Professor Margaret Mutu is entitled to give her opinions about matters she deems important and that is part of her role. Sure the language is polarising but the issue is serious and has to be discussed.
Professor Mutu responded to a Department of Labour report which found Māori are more likely to express anti-immigration sentiment than Pākehā or any other ethnic group and from Stuff,
Mutu agreed with the findings and called on the Government to restrict the number of white migrants arriving from countries such as South Africa, England and the United States as they brought attitudes destructive to Maori.
"They do bring with them, as much as they deny it, an attitude of white supremacy, and that is fostered by the country," she said.
I don't like the way that is stated because it obscures the issue. Māori do feel overwhelmed but the migrant aspect is secondary to the inherent overwhelming of Māori by our society. If migrants arrived here to a country where Māori and the Crown were equals then their supremacy views would be quickly dispelled or else they would leave - or perhaps not decide to come here at all.
Professor Mutu also said
she was happy to welcome white immigrants who understood issues of racism against Maori. "They are in a minority just like Pakeha in this country. You have a minority of Pakeha who are very good, they recognise the racism, they object to it and speak out strongly against it."
To my way of thinking, part of being able to immigrate here should be a history lesson and an outline of Māori culture, beliefs and values. Of course I'd start with the people already here, so that the new immigrants, with their appreciation of the unique value of tangata whenua, would fit in.
The University has said
"The Education Act protects the right of academics, within the law, to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions. That is an important right in a free society."
Paul Spoonley has said
his research showed while other ethnic groups' attitudes toward migrants had been approving, Maori perception had become increasingly negative. Anti-immigration sentiment was fed by Maori fears that multicultural policies were diminishing policies concerning Maori.
I say that framing the arguement around skin colour and country of origin obscures the very real issue that has to be addressed. The discussion centres around the controversial words and does not get to the real concerns or the solutions needed.
For those who feel offended because they identify as 'white' - think about it - if you are not racist Professor Mutu is not talking about you. We can't deny that our society is structured so that certain groups have advantage over others and those inequalities create privilege and are based on skin colour, ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality and ability. If you are male you have inherent privilege, if 'white' you have inherent privilege, if you are hetrosexual you have inherent privileges. Breaking this structure down is the goal and sometimes sharp weapons must be used. I am a male and paleish and hetrosexual and I enjoy inherent privileges because of that and every day, like you, I work and strive to create equality - so that I can be free of these encumberances and be seen as me, and so I can see you as you.