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.