“Tolerance New Zealand’s real religion”

It should be, but there are still a lot of people who don’t follow it. We should acknowledge that we can all be intolerant, but can all work towards better understanding of and tolerance of other people, other cultures, other religions.

ODT editorial:  Tolerance New Zealand’s real religion

White nationalists, Islamophobes and other hate groups openly extol a clear goal – to separate ”them” from ”us”. In the wake of Friday’s terrorist attack, it seems prudent to confront the myth some believe in: that when it comes to religion in this country, there has never been an ”us”.

Evidence indicates the first humans to set foot in Aotearoa were Eastern Polynesian settlers some 800 years ago who brought religious beliefs with them.

Those beliefs centred around the idea that, through genealogy, all things were connected – hills, rivers, animals, plants – to the Maori themselves. Yet within the several hundred years Maori lived here before European settlement, the way those beliefs were expressed was already evolving and diverging.

Europeans arrived with a variety of takes on monotheism. Catholicism and Protestantism were the major players, but there were others.

The State, of course, was an extension of the British Crown and, as such, it is easy to look back at the last hundred or so years of New Zealand history and conclude we are, and have been, a Christian country.

But the beliefs of those who have settled here, who have journeyed to one of the most far-flung land masses on Earth and made a life for themselves, are far more varied than that. In reality, we have never been a solely Christian country. Since the arrival of Europeans, we have been a nation of multiple religions.

And agnostics and atheists.

A major fallacy in the argument of those wanting New Zealand to ”remain” or ”return” to being as culturally, ethnically or religiously ”pure” as it always was is that New Zealand has never been mono-ethnic, mono-religious or mono-cultural. And it never will. Because our national genealogy is not one of ”purity”.

Far from it. we are a diverse mix of cultures, nationalities, races and religions.

Islam is an ancient religion, born from the same part of the world Christianity was, just a few hundred years later. It is widely practised around the world and has as much right to be considered ”normal” in New Zealand as any other religion does.

Yes, there are radical arms of Islam. There are radical arms of Christianity, too. And of football fans, environmentalists and many more groups besides. It takes an appalling negligence of consideration to believe only the radical arms of a large group of people define that group.

Generalising is common. Like Christians. Muslims. Maori. Asians. Europeans. Colonialists.

All are quite varied, diverse, and there are often mixes and blends.

It is absurd for any New Zealanders to believe Islam has less right to be practised freely, safely and given respect in this country than other religions. Muslim New Zealanders are simply New Zealanders who practise a religion. Religions, while culpable for many unpleasant aspects of history, also bring meaning, stability, guidance and context to billions of people.

We are not a Christian country, despite being a country of many Christians.

We are not a religious country, though we are a country of many religions.

In fact, if there was to be any ”religion” that defined New Zealand, it should be a religious devotion to inclusivity, tolerance and openness.

Let that be the New Zealand religion and, in our pursuit of it, let’s ensure Muslim New Zealanders know, feel and trust they are, now and forever, simply Kiwis.

We all have to work hard on accepting differences, and tolerance.

 

Should intolerance be tolerated?

ToleratingIntolerance

Paradox of intolerance:

The paradox of tolerance, first described by Karl Popper in 1945, is a decision theory paradox. The paradox states that if a society is tolerant without limit, their ability to be tolerant will eventually be seized or destroyed by the intolerant.

Popper came to the seemingly paradoxical conclusion that in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

‘NZ a model of religious tolerance’

Helen Clark, back in New Zealand opening the new Religious Diversity Centre, said that New Zealand provided a model of religious tolerance for the rest of the world.

NZ Herald: Helen Clark: ‘NZ a model of religious tolerance for the rest of the world’

“Our world badly needs such models. On so many days now when I see the news headlines I often think how fortunate we are,” she said in Wellington.

“To see societies ripped apart by violent extremists with the extremists claiming so often to act in the name of the faith and yet prepared to violate every single principle of those faiths.”

“The world badly needs voices of reason and tolerance and those who will work to build dialogue and respect across faiths and beliefs. I do believe that New Zealand can show the way.”

While tolerance in a country with a strong Christian influence should be a given Clark supports a strong stand and military means in the Middle East.

Speaking to the Herald later she said the whole purpose of terrorist attacks was to make people feel insecure “so in general my response would be ‘don’t let it stop people doing what they would normally do'”.

“Of course, I was horrified at what happened at Brussels airport. I was through it with my husband as recently as December … ”

“What I would ask is that as well as the security response which is important, there is also a focus back on what is driving this, what is the lack of opportunity, the perceived sense of injustice, the ignorance which underlies the formation of the criminal elements which make up these groups.”

She was not questioning the military response to Isis (Islamic State), however.

“I think IS will only be taken out of Syria and Iraq through military means.”

That would not mean the ended of Isis.

“As we saw when al Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan, it didn’t stop al Qaeda. It morphed into cells around the world. I think we are in for the long haul on this. But there are a broad range of responses that are needed to deal with it.”

A forceful response is sometimes necessary but tolerance and better communication are essential if we want a better world.

And not just religious tolerance – a modern world should be tolerant of both religious and non-religious views.

Innocent until proven a risk should be an inalienable Kiwi principle

It was inevitable that the French killers have been killed. They lived by the gun, died by the gun. A fair enough outcome.

Sad that more innocent people have been killed.

What does this mean for New Zealand? There’s far less risk of anything like this happening here but it’s not zero risk. There should be and will be much discussion about surveillance for protection versus intrusion on privacy.

There will also be ongoing discussion on immigration. There will also be ongoing discussion on immigration. There have been a number of calls to stop immigration of other cultures and religions, and some have even suggested deportation of all Muslims.

It’s worth noting that the Kouachi brothers were born in France.

So should anyone whose parents weren’t born in New Zealand be kicked out of the country just in case there’s a nutter amongst them?

100% protection against terrorism is impossible.

Terrorists want to create mayhem and provoke division. The best way to combat that is to remain calm and cautious, and to not change how we do things in New Zealand as a knee jerk reaction to events in France.

Reacting to the hate and intolerance of terrorists with hate and intolerance allows them to destroy our special way of life.

We need to hold New Zealand values as very precious – our tolerance of different cultures and religions with a relative absence of persecution based on differences.

Innocent until proven a risk should be an unalienable Kiwi principle.

Presland: On Freedom of Speech and Tolerance and Powers of Surveillance

I don’t always see things the same as Greg Presland but he has a very good post at The Standard: On Freedom of Speech and Tolerance and Powers of Surveillance

I was shocked to wake up and read about the killing of staff at Charlie Hebdo and also the killing of two police officers, one of who, Ahmed Merabet, was reportedly of Muslim background.

We should suspend full judgment on what has happened until we have more facts.  Leaping to judgment has previously been shown to be a mistake.  Early speculation about the Sydney Siege was shown to be incorrect, not to mention damaging.

The report from one of the survivors suggests that the killers may have been French born adherents of the Muslim faith and Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of the prophet Mohammed was clearly the cause of the attack which appears to have been well planned.  There are reports that the attackers claimed to be from Al-Qaeda in Yemen.  Suspects have been identified.

It is not as if acts of terrorism are unknown, it is just that acts of terrorism involving Muslims appear to receive extra coverage.  For instance the recent firebombing of NAACP offices in Colorado received little local coverage although admittedly no one was killed.  The killing of seven journalists during the recent Israeli attacks on Palestine received little coverage.  But any “Muslim” involvement seems to make the event that much more newsworthy.

There are three implications for our society from these events:

  1. Loss of Freedom of speech
  2. A break down of tolerance
  3. A push by the State to further increase the powers of surveillance.

As to the first there will be a chilling effect on the media.  But we need to protect their right to publish information, even upsetting information.  Satire has to be at the front of the list of what needs to be protected.

And murder is never an acceptable response to taking offence.

Some have suggested there should be a mass publishing of the offending cartoons.  But I do not know why.  I agree with Stephanie Rodgers that in terms of quality they are poor.  And why exercise the right of free speech just to offend?  While we should have the utmost right to say something this does not mean that we should use it to intentionally upset.

That’s a very good point that I agree with. I don’t like some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, I think they get too offensive and provocative (and I don’t understand much about the French context). But they have a right to publish them as I have a choice to support the right but not republish their cartoons.

The “break down of tolerance” has been happening for a while.  Attacks by the extremist fringe of a particular society are said to be justification for condemning that society as a whole.  This is as nutty as blaming Christianity for the actions of the Klu Klux Klan.  But if we allow tolerance to break down then the terrorists are winning.  The best thing we can do is reach out to the various Muslim Communities to show that all we have interesting cultural differences there is so much that we share in common.

Accepting differences and promoting the good in different cultures and religions (and non-religion) is important, and far less dangerous than intolerance, abuse and provocation.

Finally, as for increased surveillance it is a given that the governments’ particularly the right wing varieties, will use this event to push for even further powers of surveillance.  But the question whether increased powers will ever improve things, let alone justify the loss of personal freedom, is never properly answered during these bouts of power grabbing.  After all the actions of a lone gunman in Sydney who pretty well published his nuttiness to the world via Facebook were not stopped.  Allowing even further powers of intrusion into our lives will help how?

That’s a very good question that we need to keep examining. We can never be 100% secure, nor 100% private. Finding a reasonable and reelatively safe balance will be an ongoing challenge.