Monday, August 18, 2014

The politics of Jesus - Monday 18 August 2014

Pakeha Forgetfulness

On Saturday morning the Christchurch Press frontpaged an article about Kiwi opposition to sales of farmland. This fearful approach, at least by Pakeha, highlights a form of collective amnesia. How did that farmland get to be farmland in the first place? It was bought (or 'bought') by foreigners to these shores. Last night in Christchurch and many other towns and cities, every person, even those sleeping under park benches, slept on land once bought by foreigners.

There is no sovereign right on the part of current landowners, save for Maori owners of tribal land, to refuse sale to foreigners. Put another way, there is nothing intrinsic about the occupation of NZ being the preserve of European-derived people. We may be in the process of becoming occupied by Asian-derived people. Hopefully this can be accomplished without any 'land wars'.

Worse, of course, than the incipient preservationism going on through our collective amnesia, is the almost explicit racism in which it appears that we object to sales of farms to Asians but not to Americans.

By all means, let's have a political discussion about the merits of the sale of any farmland to anyone, for example, we could reasonably and without amnesia nor racial bias discuss the question, Will the sale lead to improved economic and environmental benefits for the current inhabitants of NZ?

But let's not presume - from a Pakeha perspective - that once we accepted foreign ownership of land here from 1814 onwards we created some right to future bans of sale to foreigners!

What has this to do with the politics of Jesus? My thoughts above were inspired by preparing a sermon on the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite mother, Matthew 15:21-28!

Whaleoil's Egregious Error

Few Kiwis can now be unaware of the existence of NZ's most popular blog, Whaleoil, run by Cameron Slater. Following the publication of Dirty Politics last week, written by Nicky Hager, Cameron Slater and various associates have been in the spotlight in respect of alleged dirty political conspiracies and connivances. Google round to read something about this. Take a grain of salt, at least in respect of whether Dirty Politics is some kind of franchise owned only by the right!

My little point in the wider, embroiling and daily-unfolding-with-new-revelations debate, is that a by-product of the 'attack' approach is to make politics a zone into which only a certain kind of elite will enter: the elite willing to engage in dark arts and to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Why would the great MPs of yesterday, the local businessperson or union official, the keen teacher or farmer rise to the challenge of becoming an MP if they are going to be the targets of muck-raking, innuendo, false allegations and what have you?

Attack politics skews the representation of the people to a small class of political operators who learn their politics at the side of a politician they work for as an assistant. From that position within the 'beltway' they learn how to handle themselves re the dark arts from the very beginning of adult working life.

But the beltway knows little about real life ... read British and American politics to see where Cameron Slater, Nicky Hager and co are taking us.

1 comment:

Father Ron Smith said...

Good comment, Peter, on land sales in Aotearoa/New Zealand - especailly in the light of the fact that the "cattle on a thousand hills are mine" says the Lord. Land surely, is a place to settle and grow food, at its very basic. Perhaps our Maori kindred have the right idea.

As for Nicky Hager's slanderous take-aways. What's he doing deliberately foraging for them in the first place? I doubt he'll win the Booker Prize with this sort of sleaze.