Don Brash has reared his angry voice last week to attack the use of Te Reo on Radio New Zealand. His criticism follows businessman Sir William Gallagher’s description of the Treaty as a ‘farce’ and Dave Witherow’s recent ODT opinion piece claiming that the entire country being forced to listen to Te Reo was ‘contemptuous’.
What’s up with all these angry old white rich men suddenly denouncing Maoridom and how best should people who believe in progressive change and true Treaty partnership best respond to such naked ignorance?
The first thing to note is how important it is for these opinions to be platformed in the first place. There is an argument that says we shouldn’t allow these people any media space, because doing so only gives them attention.
Giving opinions as backward as this oxygen allows them to be challenged in the open and it allows others to see how ridiculous their positions really are.
We can’t respond to the bigotry that hides and we can’t counter it if it’s always censored. That intellectual repression becomes far more dangerous than allowing it to trip over itself in public discourse.
But how should we respond?
While the language used is purposely inflammatory, I think attacking them as racist only hardens positions and makes those who have equally ignorant positions feel insulted.
Some might say, ‘good, they should feel insulted for being racist’, but that mindset is what is fuelling the culture wars in America that have polarised politics so much so that the entire process has grid locked.
I think we need to look at these angry white rich old men with pity. Pity requires an element of compassion and that is a better starting place than angrily forcing people into their corners where they defensively shut down.
Look at Don Brash’s interview on Radio NZ with Kim Hill when he simply could not see any beauty in a language as rich and deep as Te Reo. His sad grey view of the world was truly depressing and the fact he could not see the treasure that the language is should gain our sympathy rather than hated.
What we are hearing from Brash, Gallagher and Witherow are the roars of dinosaurs who don’t know their ideas are extinct yet.
Aroha is how you eliminate the Don Brash’s of NZ, they simply don’t deserve our energy for outrage.