OPINION: Very few people can be called good or bad.
The 2010s saw an old poem by Walt Whitman take off on social media. The Tumblr website, pushed by stars like Lana Del Rey, fell in love with the old essayist and journalist who died in 1892. He was a white American who, according to the history books, liked to sunbathe naked.
His work, Song of myself, was repeated endlessly, especially the line “Alright then I contradict myself, I am great, I contain multitudes.”
To me, that line was about intellectual curiosity and acceptance that, well, nothing is perfect. No political ideology is waterproof, and even our strongest beliefs should be malleable. He recognizes that our views can often contradict each other, so we need to be open to hearing the thoughts and experiences of others.
* Lorde’s claims about Lana del Rey scam are greatly exaggerated
* The similarities of gangs to influencer culture are no coincidence
* Mongrel Mob and Waikato DHB partner with Hearty Hauora
While many of us rallied around this belief at the time, it appears that a steadily declining number of people believe this to be true in 2021.
I have seen an incredible inability of those who engage in politics – the public and the powerful – to act in good faith.
The goal of many, especially heavy social media users, is now to shape any news event to fit their political agenda. I mean literally anything.
In recent weeks, New Zealand’s far left, sometimes referred to as “The Awakening”, has condemned Lorde for singing in te reo and called a rival newspaper “genocidal” for including the views of those wishing to relax the lawsuits. lock restrictions.
Meanwhile, conservatives and right-wingers attacked the health ministry after arranging the visit of Waikato Mongrel Mob chief Sonny Fatupaito to Auckland.
These are just a few recent examples of false contempt built on exceptional bad faith. They show a reluctance to read beyond the headlines, coupled with an eagerness to point out virtue in rapid fire. Let me explain.
During Maori Language Week, singer Lorde released a new album in te reo. In pop culture, this was a major sign that te reo was increasingly welcome in the mainstream. The album gained millions of streams almost immediately. Good news, you will think.
However, the hard left disagreed. A poster on Instagram quickly went viral, accusing singer Pākehā of taking advantage of our indigenous culture. Young Instagram users, including many Pākehā themselves, said it was another example of white saviorism.
These are all interesting arguments, but they just didn’t apply in this situation. And social media activists would have realized if they had bothered to read beyond the title.
On The Detail podcast, Emile Donovan speaks with Hēmi Kelly, who helped Lorde translate Te Ao Mārama. He says there is much more than just translating words.
If they had, they would have known that the album was a co-production between Lorde and some of Aotearoa’s most experienced and trusted Reo Maori advocates, including Sir Tīmoti Kāretu, Dame Hinewehi Mohi, Hana Mereraiha and Hēmi. Kelly.
If they had read Maori Language Commissioner Rawinia Higgins’ sane and nonsensical open letter to Aotearoa, they would have known that the pundits had been pushing for mainstream acceptance and aroha for te reo for a long time.
But reading beyond the headlines and listening to the motivations of others often makes outrage more difficult. It allows you to empathize with others, and it’s not helpful for social media activists who know rabies spreads faster than detailed explanations.
It’s much easier to manually select small pieces of information, turn it into a post for Instagram, and use it to reinforce your pre-existing worldview.
The awakened hardened believe that the world is divided into oppressed and oppressors. The oppressors employ colonization to exploit groups such as indigenous peoples, and in that mindset Lorde – a wealthy white socialite – fits the archetype well. In this case, however, the stereotype couldn’t have been further from the truth.
The right is not spared. They too see the world in good versus evil. The bad guys are those who are part of gangs and others who defy social norms. They say criminals don’t deserve our attention.
And so there was outrage on Wednesday, when we learned that the Department of Health was working with Sonny Fatupaito and Harry Tam, another Mongrel Mob member.
Both are respected leaders among the Mafiosi and have distinguished themselves by their willingness to dialogue with the authorities, despite obvious problems.
Health officials arranged for the two men to enter Auckland and encouraged gang members to get vaccinated. Gangs are some of the hardest people to get involved with, but we know that vaccination – to be effective – must reach everyone.
Right-wing commentators and politicians were outraged and launched into a wave of tweets, arguing that this was proof that the evil mob had infiltrated the government. But life is not that simple.
There are many reasons to dislike gangs. There are many reasons to be wary of American music labels. And there are many reasons to relax the current Covid restrictions, and also to tighten them.
If we can no longer bear to read another person’s opinion and engage with those with whom we often disagree, then we will all be worse off.
Glenn McConnell is a student, journalist and bi-monthly columnist for Stuff. He is originally from Te Ātiawa.