NZ First MPs

February 13th, 2013 at 9:05 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

NZ First MPs are privately seething at Richard Prosser’s call for Muslims to be banned from Western airlines.

I’m not surprised.

There are some good people in NZ First. I’m no fan of Winston but some of his MPs are trying to be productive Representatives in Parliament. I’m sure they are cringing at the thought of having to explain to their friends and families how they are part of a party where an MP can refer to Muslims coming from Wogistan and calls on anyone who is “or looks like” a Muslim being banned from air travel if they are a young male.

The list MP went to ground yesterday after his remarks were widely publicised and provoked controversy. NZ First leader Winston Peters has refused to sack him and says he doesn’t have to apologise.

They should be equally angry at Winston. He has made it impossible for them to distance themselves from the views expressed, as not even the bare minimum of an apology has been given. They have no defence against people saying they are part of a party that effectively allows MPs to label some New Zealanders as wogs and that wogs shouldn’t be allowed on our planes.

A NZ First source said its MPs were furious and believed Mr Prosser “acted like a stupid idiot”.

Did no one in NZ First think to vet the column before publication. It is common in pretty much every party for columns to be go through the Leader’s Office in advance. You can’t allow an MP to claim they are a journalist and an MP, and what they write as a journalist is exempt.

And if I was in NZ First, I’d also be annoyed that the Leader knew about the column for three weeks and did nothing.

In a later interview he stood by his views and went on to say that an Israeli airline that bans Muslims is one of the world’s safest carriers.

Incidentally this is wrong. They do not ban Muslims. And having travelled to Israel let me tell you the security there is far more rigorous than merely losing a pocket knife as happened to Prosser. It took me over an hour to clear security – and you know I don’t “look like a Muslim” so the references to Israel are quite wrong.

“We are a mature party, we don’t go round telling people off. After a rational discussion he has changed his mind,” Mr Peters said. “. . . We can’t take it any further than that. He’s had a chance to reflect . . . he admits it was unbalanced.”

Rational?

The comments have gained some attention overseas, being well covered by Australian news organisations and turning up further afield in such publications as the Singapore-based Straits Times and Channel NewsAsia, Dubai-based Gulf News, and the UK edition of the Huffington Post.

I doubt there is another country on Earth where a legislator has actually seriously called for a travel ban on anyone who “looks likes a Muslim”, and is young and male.

UPDATE: The spin doctors have now got to Prosser and after saying he stands by what he wrote yesterday, he today said on Nine to Noon he regrets his choice of words (yet defends the use of the word wog!) and that he should have called for a debate on profiling, not a travel ban. There is a world of difference between what he wrote and what he now says he should have written.

He’s also trying to distract by saying my release of the story was part of a National strategy to cover up some (unidentified) other issue. Maybe he means the Papal abdication?

As I tweeted this morning, no one in National knew of my blog post before I made it. The only person who knew would be my flatmate after I showed him the article last night. You see, I only purchased a copy of Investigate on Monday afternoon, read the column with disbelief, and wrote my post that night timing it for 10 am Tuesday. So the conspiracy theory is just a desperate attempt to divert attention.

UPDATE 2: A very personal blog post from a Kiwi Muslim on what Prosser said.

I am a Bengali New Zealander. I am also a feminist, a bookworm, a foodie and a cinephile. Some days I have good taste in music and some days I have bad taste in music. I love the beach but hate getting sand everywhere. I speak several languages. I still get upset at the thought that Dumbledore dies. When I lived in Auckland, I thought of West Auckland as home. Now that I live in Wellington, I think of Auckland as home, and of Wellington as “my city,” whatever that means. I bake decent brownies (oh the irony).

Oh, yes, I am also a Muslim. …

Richard Prosser’s comments hurt because he’s saying I’m not a real New Zealander. I am an Other. I am suspect because I don’t, undoubtedly, look like his daughters. My little brother, now 20, studying a Bachelor of Commerce, with his terribly cheesy sense of humour and his kind, kind heart, who loves his sports and protein shakes but who I will partly always think of as that bossy toddler with chubby cheeks, is for no other reason than because Mr Prosser, from his position of power and privilege says so, not enough of a New Zealander. Because of only one thing, out of the many things that he is, because he is Muslim. Not enough of a New Zealander to deserve the minimum modicum of respect one would expect from an MP when talking about one of the citizens of this country, simply based on his faith, and, let’s be honest, the colour of his skin. Not enough of a New Zealander to get on his Western planes.

A very personal and moving post.

UPDATE3: The Radio NZ audio is embdedded below.

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A mistake Winston says, but MP stands by his words

February 12th, 2013 at 2:53 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Peters said this afternoon Prosser had made a mistake.

A mistake? It was a column! He wrote it. He says he stands by what he said. How can you claim it is a mistake!

He said he knew about the article three weeks ago, and told Prosser it wasn’t acceptable to present only one side of the argument.

“I’ve told him he cannot have a view that doesn’t have the balance in the other side of the argument.”

You think the lack of balance was the issue Winston? Not calling people wogs and saying people who look like wogs shouldn’t be allowed on planes? The issue wasn’t balance. Columns are not meant to be balanced. They are meant though not to be racist.

Prosser wrote the column as a journalist, not as a NZ First MP, and the views expressed were not those of the party, Peters said.

Are you serious? He wrote it as a journalist, not as an MP? That’s your excuse for doing nothing.

He said a press statement was imminent from Prosser – but the MP had said he stood by his comments.

Barry Soper reported that Prosser had said he stands  by his comments.

Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser is technically Muslim (as he married a Muslim). If he was a bit younger, then according to Prosser he should be banned from flying on Western airlines.

Many interesting, outraged and humourous comments on Twitter under the Wogistan hashtag.

Jess Mutch from One News has tweeted:

David Shearer says Richard Prosser’s comments were “offensive and completely inappropriate” but wouldn’t say if he would stand him down.

I would have thought that was an easy call for a Labour leader. But I guess he doesn’t want to upset a future coalition with Winston.

The Herald reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters says there is an ‘element of truth’ in the column and he has not asked Mr Prosser to apologise.

Incredible.

The PM has said:

Prime Minister John Key said Mr Prosser’s comments were “an example of the depth of thinking coming out of New Zealand First”.

“It’s an appalling thing to say. It was premeditated. It was written in an opinion piece. It’s clearly what New Zealand First think of other New Zealanders but it’s a bit buffoonish if you ask me.”

And others:

Asked whether the NZ First MP should have kept his comments to himself, Mr Harawira said: “It’s best that they’re actually expressed openly because when people hold views as extreme as that it’s best that we hear them.”

I agree. It’s good to know that at least one NZ First MP things wogs shouldn’t be allowed on planes.

Act Party leader John Banks said the comments were “crazy” and “bizarre”.

“What can you say? I believe in good in all people, all races, all people.”

Asked whether there was a place for such extreme views in Parliament, Mr Banks said: “That is going to be tested by this member.”

United Future leader Peter Dunne also criticised the remarks on Twitter.

“It all reveals an ugly racist seam lurks just below the skin of too many people here – very uncomfortable,” he wrote.

We often call things racist too often. But in this case it is hard not to conclude it is racism when he writes of Wogistan and banning from travel anyone who “looks Muslim”.

Imagine how stable a Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana Government would be!

UPDATE: Listen to Richard Prosser on radio here. Some quotes:

  • it isn’t anything derogatory particularly
  • I certainly think it is appropriate for me to be making those comments
  • This is what we are here for – we are here to represent

Here to represent people who don’t like wogs.

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