The Dim-Post

November 6, 2015

What is the strategic response to strategic racism?

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:19 am

Via RNZ:

During a political debate on Easter trading hours this week, Ron Mark objected to comments Ms Lee made and said, “I want to go on to the other comments of Melissa Lee… from Korea, as Wikipedia says.”

“And Melissa Lee told the House in her rather condescending manner, which she’s becoming renowned for, that we need to grow up in New Zealand – well, I’ve got a short message: if you don’t like New Zealand, go back to Korea.

I’ve talked about the comms strategy behind this before. Political operatives call it ‘closing the circuit’ and we see it all the time in New Zealand politics. You say something contentious – usually bigoted – that you know a group of voters you’re appealing too will like; the targets of your comment or their political allies object, the media covers the story because of the conflict and the ‘debate’ about whether the comments were offensive or racist or whatever, and the bigot gets coverage and (they hope) a boost in the polls.

The backdrop to all of this is that New Zealand First seems to have picked up as many soft Labour voters as they’re going to get, they’ve picked up a lot of the Conservative Party voters and now they’re targeting older white provincial National voters. So drawing attention to the fact that National has a Korean migrant as an MP is a very astute political tactic for Ron Mark, because this is a demographic of people that are often hostile to Asian migrants.

National has backed their MP and condemned Mark’s comments, but that’s exactly what he wanted them to do. It would be nice to think there’s a way to condemn racist attacks in a way that doesn’t play into the racist’s hands and give them exactly what they want.

49 Comments »

  1. Maybe. Or maybe he’s just as stupid as he sounds, and he did it because he really thinks like that, and really thinks that’s an appropriate thing to say. I lean towards that as being the real problem here.

    Comment by PaulL — November 6, 2015 @ 9:23 am

  2. In this case, silence. Maybe an affectionate laugh, the way you might at a doddery relative. Not a nasty sneering laugh. Objective: don’t make Mark (or Brash or Twyford) the victim. They use that to “prove” their “point”.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — November 6, 2015 @ 9:32 am

  3. Do you think Melissa Lee was adopting the same strategy when she made her comments about people from South Auckland during the Mt Albert by election a few years back? Because this looks like an awful lot like sauce for the goose. How exactly do you think Maori people should feel about Melissa Lee?

    Bottom line is NZ First certainly won’t lose votes over this.

    Comment by Nick R — November 6, 2015 @ 9:37 am

  4. If you are going to stand up and lecture the natives on their lazy ways, then you can expect the native to tell you to fuck off, irrespective as to whether or not you are now a citizen.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 6, 2015 @ 9:48 am

  5. I agree with Ron, us Christians have got to stick together and not let those Korean Buddhists dictate the terms.

    ‘Course its a bit of a surprise to learn that Christianity is the biggest religion in S Korea and Korea is the second largest supplier in the world of Christian missionaries.. but lets not go there.

    JC

    Comment by JC — November 6, 2015 @ 9:55 am

  6. You’re right of course; this is racism, and it is a strategy that New Zealand First have exploited from its beginnings. Ron Mark is astute to target Melissa Lee. Her campaign for Mt Albert played on racism. This doesn’t excuse being racist towards her, but it make sit more likely to work. She is also ineffectual and clumsy as a politician.

    Comment by Onsos — November 6, 2015 @ 10:38 am

  7. …or Twyford…

    Ha ha, I see what you did there – very good.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 6, 2015 @ 10:41 am

  8. don’t make Mark (or Brash or Twyford) the victim

    Twyford? I’m not aware that he is a racist. I think you’re referring to your mate Cameron Slater.

    Comment by Ross — November 6, 2015 @ 10:42 am

  9. Are we back to writing satire?

    Comment by Seb — November 6, 2015 @ 10:54 am

  10. Whether it’s acceptable or not, whether he believes it or not, he says it and can get away with doing so because it’s representative of a portion of the population.

    It’s not going to change overnight, but the most strategic response should still be to change society so that it’s less racist and so comments like that become even less acceptable. If we can’t reduce the amount of racist bigots out there in society then maybe we need to accept that a few people might end up in parliament representing them. That’s what parliament is, but ultimately majority rules.

    Comment by izogi — November 6, 2015 @ 11:22 am

  11. “It would be nice to think there’s a way to condemn racist attacks in a way that doesn’t play into the racist’s hands and give them exactly what they want.”

    Yeah it would. I don’t think you can though, given that there are racists.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — November 6, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  12. 540,000. 810,000.

    3,330,000. 3,340,000.

    Do the math.

    http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/estimates_and_projections/NationalEthnicPopulationProjections_HOTP2013-38.aspx

    Comment by Kawakawa — November 6, 2015 @ 11:39 am

  13. Rob Salmond can’t do math.

    Comment by Kawakawa — November 6, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  14. Easy fix. You keep a cockroach in your pocket for these occasions. It can be a dead one. When the racist holds forth, you throw the roach on the floor and dramatically stamp on it. Then you use the line from “Men in Black 1”

    “Oh, I’m sorry. Was that your Aunty? You know, you folks all look the same to me…”

    Comment by macdoctor01 — November 6, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

  15. Likely National calculates the profit from voters who are anti-racist, exceeds the loss.

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 6, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

  16. I’m not sure this meets comment meets the ‘rascistbar tbh. Edging close, but given that the context was Holiday trading laws, and Lee was making a point how awesome the Korean approach is vs. NZ, I think implying that she can piss off back to Korea is actually quite clever.

    He’s not disparaging her for being Korean or inferring that she has fewer rights by virtue of being Korean, but he gets the dog whistle across against someone who has made a very embarrassing and bigoted prior public statement.

    I’d say there is no downside here for NZF and as Sanc notes, what’s good for the goose etc.

    Plus National and Labour both come across as hypocritical, so we’ll played IMO.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 6, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

  17. The problem with the ‘what’s good for the goose’ thinking is that we quickly degenerate into unrestrained racism or worse. As soon as someone starts it then it is okay to carry on.

    Comment by Roger Parkinson — November 6, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

  18. Has there been another political party talking about a Korean problem recently?

    I don’t think there’s much point in trying to second guess voters – I’m afraid it’s a matter of saying what one thinks and placing trust in the better nature of voters.

    Comment by NeilM — November 6, 2015 @ 6:03 pm

  19. Assuming a degree of life experience and good faith here, I don’t think anyone can seriously doubt that “Go back to …” is a standard xenophobic line. It highlights the Other. It changes the debate in an instant.

    If we sit in traffic and sigh “Why can’t Auckland be more like Melbourne / Vancouver / London?” we are citizens talking about where we live, having the daily grumble. But if we compare it to Shanghai or Seoul, and we look like Ms Lee, then we all know what is coming. And it does. (Melissa Lee’s general awfulness as an MP is irrelevant. Her party’s own xenophobia *is* relevant, but that’s for a counter-attack, not a defence).

    To answer Danyl’s question, note how this hit the news. Mark said it on Tuesday, to an empty House. It wasn’t reported. Only on Thursday, when attention was drawn to it by other MPs, did it make headlines.

    Conclusion: a) the NZ media have to be spoon-fed, because the journalists have gone, and so b) it is no longer necessary to respond to idiots who shout in the void. If the journos aren’t asking for a response, then offering one is a tactical choice, not an obligation.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 6, 2015 @ 6:15 pm

  20. It would be nice to think there’s a way to condemn racist attacks in a way that doesn’t play into the racist’s hands and give them exactly what they want.

    Ignoring them unless otherwise reported, followed by derision and satire. Fortunately, there’s a blog for at least one of those things.

    Comment by RJL — November 6, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

  21. Pffft, it doesn’t matter about race. This is just the usual Critical Theory BS. As a white male I’m getting pretty tired of being constantly told how we’ve messed everything up when we’ve damn well built everything that exists in Western civilisation today.

    Which brings me to Melissa Lee. A bumptuous boofhead, and what she is doing in parliament I would not know. However it doesn’t matter if she’s Korean. Plenty of English immigrants with too much to say have likewise been told to piss off home. There’s even an old joke about whining plane engines.

    The offensive bit is when people ask to come to your house and live there for a while, and after that while they start picking fault with that house. I think its fair criticism of Melissa if she did say NZers need to grow up.

    I would make the same criticism of a well known Italian immigrant poking his dissatisfied carping nose into every damn thing, and a certain Irish women who does much the same. My view is we don’t need anyone who comes here as an immigrant and then starts picking the country to pieces.

    Its not racism to complain about these ignorant ill mannered people FFS, its just human nature. Koreans, Italians and Irish would all do the same thing if any of you went to their country and criticised them. That’s if there was ever a European in the Korean parliament anyway.

    Leftists need to get off this racist horse, they’ve flogged it to death. That maybe why they can’t come up with a strategic response.

    Comment by Redbaiter — November 6, 2015 @ 7:02 pm

  22. I think its fair criticism of Melissa if she did say NZers need to grow up.

    Redbaiter – she didn’t. Read the Hansard.

    That Ron Mark (and you) assume she did is the perfect example of prejudice. You both make the error because you leap to a false conclusion based on the speaker’s ethnicity, not the words spoken.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 6, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

  23. Sam- whether she did say that or not really isn’t the point. Danyl’s question paraphrased is “Why can’t Ron Marks be made to feel ashamed for what he said” and of course the answer is (as I said), that allegations of racism have been made so often and over such a long period of time and for such minor transgressions (or none at all) that the word has lost all of its impact and meaning and the concept as leftists see it has dissipated into nothing.

    In fact its overuse has sparked a backlash, which is another reason Ron can make political profit from this. Allegations of racsim are made so often and so frequently by the left that the standard reaction among many is “Oh gawd, not that again”. Its got to the stage where you could substitute it for “that white guy spoke”..!

    Except there’s another issue here too, and that is that Ron Mark is Maori and when you call him Skidmark, as I’ve seen him called today, y’know, that could by your own left wing standards be construed as an act of racism worse than the one he is accused of.

    Comment by Redbaiter — November 6, 2015 @ 9:56 pm

  24. Redbaiter: “In fact its overuse has sparked a backlash, which is another reason Ron can make political profit from this. Allegations of racsim are made so often and so frequently by the left that the standard reaction among many is “Oh gawd, not that again”. Its got to the stage where you could substitute it for “that white guy spoke”..!”

    Indeed. Freedom of speech entails – or ought to entail – robust debate which, while we might prefer just the issues to be tussled over, often involves name-calling. This is what Ron Mark’s done, in a manner of speaking. For heaven’s sake, it isn’t racism to tell other people to bugger off home, and nobody would be saying it was, were Melissa Lee Irish or Welsh. Are you all too young to recall the “Pommie-go-home” chants of earlier years? Nobody called that racism at the time, because it wasn’t.

    Xenophobia isn’t racism; name-calling and ad hominem attacks aren’t racism. Redbaiter’s right: the accusation has been made so often and over such trivial matters that it’s lost all its meaning. Let’s hear it for free speech: away with all this lily-livered nonsense!

    Comment by D'Esterre — November 6, 2015 @ 11:59 pm

  25. “My view is we don’t need anyone who comes here as an immigrant and then starts picking the country to pieces.”

    So if an American expat told you that he totally agreed with you that feminist/marxist critical cultural theory was undermining New Zealand, you’d tell him to fuck off back to America if he didn’t like cultural marxism?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — November 7, 2015 @ 1:41 am

  26. Read the Hansard

    I have, and she essentially compares NZ to other countries and suggests we have alot to learn. No, she didn’t say we need to grow up but that could have been inferred. The point is, I’m not sure we need to be like other countries, but Lee clearly disagrees.

    Comment by Ross — November 7, 2015 @ 7:33 am

  27. Melissa Lee is home, isn’t she? She’s a New Zealander. She spoke in the House in Wellington. She was home when she spoke. If she’s not home then none of us are, including the Maori Ron Mark.

    Comment by AlanE — November 7, 2015 @ 7:50 am

  28. OK, so we’re agreed she didn’t say what she was accused of. So Ron Mark got it wrong.

    She did indeed compare NZ with other countries. Something all of us do, any day of the week. And yet most of us are not told to leave.

    Here is the debate transcript:

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/debates/debates/drafts/51HansY_20151103/draft-transcript-tuesday-03-november-2015

    And yes, from the very same transcript, here is Phil Goff, talking about the “bright line test”:

    “If we wanted this to be effective we would do what they do in other countries and make it last for a reasonable period of time. If you look at Italy and Japan, the threshold is 5 years. If you look at Finland, Germany, or Korea it is 10 years. In France and Austria, it is over 30 years.”

    In short (and it beggars belief that this has to be explained, but then, bigots are remarkably stupid), he is comparing this country with other countries, because that is what we all do, all the fricking time.

    Why is it OK for one NZ citizen to do this, but not another? For one MP, but not another? What is the difference?

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 7, 2015 @ 8:42 am

  29. “… What is the difference..?”

    Phil Goff was talking about regulatory differences. Melissa Lee was implying New Zealanders are lazy compared to her compatriot Koreans. Since for any right winger work is not just a means to an end but rather a moral obligation with implications of wealth making you a morally superior person/race, and Melissa Lee is both a right winger AND on record as labeling South Aucklanders as criminal caste, the difference to me is pretty clear.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 7, 2015 @ 8:52 am

  30. She did indeed compare NZ with other countries. Something all of us do, any day of the week. And yet most of us are not told to leave.

    We might make a comparison but Lee was being condescending (and perpetuating a myth). It’s like complaining about your job. How many times have you heard it suggested that if someone isn’t happy with their job they should look for another?

    Comment by Ross — November 7, 2015 @ 10:56 am

  31. If members of the public listened to that Opposition member’s speech, they would think that on Easter Sunday New Zealand was shut down—that everything was shut down and there were no hospitals, there were no police officers, and there was nobody on duty. They would think we have turned the lights out and gone home for the day and we do nothing as a family…I have been here for nearly 30 years—it used to really surprise me, having grown up overseas and come to New Zealand, to see New Zealand shut down at a particular hour. That was really, really surprising. You know, we were closing shops at 5 o’clock when in other countries shops were open to 10 or midnight, or all night

    That’s pretty condescending and perpetuates the myth that NZ was some sort of backwater in the 1980s. Is she really suggesting that restaurants and bars typically closed at 5pm but don’t anymore? Yes, some shops did close at that time and still do. Hers was an ignorant comment.

    Comment by Ross — November 7, 2015 @ 11:06 am

  32. You know, we were closing shops at 5 o’clock when in other countries shops were open to 10 or midnight, or all night

    Actually, this is still a major problem. In any city in New Zealand except Auckland, most shops are shut by 5:30, and almost all are shut by 6pm. If you work until 5:30pm, good luck buying anything during the week. The solution to this isn’t 16 hour days, but diversity in opening hours. If more places opened at 10am or even 11am, then working people would have options.

    Comment by Kawakawa — November 7, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

  33. ” The solution to this isn’t 16 hour days, but diversity in opening hours. If more places opened at 10am or even 11am, then working people would have options.”

    As in Paris, when we were there. In the Marais, the clothing and shoe shops opened about 10am, and were open until about 8pm. It was every weeknight, as far as I recall. On the other hand, Vienna’s swanky central city boutiques are closed on a Sunday, despite the area being jammed with people – including rich tourists. But bizarrely, the cafes and restaurants are open. Go figure…

    Comment by D'Esterre — November 7, 2015 @ 10:08 pm

  34. — [29] “It’s like complaining about your job. How many times have you heard it suggested that if someone isn’t happy with their job they should look for another?”

    But by that comparison, it would follow that you could tell John Key to fuck off to another country if he’s unhappy with the current flag.

    Only an idiot would argue that a person should find themselves another country because they criticise some aspect of NZ society, culture or law.

    Comment by steve — November 8, 2015 @ 1:23 am

  35. … which brings again to marks. Danyl suggests a Machiavellian plot by Marks and KB asks if Mark is seeking to become the new Winston, but his remarks were in a sparsely populated mid-seek session and initially went unreported. Could it be, that Marks’ remarks, far from being part of some kind of convoluted strategy, merely highlight that Marks is just, well, an idiot?

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 8, 2015 @ 5:06 am

  36. Only an idiot would argue that a person should find themselves another country because they criticise some aspect of NZ society, culture or law.

    It depends if the criticism is constructive and or justified. In Melissa Lee’s case, it’s neither. I’d expect more from our elected representatives.

    Comment by Ross — November 8, 2015 @ 9:19 am

  37. If you work until 5:30pm, good luck buying anything during the week.

    You obviously haven’t heard of The Warehouse.🙂

    Comment by Ross — November 8, 2015 @ 9:23 am

  38. I have previously considered voting for New Zealand First and I am not hostile towards Asian migrants. I had a lot of Asian friends in my previous job and have always got along well with minority groups such as Maori, Pacific Islanders, and gay people. So why have I contemplated voting for NZ First? Not because of their stance on immigration, but rather because they have forward thinking ideas in other areas. Such as scrapping GST. GST has gone from 12.5% under Labour to 15% under National and many people, especially those belonging to minority groups, are struggling to pay for their basic living expenses such as electricity and groceries. So NZ First actually has a lot of policy ideas which will make life easier for minorities, not harder.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — November 8, 2015 @ 1:44 pm

  39. Don’t think Mark’s comments were ‘calculated’ just like Richard Prosser’s ‘wogistan’ comments were not, just natural outcome of how NZ First rolls. ‘Two wongs don’t make a white’ on the other hand, on the same day as Labour’s campaign launch, was totally calculated.

    Comment by Mike — November 8, 2015 @ 9:27 pm

  40. Excuse me.

    Someone says New Zealand should grow up and be like Koreans’

    Someone else says if you are so grown up go to Korea.

    Who is the racist?

    “Racist” is a much over used word in this country.

    Danyl’s meanderings about racism and NZF would make a 101 politics student whimper.

    OBTW I think Mark is something of a prat. On this issue he is not a racist.

    The media are the racist finders, a la a wwitch finders.

    They need the headlines to get the advertisers.

    The matter under debate was shop trading hours.

    Now can we get on and discuss something meaningful.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — November 8, 2015 @ 9:40 pm

  41. Now can we get on and discuss something meaningful.

    Like shop trading hours?

    Comment by Ross — November 9, 2015 @ 7:51 am

  42. Here is some data on comparable suicide rates – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/suiciderate.html (I know it’s 2005)

    note South Korea – i.ve been there myself – even among school children there is a relentless approach to study that can see the school day last for 10 -12 hours plus – this is what we should be talking about and this desire to shop 24/7 – what has happened to us – and what does this say to our children about the kind of society we are trying to create ?

    Comment by magrodaigh — November 9, 2015 @ 11:32 am

  43. To Lee at 36:

    I completely agree. I think the notion that this was some sort of “astute” and “well played” strategic manoeuvre by Mark is unlikely, to say the least. I do agree with those suggesting that NZ First probably won’t lose votes over this, but I doubt they’ll gain any either.

    Ross at 37: “It depends if the criticism is constructive and or justified.”

    So if tomorrow John Key makes a critical comment of some aspect of NZ society, and you think that the criticism is not constructive or justified, your counter argument will be to tell him to move to another country?

    Comment by Steve — November 10, 2015 @ 1:26 am

  44. So if tomorrow John Key makes a critical comment of some aspect of NZ society, and you think that the criticism is not constructive or justified, your counter argument will be to tell him to move to another country.

    A better question is: should our elected representatives get a free pass when they make factually inaccurate comments about a country in which they live in regards to laws they are wanting to change?

    Here is a woman who wants to be with her husband. Would it be wrong to suggest she move so she can be with him?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/73208480/new-zealand-deports-almost-500-kiwi-crims

    Comment by Ross — November 10, 2015 @ 9:05 am

  45. Steve

    It’s also worth noting that Melissa Lee has been declared a racist, which begs the question: can a racist be subject to racism?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10573458

    Comment by Ross — November 10, 2015 @ 9:07 am

  46. “It’s also worth noting that Melissa Lee has been declared a racist, which begs the question: can a racist be subject to racism?”

    Can and does happen. It’s multi-polar tension in its purest form.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — November 10, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

  47. “It’s also worth noting that Melissa Lee has been declared a racist, which begs the question: can a racist be subject to racism?”

    Comment by جزم اطفال — November 10, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

  48. A better question is: should our elected representatives get a free pass when they make factually inaccurate comments about a country in which they live in regards to laws they are wanting to change?

    No one is arguing that our elected representatives get a free pass if they make factually inaccurate comments. That’s not a better question; that’s just you avoiding my question.

    Comment by Steve — November 12, 2015 @ 12:03 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: