Chris Lynch: Manufactured outrage over statues serves no one

Author
Chris Lynch,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 2:00PM

Chris Lynch: Manufactured outrage over statues serves no one

Author
Chris Lynch,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 2:00PM

New Zealand may have escaped the worst of Covid-19, but it hasn’t escaped the latest trend to cancel anything or remove something deemed offensive.

A joint and unifying press release was issued by the Christchurch Council and local iwi last week on the issues of statues, but you wouldn’t have seen it, because it talked of a special partnership, and it was uplifting. 

More on that shortly.

Some in the media have made it their ‘moral ‘duty to ensure New Zealand remains relevant in an overseas news agenda by seeking out inflammatory commentary no matter how vicious or vacuous the sound bites are.

Manufacturing outrage creates a story, but who does it serve best? 

Don’t get me wrong, there are genuine grievances of Māori, who’ve never supported statues of Captain Cook. But we have a duty to separate mob mentality with genuine concerns of racism.

Journalists love to talk about the need for an open democracy, but giving platforms to extreme views is hardly responsible and only sparks anger in the minds of reasonable minded people.

Will pulling down statues help genuine victims of racism or will it embolden those who seek out to exploit people’s grievances for vanity reasons?

The mob of misfits won’t stop at statues and now that Hamilton’s removed its statue for better or worse, the power has set in, and no doubt a list is being compiled of monuments to target, egged on by some of New Zealand media, who will be secretly hoping to film the next vandalised statue.

The thought police are pushing another narrative, that if you don’t buy into the idea that an old statue is contributing to racism, you’re racist yourself. To hell with having a reasonable discussion when quick-fire accusations are easier to level at the person who doesn’t share your world view.

Some Hollywood actors have brought into the false narrative that somehow they have to announce their collective white guilt to the world, but not only is this disempowering, but it’s narcissistic, because it only makes them feel good about themselves by saying they’re repenting this hideous history.

We need to separate the unhinged views of publicity seekers with genuine racism, but the media’s agenda to mix the two is dangerous and counterproductive.

Māori scholar Safari Hynes provided a voice of reason when he appeared on The Hui last year, saying if we put Pakeha and Māori narratives on an equal pegging, that brings people together because that represents both narratives in the bi-cultural history of this country.

And that is what Christchurch has been doing since it started rebuilding following the quakes.

What you won’t have seen in the last week was a responsible joint press release issued by the Mayor of Christchurch and the South Island’s largest iwi Ngāi Tahu.

They showed how to respond to the current the climate in an untying way.

They said "The Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document of our nation and it is important that our public statues and monuments reflect the history of mana whenua and the colonial settlement in this region.

"It is entirely appropriate that the statue of Queen Victoria in Victoria Square is now flanked by two upright waka carved by Ngāi Tahu master carver Fayne Robinson."

They said: "It is an expression of our partnership that we now have Ngāi Tahu Treaty signatories sitting alongside Queen Victoria."

That partnership is now visible in Victoria Square and on many new buildings across the city.

Some have said "but there are different issues in other parts of the country" and that may well be the case, but making excuses for not getting along serves who?

Are we going to work together in partnership or cave into mob mentality? The choice is ours.