Len Brown, Sex Scandals, Stereotypes, and Anti-Asian Racism

LenBrownI am not interested in Bevan Chuang or Len Brown’s sex lives. As a socialist I think private conduct between consenting adults should be their concern and no one else’s. The only ‘betrayal’ from Auckland’s mayor that interests me is from last year is when he betrayed the wharfies.

But media coverage of the last week has played on some deep-seated, and ugly, stereotypes of Asian women. Those do matter for socialists, and for us all.

What became glaringly obvious in the week since the scandal broke was the anti-asian and sexist media coverage of the whole affair. The day after the story broke, the Stuff website ran photos of a suit-and-tie Brown, next to a photo of Chuang in a cosplay outfit. As a recent failed candidate for the Auckland Council, there were undoubtedly a plethora of photos that the site could choose from showing her in business or formal wear. But no, they needed to hammer home the stereotype of the China Girl. Salacious profiles, and old stories of her plans for a ‘Dragon Baby’ lent further Orientalising atmosphere to the whole fake ‘scandal.’ [Read more...]

Free Teina Pora now!

freeteina-BANNER1When Pora was 17, in 1994, he was arrested by police in Otara and held in custody and questioned for over four days without a lawyer. The police got him to confess to a brutal rape and murder. He was charged and convicted despite the fact that he could not identify what the victim looked like or where and what her house looked like. During the trial prosecution witnesses were paid up to $5000 each by police to testify.

The real killer is believed to be Malcolm Rewa, who was jailed for other offences in 1998. But Pora has remained behind bars for 21 years. It is a clear case of the Police making someone take the fall, and railroading them into jail. [Read more...]

Demand Justice for Trayvon Martin

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“Open season [...] after a verdict like this”: that’s how Gary Younge describes the situation. “Let it be noted that on this day, Saturday 13 July 2013, it was still deemed legal in the US to chase and then shoot dead an unarmed young black man on his way home from the store because you didn’t like the look of him.”

Protests drawing in tens of thousands are taking place across the United States, expressing outrage at the acquittal of a racist killer. The verdict has been passed on American racism.

Mana on campus called a snap action outside the US High Commission in Auckland this evening, and we were proud to stand in solidarity with all those protesting this criminal injustice in the United States and abroad.

US socialist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor ends her response to the acquittal with these powerful words from Martin Luther King:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Racism – Alive and Dangerous

Kyle Chapman - Racist thug

The past couple of days have made me sick to the very core. First a racist cartoon blaming individuals for poverty and a widespread response which claimed ‘it’s just a joke’ and now the news that a neo-nazi group ‘Right Wing Resistance’ is trying to set up branches around the country.

As times get more desperate and people start feeling the brunt of economic hard times, people start looking round for something to blame. Racism is a tool to focus the anger of everyday people away from the people responsible for creating the hard times – government and city council cutbacks and bosses that lay people off, slumlords and profiteering power companies – and onto other, even worse-off, sections of society.

The cartoon in the Marlborough Express yesterday last week was an example of how racism is used to divide the working class.

[Read more...]

The Criminal Injustice System: from Aotearoa to the USA

the-new-jim-crowMichelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow (2011) has caused a huge storm of discussion, debate and controversy in the United States. It may well be a book that sparks a new social movement. Alexander documents the rise of mass incarceration in the USA, and link this to entrenched racism, poverty and injustice. The privatising and ‘outsourcing’ of prison as business, and the ‘law and order’ turn are part of neoliberal politics the world over.

This has obvious relevance in Aotearoa. The prison system disproportionately affects Maori and Pasifika people. The powers of the state – to harass, humiliate, detain and lock-up – are felt every day in brown people’s lives. The history of white settler colonial rule has relied on locking up and disenfranchising Maori people. A new phase in capitalism, and the symptoms of poverty in recession, looks to imprisonment again. [Read more...]

Anti-Chinese rants won’t stop asset sales

There was an evening rally against asset sales in Wellington on February 13. As a gathering of the committed the attendance was quite good. Estimates vary, but 400 would be about right I think. The unions – which could potentially turnout thousands of members against privatization – are not able to do so in their present state of passivity. Indeed, the unions were barely visible. There was not one union speaker, and no Labour Party speaker either, for that matter. The character of the rally did not represent the organized labour movement – that means unionised workers and members of parties based on the working class. [Read more...]

Treaty hides racist rip-off

Sovereignty... Protesters at Waitangi fly the flag of the Confederated Tribes of Aotearoa, which declared independence in 1835. (Photo: Derwin Smith)

Sovereignty… Protesters at Waitangi fly the flag of the Confederated Tribes of Aotearoa, which declared independence in 1835. (Photo: Derwin Smith)

For many New Zealanders, Waitangi Day is a time to celebrate the founding of New Zealand, a nation which we are taught to believe is born of a union of two peoples, Maori and Pakeha – “He iwi tahi tatou”. This national myth serves to obscure the true character of the treaty and the colonial state that it established. Far from being an idealistic union of two people, the founding of modern New Zealand was born of the bloody theft of land and resources; modern New Zealand and its wealth is built on the ruins of a pre-existing Maori society that had to be torn apart before space could be created for capitalism to supersede it. [Read more...]

Winston Peters and Anti-Asian Racism

Winston Peters is reviving his old anti-Asian bogeyman. This time he’s blaming elderly Asian migrants “cashing” in on New Zealand’s superannuation scheme. Peters’ racist tactics are groundless and he cannot provide a shred of evidence to support his claims. The truth is, far from “cashing” in on New Zealand, relatively youthful Asian immigrants make a massive contribution to New Zealand’s economy in taxes when they enter the country and when they buy the necessary items to start a new life in a new country. They need housing, clothing, food, education and work. All of this is something that the National Party knows and is keen for so long as migrants continue to contribute to the bottom dollar. So there is a contradiction in ruling class attitudes to anti-Asian racism at the moment. It is a tried and true tactic of ‘divide and rule’, but big sections of the ruling class also recognize the need for immigration, and for trade with Asia.

[Read more...]

What’s abhorrent? John Key, whaling, and racism

John Key is engaging in a bout of populist moralising, describing killing whales as ‘abhorrent’ in response to South Korea’s indication that they may resume whaling. The hypocrisy is staggering – this same week National has announced further concessions to New Zealand’s dirty and polluting farming industry. If the concept of killing whales is ‘abhorrent’, what about farming practices that contribute to the loss of ecosystems that threaten endangered species in New Zealand? Since it is largely Pakeha capitalists in New Zealand that reap the profits farming they do not criticise.

[Read more...]

Crafar Farm Sale: whose land is it anyway?

John Key’s phrase “tenants in our own land” has become a political cliche, picked up by almost all parties commenting on the Crafar farms sale. Echoing Key, on January 27th the Dominion Post quoted David Shearer describing the sale of the farms to Chinese business interests as ”open[ing] the way for more New Zealanders to become tenants in their own land”. Shearer, who has had nothing supportive to say about the Maritime Union’s campaign at Ports of Auckland, has been vocal in his opposition to the sale. The Greens pitched in too, describing the sale as “short-sighted”, while for Winston Peters, predictably, it is “treasonous.”

[Read more...]

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