Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Slapping Smugness, In Two Parts: Part B - Response To PC

In response to the quote at the end of the Steyn article referenced in the post below, Part A of the Slapping Smugness Special, PC invites comment on the 'local implication of Steyn's point: how Apirana Ngata, for example, might have regarded the 'warrior culture' so prized by the Maoridom of today.'

PC is asking us to consider a number of things:
  • What is Steyn's point?
  • What is the 'warrior culture' prized by Maori to which PC refers?
  • What would Sir Apirana Ngata actually have thought?

To address these in turn - Steyn's point was exhaustively covered in the post below. As I see it, Steyn seeks to conceptualise 'black culture' as destructive and centred around the negative influence of gangster rap, to the exclusion of any number of positive things contained within it. It seems that his overarching goal is to make an argument for the assimilation of black culture into the dominant white paradigm in America. He makes an argument for the 'golden days of yore' which have now been sullied by modern black music.

The 'warrior culture' prized by Maori certainly is a central part of Maori culture. It is clear that PC wishes us to see 'warrior culture' as something negative, something like 'black culture' has become in Steyn's eyes. Perhaps he sees 'warrior culture' as 'behaviour like the characters in "Once Were Warriors"' or maybe 'behaviour like the Kahui family,' or even 'behaviour like South Auckland gangs'.

Is this a fair characterisation of the 'warrior culture' that is truly prized by Maori? I think not - I think that the 'warrior culture' prized by Maori has more to do with pride, honour, and courage. The traditions associated with the 'warrior culture' - haka, creation and use of taiaha and mere, down to marae protocol where manuhiri are challenged before being allowed on are all integral strands in a rich cultural tapestry. It is these positive, beneficial attributes that constitute the 'warrior culture' which Maori are rightly proud of.

The question has to be asked what PC originally meant by 'warrior culture'.

Finally, who knows what Sir Apirana Ngata would have thought upon seeing today's modern world, but no doubt he would be heartened to see Maori culture to have regained so many of the traditions which the colonial process tried so ruthlessly to drum out of existence. He would be thrilled to see the resurgence of carving, weaving, of the Maori language, the gathering of oral histories to ensure that what remains now is not lost to the future. He would be very happy, I imagine, to see the way that Maori culture has come back from the brink and asserted itself in the very opposite of what Steyn would clearly like to see happen to black culture in America.

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