Cultural Values and Racism

The honorable Tariana Turia MP was quoted today in the New Zealand Herald as saying “But when someone denigrates another culture then for me that’s racist.”  I like this quote.  I think it nicely sums up that aspect of our responsibility to treat one another with due respect.

There are two particular points I want to make about it: firstly, this needs to work both ways.  Let me make it clear that I have absolutely no complaints about the honorable Ms. Turia’s behaviour, but the name of one prominent Maori leader does spring to mind whose attitude towards Pakeha culture has often been less than respectful.

Secondly, there is an important difference between denigrating a culture and questioning it.  Where cultural values are in conflict (as in the case of the foreshore) it should be possible to at least discuss our differences openly and respectfully, so as to hopefully reach a reasonable compromise.  I don’t really understand politics, but it seems to me that one of the big problems with the foreshore debate is that this isn’t happening; the Maori party and the National party have reached a compromise, which seems to me [1] to be reasonable, but the discussion was not (as far as I know) open and the philosophical basis (if any!) for the various decisions has not been presented to the public.

Since this is a widely emotional issue, I will refrain from presenting my own viewpoint on the foreshore debate.

Harry.

[1] From what little I understand of it.

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