Archives for December 2023 | Josie Pagani



Madcap end to madcap year

What if there had been room at the inn?

“Why yes, Mr Nazareth, we have just had a cancellation. The valet will stable your donkey. Will you be requiring breakfast?”

A much nicer experience for the travelling couple, but hard to see how you create a religion lasting 2000 years on the basis of an infant born in the Bethlehem Suite.

As it happened, Mary gave birth on a pile of straw and two millennia of Christianity followed. It can't have been easy. Her husband didn’t know who the father was. Three dodgy guys on camels turned up wearing a lot of cologne. And just as the baby fell asleep, the Drummer Boy started up.

Ta rum pum pum pum.

Josie's farewell to the madcap 2023 is here.

Biculturalism v identity politics

The term “biculturalism” sits uncomfortably with identity politics. Intersectional analysis holds that a person is forever defined by their identity. It’s the repudiation of Martin Luther King’s bicultural approach, where he did not say “rip up your fraudulent Constitution”, but rather, “let's make sure that the bank of justice finally honours it”; it belongs to all Americans.

If your oppression is immutable, your victim status is fixed. It is not possible to move fluently between cultural contexts and you can’t be bicultural. It is implausible for a person to be successful in both contexts and on the terms of the dominant culture.

A debate between intersectional politics and biculturalism played out this week. Te Pāti Māori organised protests against things the new Government might do, and New Zealand First’s Shane Jones fought back.

I predict we are headed to a future in which we do what the Treaty says – Māori delivery, to those Māori who opt in, of schools, health care, and social agencies. “Self-direction” was the founding idea of the first Māori party, Mana Motuhake, in its heyday in the 1980s and 90s. Its time may have come.

Josie's column is here.

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