Pissed off

I am pissed off. And sad, but mostly pissed off, at a lot of things. Like this about no funding being available for counseling for two little girls who saw police kill their uncle. Or this, the Department of Corrections saying that they aren’t going to respond to an OIA request about the treatment of trans women in prisons because they’d have to look at their files and they don’t think it’s a good enough use of their funding. Or the violence that whiteness is constantly inflicting on everyone else because I don’t even know why, we’re too fucked up to deal with our own crap without shitting on everyone and shooting up churches.

Partly that’s all just sort of sitting there simmering in the back of my mind and coming out in something really trivial though. I’m pissed off that I just sat the last exams of my degree, which has had me studying constantly for like three years, no summers off, just two or weeks here and there between semesters, no matter how sick or unstable or insomniac I get, which is a fucking huge achievement, and I don’t even get to be proud because I’m too busy being terrified that now I have to face the job market and the punitive welfare system and the patronising “how to look for jobs” programs they make you take. It sucks because as hard as studying was and as burned out on it as I’ve been getting I kind of wish it wasn’t over. At least with university, it’s predictable. You put in the work. You study. You do your assignments. And you earn your grades. It’s all based on what you put in, pre-defined standards, they even give you marking schedules showing what they expect of you.

But looking for work? Especially the specific kind of work I need, most particularly part time work? There’s no control in it. You have to scour through everywhere to even find places you might fit and then you do whatever you can to impress someone who at the end of the day has a huge stack of applicants to pick through and you just have to hope they decide, on some arbitrary criteria that centres around looking at a couple of pieces of paper and hopefully talking to you for ten minutes or half an hour, that you’re the best there is. It would be like if you enrolled at university and then had to go through all the papers looking for the two or three that let you actually get an A grade and then once you’d signed up for them you had to beat everyone else because there’s only one, and if you didn’t manage to do that you don’t get your degree and everyone has the gall to act as though it’s your personal failing, because there are plenty of As out there if you want them. And it’s not just how people judge you, there’s also the government watching over your shoulder reminding you that if you don’t submit enough assignments they’ll take away the only money you have to live on.

I don’t even actually know if WINZ will let me only look for part time jobs without a medical exemption. You’re supposed to be available for full time work. I’m fairly close to needing to go to the doctor again anyway so I can get it, but what a hassle.

I don’t know. I’m just finding the world to be a very terrible place at the moment. There are too many people who don’t care about anyone else’s quality of life, or even their lives at all. The mental anguish, the torture, the terror, the lives taken violently through murder and colonialism and poverty and disinterest, they don’t even mean anything to society at large. It makes it hard, sometimes, to find the motivation to keep going.

Waitangi Day and Te Wai Pounamu

On six separate days through May and June 1840 Treaty signings were held in the South Island, largely down the east coast. However, Hobson had already declared British sovereignty over Te Wai Pounamu on May 21 on the basis that it was terra nullius, the same justification for the annexing of Australia. Apparently it wasn’t logically inconsistent to claim that and also to seek a Treaty with the inhabitants, or at least, everyone was willing to pretend it wasn’t. (It was much easier to pretend in the south – the land wasn’t as good, which meant a lower population and more movement around territories that the Crown could later claim were wastelands as they didn’t have a permanent settlement.)

Land sales in the south occurred between 1844 and 1860 (except Stewart Island, which was bought in 1863) with the Crown buying up huge tracts of land at once. The Canterbury block, for example, was eight million hectares for which they paid just two thousand pounds – one third the cost of Stewart Island. Rather than negotiating fairly, agents such as Commissioner Kemp used threats to buy the land from rivals or to use force while promising that one tenth of the land purchased would be set aside as native reserves. This “one-tenth” was reduced to four hectares for each person, generally of poor quality land. When it came to buying Banks Peninsula, the local chiefs refused to sign. The reserves would not be enough even for subsistence. So instead, the Crown simply passed the Canterbury Settlement Act which basically went “Yeah, all this? That’s ours now.” (Again, they still tried to get Kai Tahu to agree to the annexation for another seven years.) Hamilton was the only agent to really express any hesitation over what they were doing, on the basis that two years ago a 12,000ha piece of land in the area had been sold for fifteen thousand pounds, which he was being instructed to pay just two hundred pounds for. Eventually he sold himself the justification that the rest of the land was valueless to Māori, whereas Pākehā settlement would bring benefits of civilisation and trade.

Not that the Māori could do much trade. Kai Tahu and the other Te Wai Pounamu iwi were left basically landless in an area where the big money was in sheep farming, something that doesn’t need as good pasture as the cropping and dairy farming in the north but which needs a lot of it. What reserve lands they did have left were controlled by the land commissioners, who could lease it out for dick all or sell it off at their discretion.

Ultimately the Crown paid just under fifteen thousand pounds for the entirety of the South and Stewart Islands through the use of threats, bullying and outright theft, leaving Māori dispossessed and impoverished while Pākehā settlers got rich on the proceeds of what Mantell had called “an uselessly extensive domain”. European cognitive dissonance had won the day.

A defense of cannibalism

UPDATE: Credit where it’s due, Bomber has now apologised for his follow up post. He’s also left the offending text there with a strike-through, so that it’s still part of historical record if anyone wants to see it but indicates his changed views. I appreciate both actions, thank you.

There’s this meme going around a (small) circle of NZ liberals at the moment that the left eats its young/is on the lookout for traitors/etc. Basically, because a post on The Daily Blog was criticised for consisting almost entirely of a stereotypical caricature of an evil-looking Jewish Santa Claus taken directly (and I mean that literally) from an anti-Semitic website. Apparently it was supposed to be anti-consumerist with the text that was added, but a few people noticed the obvious similarity to anti-Semitic images and pointed it out. Bomber responded by asking for a link to prove the claims. I assume one was provided, but I’ve scrolled back to December 17 in the Gallery and the entire post seems to have been deleted along with the image, so unless people got screen shots no one can actually see what was said. However, Bomber’s newer post says that Russell Brown and Giovanni Tiso started a twitter campaign against him, and both of their timelines are intact, so this can be fact-checked easily.

Russell Brown: The first reference on his timeline to the situation is a reply to Giovanni that simpy says “Holy shit. That’s awful.” For a while after this he watches some sports, then sometime around 6 last night he replies to another brief conversation with the link to the page where the original image is used in context. Two tweets later, he shows Bomber the link and tells him to take the “ghastly anti-semitic” image down. Then nothing for three hours, until he comments that of two options, Bomber acting maliciously or ignorantly, he favours the latter. This is the sum total of Russell’s Twitter discussions on the subject until Bomber’s new post went up.

Giovanni Tiso:  Two days ago, James Robb links to the original post asking if anyone else sees the anti-Semitic caricature. There’s a conversation where several people express disgust, which Gio joins after several tweets stating he has no idea who posted it and thinks it’s appalling. He then proceeds to eat some Roses chocolates and possibly fudge (the rat bastard, I love Roses and fudge!). Yesterday, he tweets a link to the original post to note that 16 hours after it was pointed out to them (from memory by James Robb), the “horrid anti-Semitic caricature” is still there. He then discusses the historical context of the imagery over a few tweets with interested parties before notifying his followers that Bomber is standing by the image and wants to be shown proof that it’s anti-Semitic. This is where Russell’s tweet to the original image, embedded in original context, enters. “Holy shit!” Gio tweets. Following this is more discussion of the maliciousness vs ignorance debate, which Gio also believes is the latter, as do others that he retweets. Sometime after 7 last night he says, independent of other conversation, “When the best case scenario is that you’re an incredibly ignorant person, it may be time to re-evaluate where you’re at.” In following tweets he continues to debate maliciousness vs ignorance until possibly his harshest two tweets:

“Followed by this from Bradbury, which I can’t RT because he blocked me: @punkscience the right look for converts, the left look for traitors”
“Any similarities with Willie and JT and with every other entitled male fuck-up who paints self as victim is purely coincidental.”

So. This twitter attack consists of: Russell finding an image to be awful, asking Bomber to take it down, and later giving him the benefit of the doubt in assuming he honestly didn’t know; and Giovanni finding the image to be appalling, noting that nothing has been done after 16 hours, discussing the history of anti-Semitic imagery,  being shocked at the page it was originally from, and agreeing with Russell that Bomber probably didn’t do it on purpose. Then he says that ignorance is probably something people should strive to not be, and compares Bomber’s positioning of himself as victim of a targeted witch hunt to Willie and JT doing the same thing.

I don’t know about anyone else, but that doesn’t seem like much of an attack. They both think he didn’t know how bad the image was, but both are distressed by the image and ask him to take it down. Giovanni talks with a few other people about anti-Semitic imagery in general, and criticises the tendency of men who screw up to paint themselves as victims.

In response, this is what Bomber had to say:

“I was surprised with the venom of their twitter attacks as the meme was an anti-capitalism Christmas satire, and certainly wasn’t an anti-Semitism statement. What was most amusing was the total lack of a benefit of the doubt and just the defamatory assertion by Tiso and Brown that I and this blog are supposedly anti-Semitic. When Tiso was called racist for his attack on two Maori broadcasters by Donna Awatere Huata, I gave Tiso the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t a double standards racist and when Russell Brown managed to con Maori TV into taking his shit circle jerk TV show, I gave him the benefit of the doubt that it would be more than an aging hipster interviewing his small circle of chums to pat each other on the back for their own sense of magnificence.

I won’t be providing that benefit of doubt from now on, I relish the weekly opportunity to review Brown’s new show on Maori TV and question how and why Maori TV should be propping up a middle class white fog horn like Brown for his unique brand of pretentious wank, and Tiso’s sanctimonious whining has worn through any patience I once had with him.

Insinuating people are anti-Semites is a tactic trick of the IDF, despite Tiso and Browns assertions, I am not an anti-Semite and this blog isn’t anti-Semitic, the image selected by the TDB reposter was an anti-Capitalism piece of satire. It was removed to stop any offense being taken and to end any opportunity by Tiso and Brown to denigrate this blog any more than they usually do.”

Apparently, when people point out that an image posted on your site is a hateful caricature of a historically oppressed minority, the appropriate response is to talk up your own benevolence, accuse one of them of “conning” a tv station into airing a “shit circle jerk TV show”, call him an “aging hipster”, pledge yourself to harshly criticise said show every single week, and compare those who were upset by the image to the IDF.

(Full disclosure, I made a reply to one of the few comments on that post which has not made it through moderation. Hardly a surprise, as at time of writing only four comments have and they’re all indignantly on his side.)

Really, who here is actually running an attack campaign? Maybe it’s not that the left eats its young. Maybe it’s just that the left places higher importance on pointing out when allies perform acts which undermine the values that they supposedly share. After reading Bomber’s response to Russell and Giovanni, I certainly see very little value in his contributions to any system of beliefs, values and priorities that I would want to join. I don’t care if people agree with me on everything. I do care how they respond to criticism. And on that score, Bomber seriously bombed.

The political is personal

I haven’t posted anything about the death of Nelson Mandela, because there is nothing I could possibly say that is worth hearing from me. I marked the occasion on Twitter with the simple, “Kua hinga te totara nui.” Later I posted a wry, “Nelson Mandela was the Nelson Mandela of our times” in response to white Westerners comparing Mandela to all their personal white heroes.

I’ve read around a bit. It seems that the right thinks that the left is politicising his death by criticising the make up of the delegation sent to the memorial. I’ve seen the response that the right politicised it when Key was advised not to take John Minto.

I disagree. Nelson Mandela’s death was politicised long before he died. It may even have been done before he was born. It was politicised when the lives of certain parts of the population became not their own, but something to legislate and control and use to froth up electoral sentiment. Feminism has “the personal is political” to recognise this exact phenomenon, because women’s bodies are political – how they dress, what medication they take, what jobs they can have, and the looming spectre of *whispers* abortion. People with disabilities are political too, because so many of them require dependent income, so that politicians and managerial staff and policy analysts are justified in debating who should be working or not working, what is classed as a disability rather than “poor choices”, how much aid people should have, whether it’s money or goods, how much oversight there should be in how it’s spent. There are probably people who think I might not really be doing the proper thing in drawing a student loan. Since I left high school I’ve had three periods of studying (dropped out, failed out, current) and three periods of working (dropped out, failed out, contract ended in February) in between the looooooong periods of not being able to do anything. Should that track record count against me? There’s a “what’s fair” debate, and there’s also a “what’s best public policy?” debate. I didn’t create either of them. Those debates existed long before I came along, with my disabilities, my trans*ness, my annoyingly female body and reproductive system.

Nelson Mandela’s death is political because his life was political. His body was political. His image was so political that it was banned for quarter of a century. The people who made him political are not those engaged in “identity politics”, they are those that created the need for identity politics in the first place through stifling legislation attempting to control the lives of any group that might one day threaten their power – Native Americans, black slaves, women, anyone who does not belong. Their expressions of emotion, of wants and desires that cannot be understood by the white male elite, are over-medicalised – drapetomania, hysteria, homosexuality and transvestism as mental disorders, “shamanism” as psychotic illness, and in medicalising them they assume a paternal over-interest codified into law.

This isn’t a minor quibble. Straight white men, for the most part, simply do not understand what it’s like to know that any discussion of the circumstances of your life can be shut down with “Now, let’s not get political.” I’m sorry, was I talking about electoral candidate selection? Was I citing Question Time? No! I was talking about how people with disabilities need enough to live on and the fact that the recommended course of treatment in biomedicine for GID is vastly out of reach for most people affected by it. The fact that these things rely on political interest to fix is not my problem, it’s yours.

Dressing with self-respect

Recently, #FastTailedGirls trended on Twitter. It’s a hashtag that was started by Mikki Kendall for black women to talk about their experiences with being hyper-sexualised at a young age. I saw tweets about girls as young as four years old being labeled “fast” for wanting to play with their male peers, for dressing up in sundresses and hats, or hitting puberty early. And because black women can’t have their own space respected there were of course trolls, slut-shamers and victim-blamers.

(I was going to put a picture of an adorable little girl wearing a hat here, but got frustrated trying to find a non-watermarked picture of a pre-teen when “girl” is assumed to refer to all women.)

One of them tweeted, about an hour ago: “@yvethepoet How do those laws have anything to do with allowing children to dress like they don’t respect themselves?” (To clarify, he was addressing it to @yvethepoet, who was contributing to the hashtag. Additionally the tweet he was replying to didn’t say anything about laws, so I’m going to assume he means age of consent legislation or something similar.) And good lord that tweet raises so many issues but is so, so typical of the responses women get talking about this shit that I really want to address it.

1. Age of consent laws don’t have anything to do with how children dress because clothing isn’t consent.
2. Though he later mentioned “young women”, he is definitely referring to children here. Presumably pre-teens. A child wearing “provocative” clothing, a child wearing heels and make up, a child wearing a bikini, does not look sexy. Not to me, not to most adults. Children learn about the world through play. They dress up, they play pretend, they role play, they copy what they see. An eleven year old experimenting with her clothing in imitation of how adults dress is not making some kind of comment on her sexual availability. Ideally an eleven year old doesn’t even know what that means, though sadly many (particularly black girls and other girls of colour such as natives) have been forcibly introduced to their sexuality way, way too young. Even a fifteen year old who hit puberty early and has a lot of curves is still clearly a young girl on interaction. There are very, very few fifteen year olds who are actually so magically mature that you can’t tell them apart from an adult. And while the age of consent here in New Zealand is 16, in much of America where the people contributing to #FastTailedGirls live it’s 18, so a fifteen year old girl is not “only” a few months away from being “legal”.
3. How exactly does one indicate through their clothing that they don’t respect themselves? I actually addressed this point on Twitter and never got a reply. By asking this he’s assuming that his assumptions about the meaning of dress are universally true. Some people think that a woman who doesn’t cover her hair must have no self-respect. I could think that anyone who’d wear a onesie in public doesn’t have any self-respect. The motivations behind how we dress are incredibly complex, very culturally specific, and entirely subjective. Often people will object to clothing on one woman that is a completely normal thing to wear. For example, one woman on the hashtag talked about being told to wear trousers instead of shorts as a child because her mother’s boyfriend was coming to the house. Obviously, that’s bullshit. A young girl wearing shorts is not some sultry temptress. She’s a young girl wearing shorts. I’m wearing shorts right fucking now and I don’t think they’re particularly sexy. Another woman talked about a teacher chiding her for showing too much cleavage wearing a tank top. Women who have large cleavage often complain about trying to find clothes that properly cover them up, because sometimes it’s just not possible. You can’t wear a turtleneck in hot weather (the American South in summer…) and sometimes a turtleneck actually draws more attention to the breasts by outlining them and not having a neckline directly above them to distract the eye. Ultimately what people are actually objecting to is these girls and women having a certain type of post-puberty onset body, and that’s not something that girls and women can control.
4. Following on from that, what does the assumed self-respect or lackthereof of young girls even have to do with rape? I mean, obviously, it does because a) rapists are predatory and deliberately target vulnerable girls and women who often have poor self-esteem and b) being sexually objectified and hypersexualised erodes self-esteem and self-respect, but the guys who are making this argument don’t fall in line with that reasoning. They don’t talk about rape as a deliberately predatory act and they don’t worry about the self-esteem of girls who are being constantly judged according to their perceived sexuality. They think “confidence” is a codeword for “dressing slutty” and victims call rape on themselves by being too sexy. And in that case, shouldn’t the opposite be true, that girls who don’t respect themselves are less attractive? Unless, I guess, you think low self-esteem and lack of self-respect are sexy, that they make an eleven year old girl desirable, and that the exaggerated play-acted “flirting” of pre-teens, in the few cases where it existed in the first place (which it usually doesn’t, most girls did not invite the attention, not that any level of flirting implies consent anyway and especially in a fucking child) is somehow attractive rather than clumsy and immature.

This huge focus on clothing is ridiculous. Clothing is not the be all and end all of attractiveness. It might influence it in some ways, but not enough to make someone who you wouldn’t ordinarily be attracted to suddenly become someone you’re going to chase after, past the point of just eyeing them up, past the point of approaching them, past the point of flirting, past the point of asking them out, someone you’re actively trying to have sex with even if their first response isn’t “yeah, let’s do it!” Likewise, someone who’s attractive in and of themselves isn’t suddenly unattractive because they’re wearing more clothes. So how, how, how can what a child is wearing be a relevant factor? People who aggressively pursue children do it because of social values and conditioning that tells them it’s okay and they won’t face consequences. In some (but not all or even most) cases they do it because they’re pedophiles or ephebophiles, who are attracted specifically and exclusively to that age group, and also because social values and conditioning tell them they won’t face consequences. But the idea that there’s something that black girls in particular are wearing that accounts for the way they’re sexualised and shamed defies all logic and common sense.

Equality and sameness

My Mana Māori exam is in three days, so obviously I’m studying hard. This morning I’m looking at the topics on indigeneity, which I clearly had some feelings about when I covered it the first time, because there’s double or triple underlines under phrases like “rigid liberal pluralism” and “indigenising the constitution”. Several times my papers have touched on the monocultural assumptions of liberal equality – the idea that everyone is equal, individual rights are all-important, etc. But it’s not something that we’ve really addressed on a major level, so in the meantime it sort of sits in my brain, mulling. This is as much me still thinking it out as actually writing about it, and obviously if you want proper legitimate discussion you should go to indigenous leaders or scholars.

Common knowledge says that the idea of separate indigenous rights is incompatible with equality. We’re supposed to all have the same individual rights, meaning that collective rights are inherently unequal – but the truth is, we’re not all equal. We see it in outrageous judge comments where criminals are let off lightly because they “make people laugh” or are role models. Rich fraudsters who steal billions are treated better than poor people who steal a hundred dollars. The justice system contains strong bias against non-white and particularly Māori or Pacific Island defendants. Then there’s citizenship vs residency vs being here on a work or study visa vs no visa at all. You can hold dual citizenship in the UK, so being part of two different groups is obviously okay, and it’s much harder for Kiwis to get Australian citizenship than anyone else, so treatment based on nationality is okay too. People in Europe are both citizens of their own country and the European Union, and you can be both Welsh and British. And what about people with disabilities? They’re far more likely than those without to be abused or murdered by people who are supposed to be caring for them, who are often given sympathy because it must have been SO DIFFICULT, SUCH A BURDEN. At least in the US (I haven’t seen stats for New Zealand) they’re also more likely to be killed by the police because they have no training on how different disabilities affect people’s behaviour and one person’s struggling to understand is another person’s aggressive and uncooperative. There have been schemes where companies can hire people with disabilities and pay them less than minimum wage. The State is still trying to win the argument over whether family members should be paid to care for disabled dependants the same way non-family members are. Welfare beneficiaries are subject to massive state surveillance, as are their children and partners, with everyone feeling justified to spy on them and judge their every purchase while MPs can charge outrageous things to expenses and get away with it. Tax dodging is treated differently than getting a few extra dollars on your benefit by withholding information, even though it’s essentially the same act – just one, you need to already have a lot of money to pull it off, and the other is usually motivated by desperation. We have unions who work for the betterment of all their members, and religious groups that you can be born into. We are not the same.

So, how is it such a stretch to say that people can be recognised as members of different groups? How is it so very different to be a citizen of New Zealand and also Tūhoe and also te ao Māori, and have that taken into account, than to be a citizen of New Zealand and also part of the financial elite (who often retain social privilege even if they lose their money)? The former would obviously be codified, rather than having the subtle unwritten superiority of the latter – but it’s not superiority that would be codified, either. It’s just difference. In some cases it would likely be detrimental, because you would be held to account not only under New Zealand’s laws but under the tikanga and ture of your iwi or hapū.

So what’s the problem? Is it simply threatening to people that others might be part of a group that they’re not? Fear of missing out? Is it that if we admit that individual equality isn’t the be all and end all, that groups have different rights and responsibilities as well, that we might have to admit some other of our cultural assumptions could be wrong as well? Or that the “rights” we’ve given Māori in exchange for their land and resources and sense of cultural self-worth actually aren’t that great a gift after all, making us inequivocably the Bad Guys?

I suspect it’s part of all of those, as well as the blindness that comes with your own culture being unquestionably dominant. White New Zealanders can’t “see” that that culture is everywhere and thus can’t challenge it or interpret it. Culture is relative, but white culture is “common sense”, it’s “fact”, it’s “natural”, it’s “default”, and anything else is a mixture of superstition and quaint tradition.

ETA: Just after I posted this I switched to Twitter and saw a link on disabilities and the justice system. Most prison inmates have brain injuries.

White people perform ceremonies at temples; members of actual religion watch

Predictably, there is an article on Stuff today about the end of the baktun. It describes all the celebrations held in spiritual places around the world, some historical armageddon fantasies, and gets quotes from “Maya experts” on how some white people are super dumb. Oh, and a single actual Maya, who apparently spent the day selling souvenirs outside the Mayan temples in Mexico.

“A few minutes before the north pole reached its position furthest from the sun on Friday, a spotlight illuminated the western flank of the Temple of the serpent god Kukulkan, a 30 metre tall pyramid at the heart of Chichen Itza.

Then a group of five English-speaking tourists dressed in white made their way across the plain, dropped their bags and faced the pyramid with their arms raised.

As the sun climbed into the sky, a man with dreadlocks played a didgeridoo at the north end of the pyramid. Nearby groups of tourists meditated on brightly coloured mats.”

The most appropriate word I can think of for this is “gross”. Why?  Not just because of the standard appropriation, complete with distortion and inaccuracy (a didgeridoo?). But because I’m willing to bet most of these tourists aren’t even aware that the Mexican government banned Maya from performing rituals in their own temples to mark the beginning of the next baktun. For “health and safety” reasons. Because of the crowds. This isn’t exactly an every day ritual – a baktun lasts nearly four hundred years, so the ceremonies for a new one are kind of a big deal. But instead of performing them in the temples that their ancestors built, the Maya will be finding space wherever they can – porches, vacant lots, fields.

Contrary to popular (mis)belief, the end of the long-count calendar is being viewed as something positive. As Mayan priest Jose Manrique Esquive recently pointed out, the current Baktun, which began around 1618, has been drenched by a continuous reign of misery that included the introduction of European disease, culture and language being erased and entire populations being extinguished.

‘This is the ending of an era for the Maya, an era which has been very intense for us, in which we have had suffering and pain,’ said Manrique Esquivel, adding ‘we are praying the wars, the conflicts, the hunger to end.'”

I guess basically what I’m saying is, things aren’t looking good for that, Manrique.

If you’re not with us

Internet, I have something to confess. I hate Jews. All of them. Everywhere.* At least that’s apparently what I meant when I said that I didn’t wish to debate who was at fault in the ongoing war between Israel-Palestine because I have colleagues who worked in Gaza. (Seriously, one who just started three weeks ago used to be head of the UN’s Mine Action Team. I don’t work closely with these people, but I’m definitely aware of them and have been introduced.) That statement, which I had thought to be pretty neutral, got me labeled an anti-Semite, which is frankly a little bit ludicrous. See, where I come from, you can disapprove of a government’s actions without hating the entire population of the country. Ironically if this were not true I would never have been on pleasant terms with this person anyway, because I really disapprove of a lot of the actions of the US government.

And yeah, I do disapprove of what Israel is doing, especially when I look at things like this:

Palestine territory 1947-2006or the demographics of Gaza showing that half the population is under 18 and three quarters are under 25 and thus couldn’t have been responsible for voting in Hamas in 2006. Or when I read this Huffington Post article. Or when the IDF taunts Gazans over Twitter, telling them to flee despite knowing that they can’t because they’re hemmed in on all sides by a blockade of dubious legality. Or when bombs hit a fire truck that’s attempting to put out a building hit by previous bombs. (And the Israelis boast about their military enough, and were confident enough in being able to hit Jabari’s car, that you can’t really say with complete certainty that that couldn’t have been deliberate.) Or when I remember older interviews with Israeli bulldozer drivers or eye-witness accounts of the death of Rachel Corrie.

This also doesn’t mean I think Palestine is 100% blameless though. Wars always involve blame on both sides, somehow. When you boil it down to the original dispute, over land, both sides have valid arguments on their side. But now, right now, in the modern day, I can’t blame Gaza for firing rockets at Israel. It turns out that people aren’t perfect saints. If you treat them badly enough, for long enough, an awful lot of them will fight back. And to me, looking purely at the military capabilities of each country, the idea that the Palestinians aren’t fighting out of desperation seems about as ludicrous as the idea that I hate Jews.


* If the rest of the post doesn’t make it obvious, I don’t hate Jews.

Open Letter to Su’a William Sio

Dear Mr Sio,

You don’t know me and I’m not a constituent of yours, so I guess you’d be within rights to simply dismiss anything I have to say as irrelevant. Maybe it is, I don’t know.

I’m not going to castigate you for attending an anti-gay rally, or demand your opinion on the homophobic, mis-spelled signs some people were holding, or question what you thought was positive about the part of the rally that didn’t involve them at all. I’m curious about something else.

You’re Pasifika, as are many of the people you represent; quite a few more of them are Māori. Together these two groups represent a variety of cultures with a long, rich history. Most of that history has been pretty inclusive when it comes to LGBT folk, whether fa’afafine, takatāpui or something else.

Until white colonisation.

Colonisation brought Christianity, which was introduced to the people of the Pacific Islands and Aotearoa often by force. Many scholars regard the Treaty of Waitangi as promising to respect freedom of religion, however missionaries pushed their beliefs onto tangata whenua regardless, and the passage of two generations saw the white now-majority of New Zealand passing the Suppression of Tohunga Act that finally outlawed traditional Māori religion. The Pacific peoples cannot have been treated any better. Fast forward to 2006, a hundred years after the Suppression of Tohunga Act, and over three quarters of Pacific Islanders identified themselves as Christian (largely Catholic, followed by Presbytarians and then Methodists) in the census, far more than the average for the population as a whole – the second largest “religious” group was those with no religion at 13%.

I know you’re one of those three quarters of Pacific Islander Christians. I assume you know your history. I just want to know, does it bother you? How do you feel about the colonisation process? Do you think your ancestors were wrong to accept gender variant and same sex attracted people for so very long? Do you think they went to hell for it?

I don’t mean to denigrate your religion, but I admit it’s hard to understand this. Christianity is very new to Pacific Island culture; it was brought to the area by white men who treated Pasifika badly and whose practices led to widespread poverty, crime, child abuse, and loss of mana. Now you are using that Christianity to discriminate against a group of people who had always been accepted by Pacific Islanders before. How do you justify that? How can you possibly be sure that that’s right? How do you explain your actions to those who are both LGBT and Pasifika?

I would just really like to know. I hope you can tell me.