wow, i'm really tired out, having spent the evening answering the questions for the hand mirror candidate survey. head over there to see the various responses that have been posted. there's some really interesting discussion.
had a great weekend with the various events and the labour party campaign launch. the launch was great: oscar kightly and elemnop, and a great speech from both dr cullen and the PM. i can tell you that the place was buzzing, the energy in the room was palpable. there is no way that this party is tired out. we were all pumped up and ready to go.
if you missed the PM's speech, you can find it here. i doubt that the media covered it, but i loved the announcement of support for training for those who get laid off and have been working for 5 years. i know how emotionally devastating it can be to lose your job through no fault of your own, but at least the study package means that you have options to upskill and find another job. the other announcements around infrastructure spending, increase in apprenticeships and the deposit insurance scheme have received pretty good coverage.
also brilliant is the announcement of the universal student allowance. ok, i'll admit to being someone who'll benefit from this policy when it comes in. i was wondering how we were going to cope with the costs of tertiary education for the kids, but this will make things so much easier. now, all we need is a labour-led government! yup, working on that right now.
i attended two fiji day celebrations, one in hamilton and the other in manukau city. the auckland one was huge, organised by radio tarana, and very much a success. there must have been thousands there. missing in action were the national party, which was a bit of a surprise. ok, they was a campaign launch on, but that didn't stop two labour ministers, an MP and 2 candidates (including moi) from turning up.
i was glad to avoid having to drink kava during the ceremony in auckland, in that it wasn't offered to me. phew. there is always a difficulty with cultural events, when another culture clashes directly with your own, and i'm not sure i've figured out the best way to deal with that yet. on the one hand, i don't want to give offence. on the other hand, i don't want to compromise on my beliefs. i have a similar problem with the hongi when on the marae. it's something that i'm still working on.
[update: i hope my friends at the hand mirror forgive me, but i have to link to this post by chris trotter, which so perfectly sums up the labour party launch.]
it has been pointed out to me that my previous post regarding the "obsession" video had some shortcomings, and i take on board what has been said. i do try to be careful about what i say, and think carefully about how i word things. but of course i know that i'll get things wrong now and then (comes with the territory), so appreciate it when people are come to me with their concerns.
i certainly didn't mean to imply, in any way, that the jewish community are targetting muslims and if people have read it that way, then my apologies. let me try to be clearer:
1. i want to absolutely emphasise the link between hate speech and hate crimes. since my post on friday, there have been others incidents of harassment in america. in illinois, a mosque* had "two windows that were shattered and a five-gallon tank of flammable liquid that had been spilled in an area of the mosque’s school that is under construction". a muslim candidate for the irvine city council has received death threats and a muslim student at a chicago college was attacked. all of these incidents may not be linked directly to the dvd (the threat to the local body candidate may have been as a result of inflammatory comments made by an opponent during an earlier campaign meeting). but there is little doubt that hate speech, when left unchecked and unchallenged, leads to hate crimes.
2. i'm appalled that the dvd itself and the incident i linked have not received more coverage in the media. i'm particularly concerned at the lack of very vocal condemnation which should have occurred across the board, but hasn't.
3. i'm also appalled that the police have not taken more seriously the crime i wrote about on friday. lack of action by the police on hate crimes makes the target group even more vulnerable.
4. the people who have appeared on this dvd are well-known for islamophobia and, well, let's just call it what it is, bigotry. we need to understand where these people are coming from and the particular biases they have in order to appreciate the effect of what they're saying. i've not seen the dvd myself, and i know i wouldn't be able to. i've been to several overtly anti-muslim events, particularly since 2001, and i find that i've been worn down by these. i no longer put myself in the position of having to listen to this kind of thing. i know that someone has to do it, in order to provide a rebuttal, but i've decided that that person is no longer going to be me.
5. because the dvd has been released, in part if not in whole, to influence the upcoming elections, there needs to be some transparency here. there are very valid questions to be asked about where the money came from to produce and distribute the dvd. by drawing links to a particular organisation, i certainly wasn't intending to target a whole group. the links don't prove complicity in this activity, and i accept that. i certainly hope that more information comes to light and that the people behind this particular project are exposed.