John Key sure is a class act. Not. Latest example*:
Stadium funds: We’re not Indian-givers, says Key
Prime Minister John Key yesterday said the Government was unlikely to ask for its $15 million back if the Forsyth Barr Stadium is not finished in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. … The issue of whether the $15 million granted by the Government towards the stadium might have to be given back arose after the Otago Daily Times obtained a copy of the grant’s terms and conditions under the Official Information Act in August.
When questioned whether the Government might ask for the money back if it was not finished in time, Mr Key said: “I don’t think so. “We’re not Indian-givers.”
The phrase “Indian-givers” is, for very good reasons, hardly used these days. It arises from the time when Native American culture was being obliterated by European settlers during their Westward expansion. It’s a derogatory term coined by the Europeans (arising out of cultural misunderstandings about concepts of ownership) which has come to mean to “give” something and then take it back again. The term is listed in most dictionaries as “offensive” or “sometimes offensive”, and it is of course particularly offensive to Native Americans.
There’s a deep streak of institutional racism in the National Party. Recent examples include Lockwood Smith’s “because their hands are smaller” clanger (‘Asians have small hands’ remarks ‘racist’, ‘daft’, say leaders), Melissa Lee’s fatal “criminals from South Auckland” comment, Sandra Goudie’s “the others earned their seats” insult to Maori, and the extreme case of John Carter ringing up a talk back radio show (hosted by John Banks) to impersonate a Maori dole bludger called “Hone”. At the Party level of course we had the divisive (and now conveniently forgotten) Orewa rhetoric, the Iwi/Kiwi billboard campaign, and so on.
So was Key’s “Indian-giver” comment racist or just crass and unthinking? All down to your definitions of course, but crass and unthinking at the least. I know I’m a hopelessly PC leftie, but really, is it too much to ask that our Prime Minister, who represents our face to the world, is able to demonstrate a little cultural awareness and sensitivity?
[* Hat tip Marty Mars]