There has been a protest called in Wellington tomorrow in the wake of Trump’s victory. The Facebook event page gives details here. This is important. Leaving aside the more complicated questions about Trump’s victory, what is clear is that Trump’s campaign deployed racism, Islamophobia and the scapegoating of immigrants. It is clear that Trump is a misogynist and that his inflammatory rhetoric has encouraged far right and white supremacist groups and incited attacks against muslims, LGBTQ people, racial minorities and immigrants. In the wake of Trump’s victory people in Aotearoa feel the effects of this hatred, and fear for the safety of people like them in America and around the world. We should take this opportunity to stand with the people targeted by Trump’s rhetoric, and against anyone who thinks they can intimidate and harass women, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants, Māori, Muslims, or other racial or religious minorities in Aotearoa.
It is also important because New Zealand has a “proud” history of racist scapegoating. Today, Winston Peters continues his attempts to unite Pākehā and Māori workers against some imaginary foreign threat, encouraged by Labour’s talk of “chinese sounding names” and the Greens’ promotion of their own plans for reductions in immigration. James Shaw justifies this concession by saying that people are “concerned about the impact on house prices and infrastructure”, tacitly affirming the connection between immigrants and the housing crisis that has people in Aotearoa sleeping in cars or on marae. Disappointingly, the Council of Trade Unions have started to concede as well. Meanwhile, from the sidelines, Brash and his buddies quietly maintain the myth of “special privileges” for Māori, muttering “iwi vs. kiwi” under their breath as they form a lobby group for rich old racists.
And then there is the Prime Minister, a man so detached from the struggles of working women that he can’t understand why grabbing the ponytail of a hospitality worker paid to be polite to him is not just a bit of harmless fun. Under National, the Government has attacked working conditions, sold off state housing, eroded benefits, underfunded Rape Crisis centres and attempted to force through a trade agreement that would give corporations unprecedented power to disregard workers’ rights, indigenous rights and the environment… all while student debt , homelessness, suicide rates and the housing market boom. I understand this is part of a long trend; being born in 1991, the year that the Employment Contracts Act was passed and the slow erosion of workers rights began in earnest, I have never known what it was like to live in any other conditions.
In recent years popular protest has been dismissed as rent a crowd, portrayed as clownish in the media, and greeted from above with smug stonewalling. Workers struggles are at an all-time low. But still people take to the streets to protest; and still the teachers , the bus drivers , the university staff, the cleaners, the paramedics, the junior doctors the fast food workers and many others fight for their rights against this stacked deck. Kia ora to those people; it is clear that foreigners, immigrants and racial minorities are not the ones they are fighting (in fact, those are often the ones doing the fighting). And kia ora to whoever threw a dildo at Steven Joyce.
So, let’s stand up against racism and bigotry on the street, in our homes, in our schools and workplaces. Let’s support our friends and loved ones at a time when it seems the world is against them. Let’s also demand better than the kind of politics that scapegoats immigrants, indigenous people, racial and religious minorities for the hardships we face. Tū tahi ka tika!