I wasn’t going to post on Paul Henry, the topic has been well covered here (and besides, not having a TV, I’ve never seen the guy in action). But he has now hit the status of a full fledged diplomatic incident, and that needs noting. Here’s India’s response as reported by TVNZ:
India calls in High Commissioner over Henry remarks
New Zealand’s High Commissioner Rupert Holborow has been summoned to India’s Ministry of External Affairs over Paul Henry’s mimicking of the name the chief Minister of Delhi. …
The ministry said in a press release it told Holborow the Indian Government “strongly and unequivocally denounces the racist remarks” Henry made. “It is shocking that such bigoted views have been aired by a representative of a mainstream media organisation of a multi-ethnic democracy like New Zealand,” the release from the ministry said.
“These remarks are totally unacceptable to India and should be condemned by all right-thinking people and nations. “It is hoped that the government of New Zealand would take immediate demonstrative action against the said individual to send out a clear signal that such behaviour is totally unacceptable.”
OK that’s very clear. If the government does not take “immediate demonstrative action” then it is effectively giving the finger to India, huge market and emerging regional superpower. As if that wasn’t enough, the Wall Street Journal (online) has labelled this “the first full-blown diplomatic incident of the Commonwealth Games”. [Update: now also on the BBC, now worldwide…]
The New Zealand High Commission in India has released a press statement:
The New Zealand High Commission has been made aware of comments made by a New Zealand broadcaster directed at the Delhi Chief Minister, Smt Sheila Dikshit.
Rupert Holborow said that, “as New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India, I would like to convey my deep regret for the hurt these comments have caused.” “These remarks were culturally insensitive, inappropriate and vulgar. They reflect the views of only one media commentator (who has already been censored for other racist and unacceptable comments), and certainly not the New Zealand Government or people”.
Fine words indeed. But are we going to match them with actions — actions that show that Henry doesn’t represent “the New Zealand Government or people”? There’s only one way. Henry has to go.
He’s had breakfast – now put him out to pasture
If Kiwi Indians have been outraged by Paul Henry’s racist comments against India and Indians throughout the run up to the Commonwealth Games these past few weeks, they are appalled by Prime Minister John Key’s pitiably lame and unconscionably delayed response to Henry’s mindless insult to Governor General Anand Satyanand on Monday’s Breakfast programme.
The Prime Minister seemed to merely smile and generally go along with the offensive comments without so much as even the feeblest of protests. Hours later he said that he was taken aback but also added that he would go back to the show next Monday. This has sent all kinds of signals to the Indian community’s highly sensitive political antennae. …
Note to John Key – that smile and wave shtick really is starting to wear thin isn’t it.