Sunday, September 11, 2011

Do we all have a little ‘Mutu’ in us?

Do we all have a little ‘Mutu’ in us?

A week ago Professor Margaret Mutu responded to a Department of Labour report that found Maori are more likely to express anti-immigration sentiment than any other ethnic group by saying that white immigration should be restricted because they pose a threat to race relations due to their “white supremacist” attitudes. Over the following few days there has been a plethora of debate around this will some groups supporting her, some denouncing her and many calling her comments “racist!”

She further angered many by claiming in a radio interview that she couldn’t be racist as Maori are not in a position of power.

Today it’s been reported there has been 30 complaints have been made to the Race Relations Office and many people are calling for Auckland University to sack Ms. Mutu.

Let me state this clearly at the start. I neither support Margaret Mutu’s position, nor do I believe that Maori can’t be racist. Any one individual can demonstrate racism and in this situation perhaps there is a case to be answered for.

I am left with two questions…
1. Is this a racist statement?
2. If it is, is society showing a balanced hand in their reaction to Ms. Mutu?

So let’s investigate that. Firstly what is Professor Mutu saying?

Well it would appear to me she is saying, albeit it very bluntly, is that white immigrants are having a negative influence on her culture. It appears that she is concerned for the plight of the Maori culture, practices and place in society and she doesn’t want a foreign culture coming in and ‘taking over’ what over the last 30 years or so Maori have fought so hard to gain back from what was once lost in a society of imposed European dominance. I wonder if someone from the indigenous people of NZ would look at the countries mentioned (Australia, USA and South Africa) and see what has happened to the indigenous peoples of that land and become a little concerned about that ‘attitude’ following migrants to this country. She may be concerned that the culture that is demonstrated in that country may be brought here and imposed on her culture. I find that a reasonable position. I can understand what the sentiments behind what Ms. Mutu appears to be saying. I don’t endorse, nor do I know if those sentiments are correct…but I understand why she may have them.

So is this a racist sentiment? Well that’s probably a relative question depending on who you are, however my interest in how we are responding to this controversy. Is society’s reaction to this balanced? Are we reacting to Margaret Mutu as we would any other person showing this kind of position in society? What would we do if another member of society said what Margaret Mutu has said…but maybe about another ethnic group or ‘colour’…answer…we elect them!

The Rt. Honourable Winston Peters made his name in the last few terms he was a member of parliament telling NZ that we would have out culture, or way of life and our place in society taken away from us unless we restricted Asian, and third world, immigration. Margaret Mutu says “white” and we lose our minds, Winston Peters says “yellow” and many seem okay with that. Even this year he has begun his tried and true yellow peril argument telling a Grey Power meeting that immigrants threaten the lives and living standards of elderly New Zealanders.

Winston Peters’ argument is the same as Margaret Mutu’s and I disagree with them both, and if you don’t you may have a little ‘Mutu’ (or maybe Peters) in you.

For you to react to Margaret Mutu over the past week with distain, to disagree with her position, then you are someone who agrees with immigration no matter what race, religion or country that someone comes from.

Mutu is saying that a culture, that is foreign to hers, shouldn’t come here because it makes her nervous, and she doesn’t want to see it influence her. For you to disagree with that sentiment then you need to be welcoming to cultures, religion and practices contrary to your…or maybe you have a little Mutu in you.

So what about it….how would you like to see Islam, or Somalian, or Communist, or any cultural, political, sociological or religious influence on your culture that is foreign to you.

If you’re uncomfortable with any of those then I have to say you do have a little Mutu in you.