Thursday, May 05, 2011

Keeping our word

Today's must-read: KiwiPolitico: Violating ourselves, in which Lew nails the Treaty argument perfectly. Yes, Māori culture is important, and yes, culturally targetted intervention will result in better outcomes (whereas "one law for all" simply means forbidding the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges etc), but fundamentally this is about keeping our word: keeping our word that Māori wouldn't be disposessed, but would retain chieftainship of their lands, forests, fisheries and other treasures; and keeping our word that they would be full and equal participants in our society, not a local peasantry or racial underclass. And if we don't keep our word, we're betraying not just Māori, but our own core principles.

This also exposes the deep hypocrisy of people like Don Brash and the ACT party on this issue. Normally, they're the most vocal defender of the sanctity of contracts. Except, apparently, when those contracts are made with brown people. This is hypocritical, and it is racist. It was wrong in the 19th century, when Justice Prendergast declared the Treaty "a simple nullity" because it had been signed with "savages", and it is wrong now. Whether we should keep our word does not depend on the colour of the other party's skin.