In the run up to the general election Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is urging politicians to “do the right thing and stick to those major issues that will help make New Zealand a better place for all our children to grow up in.”
“Equating Maori New Zealanders to French aristocrats who were murdered because of their privilege is a grotesque and inflammatory statement. Accusations of Maori privilege are not borne out by Maori socio economic statistics.”
“Whether we like it or not the reality is that ethnicity and disadvantage are connected and found in damning statistics that on average sees Maori New Zealanders life expectancy, education and health outcomes lagging behind non Maori New Zealanders,” said Dame Susan.
“The connection between ethnicity and disadvantage did not appear overnight and breaking it won’t happen overnight either. Treating everyone exactly the same will not necessarily make everyone exactly the same and anyone who thinks so is incredibly naïve.”
What Whyte said:
Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France.I can't figure out whether Devoy is OK with affirmative action but doesn't think it's a major issue, or doesn't think equality before the law is a major issue? Either way, as race relations commissioner they should both be major issues for her.
But, of course, in our ordinary use of the word, it is absurd to say that Maori are privileged. The average life expectancy of Maori is significantly lower than Pakeha and Asian. Average incomes are lower. Average educational achievement is lower.
Legal privilege offends people less when the beneficiaries are not materially privileged, when they are generally poorer than those at a legal disadvantage... the principle of legal equality is far more important than any redistributive or compensatory impulses that people may have. It is not some philosophical nicety to be discarded because you feel guilty about what people with the same skin pigment as you did 150 or 200 years ago.
Update: Whyte responds by calling for Devoy to resign.