Monday, October 29, 2007

Winston's new whipping boy

In the past, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has relied on racial hate campaigns as a core part of his election strategy. Since 1996, he's targeted asians, refugees, and Muslims, exploiting the fear, ignorance, and longing for the past of his mostly dead and white core constituency. And with another election approaching, he's hit on a new target: Maori - and specifically, those Maori who refuse to take the injustices of the past lying down, and who dare to think that the Treaty might actually mean something rather than just being a cunning ruse to trick them out of their land.

It's a classic Peters job. Pick out an identifiable group, demonise them, and paint them as a threat to "the New Zealand way of life", with the aim of terrifying the elderly audiance into soiling their incontinence nappies and voting to end this terrible threat. So we have the usual claims pushed by racists over the past few decades: Maori are lazy and all on the dole. Standing up for the Treaty's promise of te tino rangitiratanga is "seperatism", and its promise of equality under the law "apartheid". And land returned in Treaty settlements is undeserved, lost to New Zealand, and might as well be sold overseas. The net result is to paint Maori - all Maori - as outsiders, alien interlopers in their own land.

This is as ridiculous as it is obscene - and all the more so because it comes from a man who is himself an advocate of state racism. But Winston is a man without shame, and he's clearly hoping to repeat the success of Don Brash and ride a wave of racial tension back into Parliament. I guess the rest of us just have to hope that he fails.