Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hone: Prejudice...Or Racism?

Once again, firebrand Maori MP Hone Harawira has leapt in front of a speeding train, this time stating he would not be "comfortable" if one of his kids dated someone non-maori.
Because of his public dislike of white society, the PC Brigade screamed "Racist!" This is a multi-cultural society - what's wrong with a mixed relationship? I'm sure everyone knows a successful relationship with partners from opposite sides of the ethnic fence. Harawira's own grandfather was white!
However there's an equally strong argument for marrying / partnering within one' s own ethnicity: advocates claim there're no cultural chasms to bridge, there're more likely to be similar aspirations, expectations, quicker understanding of one's partner and family background. This is not xenophobic: it's just practical and logical.
But we're all aware that love knows no bounds: this hard-to-define emotion has a sneaky habit of crossing boundaries with zero regard for social constructs.
So is Harawira's comment racist? If he said it because he wanted to keep his family bloodline pure...well, that's racism. But surely this is prejudice, not racism...and how many of us don’t have prejudices?
If we’re honest, we've all got a mental pre-set image of "the right sort of person" for our kids. Would you truly be happy watching your daughter date a tattoo-covered beer-swilling motorbike-revving labourer? You'd surely prefer the date to turn up clean, dressed neatly and driving a tidy car. Would you suck it up for the sake of your kid, and look for the warm heart inside that tattooed shell? I think not...well, not without some discomfort anyway.
Prejudice is part of life. We've all told jokes about different races... and the world didn't stop because of that. We're all a product of the society we grew up in: if it was riddled with prejudice, it's likely we have a touch of it too. Current PC thinking says we must eradicate that.
But so what if we have prejudices, preferences, pre-sets? By bringing them into the open, isn't that more honest than hiding behind the "love all, offend none" whitewash of Political Correctness?

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