Margaret MutuMedia CommentsRacist or Not Racist ? Rob Stewart
What is Racism ? Old Racism “In many respects, contemporary forms of racism are different from the old racism of slavery, segregation, apartheid, lynchings, and systematic discrimination, of white superiority feelings, and of explicit derogation in public discourse and everyday conversation. (van Dijk, 2000, P33-34) New Racism New Racism denies that it is racism but in discourse minorities or members of an opposite race are labelled different rather than inferior then the differences are labelled, thus “avoiding explicitly racist labels but instead uses negative words to describe the properties or actions.” (van Dijk, 2000, P39)
Who is Margaret Mutu? Professor and Head of Department Māori Studies at Auckland University. Professor Mutu is of Scottish, Irish and Maori descent her Iwi being that of NgātiKahu, TeRarawa and NgātiWhātua.She is a leading activist on constitutional reform being both an outspoken critic of the foreshore legislation and the Government’s handling of Treaty of Waitangi Claims.Ms Mutuis also the chairperson of the NgātiKahurunanga executive and their chief negotiator for treaty settlements.
What did she say that has that has caused an issue anyway ? Professor Mutu’s comments in summation stated that immigration by whites into New Zealand should be restricted because they pose a threat to race relations due to their "white supremacist" attitudes. The controversy ? Margaret Mutu, agreed with labour report findings on Maori opinion on immigrants and then 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. She then made comments that were reported in the media painting Mutu in a negative light. Her Comments: Stuff Website, TVZ Website, Radio Live InterviewOn White Immigrants: "They do bring with them, as much as they deny it, an attitude of white supremacy, and that is fostered by the country," On 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.“ On Maori relations with other minority groups : "Maori feel very threatened as more groups come in and swamp them."
And the follow up – “I can’t be racist” Stuff Website, TVNZ WebsiteWhen questioned by various media whether her own comments could be construed as racist Professor Mutu said: "Racism is definitely associated with power and using power to deprive another group“. "Maori are not in a position of power in this country and therefore cannot deprive Pakeha.” Is Professor Mutu correct in her attestation that she is in fact not in a position of power to be racist ? Let’s analyse her comments using what we have learnt and see for ourselves.
Linguistics of RacismSome key causes of Racist Discourse Stereotyping - In grouping / out grouping Otherisation Prejudice Essentialism
Stereotyping - In grouping / out grouping Ideologies or an ideological statement can be referred to as stereotypes which often result from the belief that any two cultures or social groups are polar opposites. In-group members impose their dominate value system and ideology on the out-group to advantage themselves and legitimise the status quo. Out-group members are made to believe they and their culture are somewhat inferior to the In-group. (Hogg and Abrams, 1988) An example of stereotyping in Mutu’s comments is her reference that there are only a minority of Pakeha who can recognise racism. Meaning the majority of Pakeha are at the polar opposite end of the spectrum in regards to understanding racism.
Otherisation Otherisation is the act of reducing the foreign other to less than what they are.Holliday et al define it as “the construction of identity of members of another social group, merely in terms of being what one’s own group is not.” (Holiday et al, 2004) In regards to Mutu’s comments an example of otherisation is found in her reference to white immigrants bring “an attitude of white supremacy” with them upon immigrating to New Zealand. The otherisation is that Mutu labels all white immigrants as having an attitude of white supremacy reducing them to all be racist and incapable of being anything else.
Prejudice Judgement made on the basis of interest rather than emergent evidence. Prejudice is a preconceived judgment or opinion without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.Professor Mutu’s comments all seem to stem from a basis of prejudice, prejudice that all white immigrants have a “supremacist attitude” , that Maori are “not in a position of power”, and finally that all Maori are “threatened” because immigrants what to “swamp” them.Her opinions seem to be based on a preconceived judgement without sufficient grounds to make the comments.
Essentialism Is the view that a person from a particular culture should be communicated with in a particular way. Those who hold this view believe that people in one culture are essentially different from people in another (Holliday, Hyde, & Kullman, 2004). From her comments Professor Mutu states only a minority of Pakeha “object to it racism and speak out strongly against it.” This is in essence Essentialism because one culture Pakeha essentially different from all other cultures in their condemnation of racism and that it is only a minority that speak out. Is this so different from other cultures , isn’t Mutu a minority within Maoridom who accuses Pakeha of being racist.
Racial Discourse and it’s Effects Racial discourse should be seen as discourse which has the effect of establishing, sustaining and reinforcing oppressive power relations between those defined, for example, as Maori and those defined as European (Wetherell, & Potter, 1992, p. 70.). The discourse of racism is not static, but moves with the times. Racist discourse can be generated, propagated and practised by any culture or cultural groups. In her position of authority as a Professor and respect within academia making the comments that she did in the media made claims that were communicated as fact when they were in fact stereotypes, prejudices, otherisations and essentialisms of a racist nature.In regards to new immigrants as a citizen of New Zealand Mutu is in fact in a position of power over new immigrants.
References Books Dijk, T.A.V (2000) New(s) Racism: A discourse analytical approach. In S. Cottle (Ed) Ethnic minorities and the media. Buckingham: UK: Open University Press. Hogg, M.A., & Abrams, D. (1988). Social identifications: A social psychology of intergroup relations and group processes. London: Routledge. Holliday,A. Kullman, J. Hyde,M. Intercultural Communication An Advanced Resource Book for Students London & New York: Routledge Wetherell, M., Potter, J., 1992, Mapping the Language of Racism: Discourse and the Legitimation of Exploitation, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Internet http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/5561044/White-immigrants-row , Hill. M Stuff Website 4 September 2011 http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/5581908/Margaret-Mutu-says-her-comments-could-not-be-racist, Hill. M Stuff Website 9 September 2011 http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/race-row-deepens-maori-academic-stands-comments-4383763