Bill English has the chance to be heroic without indulging his inner Hugh Grant. He can be on the right side of history, China and even Ronald Reagan, if he seizes the moment

Love Actually isn't real life. As appalled as we all are my the strongman behaviour of Donald Trump in his first week in office, when he calls Bill English in the coming days, this isn't the time for the new Prime Minister to indulge his inner Hugh Grant.

Not that the conservative, studied English is likely to make some heroically bold statement in the face of a demagogue. Remember, when he took the job in December, he announced he as keeping Murray McCully in the job as Foreign Minister for a few more months so as to give himself time to bone up on statesmanship. Let's hope English learns fast and takes good advice.

While it would certainly make his name internationally, some dramatic speech about America the bully – as the new British PM played by Hugh Grant made in Love Actually – is not his or his party's style. Neither is it English's job to martyr New Zealand at this stage. He has tipped his hat to our independent foreign policy already by calling Trump's policy wrong, when Australia's Malcolm Turnbull wouldn't do anything other than say it's an issue for the US. Still, America's deputy then, Aussie? No lesson learnt there then.

Yet as a man who has spent the last few years investing in targeted measures to society's problems, English will have little truck with Trump's scatter-gun and dangerous ban on all refugees for 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely, and the entry into the US of anyone born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

There are better and more coordinated ways to respond, without accepting his demagogeury as normal. (And one more clever response New Zealand could make. More of that later). The simple fact is that on this ban we can be critical in the safe knowledge most of the countries of the world share our concern and are likely to act. We're not going out on our own as we did with our nuclear-free policy; indeed, this isn't about us. That's no excuse not to make a stand, just recognition that we can voice our opposition in a chorus, not as a solo act, as American and global institutions go about taking the fight to this wicked policy.

English rightly said Trump's ban on people arriving from some predominantly Muslim countries was "not the New Zealand way" and, importantly, said all New Zealand's refugees were welcome (even if it is only 1000 a year). A more important statement came from Germany's Angela Merkel, stating her "regret" at Trump's move and reminding him that under the international refugee conventions, signatories are required to take in victims of war. That rightly suggests a united way ahead.

Yet having said that, English must still tread warily. Grant's speech in the film was a populist reaction to Tony Blair's percieved cronyism towards George Bush during the Iraq War (reportedly cheered at in British theatres).

Blair's reputation is now laregly defined by his terrible missteps in that war. Meanwhile, here in New Zealand we tend to bask in the decision made by Helen Clark's government not to take part in the coalition of the willing, because it lacked a UN mandate. That war is a lesson about the importance of being on the right side of history. For all that English has been in parliament since Phil Collins and Vanilla Ice were making number one hits, New Zealanders are only just getting to know him as Prime Minister and they will be looking to see what he stands for. And what he plays politics with.

So as we do regularly with China, it's important that while we remain diplomatic, English expresses concerns about such awkward topics from the get go.

Indeed, China must loom large in any consideration of how English plays the Trump card. I've done any number of interviews with PMs and Foreign Minister in the past decade asking how we choose between the US and China, should it ever come to that. The question was always shrugged off as one for the never-never. Well, the never-never is just about in view now and when it comes to trade wars or the South China Sea, New Zealand may have some choosing to do between two bully states.

The one disappointing limitation for English is that even if he wanted to get on his high horse, he may look a little wobbly doing so. One of the lesser noted implications of Trump's ban is that it cuts America's intended refugee quota for 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000. That's around 0.015 percent population growth.

New Zealand's 1000 refugees this year – only raised after intense pressure – means we're only taking 0.022 percent of our population. So we're little better.

Perhaps English's best political response to this ban, would be to use the moment to both show a caring side to his government distinct from the Key years, signal an opposition to Trump without offering insult and undermine his opponents. How? By doubling New Zealand's refugee on the spot. Much as Clark did with the Tampa, he could say, 'hey America, send us 1000 of those refugees you have already vetted and were due to head your way'. John Howard was thankful; perhaps Trump would be too.

One interesting aside for you. Seven countries are now subject to Trump's ban. Coincidentally, America dropped bombs on seven countries last year (a conservative total of 26,171). Those countries? Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. So switch Iran for Pakistan, and America's list of those it fears is remarkably consisten, even allowing for the change of president. As flawed as the policy is, it does suggest that considerations beyond where Trump does business influenced this list.

That, of course, in no way excuses the muddle-headed ban. Indeed, this executive order only confirms what I've said since the election; those who were confident that Trump would be reined in must now realise what a danger he is and not normalise him.

Given that, the world should heed one line of Grant's movie speech; the one where he says that bullies only respond to strength and so from now on other countries will stand up for themselves more strongly against US hegemony. That happens when you go from shining light on a hill to burning pyre.

An example of that fall can be seen in another famous speech. The one given by another dangerously maverick, if less dictatorial, president in front of the Brandenburg Gate in 1987. That day, Ronald Reagan, said:

...But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same--still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly... Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men.

Reagan quoted the marvellous words of the great George Marshall 40 years earlier. And perhaps these are the words English could use in his phone call:

"Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos."

Reagan went on to say:

After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.


Comments (24)

by Stewart Hawkins on January 31, 2017
Stewart Hawkins

English is perhaps astute enough to recognise that importing more Islamists to NZ will be highly unpopular. He is being careful not to say this for fear of rousing the vocal minority who, perhaps naively, favour increasing the number of those people whose politics are inseparable from their religion and who would remove the very freedoms that Reagan and Marshall so defended. I agree that if Trump was logical and truly wished to defend Western civilisation in the USA he would extend the ban. We can only hope that he gains strength of purpose over time and clearer thinking prevails.

by Tim Watkin on January 31, 2017
Tim Watkin

Do you know any person of any faith whose religious beliefs are separable from their politics?

Why pretend that all Muslims think alike?

 

by Murray Grimwood on February 01, 2017
Murray Grimwood

Mr Watkins seems incapable of - or unwilling to - grasping the fact that growth had to end. Despite opportunities given.

He should be asking why Mr English though you could triple global population, or why it was that beset such an example. He should also be asking how much energy, of what EROEI, would be needed to maintain NZ's current population, let alone add to it

Trump and Brexit are because there isn't enough to go round any more. Fence talk and bad-mouthing of others is the only way a society can avoid taking the blame for its own actions. Remember, for all the hype, the US still imports half the 18 million barrels a day it uses. It has to fight or 'pay' for the rest. And convince itself that it's not the terrrorist - a task made easier by a compliant media.

But freedom doesn't lead to prosperity, Tim. On a finite planet, freedom just leads to a one-off situation of overpopulation and overconsumption and habitat-degradation and does so at an exponentially-increasing speed.

The only true prosperity is staying within the bounds of resource sustainability, Planetarily we are seriously overdrawn by that measure, at the US rate of consumption we're a happening disaster. Trump will never ' make America great' again because there isn't the energy, time or resources left to do so. 

Re refugees in a growing-population world, TIm. What then? And what then? 

English could best ask Trump if there was a negotiable way down to a siustainable global  Population and a sustainable rate of global consumption, while avoiding fighting each other ove what's left and hiding in gated communities - up to and including national-scale ones - while doing so. I doubt we will or can do it, but it's the only valid goal.

by Chuck Bird on February 02, 2017
Chuck Bird

Tim, you said, "As appalled as we all are by the strongman behaviour of Donald Trump in his first week in office".

May I ask who the “we” is?  There are many countries that treat people a lot worse than the US.  China would be one and I would say almost every Muslim majority country. 

New Zealanders have been killed overseas in attacks by radical Islamic terrorist.  There was an attempted high jacking of a NZ aircraft be a Somalia who I believe was a refugee.  Are you aware of the attacks on women in Scandinavian countries and of course Germany?  How about that terrorists attacks in Europe murdering innocent people?  Have you heard of the rape of Australian women by Lebanese Muslims?

There are many people in the US and here in New Zealand who do not think the majority of Muslims particularly from the ME assimilate well.

 

 

by Tim Watkin on February 02, 2017
Tim Watkin

Chuck, it's a fair point. That was a lazy 'we'.

Yes, China does treat many people badly and they are roundly condemned for it. Many majority Muslim countries have poor human rights records as well, also heavily criticised. But America has long seen itself, as I wrote, as "a shining light on a hill", especially when it comes to rights, humanitarianism and the rule of law. I hold it to a higher standard.

The rest of your comments are, I'm afraid, much lazier writing than my 'we' error. Are you aware you're making sweeping generalisations on the basis of a few examples? I could just as easily list attacks around the world by Christian, far right, or even Buddhist groups. I could write almost your exact parapraph, replacing 'Muslim' with 'Atheist'.

Of course, Islam is in the middle of a violent civil war that sometimes spills over – or is aimed at – citizens in the West. There is a strain of violence amongst a few extremists. But generalisations are illogical. What evidence do you have that Muslims assimilate any different to any other religious group? And if there is, have you thought that the reason may be more to do with the trauma of their background than their faith? The Somali plane highjacker, for example, has serious mental health issues, according to reports.

There are around 46,000 Muslims in New Zealand. It'd be interesting to look – and I don't know if there are many stats collected by religion – but I wonder if Muslims aren't committing less crime, proportionately, than other faiths or those of no faith. Point being, you have no idea and are showing prejudice to a vast number of people based on the actions of a few.

So while I accept I shouldn't generalise that we are all appalled by Trump's incredibly and intensely erratic and destructive behaviour that is eroding alliances and showing all the maturity of an 11 year-old, will you accept that you're wrong to make such sweeping statements of prejudice?

 

by Tim Watkin on February 02, 2017
Tim Watkin

Talking about tensions between the US and China and the potential for NZ to have to choose sides at some point, I see Steve Bannon has said in the past year that he has "no doubt" there will be a war between the two over the South China Sea.

I wonder if he's willing to fight and die on the frontline or if he's just happy for other people's children to die.

by Katharine Moody on February 03, 2017
Katharine Moody

Tim: "But America has long seen itself, as I wrote, as "a shining light on a hill", especially when it comes to rights, humanitarianism and the rule of law. I hold it to a higher standard."

I'm not anti-Amercian - I am an Amercian, but their record of interference in other country's sovereign affairs is an aspect of much embarassment to me. That so many of their leaders have seen themselves as this "shining light" has wrought a lot of misery the world over;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change

And I was a young person there throughout the long period of political assassinations and violence at home during in the 50s-70s. Moving to NZ in 1978 gave me an opportunity to breath free again and to truly appreciate what (was then) a wonderfully egalitarian/classless society - aside from the gang problem, for the most part peaceful and accepting.  Given that America had never been that throughout my lifetime - I noticed the difference.

I'm not saying America is bad - it's just America. It has a history that has shaped it as a society unlike any other. It is not the "shining light" any more so than NZ is the "clean and green".

by Peggy Klimenko on February 03, 2017
Peggy Klimenko

Katharine Moody: "And I was a young person there throughout the long period of political assassinations and violence at home during in the 50s-70s."

I'm guessing that it's the events described in this link to which you refer:

http://archive.is/WPrYb

I'm old enough to remember reportage of much of this in NZ: I recall becoming acquainted with the term "urban guerrilla" during that time. Some of the commenters here may be too young to know about that period of US history; others may have forgotten. I recommend it to everyone.

The author of this piece goes through that entire history of political violence; laid out like that, it is a shocking story. I really can't recall what the tone of the reportage here in NZ was, but given the zeitgeist of the time, there may have been an undertone of approval or at least acceptance.

I'm sure that we didn't have the least understanding of how awful this period must have been for so many Americans.

by Ross on February 04, 2017
Ross

The Somali plane highjacker, for example, has serious mental health issues, according to reports.

Well, the two pilots and passenger who were stabbed must feel relieved that she merely has mental health problems! "How was your day, honey?" "Oh I got stabbed while doing my job but the good news is my attacker wasn't a terrorist".

Of course, the vast majority of people with mental health problems don't stab pilots. Mental health problems don't justify the use of violence.

by Chuck Bird on February 04, 2017
Chuck Bird

Tim, it is nice to debate issues here rather than Kiwiblog where there is all sort of personal abuse especially if someone supports Winston.  It shows they are very worried.

The issue is about percentage.  We get very small fanatical very small groups of Christian here and overseas that behave badly but aside from the IRA and do not know of any Christian groups that have killed people solely for their beliefs and not so internationally.  There was a massacre of Muslims in Bosnia but Christians elsewhere did not just condemn it but prosecuted who they could as war criminals.

I am not a Christian but an agnostic and do not claim to be an expert on theology.  But what I know of Jesus is that he preached forgiveness not violence.  In contrast Mohamed was a murdering paedophile who preached violence and submission.  After the fall of the Shah of Iran the age of consent for girls was dropped to 9 as if it was good enough consummate his marriage to his child bride it was good enough to all good Muslims to do the same.

This underage sex does not stop when Muslim come to the west.  There are arranged marriages that authorities here in NZ and other countries do not prosecute properly. 

I have quoted a case in the UK below with a link.

Rotherham child sex gang shout 'Allahu Akbar' in court as they are jailed for abusing girls including one who became pregnant at just 12 after being groomed with alcohol and drugs

There are two issues combined here.  One is they were underage and the second that they are infidels.  This is but one case in the UK.  Underage girls are treated much worse who are captured in Muslim countries.  We then have the case I mentioned about the Lebanese Muslim attacks in Sydney.  We had female relations of these rapist blaming the victims for how they were dressed.

It is not just the possibility of terrorist attacks or serious crimes particularly against women it is they do not want to fit in with basic western values.  I live in Ngaruawahia, a small town with a high Maori population.  I certainly get on well with Maori here as I do anywhere in NZ.  I belong to a number of sport and social groups.  People of all races join and they are welcome.  I do not think there are any Muslims there.  If so I doubt if there are any women. They may find it difficult to play tennis with their head gear.

NZ has pretty good race relations.  It could always be better but it is not too bad.  Two things that contribute to that are mixed marriage and sport.  This has been the case since the first Europeans arrived.  It carried on a bit later with the Chinese during the gold rush and more recently with Pacific Islanders.  We notice the same with the young immigrants here regardless of what their parents think except for Muslims.

All religion is political?

You stated that and I quote, “Do you know any person of any faith whose religious beliefs are separable from their politics?”

My answer is it is a matter of degree.  While about half New Zealanders class themselves as Christian the vast majority of them would not be very political is at all.  Many would be prochoice and very liberal on many matters.  Very, very few would advocate violence.  There are a handful who may demonstrate at an abortion clinic but the chance of violence would be very slim.  I know Bob McCoskrie believe abortion is murder.  I also know he would not support violence in any form. 

I would hope you would remember the virgin in a condom on display at Te Papa.  This was at a taxpayer funded building.  There is no way they would allow anything that offended Muslims.  One reason being is the fear of violence even though they number only one percent.

Catholics protested and some used a little violence against the discriminatory attack on their religion.  .  Catholics unlike Muslims do have a sense of humour and will laugh as Catholic jokes about confession and so on but that was outrageous.  There definitely would have been more violence if they had mocked Muhammad.

Catholics used to expect any non-Catholic to become a Catholic or at least have the children brought up in the Catholic faith.  This is becoming less common now. 

Muslims on the other hand have restrictions on charging interest, how animals are slaughtered (not humanly), how females dress and the way Muslims face when they have a crap and how they clean their backside.    

While only a small number are actual terrorists a very high percentage support sharia law.  Most would believe Israel does not have a right to exist.  We had a Labour Muslim MP who thought is acceptable to kill homosexuals in Muslim countries but not in NZ at least not now.

Donald Trump

While I would agree with you a lot about Donald Trump I am not impressed with the alterative.  He certainly could implement his policies a lot better.  However, I believe my views on Muslim immigration are widely held here in NZ and elsewhere in the west.  However, many people are scared to voice them publicly for fear of being labelled as Islamophobias.      

by Katharine Moody on February 04, 2017
Katharine Moody

@Peggy, sort of - but that link implies a focus on 1970s violence - whereas many of the events (e.g., the attempted assassination on Truman was 1950), individual figures (e.g., Melville was arrested/imprisoned in 1969) and organisations (i.e., the Black Panther Party formed in 1966) had their greatest impact in preceding decades.

The article is interesting becaise it seems to read as coming from an agenda of liberal/left as the root of the violence and corruption in American society (? not sure, what do you think?) - my point about America is that I despair at all of that rigid liberal left/conservative right highly partisan, identity-type politics, and I think the average American is sick of it too.  What their political system needs more than anything is to my mind an MMP sort of electoral reform and some serious reigning in of the three letter agencies.

For me, Geoffery Palmer is the stand-out NZ politician to my mind and John Kennedy in the US - for different reasons but both leaving legacies their respective nations benefited from.

 

by Tim Watkin on February 04, 2017
Tim Watkin

Chuck, I'm afraid many people may agree with your views of Muslim immigration. I'm here to challenge them because I think you're making generalisations based on just a few. 

I am a Christian, but at other times in history we have slaughtered many more thaN any terrorists in the West have achieved In recent years. For all that Jesus preaches peace, his followers have taken different views. Similarly, there are many words of peace in the Koran. And the vast majority of Muslims live according to those. It's foolish in the extreme to reject or generalise about a whole fair because a small percentage have twisted it. 

I like evidence based policy and the evidence is that banning Muslims, and these countries in particular, will do nothing to make Americans safer. In fact, as McCain and others have said, it plays into the hands of those who say 'the West hates us' and provokes more violence. 

As for sharia law, there are different interpretations of it. But no. I wouldn't welcome it here and of the few Muslims I know, they wouldn't be advocating it in NZ either. 

Oh and yes, I like that we can upset some Christians with art. No we wouldby do it with Islam in NZ. Yet. As a traditionally Chri county it's ok to poke fun at your own, but a kind host doesn't usually do that to a minority group with little power. Of course there are exceptions, as with cartoons of the Prophet where in NZ and elsewhere faith has been satirised. So I'll correct you on that one. 

 

by Tim Watkin on February 04, 2017
Tim Watkin

Ross, please don't troll. You just look  silly. I was clearly making the point that she want a terrorist as Chuck was suggesting, but someone who was sick, not minimising the harm done. She's served time.

by Peggy Klimenko on February 06, 2017
Peggy Klimenko

Katharine Moody: "that link implies a focus on 1970s violence - whereas many of the events (e.g., the attempted assassination on Truman was 1950), individual figures (e.g., Melville was arrested/imprisoned in 1969) and organisations (i.e., the Black Panther Party formed in 1966) had their greatest impact in preceding decades."

The author does go back to very early events, such as the Truman case, along with those from the 50s and 60s. I was rather too young to have been aware of what happened before about the mid-50s, but I certainly knew about some of what he describes from that time on.

"....it seems to read as coming from an agenda of liberal/left as the root of the violence and corruption in American society (? not sure, what do you think?)"

That certainly seems to me to be what he's saying. Given the nature of the perpetrators, it's hard to dispute: as I recall, those individuals and groups saw themselves as part of left-wing "liberation" movements of various sorts. I do wonder if the violence of that period was a kind of catalyst for the culture of mass shootings we see in the US today.

Being a boomer, I grew up with a liberal, left-wing perspective; this account shocked me. I'm not sure that I was as shocked at the time these events were reported; but I should have been. For that reason, I wonder if the tone of reportage at the time was at least accepting of such violence, if not approving of it, as if it were the price of liberation.

"What their political system needs more than anything is to my mind an MMP sort of electoral reform...."

I agree: the same applies to the UK. The political landscape in both polities might look very different today, had MMP been introduced there around the time it was here.

Chuck Bird: "We get very small fanatical very small groups of Christian here and overseas that behave badly but aside from the IRA and do not know of any Christian groups that have killed people solely for their beliefs and not so internationally."

To be clear: the conflict in Northern Ireland has nothing to do with religion in the sectarian sense, and everything to do with politics. The two sides are fighting over the political status of the six counties, not differing views of the Transfiguration or the validity of the Assumption. Religion is a marker only of who is on which side: broadly speaking, Protestants want the six counties to stay part of the UK, while Catholics want union with the republic of Ireland. By and large, members of the IRA are Catholic.

I'm not sure whether there have been any sectarian wars involving Christians since the French wars of religion in the 16th century.

With regard to the issue of Muslim migration, it was this article which caused me to rethink my previously liberal attitude:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wan...

I've seen nothing thus far to make me change my mind.

by Chuck Bird on February 07, 2017
Chuck Bird

Tim you said, “I like evidence based policy and the evidence is that banning Muslims, and these countries in particular, will do nothing to make Americans safer. In fact, as McCain and others have said, it plays into the hands of those who say 'the West hates us' and provokes more violence. ”

I agree with you about Trump’s implementation of the ban.  It was poorly thought out and basically unfair for those with green cards or PR.  It is also unfair on those who have booked flights and had visas.  The problem is that most of the terrorist attacks aside from 9/11 were committed by second generation Muslims. 

I think Trump is at one extreme Merkel at another.  Once the Muslim population gets above two percent we do not just get violence but political demands.  I think many westerners do not want immigrants or refuges who think our partners, sisters or daughters are sluts because of how they dress.

You base your view on Muslim preference for sharia law on a small number you know. 

Over half American Muslim prefer sharia law.

Your comparison with cartoons of the paedophile prophet is not valid.  The virgin in a condom which is particularly offensive to Catholics was at a government funded building.  I do not think there had been any Mohammed cartoons at a public art gallery.  One reason why is fear of violence. 

 

I certainly support very thorough vetting of any Muslims immigrating and a ban on face covering.  I do not think I am alone.

 

by Katharine Moody on February 07, 2017
Katharine Moody

@Peggy, great link - very insightful article, thanks.  With respect to the question you posit here:

"That certainly seems to me to be what he's saying. Given the nature of the perpetrators, it's hard to dispute: as I recall, those individuals and groups saw themselves as part of left-wing "liberation" movements of various sorts. I do wonder if the violence of that period was a kind of catalyst for the culture of mass shootings we see in the US today."

Probably not IMO. My observation is that the incident of mass shootings are a symptom of the near non-existance of a mental health system within a society that has a gun culture - and indeed the US has a longstanding, scary history in terms of its gun culture. The lack of an adequately functioning mental health system is perhaps the root of all evil - or the enemy from within - in the US (if one is looking for a sort of generalisation in that regard). And automatic weapons must be banned and confiscated - or there is no resolution in sight wrt mass shootings - Obama had that right.

Re mental health, I think so many children are, from a very young age, bullied at schools in the US - and it is likely not dealt with at all properly - at least that was my experience in growing up there. Primary schools needed to pay more attention to the little "cliques" forming within their ranks and do more to counteract that social trend. Also, American history as a subject throughout my schooling was a recount of various wars fought - that's it virtually - and you get it from the age of 5 right through to high school.  Yet the founding fathers of the US Constitution were immigrants from Europe, many great Enlightenment philosophers in their own right - yet I was never taught about the Enlightenment movement until I took an ethics course as an elective in Uni.

So, a state of its size and diversity without a functioning mental health system is a recipe for disaster - and when I was growing up there you couldn't buy an AK47. Think of the trauma of refugee/immigrant children from other cultures pouring into the US. Unless the education system has improved - combined with a free, targeted mental health system that is available to these children and families (and all citizens in need) - they are being placed in a hot bed of discontent and discrimination - with "equal access for all" to weapons of mass civic destruction. There is another large, traumatised group - veterans - and they get nowhere near the mental health help that is truly needed on return from these war torn areas.

I have a cousin, an ex-Marine. He's mentally good - stable job and family. But he has a gun carry permit, and carries at all times in that he hopes someday he can prevent an innocent life being taken by his own intervention; and he points out that he will shoot to kill and he won't miss. He's as patriotic as they come - and America is full of patriots... it grows them in a very deliberate manner.

Physician heal thyself is a saying that springs to mind over and over again when I talk to my relations over there. I am disheartened by the promotion (it seems) by the media and the political opposition to large civic demonstrations/protest in respect of this temporary ban.. I've lived through where that type of division leads to - and this particular issue is minor in comparison to the big picture problems they need to deal with as a society.

 

   

 

by Peggy Klimenko on February 07, 2017
Peggy Klimenko

Katharine: "...the US has a longstanding, scary history in terms of its gun culture. The lack of an adequately functioning mental health system is perhaps the root of all evil - or the enemy from within - in the US...."

That makes sense. I'd discussed this issue with a relative; said relative agreed with your views.There are always multiple factors driving aspects of culture, aren't there. A failing mental health system, along with a deeply-embedded gun culture, would be a toxic combination.

The deficiencies of our mental health system here in NZ, combined with the failure to provide enough disability care and facilities, looks to me like a time bomb that's waiting to go off. We don't have the gun culture here, as in the US, but even so, there are other ways for disaster to strike.

"I am disheartened by the promotion (it seems) by the media and the political opposition to large civic demonstrations/protest in respect of this temporary ban.....this particular issue is minor in comparison to the big picture problems they need to deal with as a society."

Yes indeed: it's a regrettable development, and the absence of insight on the part of both media and Democrats into the possibility of unintended consequences is to be deplored.

by Peggy Klimenko on February 07, 2017
Peggy Klimenko

Chuck Bird: "Once the Muslim population gets above two percent we do not just get violence but political demands."

Yup. We've seen just that development overseas; Sharia law, for example. Even here, calls for segregated schools and swimming pools. The thin end of a particularly pernicious wedge, in a society such as this one.

" The virgin in a condom which is particularly offensive to Catholics was at a government funded building.  I do not think there had been any Mohammed cartoons at a public art gallery.  One reason why is fear of violence."

I agree; many of us remember the riots that erupted in various Muslim-majority societies, in response to the Mohammed cartoons. I doubt that any public gallery here would risk that kind of response.

"I certainly support very thorough vetting of any Muslims immigrating and a ban on face covering.  I do not think I am alone."

You certainly aren't! I'd prefer to see head covering abandoned as well. When in Rome and all that...

by Tim Watkin on February 09, 2017
Tim Watkin

Chuck, on what basis do you say that at two percent of the population we'll get political demands? I'm curious about any precedent for that. At the moment we're at one percent.

The Hindu population is now around two percent, yet I don't see them making political demands or any disputes over the practice of their faith. And even if they were to double in number, I still don't fear them. Saffron terror is less common – and less reported – than Islamic terror, but if you're being consistent, where do you stop?

And you didn't offer any evidence that this ban would make America any safer. So why assume anything similar in New Zealand would make us safer?

I don't think the building an art work was in really makes much difference to the principle of free speech or the risk of public safety.

I guess fundamentally, I don't fear the arrival of new cultures and ideas in NZ. And I think our democracy is strong enough to resist any calls for Sharia law (although, again, there are as many definitions of that as there are Christian understandings of the virgin birth).

Most people who come to NZ come for the reason of leaving something behind. Yes the value their culture, but I'd be surprised if many of the Muslims in NZ think NZ women in short skirts as sluts etc. I admit that's speculation, but consider this: It's not something they'd do and may not approve, but the Armish and a few old ladies would feel the same! Again, let's not make lazy assumptions or generalisations.

 

 

by Chuck Bird on February 10, 2017
Chuck Bird

Tim, I was a landlord before I retired.  I cannot remember how many tenants I had but I had a lot of races.  I think I has a Sikh at one time.  I cannot think of much the Hindus do that should upset anyone.  They fought on our side in WW2.  I think clubs should have let them in with their turbans.  I recall some incident where they want to bring their ceremonial knike on a plane.  That was unreasonable as plenty of non-religious people had to bin valuable liquids before boarding.

I base my belief on the following link.  I could provide plenty more.  

Muslim behavior/terrorism correlated with population size

Closer to home I was given a link on Kiwiblog General Debate after someone heard me getting unfairly bullied by Karyn Hay on RadioLive.  Linking someone’s view with Hitler is most unprofessional.

Moutia Elzahed to be charged for refusing to stand for a District Court judge

Oz now has over 2% Muslim.  The above is one example.  Another I recall after the Lebanese Muslims were found guilty of gang rape some Iman drew the comparison of the way Aussie women dressed with leaving raw meat out where a cat would be tempted.

I think all Muslims should be subject to extreme vetting.  I wonder if she was wearing a face covering when she entered the country.  It is worth noting her husband, Hamdi Alqudsi was found guilty in 2016 of recruiting men to fight in Syria.

by Tim Watkin on February 10, 2017
Tim Watkin

Chuck, we seem to be at cross-purposes. Do you have any evidence of a two percent tipping point? All you've said is that Australia is two percent Muslim, and there's no risk of sharia there, so you seem to be arguing against yourself.

And no evidence that US vetting isn't extreme enough already.

Can I make the point again that a few Muslim people doing X, doesn't mean all Muslims do (or believe) X. Just as you can't generalise about NZers or Christians or anyone else. Do you appreciate that's what you seem to be doing? 

And I'd urge you to look into sharia more. It's basically the way to be a Muslim and is often personal rather than national. Most Muslim majority countries don't have sharia, some have some elements etc. Eg some have laws about cutting the hands off certain thieves, some do not. There are many different versions and interpretations, as with any religious mores.

by Chuck Bird on February 10, 2017
Chuck Bird

Tim, I do not have any evidence of a tipping point as do not believe in tipping points like the Greens believe in a tipping point for global warming.  I realise that there is a difference between Muslims for Fiji and Singapore than those from the ME.  If you checked the link I provided it gives a trend.  It of course makes a difference where the Muslims are from.  Oz has about double the percentage of Muslims as NZ and they have had a lot more problems with terrorism. 

As I have said it is not just terrorism that is my concern.  Under MMP it does not take a large percentage to have political influence. Someone is trying to start an immigrant’s party.  It is unlikely to succeed now but could reach the 5% with a larger Muslim immigration.

Muslims keep things to themselves as much or more than gangs.  We have not had any “honour” killings here like in the UK and many countries in Europe.  However, we have had forced marriage of girls to much older men.  I believe there have been cases of FGM here but it would be hard to find out how prevalent.

No amount of vetting will be good enough.  Many of the terrorists’ attacks have been from second generation Muslims.  Many come from ghettos.  Maybe the percentage of terrorists is low but many more give them shelter and few will report them.  This happened in Brussels. 

by Tim Watkin on February 14, 2017
Tim Watkin

Check, we have had a type of honour killings here in NZ. From Indian migrants. Should we ban them as a result? They are a significant and growing minority. Of course not. That would be a silly over-reaction.

I'm glad you seem to be accepting that Muslims here pose very little terrorist threat. Of course there's always the chance someone of any particular belief may take it to the extreme - and some small proportion of Muslims around the world are trying to provoke such attacks - but it's nothing to justify bans.

Three (I think three) attempts at Christian-based parties have failed to fly under MMP, high profile and well-funded attempts to reach five percent have hit all kinds of walls. So I don't think we are likely to see a Muslim party a) appear, b) reach five percent, and c) achieve any substantive political change in the foreseeable future.

by Chuck Bird on February 19, 2017
Chuck Bird

Tim, it is a shame I cannot get an email message when there is a response.  That is why my slow response.

I am unsure what you mean about Indian honour killings in NZ so I cannot respond to that point. 

I accept that there is little terrorist threat in NZ at the moment but that could change in the future with more Muslim immigration and NZ's foreign policy.  I disagree that a small proportion of Muslims are trying to provoke such attacks.  Maybe a minority but a significant minority.    

I saw a Muslim woman dentist on TV giving free dental care to the poor.  That is very good so I am not say all Muslims a bad but am still very concerned about their number.  Sweden would be a prime example as most are from the ME.  . 

You are right about Christian based parties and I think it a good thing there is no religious based party or race based party.  MPs should be there to represent everyone.

There is not a Muslim party at the moment but there is a New Citizens Party headed by an Indian.  It would have Muslims in it but it will not reach 5%.  Oz does not have 5% Muslim population but they do have political influence.

In NZ homosexuals are well under 5% despite the 1 in 10 myth but they do not need a party of their own.  They have influence in most parties.  

 

 

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