Poll Dancer by Keith Ng

An Open Letter to the New Zealand Right

Dear Thatcher-humping liberals,

I'm a firm secularist and I believe that the state is there to provide public good, not to dictate private mores. Funnily enough, my biggest philosophical objection to liberalism is the idea of objective, absolute human rights. As an empiricist, I wouldn't know what to do with them, but I remember reading somewhere (er... every text on liberalism ever written?) that liberals like human rights. Lots.

And you know what? I like liberalism. It's a nice, logical system, and at it's heart, it's driven by rationality and the desire for just society. That's nice. I even like a lot of liberals.

But you know why everyone thinks you're racist, fascist, baby-killers? You know why everyone hates you, calls you fuckface, and throws mud on your best tie?

The National Party. That's why.

There's already been a lot said about Wayne Mapp making an arse of himself, but let me offer a subtly different view: He didn't simply say the wrong things - he laid bare the true sentiments behind National's "one-law-for-all" rhetoric; he explicitly articulated what National had previously only dared to imply.

You know how you were all saying "we're not racists - we're just liberals"? Well, Wayne Mapp, on behalf of the National Party, is on his hands and knees, begging to differ.

In his National Radio interview, he started talking about powhiri and other Maori religious observances that are becoming institutionalised by the Government. He pulled out the great S of Secularism, and said that: "in a secular state, all beliefs should be treated equally, because that's what secularism means. Instead, this Government puts it into law that one set of values has a preference."

So Sean Plunket asks if he wanted to get rid of the Lord's Prayer at the start of each Parliamentary session. "No, I think that's part of our history," says Mapp.

Who's history? "The nation's history. The nation's history."

There's no mistake - he wants the majority, with its boundaries drawn along culture, class and sexuality, to take control of the very instruments that you claim are intruding into your lives. Listen for yourselves.

It's time to face facts, dear liberals. The National Party is not interested in building a modern secular state, it's not interested in a colour-blind society, it's not interested in reducing the role of the state in individuals' lives.

The National Party is about reasserting, in state institutions, the dominance of the cultural and moral norms of an idealised white majority.

It's about linguistic, cultural, moral, religious control of and by the state. It's the very kind of nanny-state bullshit that you hate, but in White-Middle-Class-of-the-50s flavour.

Go join ACT - hell, join the Libertarianz - but christ, stop deluding yourself that National is a party of liberalism, of freedom, of modernity. They are using your ideals as cover for their old-school, telly-ho-let's-shoot-some-peasants brand of conservatism.

They are pissing on your ideology in the processing of trying to piss on everyone else.