Friday, 9 December 2011

how is that my fault exactly?

one of the most common things i hear, which is the flipside to "this is MY country, so you have to do everything MY way", is the old "but in THEIR countries we're not allowed to do XYZ, so why should THEY get to do ABC here".

the most offensive thing about the second statement: is the pretty strong implication that nz can never be the country of someone who has chosen to live here. if someone talking to me starts a sentence with "but in your country (countries)", i'm very likely to interrupt them with "listen f**ckface, your next sentence better be about nz, because that's the ONLY country i belong to". well no, i won't say exactly that, it'll probably be a politer variant.

but there's a deeper injustice going on here. just because some random country has some horrific sh*t happening to some of its citizens is not a reason to deny me rights in this country. it's likely i've never been in that country, i certainly don't have voting rights in that country and it might be a country that doesn't even have democracy. it's also likely that i totally disagree with what's happening in that country in the same way that you do. in fact, it's also very likely that a good number of the population of said country also object to the stuff happening there, hence arab spring for example.

so given all of that, why should i be denied any of the rights available to any other citizen in nz, when i have absolutely no connection to nor responsibility for stuff that's happening somewhere else in the world? and yet you hear it on talkback radio, in letters to the editor, on facebook and most other forums you could name.

there's yet another layer of nastiness involved in this kind statement. lets say i do come from one of those countries where some particular human rights abuse is happening. aside from the fact that this may be exactly why i've chosen to leave that country, there's a strong element of revenge involved here. in other words, what the speaker is effectively saying is "some people i identify with are being treated badly in your country of origin. therefore, i seek revenge by at least denying you some basic rights in this country". it's a tit-for-tat type sentiment that is not only unjust, but is plain ugly.

it's without any kind of sense or logic, and yet adult people are using this argument all the time. i don't get how they can't immediately see the sheer stupidity of it.


Andrei said...

What right are you being denied?

stargazer said...

maybe you need to read the post again andrei. it's about people who think i should have lesser rights because some people in another country are being denied rights. i'm pointing out why that kind of thinking is offensive and wrong. i'm sorry if that wasn't clear to you.

Andrei said...

Again I'm puzzled - what lesser rights are we talking about?

stargazer said...

depends on the topic under discussion andrei. this kind of argument comes up in a variety of conversations. eg there was a letter in the times this week, implying that i should have less rights to political participation because christians in other countries are persecuted. you hear it in relation to clothing or access to jobs. you hear it pretty much any time a person from a minority ethnic or religious community talks about some form of discrimination they are facing in nz - someone is sure to chip in with "oh but in your country..." as if that justifies discrimination or marginalisation in this country.

maybe you're so confused because you don't get this said to you. ask a person from a minority community: they have to hear it very, very often.

Moneo said...

I sort of get what you are saying, but you seem extremely reluctant to provide an actual example of it.

As Andrei asked: what issues are brought up in this manner?

And in what way are Christians oppressing you?

Anonymous said...

Being more anonymous than usual 'cos I'm mentioning family - amd not in a good way:

I'm finding it hard to believe that Andrei and Moneo haven't heard this kind of comment all over the place. I know I have, and it always makes me angry, in all its variations.

If they aren't just trolls I suggest they listen to talkback radio, or read some trade-me or kiwiblog on the subject of immigrants, racism in NZ, wearing the burqa, turban etc.

My old Mum drives me mad with arguments like this this against her Hindu neighbours. Something along the completely illogical lines that they shouldn't be allowed to demand all the rights due all NZanders because certain rights are not upheld, and bad things happen, in the countries they or their parents or grandparents immigrated from.

And then, the argument goes, NZanders like her can't be accused of unjustly discriminating against people from this country, because allegedly, there, the inhabitants are "far more predjudiced against foreigners than we are here" and so her neighbours (and others like them) should feel "bloody grateful" that kiwis are so good them by comparison.

Part two of the argument is kind of pre-emptively defensive against the threat of being accused of racism. Apparently, one can't be racist against people who once lived, or whose ancestor's lived in a country that is (allegedly) more racist than NZ.

I've also heard (though not from Mum) some of the fundamentalist Christian versions, which I find even more offensive, due to the 'of the devil' undertones.

Honestly Stargazer, I don't know how you keep your composure confronted by this kind of crap all the time. My mother is now herself in a minority ethnicity (after decades in the majority) in the suburb she's lived in for fifty years, and she rails against the change. It can be more difficult for the elderly to adjust to the new I guess...

KG said...

"Something along the completely illogical lines that they shouldn't be allowed to demand all the rights due all NZanders because certain rights are not upheld, and bad things happen, in the countries they or their parents or grandparents immigrated from..."

I have discussions along these lines with all kinds of people, and not one of them has ever suggested such a thing.
The objection isn't against those people demanding the same rights, it's against them claiming special rights based on their culture.
And the situation in the country (or culture) they come from is most often cited as an example of hypocrisy, since that country or that culture does not extend the rights available to it's own citizens to everybody, regardless of origin or religion, as we in the West are expected to do.
It's a valid point.
When I hear immigrants moaning about being disadvantaged or discriminated against, when that's the norm in their own countries and they are in fact far freer in ours, all I hear is a claim to entitlement and benefits which exist precisely because the host culture is in almost every way superior.
Which makes me wonder why they come to the West in the first place.
As far as I'm concerned, they're mostly very welcome. But they are not welcome to attempt to change the host culture into something more suited to their own.
It's up to someone buying a product to examine its features well beforehand, not to buy it and then go whining that it wasn't manufactured to suit them personally.

Anonymous said...

The objection isn't against those people demanding the same rights, it's against them claiming special rights based on their culture.
Um, what? What sort of special rights are you talking about? Becaue I've heard these arguments made about rights that are considered fairly basic when accorded to white people - you know, like voting, and voicing opinions on controversial issues, and not having to work on your holy day, and not being randomly arrested because your skin is the same colour as someone the police don't like, and generally being treated with respect.

Andrei said...


(1) In New Zealand to vote you have to be over 18 and a permanent resident (and not in prison) to vote color, religion and place of origin do not come into it.

(2) Freedom of speech sort of exists, anybody is free to trash the Christian Faith, happens all the time, particularly egregious examples may cause a bit of a flap - you know TV shows featuring a menstruating Virgin Mary but they still get shown and life goes on.

(3) I'm an old calendar Christian - Christmas and Easter for us does not align with the dates they are celebrated in NZ as a rule. Accommodating that has never been a biggie with four weeks annual leave and "recreation days" etc. In some ways it can make it easier since the important days are not important to the majority.

James said...

SG is right that she is not responsible for things which other people do in other claim otherwise is to commit the fallacy of collectivism.

I am glad to see SG rejecting this doctrine and have hope that she will move towards a more individualist world-view...

KG said...

"Um, what? What sort of special rights are you talking about?"
Well, how about Muslims (for example) demanding the "right" to pray several times a day during working hours, at time to suit them regardless of how it may inconvenience other workers or the company they work for. Or demanding the "right" to drive and enter banks wearing a full face covering,both of which would get anybody else arrested on the spot.
Or perhaps the "right" to have Christian symbols taken down in the workplace.
All of these--and more--have actually happened.
And my answer to these is that perhaps these people would be more comfortable living in a country where those things are the norm, rather than have the arrogance to demand that a culture where they aren't, change to suit them.

stargazer said...

ah, i see the bigots have been at it while i've been away.

to deal with the last comment first, KG, i'm a muslim NEW ZEALANDER. if i want to ask for time for prayer, i have the right to ask that just like any other NEW ZEALANDER has the right to ask for accommodation. anyone who asks for time for prayer expects to make up that time later. and i don't see anyone trying to inconvenience others when they ask for time. mostly, they will pray in their lunch and tea breaks. friday is the only time when they might need an hour, and plenty of people who ask are refused that time. some people don't bother to ask, and an employer can refuse. some do.

so this "right" that you put in quote marks is always a request. as for driving, there is no legal ban in this country for driving with a burqa, so again, you're just full of it when you talk about someone "demanding rights". neither have i ever heard of any burqa-wearing woman demanding that she be allowed in a bank. so can you please stop making shit up, or link to evidence of someone doing this in nz.

and this is the whole stupidity of your lie about people demanding things. they aren't demanding anything. people can dress how they like in this country, as long as they comply with decency laws. so no-one is "demanding" the right to wear a burqa, they are exercising their personal choice to dress as they please without breaking any laws. if you have a problem with that, then you should move to a country where the state dictates what women wear - i'd suggest turkey, oman, tunisia, saudi arabia, afghanistan, iran.

as for christian symbols being taken down, why blame muslims. a good 40% of people in this country are atheists. i'm sure some of them aren't comfortable with having another religion forced on them. what about the hindus, jews, zorastrians, sikhs, buddhists? the fact is that no-one has the "right" to put religious symbols up in the public institutions of a secular country, so why don't you stop demanding that right?

also, i would really appreciate if you'd stop the offensiveness of acting like i'm not a new zealander and not a westerner. i am part of the "host culture" and if you can't deal with that, it's your problem. i'm equal to you as a new zealander, therefore i get just as much right as you to determine what the culture of this country is and how it develops. if you don't like that i am equal to you, then you need to leave, not me. oh, and if you think the culture in this country is superior, then stop trying to prove the exact opposite with your comments.

@ james: what i'm against is collective punishment, which is not the same thing as collectivism. i'd suggest you spend some time with google, and educate yourself.

@ moneo, i never said christians are oppressing me. when you find the bit where i said that, do let me know. i'm pretty sure i never have. i've talked about bigots being bigoted, and nothing more.

@ andrei: freedom of speech works both ways. if someone says something nasty or stupid, everyone else also has freedom of speech to call them out on it. if i remember correctly, many christians (and muslims) used their freedom of speech to criticised the programme showing the menstruating virgin mary. they were vocal in all manner of media, and the catholics called for a ban of tv3. i personally agreed with them didn't watch tv3 for quite some time afterwards. so if you believe in freedom of speech and life going on, then you also must believe that people have the right to criticise something they disagree with or to speak out if they're being treated unfairly.

and yes, we also use annual leave for all our religious holidays.

James said...

" james: what i'm against is collective punishment, which is not the same thing as collectivism. i'd suggest you spend some time with google, and educate yourself.

Ahhh yes it essence.

I'd suggest YOU open your eyes to reality and cut back on the fantasy...

And I thought there was some promise for you....oh well.

James said...

KG is right about people demanding special "rights" at the expense of the rest of us....although what he actually is referring to is privileges the state grants to some at the expense of others...and those are not "rights" in any consistent and objective form. They are in fact the logical consequence of "steal and re-distribute" welfarism and its underlying "morality" of altruism and socialism...and what a mess of contradictions that gives us...

Scar said...

From what I gather, this is the essence of the (bad) argument:
"If culture X asks us to WEAR head coverings when in their cultural bounds, then why can't we ask culture X to REMOVE head covering while in our cultural bounds?"

That point, to many people, does seem pretty hypocritical; that in one cultural grouping it is okay to enforce conformity, but people from that culture expect total freedom when operating in other cultures.

But I think what people are missing is that Stargazer is just a kiwi like the rest of us, it's not her fault that culture X behaves that way - and if it were a 5th generation white New Zealander Muslim who was saying the things that she is saying, then we wouldn't use the "but in YOUR country/culture" thing against her.
This IS racism, because it's targeting her ethnicity!

Scar said...

The 'traditional culture' of New Zealand is Maori culture, is it not, Redbaiter?
Or are you talking about the predominantly white, post-colonial culture?

Moneo said...

Sorry about the oppression thing - I think I misread something.

Scar said...

Ah, okay, you want to shift the goalposts as to what 'traditional culture' is.
But this is all derailing from the original point; which is that overwhelmingly, the criticism of Stargazer are being targeted at the colour of her skin and her religious beliefs.
As an aside, glad you got a laugh out of my blog; you should read a whole lot more of it - there's tonnes of humour in there :-)
(Unfortunately I don't know what a 'marxist progressive' is as I don't dabble in politics, only in Women's Rights)

Scar said...

"Me, me, me!"
My commentary isn't on you, Redbaiter; I've been talking about how people treat Stargazer IRL.
And no, at no point did I state that Islam is based on skin colour. Did you completely miss the part where I talked about a white,5th generation NZer muslim?
If you don't even bother reading my posts, I probably can't be bothered responding to yours.

Is it a political movement or a religion, and does it seek to overcome and replace the dominant host culture or live alongside it?

Huh, that sounds an awful lot like colonialism!
Wait, isn't that what made this country 'great' according to you? Having an outside culture invade and replace the existing one?

Do you seek to defend our traditional society and its majority


or do you seek to see it subjugated by means of infiltrators from other cultures? Where they become the majority and we are the minority.

Oh poor you! Might become treated like a minority you say?
Swings and roundabouts, my friend. No one ever stays at the top forever :-)
Might do the able-bodied, white, cis, middle-upper class, hetero males some good to find out what it's like being treated like a minority!

Anonymous said...

Andrei, I am well aware that these rights exist under law in NZ. What I was talking about (and what, I believe, Stargazer was talking about) are bigots who claim that they shouldn't exist for nonwhite people from minority cultures.
KG, I am a white atheist New Zealander. I would be made very uncomfortable by some religious symbols in the workplace (If you want them in your personal desk/cubicle/whatever, that's fine, but don't go sticking them to walls in shared spaces). My point is that if I complained about said religious symbols I might be called hysterical or accused of over-reacting (and this is wrong) but I would not be told, directly or indirectly, to "go back to [insert non-western dictatorship of your choice here]" because I am white. If a nonwhite person made the same complaint in the same circumstances, people like you would accuse hir of wanting "special rights" and suggest that zie shouldn't be in NZ. This is a clear-cut example of racism and bigotry.

Maia said...

Moderation notes: I have deleted Redbaiter's comments. Redbaiter you are banned from this site. A user name that announces you're a troll, using the confederate flag as your avatar and transphobia are enough signs that you will make this site a worse place by commenting on it.

stargazer said...

sorry i've been away from the computer and unable to keep an eye on things. thanx maia for the moderation. and thanx also to scar and anon for your comments. and i'm also thankful that i've missed the bulk of what RB had to say.

@ james, not they aren't the same things and your saying so doesn't make it so. you've not put up any arguments to support your position that punishing innocent people for crimes committed by another person in the same demographic as them is equivalent to people with a common cause banding together to take collective action. make the case or go away.

@ anon: see that's the thing with KG's arguments. it's like "you've escaped from from an oppressive regime, therefore we believe you need to continue to be oppressed here". it's without logic, without compassion, without any sense of justice or humanity. i just find it completely bizarre.

@ scar: "If culture X asks us to WEAR head coverings when in their cultural bounds, then why can't we ask culture X to REMOVE head covering while in our cultural bounds?"

the problem with your framing is that you are holding individuals responsible for what happens in their home country, when they may have little or no power or influence in that country to change the culture. they may be in physical danger if they try. that may be the exact reason why they are here. and yet you're saying they should be given lesser rights here simply because, by an accident of nature, they happened to be born in a particular country that isn't nz.

Suzanne said...

@ KG

You said "And my answer to these is that perhaps these people would be more comfortable living in a country where those things are the norm, rather than have the arrogance to demand that a culture where they aren't, change to suit them."

- I am a fifth generation Pakeha New Zealander. I was in bilingual unit at primary school so I'm very fortunate to have had a lot of exposure to Maori culture, and I speak te reo. I'm also Jewish. If I wanted to live in a society where it was the norm to leave work early on a Friday and to take the Jewish holidays off, I could move to Israel. But I love New Zealand, it's home. And I want to live in a liberal multicultural democracy. I want to live in a country which is at peace with its neighbours and at peace with itself. I want my kids to grow up as pround New Zealanders respectful of Maori culture, and I want them to be proud of their Jewish heritage, AND I want them to feel that these things are totally congruent. So unashamedly, I want New Zealand society to facilitate that. When I ask for a day off for Yom Kippur, giving my employers plenty of notice, I expect that request to be accommodated. Because that's what multiculturalism is all about.

The point that you're failing to see is that people like me and stargazer are just as much a part of New Zealand society as you are, regardless of being part of a minority culture or a minority religion. Whether our ancestors came here in the 1850s or the 1900s or the 2000s, once we call New Zealand home, this is OUR country. I have no other country. I don't want any other country. As a fifth generation New Zealander of British descent, I get very offended when other white kiwis use the "our country our rules" line, because they purport to speak on my behalf. As a member of a minority religion, I get offended because they purport to exclude me from the group that lays down the rules.

Scar said...

the problem with your framing is that you are holding individuals responsible for what happens in their home country

Stargazer, that's not my framing at all. As I thought I'd made clear, this is the bad argument that many people use to justify their bigotry.
It's not my argument at all, nor is it something I'd ever say myself.
Please read my posts more carefully :-)

stargazer said...

apologies scar. when i read this:

That point, to many people, does seem pretty hypocritical

for some reason my brain interpreted this as meaning you thought it was a valid point of you. clearly that was wrong!