MEDIA WATCH: Chris Trotter is wrong

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It’s a small view of the world when one holds back from speaking out honestly against racism for fear of provoking a backlash from one’s fellow New Zealanders.

Chris Trotter suggests Stuff should not have apologised for the awful racist history of its stable of newspapers in part at least because of a fear it will unleash a backlash such as the recent “political convulsions besetting both the United Kingdom and the United States”. (Personally I think the Black Lives Matter convulsions in the US have been a damn good thing)

Chris explains:

Spit upon the most cherished beliefs and achievements of your “deplorables” and – eventually – they will spit back.

On the basis New Zealanders should never have dared challenge the rugby establishment and the All Blacks, the cultural/sporting/iconic centre-pieces of the country, for playing rugby against apartheid South Africa’s Springbok teams.

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It’s always important to believe that people can change racist viewpoints because they frequently do and many come to see a better way forward for us all as New Zealanders. I have personally experienced this thousands of times over the years when people have explained to me how their views on race/apartheid changed though the challenges of their fellow citizens. We should never treat racist views with respect but the people holding those views are “changeables” – not “deplorables” – and deserve our respect as fellow New Zealanders, warts and all.

It is a brave thing for Stuff to have issued a fulsome and sincere apology, after doing the analysis, and being frank and honest enough to speak truth to their own power.

The most important aspect of their analysis has been to reveal how the racism of the past (irrespective of its imperial or colonial context) resonates in the present, here and now, and is reflected in the dreadful social statistics which show such appalling race-based bias.

The other crucial point to understand from the Stuff analysis is that this media bias in reporting continues today. I think we all should read carefully the Stuff analysis which shows “How we made Maori the face of child abuse in New Zealand” through sensationalised national reporting from 2000 on, using incorrect statistics, while similar abuse amongst Pakeha was reported but not sensationalised.

I see the Stuff apology as a natural development in what has been occurring over the last 50 years or so as the country moves towards a genuine Treaty partnership.

I would like Stuff to do a similar analysis on how working-class families and communities have been reported in their stable of newspapers compared to the rich and powerful. Now there is a challenge which would brutally expose the ravages of capitalism on all of us.

 

25 COMMENTS

  1. Well put John.

    The bully platform granted provincial Newspaper Editors in particular has contributed to much physical and psychological damage in this country for too many years. I know one Editor who had his own swipe card to the local Police Station! The “Good Ole Boys” network. And Māori were always the first to be targeted by this Editor and his supporters, many sitting on stolen land in the Far North.

    Stuffs effort should be accepted with grace, not derided. Many have been lied about and slandered by the press including working class fighters and unions, and environmentalists and anti racists, but the treatment of Māori people is the worst because of the blatant disrespect for Tiriti O Waitangi, and support for white supremacy, barely below the surface.

    • Student reporter in Invercargill 20 years ago where I submitted articles about gays growing up there and the climate change effects of opening up new coal mines. Not a one of these self-evident truths saw the light of day. Under the over-prevailing law of trying to please the stronger.

  2. thank you. i was wondering how i might articulate a response to Chris’ article. now i dont have to.
    i would add that his other point about not judging peoples’ actions out of historical context is irrelevant.
    it shouldnt be about judging behaviour but about restoring good relationships. re-balancing after harm has been done. apoligsing for your part in it even where you had no malicious intent can only add to relationship.

  3. Yep I always thought that old chestnut: “Love means never having to say sorry..” (from some forgotten movie) was dumb. Conformation, thank you, kia ora.

  4. Maybe stuff could extend it apology for being “”one eyed”about Maori and extend their apology regarding their one eyed coverage of politics including Climate change?

  5. But there is a difference between govt or any organisation acknowledging and aiming to rectify historical injustice, whether deliberate injustice or not, and one section of the population, viz white people, being held collectively responsible for this. The latter is the politics of Chairman Mao’s China.

    Any assumption that only high profile activists have ever objected to, or impacted upon wrong doing to others, is also an error. There have always been quiet heroes doing their practical best to counteract injustice, dishonesty and blatant wrong doing.

    There are many New Zealanders who carry horrific family histories possibly genetically damaged by the practices of time past, who do not dwell on them, or even think in terms of retribution or compensation, but who do well to function reasonably competently in the present, focusing on a better future for those who follow.They are heroes too.

    Falsehood, distortion and propaganda have long existed in the global media, and even with Stuff acknowledging their own shabby short comings, they make no mention of their contribution to the denigration of women in New Zealand society; as usual, they are being selective.

    • Snow White: “….one section of the population, viz white people, being held collectively responsible for this.”

      This is certainly what happened to the Jews of Europe before and during the last war. And it turned out tragically for them, as we all know. And we also all know – or ought to – the evils and injustices inflicted upon other inoffensive peoples, which have been a consequence of the Holocaust.

      “Any assumption that only high profile activists have ever objected to, or impacted upon wrong doing to others, is also an error. There have always been quiet heroes doing their practical best to counteract injustice, dishonesty and blatant wrong doing.”

      Exactly. And Stuff’s stuff and nonsense might well persuade those quiet heroes to give it away. I wouldn’t blame them.

      “….Stuff acknowledging their own shabby short comings, they make no mention of their contribution to the denigration of women in New Zealand society; as usual, they are being selective.”

      That they are. And: along with the denigration of women in NZ society, they’ve uncritically printed the most egregious propaganda – and outright lies – about what’s going on in those parts of the world which have incurred the enmity of the US and the UK. The 5 bloody eyes, god help us all.

      Thanks for nothing, Stuff!

      • “This is certainly what happened to the Jews of Europe before and during the last war. And it turned out tragically for them, as we all know. And we also all know – or ought to – the evils and injustices inflicted upon other inoffensive peoples, which have been a consequence of the Holocaust”

        …and is what are the Jews doing to the Palestinians “a consequence” then D’Esterre?

        It’s a Jewish form of Palestinian Holocaust inflicted on the inoffensive Palestinians. The goal is expanding Jewish Lebensraum by occupying Palestinian territory with Jewish settlements and walling Palestinians into smaller and smaller ghettoes.

        The media are muzzled when it comes to criticising Jewish expansionism. Zionist expansionism, should never be allowed to perpetrate the same atrocities on Palestinians, as German Nazism did to the Jews. It is highly hypocritical.

        Zionists are hypocritically creating a walled ghetto around Palestine the like Nazis did with the Jews in Krakow.

        The world news media also have a hands-off approach towards those atrocities, because as a result and consequence of 1938 to 45, it has inadvertently and seemingly afforded the Jews a get-out-of-jail-free card when they perpetrate on others, what was done to them.

        All forms of discrimination, persecution and ghettoization, have to stop D-Esterre.

        • You have gone suddenly quiet D-Esterre?
          Hard to defend the indefensible persecution of a race because of Lebensraum?
          By ANY race, or political movement, or by the tenets of Orwelliansm.

          Moreover, the self-deception of doublethink allows the Party to maintain huge goals and realistic expectations:

          If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality. For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one’s own infallibility with the power to learn from past mistakes.

          Shalom D’Estaerre!

  6. I agree John.
    Chris Trotter lost me when he said..
    “To judge the actions of historical actors by the prevailing moral precepts of the present is not only philosophically impermissible, but it also betrays the writer’s fundamental ignorance of the history he is purporting to condemn.”
    Trying to understand the motives of historical actors is one thing but judging past actions with one’s current moral precepts is the only philosophically honest approach.
    I wonder what influence Carol Hirschfield had on Stuff’s decision.

  7. I agree with you on this John, Chris Trotter often plays devils advocate and likes to see how high some of his kites fly. However, I may be wrong, and he has every right to reply, but I fear he may be serious. Stuff are not the “deplorables” they are a significant media messenger that had decided to take a one sided view to happenings. That could be viewed as a reflection of the times but in admitting they had it wrong Stuff are asking for the slate to be wiped clean. If genuine then good on them.

  8. Given Stuff is now post corporate media, it’s possible they will end historic anti union and worker positions and pro tax cuts positions (and todays story does note we have a comparatively low rate tax regime compared to most). But given the middle class staff profile, that may be more like a Cabinet made up of multiple property owners deciding on CGT and wealth taxation. And there is the business advertising … so the case for migrant workers for business and NZ Initiative (Business Roundtable advocacy rebranded as a research group) ad anuseum wanting lower MW etc.

  9. Surely there is a big difference between tackling pressing issues of the times and apoligising for actions that were the product of the ignorance of times long gone.

    If we are into apologies then people of English decent must apologise for Captain Cook coning to NZ ad claiming it for Britain.

    Far more important would be an apology from the broadcasters and print media for deliberately providing platforms for climate change deniers etc. And a commitment to proper reporting of current economic and environmental data.

    I don’t believe ANY ‘news’ media is up to that task, and that the misinformation or blatant non-reporting of crucial issues will continue. For commercial reasons.

    • The point is not to apologise for history happening but the selective bias of what is reported as happening and the attempts at emotional engineering. Just because for you climate change is “the most important” issue doesn’t mean all other issues should be ignored. The humanity generated by extending feelings of sorrow towards those we have treated badly is an important and necessary step towards any sort of lasting care for the environment. I for one feel it is not such a difficult task to do both and well.

    • people of English decent must apologise for Captain Cook coning to NZ ad claiming it for Britain.
      AS ONE OF BRITISH ANCESTRY I AM APPALLED BY WHAT HAPPENED AND AM DEEPLY SORRY.

      Far more important would be an apology from the broadcasters and print media for deliberately providing platforms for climate change deniers etc.
      I CANNOT UNDERSTAND HOW YOU HAVE DECIDED THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT
      THEY ARE BOTH EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

      • Michal: “AS ONE OF BRITISH ANCESTRY I AM APPALLED BY WHAT HAPPENED AND AM DEEPLY SORRY.”

        I understand neither your shouting, nor your apology. Were you there at the time? Obviously not.

        Were it not for Cook, the indigenes would have experienced starvation and a large-scale population crash, because of diminishing food supplies.

        The Royal Society noted that by AD 1450 – around 200 years since first arrival – megafauna (large flightless birds in NZ) extinction had occurred, and other protein sources were in decline. See this:

        https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rsos.160258

        However: Cook returned, bringing pigs (Captain Cookers), goats and chickens. Those megafauna saved the local populace from possible extinction.

        Moreover, early explorers brought potatoes, cabbages and carrots; added to the megafauna, these foodstuffs were of critical importance in NZ at that time.

        Now remind me: what was it that you were apologising for?

        History can never be reduced to one-dimensional narratives. Every story has both good and bad.

        • “History can never be reduced to one-dimensional narratives. Every story has both good and bad.”

          “Europe and the people without history” was written in the early 80’s by the Marxist anthropologist Eric Wolf and traces the connections between communities, regions, peoples and nations on a global scale. It would add to the premise that history can never be reduced to one-dimensional narratives.

          Its scope is considerably larger than the topic at hand however: Cook’s arrival in Aotearoa and its implications. While seeking to demonstrate ways in which societies written out of European histories were and are deeply involved in global historical systems and changes and afforded agency to actors often portrayed as victims, it is also controversial. Would Maori, historically, see history in the same light?
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europe_and_the_People_Without_History

  10. Chris Trotter is wrong?

    No, he isn’t. Sadly, he’s all too correct.

    I note one or two commenters here who also commented on Trotter’s post. I wonder where the rest of you were?

    • Where is the backlash D’Esterre? One could reasonable expect that Trotter was only after click-bait which John Minto has responded to in a very appropriate manner. In many respects, the media apology is of less consequence than the well reasoned explanations of how poorly the NZ public has been served. There has been a long inter-generational history of the predominantly white middle-class being fed biased inherently racist reporting. It was a enlightening to hear the maiden speeches of the Maori Party members with their personal history and activist endeavours as the basis for their parliamentary aspirations. The ACT number two who previously gave little indication of competence impressed with the intensity of her attention to both speakers! One must hope that enlightenment leads to understanding and acceptance – much more use than apologies but harder to do.

      • Or ACTs number three, a Maori woman, mountain safety trainer, mum of four, shooting champion and businesswoman smeared on this site as being a “gun nut”.

        Seems we pick and choose which Maori we should be giving air time around here.

        Winston Peters anyone?

        I’m expecting the hair shirts and groveling apologies to them to start any time soon..

    • DEsterres reading skills, as demonstrated after her reading of our illegal ‘great replacement manifesto, or parts of it ,,, had her stating in a thread here at TDB ,,,,,,that the christchurch mass murderer and self declared racist ,,, as not being a racist…..

      …. She stated that non-sense before going on ,,, to using the statistics our racist, policy abusing, Criminalizing Maori justice system produces ,,,, to try and belittle Hone Harawira with how bad and criminal Maori are.

      Make of that what one will ,,,, Despite a Stuff apology being due ,,, I see a bit of a distracting stunt going on.

      Because being just slightly left of the hard right Herald ,,, has Stuff with lots and lots of shit ,,, much of it ongoing ,,, to apologize for.

      ie ,,, the censorship and false image of Key they fooled us with ,,, our NZ prime minister getting bailed out by usa taxpayers in the 2009 GFC as Key was ,,, was newsworthy but unreported ,,, except in the pecuniary interests register Parliament has on MPs asset’s.. Key was a creative greed merchant who sneered ‘they can sue’ to the families of workers killed by deregulated non compliance by employers ,,, and non enforcement of safety regulations by the Govt ,,, all topped off by insurance money illegally buying the dropping of criminal manslaughter charges . Key was contemptuous of workers and would spit in their beer.

      ie ,,, their Islamophobia that they trumpeted and amplified ,,, to aid warmongers, like Key & Mapp ,,, in their quest to have us join in killing Muslims for the usa.

      Ie ,,, their amplifying the bullshit of ‘ mass boatloads of refugees’ heading for NZ ,,, aiding Islamophobia and retarded ‘replacement’ idiots like the Christchurch killer soldier and their war against invaders ,,,who are unarmed civilian men women and children.

      ie ,,, their censorship of Israel / usa Politics ,,, and amplifying Russia gate bullshit.
      Robert Fisk wrote this in 2009 ,,,, but now its more relevant than ever ,,,,
      https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-united-states-of-israel-6102654.html

      “two men have caused one of the most extraordinary political storms over the Middle East in recent American history by stating what to many non-Americans is obvious: that the US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel, that Israel is a liability in the “war on terror”, that the biggest Israeli lobby group, Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), is in fact the agent of a foreign government and has a stranglehold on Congress – so much so that US policy towards Israel is not debated there – and that the lobby monitors and condemns academics who are critical of Israel.”

      “Anyone who criticises Israel’s actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy,” the authors have written, “…stands a good chance of being labelled an anti-Semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israeli lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism..” https://youtu.be/U1bQzcx9iBE?list=LL

      The usa spends $1,25 TRILLION dollars PER YEAR ,,, on their security / military ,,, 9 mins 30 secs https://youtu.be/2RNqN1L2vtE

      etc Largest Strike In Human History NOT Covered by Corporate Media. https://youtu.be/3NxgkkY2G8s

      etc Biden Picks Cockroach Neera Tanden to Head OMB https://youtu.be/rVnsA1QsvoI

      etc Meet Biden’s New Secretary of State https://youtu.be/hV0c0VshTjA

      Basically our media is more contaminated than a toxic NZ river ,,, the poisoning of which they also downplayed / under reported ,,, while at the same time hyping and fearmongering a fabricated contamination hoax ,,,which lead to witch trial evictions and crushing bills by our tenancy tribunal,,, and multi million dollars scam ‘de-contamination’ payments paid out by tax payers via housing corp and others privately ,,, to con artists.

      I think Stuffs race apology ,,,,, is misdirection for current non reporting that keep us ignorant ,,,,

      Reward the good reporters like Nicky Hager, John Campbell, Pilger etc by following and getting the truth from them ,,,,

      Stuff the rest of the ‘dirty media’ who will never change their right wing BS and censorship. ,,,

      Stuff Em

  11. Chris Trotter’s right AND wrong. But not that wrong yet not that right either. Oh dear dilemma, what shall we do with you? What are you to become…?
    My observation is that modern racism is a tool to enable financially manipulative exploiters to muddy the waters so as they can sneak up on their prey. I.e. You and me.
    Racists should read more. They’d discover that all humans evolved, to use the word loosely, from a single matriarch in Africa. At least that’s the latest finding. I’m sure there will be counter theories to come in the works but lets go with that in the mean time.
    ( I personally think that I might be the only awareness thinking I’m part of a greater scheme of things when really everyone and everything else is an AI construct and I tell you what? This is the best computer game I’ve ever played. A cheer must go up for the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wachowskis. )

    Based on DNA hidden within cells we, all of us share DNA with one woman.
    A dear old friend sent me this fabulous link and since I’m a sharing kind of guy ( which stops short at my female human bestie, snuggle bunny, my car, my computer and my chainsaw. ) here it is.
    The machinery within our bodies surpasses the garbage floating about in our brains.
    It doesn’t matter what colour your skin is, this is going on racist dumbasses.
    Roll up a blunt, pull up the sofa, watch this…?
    ‘Your Body’s Molecular Machines’
    https://youtu.be/X_tYrnv_o6A
    Can I say. You, John Minto, are fucking awesome.

  12. I can only relate my experience as a young boy in Dargaville in the early 60’s… I had, at that stage, never met a Maori, but my world was a misery of fear of and hatred for those “upstanding citizens” of the town, for their abusive attitudes, and actions in making their own children their victims, which to this day, still hasn’t been faced by any of those so called “elders and betters” … The legacy they left was generations of damaged, and limited people who were unable to rise above the dross and simply conformed to their upbringing… White, Anglo Saxon protestants, and catholics, who used their own offspring as sex toys, and beat them mercilessly for any real, or imagined misbehavior… Utter bastards one and all.. and not a single Maori amongst them… Suffice to say that I haven’t been back there since I escaped, and won’t ever go there in my lifetime..

  13. Kia ora John
    Racism has been an unpleasant aspect of New Zealand society since its foundation, but you cannot address the phenomenon of racism independently of the problem of colonialism.
    The Crown’s invasion of Waikato was prompted by the refusal of Waikato tribes to swear allegiance to Queen Victoria. The New Zealand wars were the outcome of constitutional conflict, and not “race wars”. Maori and Pakeha were found on both sides of the conflict – as they are to this day.
    As far as I can see, Stuff has failed to address the central issue of sovereignty. It continues to tacitly support the colonial regime’s claim to the right to exercise sovereign authority over these islands and its peoples.
    Given your political history, I suspect that you also remain on the “wrong” side of the political divide.
    Is it not a fact that you give allegiance to the British Crown?
    Those who blindly support British sovereignty render themselves incapable of examining the fundamental political and constitutional problems of New Zealand society, and therefore cannot be part of the solution.
    Their only recourse is to rabbit on about race, which only tends to aggravate the problem.
    So long as we have colonialism, and the current political system imposed by the imperial forces, we will continue to suffer from racism – European racism, Chinese racism, Indian racism, and all kinds of racism, including Maori racism.
    When Stuff declares itself to be on the side of the “rebels” of 1862 and when it categorically denounces the sovereign pretensions of the British Crown, then I will believe that they have really changed sides. Until then I will see “No matou te he” as just another case of colonialist political obfuscation.

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