Thursday, March 25, 2021

Why move to a new country if your first instinct is to change it?

In a recent blog post, I drew attention to the fact that New Zealand’s leading pro-abortion activist, Terry Bellamak, is an American. She has brought to the abortion debate the type of aggressive, hard-ball approach that you might expect from a driven New York feminist and former executive of Goldman Sachs (which she is). Bernard Moran of Voice for Life describes her as coming from the “whatever it takes” school of political combat.  

I also pointed out that the examples of bad behaviour by anti-abortion protesters that Bellamak cited in an article for The Spinoff supporting 150-metre “safe zones” outside abortion clinics were all from America. I suggested that as long as we’re stuck with Bellamak, surely the least she could do is deal with the situation as it applies here, not in Colorado or Arizona. But of course it suited her purpose to portray the New Zealand anti-abortion lobby in the worst possible light, and to hell with the facts.

There’s a broader issue here. As immigration has ramped up, so New Zealand has become home to an increasing number of activists, political aspirants, bureaucrats and academics from countries whose values and mindsets are often dissimilar to ours. They arrive with attitudes moulded and fixed in societies that are, in some cases, thoroughly f**ked up (Somalia and Mexico, for example, though some might say that description also applies to the US) and which can teach us nothing about freedom, wellbeing or human dignity. But that doesn’t prevent these recent arrivals from insinuating themselves into positions of prominence and influence here, stridently finding fault with the way we do things and demanding that New Zealand – an exemplar of liberal democracy and a country respected worldwide for its human rights credentials – reshape itself to conform to their radical ideological prescriptions.

I’m aware that this sounds like textbook xenophobia, but generally speaking, I’m pro-immigration. Would I be happy to have neighbours from Iraq, Zimbabwe or Vietnam? Too right I would. I welcome ethnic and cultural diversity, though always with the proviso that immigration be managed carefully so as not to destabilise the host country or provoke a backlash.

But here’s the thing. Logically, immigrants are drawn to New Zealand because they recognise this as a country where they can live in peace, own their own homes, get a university degree, enjoy freedom of speech, vote for the politicians of their choice in free and fair elections, practise their religion without let or hindrance and enjoy the protection of the rule of law.  

This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t avail themselves of the rights available to native-born New Zealanders: the right to stand for public office, to lobby for political causes, to join political parties, to phone talkback shows and write letters to the editor. In other words, we shouldn't expect immigrants to remain silent and invisible. But neither should they expect those of us who were born and raised here, whose families in many cases have been here for generations, and who have paid taxes and voted in elections all our lives, to welcome newcomers whose first instinct on arrival is to plunge into political activism aimed at refashioning our laws and institutions.  

So if agitators like Bellamak, former poverty campaigner Ricardo Menendez-March (now a Green MP with a stonking sense of entitlement) and Black Lives Matter activist Guled Mire sometimes encounter a bit of pushback, it shouldn’t simplistically be dismissed as xenophobia or racism. Those of us who have been here much longer, and who have a lot more invested in this country, not unnaturally tend to resent new arrivals whose foreign-inspired inflammatory rhetoric magnifies points of difference and undermines social cohesion that has been painstakingly cultivated since the 19th century.  

A related issue that I’ve banged on about before (here, here and here) is the tendency to fill key public service positions with overseas appointees, usually from Britain. We like to think we’ve grown out of the so-called cultural cringe, whereby we instinctively looked overseas for guidance on how to conduct our affairs, but the evidence suggests otherwise. A particularly egregious example was the Labour government’s appointment of Paul Hunt, a Corbynite socialist academic from England, as Chief Human Rights Commissioner – a position in which he’s capable of causing enormous harm.

Like the aforementioned political activists, these globe-trotting careerists often arrive with a set of values, attitudes and ways of doing things that belongs to another culture and doesn’t necessarily transfer easily to ours. When they screw things up, as they too often do, they are able to fly away without so much as a backward glance and get on with their careers elsewhere, leaving someone else to clean up the mess they’ve left behind.

A contributory factor in all this, of course, is our own complacency and passivity. As I said in a column in 2019: “Because we tend to be passive and polite, we make it easy for shouty, highly motivated outsiders to push their way to the top. But they don’t speak for us.”


Trev1 said...

Very well said. I am bemused that people allegedly fleeing persecution in other countries often seem to want to recreate the oppression they fled when they come to this country, especially when it comes to shutting down freedom of expression. The naivety of New Zealanders is limitless it seems.

David George said...

Lest we forget, not all immigrants are subversive to western values - just the shouty ones perhaps.
Rod Dreher's book Live Not By lies chronicles the abhorrence of Eastern European immigrants, forged by the horrors of totalitarian communism, to trends in that direction in the West.
Perhaps we need more of them, and our Chinese immigrants, to stand up for our freedoms. Perhaps we need to grow a pair ourselves!

David George said...

"I believe that the good people do, small though it may appear, has more to do with the good that manifests broadly in the world than people think, and I believe the same about evil. We are each more responsible for the state of the world than we believe, or would feel comfortable believing.

Without careful attention, culture itself tilts towards corruption. Tyranny grows slowly, and asks us to retreat in tiny steps. But each retreat increases the possibility of the next retreat. Each betrayal of conscience, each act of silence and each rationalisation weakens resistance and increases the probability of the next restrictive move forward. This is particularly the case when those pushing forward delight in the power they have now acquired - and such people are always to be found.
Better to stand forward, awake, when the costs are relatively low - and, perhaps, when the potential rewards have not yet vanished. Better to stand forward before the ability to do so has has been irretrievably compromised"

"If you do not object when the transgressions against your conscience are minor, why presume that you will not fully participate when the transgressions get truly out of hand?"

Jordan Peterson from Beyond Order Rule 5 - Do not do what you hate.

Andy Espersen said...

Can we be assured that these immigrants, Terry Bellamark, Ricardo Menendez-March and for that matter also Paul Hunt all meet our clearly stated immigration criteria? Are they skilled workers we need? Have they got qualifications we have not got in New Zealand? Have they got work-experience that no New Zealanders have?

Just wonder.

CXH said...

Andy, considering what is on the list to qualify as skilled, not breathing is about the only way you could be turned down.

Brendan McNeill said...


You have ably expressed what I sense is a subterranean angst felt by many New Zealanders. When did we get the opportunity to vote on whether New Zealand should become a multicultural dystopia?

Multiculturalism, which as the word suggests is an attempt to mix ‘many cultures’ and is not the same as mixed ethnicity or race, is an attempt to blend distinct and different cultures, a process often akin to blending oil and water. Think Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, the Baltic states. How well did multiculturalism serve those countries? How well is it serving Britain, Germany and France today? How well did it serve Spain between 711 and 1,492? But that would require some understanding of history:

As we have observed, and are observing globally, multiculturalism is not a destination, it is at best a transition from one dominant cultural expression to another. Often but not always resulting in bloodshed. Often, but not always requiring some form of totalitarian or military government to oppress dissent.

The truth is that some foreign cultures more easily integrate with (what remains of) western civilisation than others. This is just a matter of simple observation. Therefore, why would anyone choose to import people from cultures that are ideologically opposed to liberal western democracy unless you had a visceral hatred of the west, and were filled with self-loathing? Yet this is where we are today, governed by globalists in both major parties who view any sense of patriotism as bigotry and hatred against the ‘other’.

It is revealing to note that multiculturalism is a uni-cultural phenomena; totally absent in countries with a strong sense of national identity, like Japan, Saudi-Arabia, and Pakistan.

When we combine multiculturalism in the west with the dogmas of tribalism, intersectionality and the neo-racist ideology of anti-racism it’s difficult to see how this can end well.

Phil said...

Not quite the right context but finding out this week that the Government has released 2,000 prisoners and the prison population is at its lowest level in 20 years and barely reported in the media defies belief.

Andy Espersen said...

You are right, Brendan – “Multiculturalism is not a destination, it is ... a transition .........”. And we (as societies) need do nothing more to cope with that than to make sure we have no discriminating legislation on our statute books – as well as to educate (in schools and at home) our children in ethical, logical, humane attitudes to “people who are different”. For 500 years the world has been in a melting pot as never before - but, of course, mass movements of peoples happened for millennia prior to that. And if only people immediately began to intermarry the problem solved itself over a few generations. No earnest, arrogant, interfering planning by governments is required – in fact, more likely will defeat the purpose.

But Karl is so right when implying that we must control immigration to get only the sort of immigrants we need as a nation – and that, of course, these must accept the way we do things here. And that New Zealanders not just passively put up with immigrants who carry on as if they have a right to follow their own culture when it contrasts with ours. I well remember my first going to the pictures in Dunedin in 1958 together with another Danish immigrant. The rest of the audience stood up while the national anthem was played - but we just sat there giggling, loudly talking in Danish about such silliness. But I scrambled to my feet when a very hard hand landed on my back – and a loud, angry voice sounded from behind, “Stand for The Queen!”.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Andy

Here is something to think about. New Zealand cannot hope to accommodate all those who would seek to migrate here, or to come as refugees. Consequently choices have to be made about whom we agree to take, and whom we refuse.

What criteria should we apply? When it comes to immigration we run a points system that appears to be weighted towards the skills we need to support a growing economy. When it comes to refugees, we appear to rely upon the UNHCR for guidance.

How much consideration is given to cultural compatibility?

It appears the answer is very little. When faced with a choice of war refugees from Columbia, a largely Catholic country, or Somalia an Islamic country, which if any should get preference? We presently have refugees from both Somalia and Columbia in New Zealand, so the answer appears to be ‘both’.

The unasked question however is which group will find it easier to integrate into an increasingly secular New Zealand that has a Judeo/Christian cultural heritage? What has been Britain and Europe’s experience with multiculturalism? Former PM’s David Cameron, Anglia Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have all publicly stated that it has been a failure in their respective countries. Still, we press on with it here as an article of faith. Why?

Andy Espersen said...

Brendan – you write : “What criteria should we apply? When it comes to immigration we run a points system that appears to be weighted towards the skills we need to support a growing economy. When it comes to refugees, we appear to rely upon the UNHCR for guidance”.

In general terms, I think we cannot do much better than that. I would add that we in New Zealand (and Australia) have a moral responsibility to accommodate migrants from the Pacific Island nations over migrants from the rest of the world.

But the Ardern government certainly did not stick to those those guidelines when they appointed Paul Hunt to be head of our Human Rights Commission – nor, I believe, when they let in the two other roosters Karl mentions in his article. Here they furtively just sought to further their own ideology driven policies – though they are perfectly aware that most New Zealanders basically disagree with these. That is exactly how they approach the Maori ward question. Poll after poll shows that the majority of us are against such because they are so undemocratic – yet Government (and many city councils) arrogantly carry on legislating as if majority views don’t matter. I detest this woke government.

Trev1 said...

Nick Timothy makes a very good point about "hate speech" definitions in today's Telegraph:"The proposed definition of Islamophobia, which would prohibit criticism of people not on the basis of what they immutably are, but what they choose to believe, is even better for hardliners. It allows extremists to police thought and speech. Criticism of Islamism, unsurprisingly, is said by the definition to be a “constitutive part” of Islamophobia." Will this be part of Jacinda's "hate speech" law too?

CXH said...

I am mpt sure that people's first instinct is to change a country they move to. In many countries, certainly some of the ones I have lived in it would not be a sensible idea.

However once you settle into NZ you would soon realise that denigrating our existing cultural mores is not only perfectly acceptable, but there is a vocal section of our society that will stand behind you giving support. We are our own worst enemy, bowing and scraping before a shrill minority that wishes us to all don a hair shirt and accept the wickness that has got our country to the place it has.

Having lifted away for over 30 years it became obvious in ways my friends seemed to have missed. It reminded me of the frog in the pot story, will it be to late once we wake from our cosy existence. Sadly I fear it will.

Karl du Fresne said...

CXH, your comment about the vocal section of society that's always ready to join in the trashing of established values and institutions reminds me of a quote from George Orwell: “It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during 'God Save the King' than stealing from a poor box.”

hughvane said...

Somewhat relevant to this thread, please read what former MP Marc Alexander has to say about the vocabulary we are all supposed to use in our 'wokedom'(oh dear, that's even worse than 'woke').

Here's just a brief sample ... "Apparently it’s now considered ‘offensive’ to say a child has been breast-fed. They now derive milky sustenance via being ‘chest fed’."

MA has a Facebook page, but I know Karl discontinued that social media's use some while ago.

CXH said...

Karl, it appears a trait we have taken on with gusto as we moved on as a country. The last example being the mosque shootings. They were committed by a foreigner with no discernable help form any Kiwi. Yet we have accepted full responsibility, donned the hair shirt and knelt before those that wish to chastise us for unknown faults. I am sure many of our new citizens must wonder at our eagerness to prostrate ourselves for the sins of others.

At the same time it helps create a simmering resentment that one day will be to far gone to solve. Then again, such a situation that can only be solved by violence and control is one of the first tenets of Marxism so it should be of little surprise.

hughvane said...

Continuing a theme about the onslaught of risible p-c language and cultural sensitivity, I wonder how many have caught up with the kerfuffle about the word 'mufti'. Here 'tis:


For some light relief, try this:

Andy Espersen said...

hughvane - not only is it ridiculous, it is also wrong and absurd. Our English word mufti has completely lost the meaning it has in Arab countries (where it is spelt with a capital M and means "an expounder of Muslim law"). These students are simply uneducated - not just "p/c". Their school, of course, ought to know that - they are as uneducated as are their students.

But anyway, the whole idea of "mufti days" is quite silly - and is probably somehow challenging the self-confidence of those students who are less well off : richer students can get to show off their smarter, more expensive dresses.

Andy Masters said...

As atheist, I should be free to express my thoughts relating to Islam or any other religion without it being labeled hate speech. Criticism of a religion is different to criticism of a person who follows said religion.

hughvane said...

Andy Espersen - nothing you have said do I disagree with, and I'm inexorably swinging toward the view that the article was deliberately published to highlight the stupidity of the move by the College.

Cf. the fuss a few years ago when a waitress noted on the docket that identified the people who'd placed the food order, that they were Asian. Precious Petal (real name not published, nor known) was "shocked", blah blah. The spineless cafe owner apologised publicly for the alleged racial slur. We do not know if that hapless waitress kept her job.

I believe that item was published to show just how absurdly precious some of our moderns are, and that we as a society are at severe risk of not being able to express even the simplest of views that *might* be interpreted as offensive.

Eamon Sloan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca TK said...

“But neither should they expect those of us who were born and raised here, whose families in many cases have been here for generations, and who have paid taxes and voted in elections all our lives, to welcome newcomers whose first instinct on arrival is to plunge into political activism aimed at refashioning our laws and institutions”. I’m pretty sure that is what the Maori have been saying since colonization of NZ. From what I can gather it was alright for us white people to take over others land but when it’s being done to us we think it’s unfair? Nothing like double standards.