Some history of ‘White Supremacy’ in New Zealand

‘White Supremacist’ is being used to describe a radical fringe in new Zealand in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque massacres.

Last week Christ Trotter () tweeted:

He was referring to a post at Bowalley Road: What Is A White Supremacist? (edited)

THE TERM “WHITE SUPREMACIST” is rapidly replacing the more straightforward “racist” in mainstream journalism.

On social media, especially Twitter, the term is being used, anachronistically, to characterise the ideas of explorers and colonialists living in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While it is not unusual to encounter such terminological misuse in the writings of radical post-modernists, it is worrying to see the mainstream media subsume so many different historical and ideological phenomena into this single, catch-all, expression.

The current misuse of the term “white supremacy” is also highly dangerous politically. By singling out this particular form of racism and misapplying it to famous figures from the past, as well as to people living in the present, the users of the term risk not only its rapid devaluation, but also the angry retaliation of those who feel both themselves and their beliefs to have been wrongly and unfairly condemned.

It refers, primarily, to the political regimes which arose in the southern states of the USA in the years following the American Civil War – most particularly in the decades immediately following the withdrawal of federal troops from the states of the defeated Confederacy in 1877.

These regimes were built on the bedrock requirement that whites must in all conceivable circumstances: economic, social, cultural, legal and political; be placed ahead of and above blacks. The poorest and most ill-educated white farmer had to be able to count himself better off, both subjectively and objectively, than his black neighbours. White supremacy wasn’t just a matter of personal racial animus, it described a comprehensive and internally coherent system of race-based rule.

A “white supremacist”, accordingly, is a person who not only subscribes to the principles underpinning the infamous “Jim Crow” system, but also – like the contemporary Ku Klux Klan – strives for its return. Obviously, the term may also be legitimately applied to the very similar systems of race-based rule erected in South Africa and Rhodesia between 1948 and 1992.

Simple racial chauvinism is very different from the conscious creation of a race-based economic and political system. If, however, the media persists in lumping together every Pakeha who takes pride in the achievements of western civilisation with avowed Nazis, like Philip Arps, or genocidal eco-fascists, like the Christchurch shooter, then not only will the charge lose all its definitional and moral force, but, sooner or later, those so lumped will come to the conclusion that they might as well be hung for sheep as lambs.

Those on the Left who are promoting the use of this term, presumably as a way of shaming Pakeha New Zealanders into acknowledging and renouncing their “white privilege”, may soon come to regret driving their boots so forcefully into such a large pack of sleeping dogs

Scott Hamilton ( responded on Twitter): “Just like South Africa & Australia, NZ deployed a mixture of segregationist & assimilationist policies towards non-white peoples in the 19th & 20th centuries. ”


In his new column my friend Chris Trotter argues NZ was never a white supremacist society, like South Africa or America. I think Chris’ case rests on a false dichotomy & on a denial of the historical record. I want to argue against him & post a few old documents.

Chris argues that NZ doesn’t have a white supremacist history, because white settlers sought to assimilate Maori, rather than segregate the races. But settler societies have commonly deployed both assimilationist & segregationist policies. The two can complement each other.

Let’s consider the case of South Africa, which Chris cites as the sort of white supremacist society NZ was not. Apartheid-era SA was notorious for isolating its non-white peoples. It had laws against miscegenation, & segregated toilets. But SA also practiced assimilationism.

The Soweto uprising of 1976 began as a protest against the attempts of South Africa’s rulers to assimilate blacks linguistically. Black schoolkids rejected the demand that they use Afrikaans, the language of their oppressors, in the classroom.

Australia offers another example of a settler society combining segregation with assimilationism. Before 1968 Aboriginals were isolated from other ethnic groups in Australia. Their movements were restricted; they could not participate in electoral politics.

But Aboriginal Australians also suffered from assimilationist policies. White administrators created a ‘stolen generation’, by removing half-caste children from Aboriginal mothers, & making sure they were raised in a white world. This policy was s’posed to ‘whiten’ Aboriginals.

Just like South Africa & Australia, NZ deployed a mixture of segregationist & assimilationist policies towards non-white peoples in the 19th & 20th centuries.

The attempts at assimilation, like the demand Maori kids use English at school, are infamous; the segregationism is not.

Although settler governmentsts allowed Pakeha to serve on juries considering cases involving Maori, the ban on Maori serving on general juries lasted until 1962. Maori were not considered fit to judge whites, just as SA blacks were kept off juries in that country.

Chris contrasts NZ with America in its ‘Jim Crow’ era, when both public facilities & private businesses often segregated white & non-white patrons. The segregated rest rooms of mid-century America are notorious. But few Pakeha know that NZ had the same facilities.

It is not possible yet for me to give an exhaustive account of the segregation of rest rooms in NZ, but my research suggests that the practice was widespread. I want to offer a few examples, with the help of old newspapers.

In 1936 Maori inhabitants of Tauranga protested against their exclusion from the town’s rest rooms, & from some rest rooms that were being planned. In response, Tauranga’s mayor said that Maori wld have to donate some land, if they wanted to get their own, segregated, toilets

Hamilton was another town with whites-only rest rooms. In 1945 the Waikato Times reported the standoff between the city’s mayor & the Maori community. The mayor wanted Maori to pay for a segregated toilet; Maori rejected his request.

Maori had always resented the segregation of rest rooms, but by the late ’40s they were being joined by Pakeha. When Gisborne councillors announced plans for whites-only women’s rest rooms in 1949, locals of both ethnicities wrote angry letters to their local paper.

Kaitaia was another town that saw protests over segregated rest rooms in the ’40s. When the rest rooms were being planned, local politicians had happily broadcast their plans for segregation. Their insouciance tells us something about the prevalence of segregation at the time.

Rest rooms were not the only public facilities that local politicians tried to bar Maori from in early 20th C NZ. In 1921 the Waipa District Council closed Te Awamutu’s fledgling library, because it was being visited by too many ‘undesirable’ elements, like ‘Maoris’ & ‘dogs’.

Private businesses as well as public amenities often practiced segregation in NZ. A 1938 survey found that 26 of Hamilton’s 27 hotels & hostels refused to host Maori. Local politicians suggested building a Maori-only hostel.

It was not only Maori who suffered from segregation in 20th C New Zealand. Indian & Chinese migrants often found themselves barred from taverns, barbers, and swimming pools. In 1918 Hamilton’s Indians protested their inability to get a haircut.

Jelal Natali was a campaigner for the civil rights of Indian Kiwis for decades. In the ’20s Natali protested against the segregation of Auckland’s tepid baths, pointing that all but one of the facility’s pools were reserved for whites.

Sometimes segregation led to violence. On February 25, 1920, at a time when NZ troops were fighting Indian sugar workers in a turbulent Fiji, a group of Indians were ejected from a tavern in Te Awamutu. White patrons followed them onto the footpath, and a riot began.

Chris contrasts the US, with its Ku Klux Klan, with NZ. He appears not to know that the KKK was violently active here in the 1920s, when it formed in opposition to Asian migration. In 1923 the KKK took responsibility for attacks on businesses in Auckland & in Christchurch.

Chris might argue that the KKK was, in NZ, a short-lived & uninfluential organisation. He’d be right, but other, much larger & more powerful groups aligned themselves with the KKK. One was the Protestant Political Association, whose leader Howard Elliott praised the Klan.

The White NZ League was another influential organisation that shared the goals of the Klan. The League formed in 1926, & called for the deportation of all non-white migrants from NZ. It was endorsed by the RSA & by Auckland’s Trade Union Council.

The White NZ League was based in Pukekohe, & helped to enforce the segregation of South Auckland’s pubs, barber shops, & cinemas. In 1959 a major civil rights battle began when Dr Rongomanu Bennett tried to get a drink at Papakura Hotel, and was turned away.

Dr Bennett had many contacts in politics & the media, & he made sure Papakura’s refusal to serve him a drink was reported widely. The suburb was dubbed ‘the Little Rock of NZ’ by some journalists. PM Walter Nash eventually intervened, & the colour bar at Papakura ended.

How widespread, in the postwar era, was the sort of colour bar Rongomau Bennett encountered in Papakura? While researching my book Ghost South Road, I focused on the Waikato & South Auckland. But Noel Hilliard’s 1960 novel Maori Girl suggests it extended beyond the north.

Hilliard’s autobiographical account of a cross-racial marriage caused a sensation when it was published. Hilliard described the open prejudice of Wellingtonian business owners – hoteliers, for example – who refused Maori clients.

Of course, NZ was never a mirror image of the Jim Crow US, or South Africa. Maori like Carroll & Ngata rose to positions of power. Interracial marriages were never banned. But segregation as well as assimilationism is part of our history, contra what claims.

 

History of ‘white power’ in New Zealand

Sad idiots, or potentially dangerous?

Do a small number of people with extreme views raise the risks that one person will get encouragement to do go beyond extreme rhetoric and do something violent?

Patrick Gower and Newshub have been investigating ‘;white supremacy’ in New Zealand.

Gover’s latest report – Revealed: How white supremacists terrorised New Zealand for decades

Gang expert Jarrod Gilbert says up until now, much of the far-right has often been viewed here as sad idiots.

“They were more sort of bumbling, no one took them particularly seriously,” he told Newhsub.

But there has always been a dangerous element to the white power movement here. Gilbert describes them as “hard-as-nails skinhead street-gang kind of guys” who thrived in the South Island.

The most notorious was the Fourth Reich, which terrorised Nelson and the West Coast.

They were responsible for the murders of young Māori man Hemi Hutley, gay man James ‘Janis’ Bamborough, Korean tourist Jae Hyeon Kim and Christchurch woman Vanessa Pickering.

Like the Nazis they emulated, most of the skinheads’ venom was aimed at Jews. But then, in 2001, 9/11 happened and the extreme far-right added a new ‘enemy’ to the list. Sociologist Paul Spoonley says this led to new followers.

“They were much more online and they were much more Islamophobic than anti-Semitic. And they were much more internationally connected,” he told Newshub.

It only takes a small number of people reinforcing each others hate and amplifying claimed threats to lead to terrorism.

Joris De Bres was the Race Relations Commissioner from 2002 until 2013.

Alarmed at an increase in threats against Muslims, he repeatedly asked the Government and police to start recording crimes motivated by hatred and racism.

“I don’t think we’re sufficiently aware that we do have people among us who do those things and who have a real and worrying hatred,” he told Newshub.

But when they wouldn’t collect the data, De Bres started collecting it himself. During his time as Commissioner there were more than 100 race-related crimes reported in the media.

“I always had the sense that it was only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

I’m not sure that it’s the tip of an iceberg type scenario. It only takes a few violent extremists to harass and to kill – Brenton Tarrant has demonstrated that it takes just to one to go as far as a violent massacre.

Aliya Danzeisen from the Islamic Women’s Council has been abused many times for her religion and the clothes she wears.

“I’ve had a car drive up on the curb towards me and then swing by laughing,” she told Newshub.

She says the rise of the Islamic State saw a rise in Islamophobia here. So five years ago the Women’s Council wrote a report about the increasing discrimination and sent it to the Ministry of Social Development. She says nothing happened.

She says regular pleas for the police and the SIS to monitor the rise of alt-right groups followed – and were also ignored.

The police had a sudden wake-up call in Christchurch in 15 March. Now they are being proactive.

It’s Sunday morning, and armed police are visiting New Zealanders’ homes as part of the response to the Christchurch terror attack.

“The reason we’re here, it’s basically down to the recent events in Christchurch,” a police officer tells one man.

“A number of people have been identified that we’ve been tasked to go and speak to. You are one of those people.”

But while there have been 13 arrests for sharing the video, when it comes to white supremacy or people linked to it, police say they have made zero arrests. They say the response is about “community reassurance” instead.

I think it is also about putting warnings out. It may seem (and may be) draconian for innocent people to be approached by a number of armed police, it serves a useful purpose – it sends a signal that the police are now looking for signs of extreme views becoming a violent act.

Globally, white supremacy was on the up: the march on Charlottesville was just one symbol of a global movement linked by everyday social media platforms and darker sites like 8Chan.

“They are part of a big international network and that’s a big challenge here in New Zealand, just not realising that we’re now hooked into this conspiratorial, racial vilification, white supremacist network,” Spoonley says.

Of the Christchurch victims, the Prime Minister said: “They are us. This person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”

But he is part of a growing movement in New Zealand.

Blenheim man Joseph Ward has a swastika tattoo and the email handle “Nazi New Zealand”.

“I’ve been told I am you for 30 years.  And now I’m not you… I’m exiled,” he says. “We need to have a national conversation.”

We can start by saying that Ward was getting a false impression that ‘I am you’, probably from within a small bubble – I think most New Zealanders would want his sort of views exiled from New Zealand.  All that has changed is that now he is getting that message.

So the warning signs about white supremacy have always been there – year after year.

But as a nation, we ignored them.

Tarrant has ensured that people who express extreme white supremacy views will be viewed with more suspicion. As they should be.


More on white supremacy from Newshub:

 

 

Online threats against Ghahraman continue

Patrick Gower has done an investigation of ‘white supremacy’ in New Zealand – Christchurch attack: The new face of white supremacy in New Zealand

In this he details:

Newshub has been leaked details of a closed Facebook group that has Kiwis chatting to each other about white supremacy.

Newshub has decided not to name them for legal reasons, but have published a snippet of their chat – and it is confronting content.

Newshub contacted the person being written about – Green MP Golriz Ghahraman – and she consented to the conversation being published in the interests of exposing it.

Warning: This content is distressing.

It starts with one user saying:

“Ask yourself: What have I done today for White well-being?”

The chat then turns to:

“Golriz.”

“What a smart mouthed Hua.”

“I know. It’s just nice to put them in one basket. Plus I don’t have a rayciss (sic) word for Iranians anyway lol.”

Then they start joking about hanging her like a lynch mob:

“Get the rope lol.”

“She’ll make a fantastic chandelier.”

“I need a new lamp.”

It ends with:

“I can’t wait to see her on the streets.”

Threats and attacks against Ghahraman continue on Twitter. While criticism should be expected by MPs who are active online, and Ghahraman attracts plenty of criticism, she also attracts some of the worst of social media.

Comments like this one from Pauli84842812 are abhorrent and should be dealt with by Twitter – if allowed to go unchecked they encourage more despicable online behaviour.

Ghahraman also tweeted:

This is very difficult to deal with.

It is possible to challenge politicians and debate what they say robustly but respectful of decent standards of behaviour.

Farrar responds to Christchurch attacks and Kiwiblog content

As promised just after the Christchurch mosque attacks, David Farrar has posted on his opinions on what happened and explains more about his tightening up moderation in Kiwiblog content and comments.

Murder and Violence

The terrorist killed 50 people. He believed his beliefs justified violence and killing. There are lots of people with strong beliefs but very very very few who think it is okay to kill innocent people, let alone actually do it.

Any incitement to serious violence is of course not acceptable on Kiwiblog, and never has been. In fact I have on two occasions supplied information to the Police when a comment was seen as a serious threat.

White Supremacy

The terrorist was a white supremacist. He judges people based on their skin colour or where they are born. He doesn’t think non-white people should live in “European countries”

Again such views and beliefs are not and never have been acceptable on Kiwiblog. Judging people based on where they were born, their bloodline or the colour of their skin is repulsive.

Anti-immigration

The terrorist says he was profoundly anti-immigration, linked to his white supremacy. He claimed Jews were okay so long as they live in Israel. Muslims are okay as long as they live in a Muslim country. Asians are okay so long as they live in Asia. He says that he saw legal immigration as a very bad thing.

His views are repugnant to me. I am a huge fan of controlled immigration. I think NZ has a generally excellent immigration system where anyone can qualify for residency regardless of race, nationality or religion.

…there is a difference between debating immigration policy and the pros and cons of immigration and scapegoating immigrants who are already here. Statements suggesting people who have chosen New Zealand as their home should not be here will not be acceptable.

Islamophobia

When it comes to religion, it is a fact that there is huge antipathy in many quarters to Islam, compared to other religions. Why is this? Why does Islam have such antipathy which Hinduism doesn’t, Buddhism doesn’t, Taoism doesn’t, Shinto doesn’t, Sikhism doesn’t, and Baha’i doesn’t?

The obvious answer is because of the number of terror attacks that are done in the name of Islam or motivated by an interpretation of Islam.

The reason there is antipathy towards Islam in many quarters is because people are scared. They want these attacks to stop. It doesn’t matter they still have a higher chance of being killed in a road accident.

That is one reason. Another is simply religion – some of those who are most anti-Islam are Christians. It’s common for fundamentalists to fear any different faith to their own beliefs.

There are also other aspects of the Islamic religion that some people find problematic.Sizable minorities support the death penalty for apostates, stoning for adultery, honour killings for pre-martial sex.

Islam also differs somewhat from most religions in that it has a political aspect to it, commonly called Islamism. Most Muslims are not Islamists. There are difficult questions about how compatible Islamism (NB not Islam) is with liberal democratic values.

So I absolutely reject that one should not be able to criticise the Islamic religion. However it should be done in a way that doesn’t stigmatise all Muslims and/or suggests a commonality of view.

That should apply to any religion – including Christianity.

That guest post

One issue that has been discussed on Kiwiblog is whether there should be a ban on Muslim immigration. I vehemently disagree with such a proposal, and the proponents of it. But does that mean it should be deemed as beyond debate?

In fact the sad reality is the growth in support of far right parties in Europe is because the mainstream parties have not come up with credible solutions to issues around immigration and integration. Populist parties will always rush to fill a void.

So for the last two weeks some people have tried to close down Kiwiblog because three years ago I allowed a guest post (which I disagreed with) by David Garrett which advocated for a policy that has been debated endlessly in the United States for three years, has majority support in Europe and plurality support in Australia.

Here is the Guest Post: David Garrett on A case for immediate cessation of all Muslim immigration. It contains some common anti-Muslim memes, like:

It is really very simple. Every western country which has allowed its Muslim population to exceed 2% has experienced problems generated by that community – or at least arising because of their presence within those societies.

And:

I truly believe we are, in a very real sense, in exactly the position Western Europe was in the  early 1930’s. The prevailing sentiment among both  the political elites  and the population of Britain at large was then, as ours is  now, one of tolerance, or at least wilful blindness to the dangers posed by the rising tide of fascism in Germany. It is important to be reminded that the very word “fascism” had none of the pejorative connotations in 1933 that it most definitely carried ten years later.

Coincidentally being pushed again now – see Jumping the Whale, piling on Godwin and hypocrisy.

Garrett concluded:

Muslim immigrants are a very real threat to our way of life. We should not take one more of them.

Farrar followed that with:

For the avoidance of doubt, the post is the opinion of the author, not of Kiwiblog. Kiwiblog accepts guest posts, even when I disagree with the views in them.

It looks like there has comments deleted from the following thread, possibly quite a few. That was in the days when Kiwiblog commenting was fairly open slather.

Back to Farrar’s post yesterday:

Media have demanded to know why this post has not been deleted. I’ve been labelled a party to the slaughter in Christchurch because of this post. The sheer bile on Twitter has been vile led by certain prominent people.

A number of people have contacted me offline to discuss Kiwiblog’s moderation policy and the desirability of changes. Those exchanges have been useful. Inciting virtual lynch mobs far less so.

The view of some on Twitter is that such a view in opposition to Muslim immigration is so extreme that one can’t ever allow someone to read something in favour of it.

Now one should recognise that debating stuff such as an immigration ban on Muslims is hurtful to Muslims. Absolutely it is. And most Muslims are themselves victims of the violent Islamic extremists. They are often both literal victims (ie are killed) but suffer the backlash where they have to worry about their safety in public. They can suffer acts of casual abuse, and feel that elements of their adopted country are hostile to them. And the Christchurch shooting has shown how real those fears can be.

So bearing in mind that allowing a debate on stuff such as an immigration ban can be hurtful to many Muslims, why allow it at all?

Well as I explained to the media, my preference is for people to be convinced their views are wrong. The thing I like on Kiwiblog is that we have people who comment from across the political spectrum.

I sort of agree with what DPF is saying here about allowing debate. But he would have (or should have) known that a post like that would have been a red rag to the Kiwiblog bulls.

In one of the malicious misrepresentations I have ever seen, Russell Brown took this explanation I made to the media, and summarised it was that I tolerate racists and don’t want them to go to even more racist websites and I am “a piece of shit”. Remember that this is about allowing a guest post on a topic that is one of the most debated issues in Europe and North America.

Something I don’t think DPF has appreciated enough is how comments on posts at Kiwiblog are seen as reflecting on Kiwiblog as a whole and on himself. He has allowed a lot of abuse and fairly extreme views to be posted for as long as I have followed Kiwiblog – ten years or so.

So as should be clear I am not deleting the guest post.

I think it’s a fair decision. Everyone can read and make up their own mind about Garrett’s views on Muslim immigration.

I also think it was wise to run a heavy hand over the comments and delete the worst of them.

Of course there are some topics I would not allow a guest post on, even with a rebuttal. The post on Muslim immigration was a borderline call. But in the end my judgement was that one could not pretend this was not a topic that could be ignored as if it didn’t exist and have support from majorities in many democratic countries.

Posting it “was a borderline call” – but allowing unrestricted comments left DPF open to criticism. He seems to have finally woken up to that.

Muslimophobia

As I indicated earlier I don’t find the term Islamophobia useful. In fact earlier today I quoted the leader of the world’s largest Muslim organisation saying the term is often used as a weapon to prevent criticisms of extremist aspects of Islam.

I have no problems with criticism of Islam (or Scientology or Mormonism or Catholicism). But I do have a problem with people smearing all Muslims as if they all have the same beliefs, same characteristics etc. Some people have an unhealthy antagonism to Muslims, and I would say they should be called Muslimophobes, not Islamophobes.

And Muslimophobia is not welcome on Kiwiblog.

Now. It may not have been welcome by DPF but it has been rampant in the past.

Judging 1.5 billion people off their religious affiliation is bizarre.

Kiwiblog is now applying far far more scrutiny to comments that fail to differentiate between legitimate scrutiny of Islam and are just bile against Muslims. They are not welcome here, and if you can’t work out the difference, neither are you.

That’s similar to what I have done here to the best of my ability.

And some (a small minority) need to learn some empathy. When the Prime Minister wears a hijab at a mourning celebration, it is not an Islamic takeover of New Zealand. It is the Prime Minister being a decent human being and respecting the fact 50 people of the Muslim faith were slaughtered. If 50 people had been killed at a synagogue, I am sure a similar gesture would be made. Such a gesture means a hell of a lot to those who have been targeted for their faith. Have a bit of bloody empathy for what it must be like to be a Muslim in New Zealand at this time.

Fair comment.

I agree with most of what Farrar says as quoted here and on his post. And on his new moderation policy, which I will cover in my next post.

Seymour, Ghahraman, identity politics, white supremacy

Since the Christchurch attacks there has been a lot of diversions into allegations and debates over white supremacy and identity politics, two quite vague terms.

Twp MPs, Act’s David Seymour and Green Golriz Ghahraman had this exchange on Twitter.

I don’t think these sorts of discussions are very productive but they probably need to be aired.

White supremacists, racism and anti-immigration rhetoric

There’s a number of things that need to be talked about more in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks, like white supremacists (including cultural and religious supremacists), racism and anti immigration rhetoric and immigrant bashing.

Richard MacManus (Newsroom):  We didn’t watch white supremacists closely enough

After the tragedy in Christchurch last Friday, serious questions are being asked of the world’s largest social media companies.

Why was the killer able to live stream this appalling act on Facebook for 17 minutes? Why couldn’t YouTube and Twitter prevent copies of the video from being propagated on their global networks? Why did Reddit have a forum named ‘watchpeopledie’ (another place where this horrendous video was posted) running on its platform for seven whole years?

To answer these questions, we need to look at the content moderation processes of Facebook, Google and others, plus examine the effectiveness of using algorithms to help police content.

The biggest issue though is that neither human nor AI moderation is much help in the case of live streams. The only viable solution, it seems to me, is to prevent people like Friday’s terrorist from live streaming in the first place.

One suspects the tech companies will need to work closely with government intelligence agencies to identify, monitor and proactively shut down people who use social media to distribute hate content.

Before Friday, the response to that would’ve been just two words: “free speech.” But we’re no longer talking about the trivial matter of two right-wing provocateurs being prevented from speaking in New Zealand. We’re now talking about preventing extreme terrorist violence in our country. I think our former Prime Minister Helen Clark said it best, in regards to free speech:

“We all support free speech, but when that spills over into hate speech and propagation of violence, it has gone far too far. Such content is not tolerated on traditional media; why should it be on #socialmedia?”

Why indeed. So let’s fix this, by advocating for meaningful change at companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Reddit in how they deal with hate speech.

And local websites – including the biggest political blogs, Kiwiblog and Whale Oil.

Thomas Coughlan (Newsroom):  Time to recall MPs’ anti-migrant rhetoric

Hansard, the record of parliamentary speeches, has 139 mentions of the word “Muslim”, 317 of the word “Islam”, and 238 mentions of the word “Islamic” in its searchable record, which dates back to 2003.

In that same time, only one politician — Aaron “do you know I am?” Gilmore, as fate would have it — has mentioned “white supremacy”, and none have spoken about “white nationalism”.

Other religions are mentioned too — the word “Christian” is mentioned 520 times. But look a little closer, and a distinct difference emerges. While mentions of the word “Christian” tend to be followed by words like “Social Services” more than half of the 238 times, the word “Islam” is mentioned it is followed by the word “State”.

New Zealand is not immune from the global trend of conflating Islam and its nearly two billion adherents with terrorism.

Dr Mohamed Alansari of the University of Auckland noted that when people speak about Islam “it comes with a hint of judgment or a hint of a stereotype and it comes from a place of fear rather than a place of trying to understand”.

The apparent threat of Islam is often conflated with other issues, including security and migration.

Amongst New Zealand politicians Winston Peters stands out on this.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has a longer history than most when it comes to linking concerns about terrorism to Muslims.

In a 2005 speech titled The End Of Toleranceand delivered in the wake of the London bombings, Peters singled out Muslim migrants for special attention.

He spoke about the “political correctness” in other parties:

“They say – ah yes – but New Zealand has always been a nation of immigrants. They miss a crucial point. New Zealand has never been a nation of Islamic immigrants…”

Peters also suggested that moderate Muslims were operating “hand in glove” with extremists.

His exact words are worth quoting in full:

“This two-faced approach is how radical Islam works – present the acceptable face to one audience and the militant face to another.

“In New Zealand the Muslim community have been quick to show us their more moderate face, but as some media reports have shown, there is a militant underbelly here as well.

“Underneath it all the agenda is to promote fundamentalist Islam.

“Indeed these groups are like the mythical Hydra – a serpent underbelly with multiple heads capable of striking at any time and in any direction.”

He went on to note that “in many parts of the world the Christian faith is under direct threat from radical Islam,” and said that he had sent a letter to all leaders of Islamic groups in New Zealand, calling them to name any “radicals, troublemakers and potential dangers to our society”.

Dame Anne Salmond (NZ Herald): Racist underbelly seethes just beneath surface

After this terrible tragedy, let’s be honest, for once. White supremacy is a part of us, a dark power in the land. In its soft version, it looks bland and reasonable.

The doctrine of white superiority is based on arrogance, and ignorance. Since other cultures, languages and religions are worthless, there’s no need to learn about them. The “others” are dehumanised, making their misery and suffering unreal.

In the present, let’s face it, online, on talkback, in taxis and around dinner tables, the doctrine of white superiority is still alive and well in New Zealand. It’s absolutely right that our Prime Minister should take a stand for kindness and generosity, aroha and manaakitanga in the relations among different groups in our country.

But let’s not pretend there’s not a dark underbelly in New Zealand society.

And let’s not pretend that it doesn’t happen right here.

It’s very challenging encouraging open discussion and debate on important issues while trying to moderate white supremicism and racism and religious attacks.

But these are things we should be talking about – and asking ourselves serious questions about.

And others are also asking serious questions.