaps we can have an honest debate on the merits of ‘assimilation’ vs ‘integration’. Two words with very different meanings but often used in the wrong context…

    “Assimilation is generally defined as adopting the ways of another culture and fully becoming part of a different society. Whereas integration is typically defined as incorporating individuals from different groups into a society as equals. The difference is subtle but significant.

    When immigrants assimilate, they accept the ways of their host and become a full part of the community. Assimilation implies that immigrants, through education and experience, can earn their way into the host culture and be seamlessly accepted as full members of their new community.

    By contrast, integration suggests boundaries. It is defined in terms of equality. But in this context equality indicates that a host is obligated to embrace foreign cultures as equal, even when they conflict with the values and traditions of the host

    Assimilation cultivates success for newcomers and prevents the head-on collisions that result when everyone drives in opposite directions on the same side of the road”

    https://immigrationreform.com/2016/09/29/the-important-difference-between-assimilation-and-integration/

    Reply
    • When immigrants are viewed and treated as different and not belonging here they will assimilate less than if they are accepted as a part of the mix of the country’s cultures.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  7th April 2019

      I’m not sure why that should have attracted a downtick because that point, to me, is an important one & I personally favour assimilation as the ideal as the approach least likely to cause disharmony among doninant host communities & migrants. It used to be, I think, more common for migrants to want to adapt & fit in quickly with the predominant way of, say, dressing, learning & speaking English, etc than it may be today. So it left plain, simple racists with nothing more to chew on than their racist beliefs that most people find objectionable & criticised.

      Multiculturalism – particularly where a new community brings with it a range of customs & behaviour that are visibly & significantly different – is something of an experiment that carries with it an extra dimension for racists & others who are suspicious or intolerant of or just concerned about a growing group practising its different culture in a way that sets it, and keeps it, apart from from the host community as it gets larger.

      Putting a lid on this debate bothers me because there is an entire world history of the tensions & outbreaks of hostility & violence & demands for autonomy this can generate, & we see it still happening now in numerous places.

      Reply
    • I think the interpretations here are rather dubious. Newcomers who meld seamlessly with a culture have – more accurately – “been assimilated”, and lose all their cultural identity in the process. Those who make an effort to fit in as their own individual selves are the ones who integrate; and if they have anything culturally worthwhile to offer, will add to, and improve the existing mix.

      This can be seen clearly in all long-established, stable societies. These cultures mostly evolve continuously, and healthily; unless invaded en masse by a more aggressive and intolerant one that has no intention of integrating, and is there solely to assimilate the host. Long-standing, harmonious societies – that wish to remain harmonious – are well advised to repel such invading forces.

      Integration does not “suggest boundaries”; quite the opposite in fact – it widens them. And while assimilation may “cultivate success for newcomers”, it does not cultivate evolutionary success for a society, any more than in-breeding does for the humans within it.

      As with everything on this Earth, imperfections exist but should not be quoted as definitions.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  7th April 2019

        I like going downtown and seeing different people; Indians in traditional clothes, Muslims and Africans ditto. There are untold kinds of restaurants. When I was a child, there were Chinese, of course, Italian and a few others as far as I remember. Nothing like as many as now.

        If people are going to be totally assimilated, wouldn’t that be like patchwork where all the squares are the same or a salad that’s been put through a blender ? Integration, to me, means that we can all enjoy Diwali, Chinese New Year, Pasifika festivals….

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  7th April 2019

          Yes & you can still see that where migrants have assimilated because assimmilating them doesn’t require them not to celebrate festivals & learn about their originating culture in cultural groups, but going about their business in the host society in the manner that is generally accepted as the norm.

          My elderly Sri Lankan neighbours have done this, their children & grabdchildren have been encouraged to learn sbout their hime culture & religion but all of them are to all intents and purposes, including these grandparents, the 1st migrants of some decades ago, completely assimilated, except that they still attend a Bhuddist temple on special occasions, & when the old guy passed away not long ago & I was invited to attend, it was a Bhuddist service, conducted in their dialect, then translated into English.

          The funeral home was packed out, with Sri Lankans. Most of them young descendsnts of migrants. They were all dressed in Western dress. One of their grandaughters (20s) was coming up the driveway afternoon as I pulled in. Head down, totally engrossed in something she was reading as she walked.

          I know both of them enough to have chatted to over the years. I was trying to decide whether to toot or not as she was totally oblivious but the car horn might have been too much. Something made her look up at the last minute & she had a shocked expression, for an instant, followed by a cheery flappy wave, an audible giggle, & huge smile as she diverted around the car, realising she’d nearly walked straight into it.

          As I drove into the parking space I was smiling because it 2was a cold, wet day, & she’d been visiting grandma, but she couldn’t have looked more classic Kiwi young woman, these days, with her legs up to her neck, black stockings, high heels & skirt so short it was almost not even there. Just a really attractive young woman who looks like any other here.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  7th April 2019

            Bugger this iPad & the difficulty in proofreading it gives me.

            *yesterday afternoon

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  7th April 2019

            An Indian man in my road not only wears Indian clothes, he was wearing gold brocade shoes with pointed, turned up toes…very worn, but you’d wear them until they fell apart, I think. Well, I would.

            Reply
  3. sorethumb

     /  7th April 2019

    What is meant by “New Zealand’s founding culture” -the first culture – moa hunting Maori or the enduring culture of modern New Zealand -European?

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  7th April 2019

      Enduring ? I doubt many of the values of 1850s-90s NZ european settlers would be acceptable to day, and as mentioned they wanted to leave behind others such as the oldest male inheriting virtually everything.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  7th April 2019

        But did they ? Many seemed to want NZ to be like England. The oldest male inheritance was usually when a property was entailed and there was no option about who got it. It was taken for granted that the son/s would look after the women in the family financially.

        Reply
  4. sorethumb

     /  7th April 2019

    Nigel Latta – The hard Stuff The New New Zealand
    0:00
    94% defined ourselves as European in 1956. 1 in four now born over seas and climbing

    People are worried. I want to know if immigration is good for NZ or bad for NZ?
    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/the-hard-stuff-with-nigel-latta/episodes/s2-e4

    Reply
    • There’s a wide range of pros and cons. Generally though immigration has been good for New Zealand, it is what the country has been built on.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  7th April 2019

      Surely whether immigration is good or bad depends almost entirely on whether the immigrants are good or bad. Which is a question of values in my opinion.

      I am in favour of allowing free migration of good people. For this to be possible, socialism has to be brought under control.

      Reply
  5. adamsmith1922

     /  7th April 2019

    I think the idea of a founding culture is just not tenable. The culture of NZ in 2019 is not the culture of 1999, nor 1979 nor 1819. It is what it is with all the quirks that come with it. The culture of say 2039 will be different again. Culture evolves and changes for both good and ill – it is not static. The NZ culture of today embodies many different strands.
    One of my major issues in this area is the constant refrain by some that NZ is a bi -cultural society ie Maori and then the rest I would suggest this is a harmful concept which we should avoid using, especially as some seek to use the concept to promote a cultural superiority.

    Reply
    • sorethumb

       /  7th April 2019

      I think the idea of a founding culture is just not tenable. The culture of NZ in 2019 is not the culture of 1999, nor 1979 nor 1819.

      I would have thought that while culture evolves it still maintains a base that is European?

      Reply
    • “some seek to use the concept to promote a cultural superiority”

      I think that is a real issue. It may be understandable that a culture treated for a long time as inferior, with major efforts made to deligitimise and destroy it, should reach to far in trying to attain parity, but I think only some Maori do this.

      It’s the same with some overreaching in righting the imbalance of white paternalism.

      It will take time to find a reasonable parity – but some will never be happy.

      Reply
  6. sorethumb

     /  7th April 2019

    “The cofuffle about hate speech is really about shutting down dissent.” is based on the slippery slope argument.

    But while the group publicly opposes violence and illegal activity, experts warn its white supremacist politics are inherently harmful. Professor Greg Barton, chair of global Islamic politics at Australia’s Deakin University, says the group’s material follows the same European identitarian ideology it appears motivated the Christchurch mosque shooting suspect. “They don’t want to project themselves as being white supremacists but, of course, when you dig deeper that’s what you get,” Barton says.[3]

    Barton is using the same rationale as Islamophobes. Let us put it in those terms, using Barton’s phraseology:

    But while the Islamic Federation publicly opposes violence and illegal activity, experts warn its Qur’anic beliefs are inherently harmful. The Federation’s material follows the same ideology that appears to motivate the Islamic State. They don’t want to project themselves as being terrorist sympathizers but, of course, when you dig deeper, that’s what you get.
    http://www.unz.com/article/new-zealand-the-criminalization-of-dissent/

    Reply
  7. Corky

     /  7th April 2019

    “European culture is New Zealand’s founding culture”

    ”That’s obviously nonsense. Polynesian culture is Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding culture, dating back about a thousand years.”

    In my opinion, that’s incorrect, Pete. Polynesian culture was the culture of the first people to be OFFICIALLY recognised as the first inhabitants of Aotearoa. Even then some tribes, mine included, talk of other people encountered after they migrated to Aotearoa.

    New Zealand, the culture and development as we now know, is mainly, but not exclusively, a European construct.

    We like pointing to the many faults of European culture. But as the African experience has shown, when colonial or white rule is overthrown or abdicates, many countries go backward.

    There is a reason why European culture is the international language and way of business.
    That is because it is superior to all others ( at the moment. but that is changing). Other cultures just add their favour to how things are done.

    Could it be the reason liberals and socialists work tirelessly to destroy this culture and way of existence, is because they are embarrassed to belong to something the shows up the focus of their narrative as being inferior?

    Ironically we see this with Maori culture, where all these wonderful attributes are attributed to what was essentially a stone age culture with a subsistence way of living.

    Reply
    • Some of the defining attributes of Kiwi culture is distinctly un-European, built on the distance we are from Europe. Like the culture of number 8 wire fame, making do with what you have and improvising because of our isolation. Like the culture of ‘strong silent type’ – because many early immigrants worked in very remote areas in isolation and had to cope on their own.

      A need to cop on your own was also inflicted by Europe, more precisely the great wars in Europe that did untold amounts of mental damage to those New Zealanders who survived and returned.

      Evolving cultures are very complex. We have certainly been influenced a lot by a range of European cultures – for good and for bad.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  7th April 2019

        European is not a race, as some people seem to think, Europe is a large continent with many countries, all with different cultures. Many forms still have only ‘European’ as an option for anyone who’s a Pakeha. It’s better than Caucasian, I suppose.

        Reply
  8. sorethumb

     /  7th April 2019

    [Deleted – you appear to be trying to promote a European superiority meme without argument. Simply posting it as a quote from someone else doesn’t make it a fact, it is not substantiation or argument. PG]

    Reply

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