Playing the (wo)man not the ball

The reaction from the Maori Language Commission to the paper “Ethnic Ideologies in New Zealand Education: What’s Wrong with Kaupapa Maori” by Elizabeth Rata has been regretable.

I don’t find the paper overly convincing myself, but the MLC rather than rebut the issues has just attacked Dr Rata personally, saying:

* she is the “female equivalent of Don Brash” (I presume not meant as a compliment)
* she’s an ignorant academic
* has had her head in the books for too long
* apparently she has got personal hang-ups with some Maori people

And he says that some people walked out of a conference she spoke at a few weeks ago (presumably rather than debate the points she made).

For a more constrcutive discussion of Dr Rata’s views, I recommend Simon Upton’s May 2003 upton-on-line. He politely disagrees with some of her conclusions, but also welcomes the fact she is “pushing the boundaries of intellectual freedom and debate in exactly the way they should be pushed and “prepared to wade into pretty controversial territory”.

We should welcome debate, not resort to cheap insults against those we disagree with.

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