The SST reports:
AN AMERICAN academic missed out on a top university job because of a letter she wrote to New Zealand Listener magazine lamenting the Kiwi habit of going barefoot in public.
The incident has been highlighted in a new book which looks at the rampant “political correctness” that is said to infect many American campuses.
Erin Mackie, a lecturer in English and cultural studies, worked at Canterbury University for six years, and wrote the letter to the Listener in 2006. The letter (itself a response to a Listener article which made fun of a no-shoes/no-service policy in a Texan food store) described New Zealanders’ public shoelessness as “not only backward and uncivilised, but dangerously unhygienic and repulsive to North Americans”.
Trouble started when Mackie returned to the US. According to US author Cary Nelson, university staff had found out about Mackie’s letter and decided it was an attack on the Maori people and thus racist. On those grounds, Mackie missed out on the job.
The ironic thing is the racists are the US professors who decided her complaints about people in bare feet being uncivilised was automatically a reference to Maori.
Incidentally I love walking about in bare feet – but only on beaches and lawns!