Sunday, December 03, 2006

Fact of Life

I gasped when I saw the magazine cover in the supermarket last month, and debated with myself and with Ben whether to post it. The topic comes up in a big way every three years before election, but "specials" spring up to keep us on our toes.

I admire Santy for never shying away from tackling social issues; somehow I feel inhibited to do so because we are transplants/visitors/intruders/Asians, and we have no right to criticize a country that has allowed us to move in and has given us a good life.

At other times, I'm reminded it's a topic some sections of the country feel strongly about, but not all. And I suspect, in this day and age where mobility is not reserved for the privileged few, it happens all over the place. Still, it's not pleasant, and I was most surprised by my own reaction after 12 years in this country.

Factual rebuttals have been voiced, most notably by Keith Ng, but never in a big way. This week's New Zealand Listener mentions one source reporting 82% of the North & South staff found the cover offensive.

Still, this is only one part of life in Nelson.


  1. YIKES MEG! Maybe they should have run the masthead blurbs (top headlines--sorry reverted to my print vocab, LOL!) as the cover...don't you think "Dr. Orgasm" would have drawn a few more gasps? SORRRRRY! I don't know what's gotten into me...seriously...I can't believe this was really published! And thanks for bringing it to the world's attention! Hugs!

  2. AME, I noticed it only after I posted it and debated rubbing it out, but at least in the Western world, it's a word we see often enough, isn't it? If that would have been the feature article, they most probably would have sold more, I suspect. Did you want me to post a copy of the issue?

    And I guess I'll take freedom of press over censorship.

  3. I guess racism is alive and strong all over the world, isn't it? Now I'm curious about the ethnic make-up of the residents in New Zealand. Any information or should I surf the web first?

  4. You can surf, but we had the census in May this year, and the final result should be coming out this month, I think. Asians are a small part of NZ, though growing, mostly through immigration. On the other hand, there are Chinese families that came during the gold rush five generations ago, and they get the same wrap as us newcomers, too.

  5. I think you are totally right to bring this issue into the world outside for all of us (does Stewie feel "Defiant & angry" coming on again, 2nd time this week? - Well, actually, Portugal gets me quite mad almost every day), particularly because it it touches you two directly. Seriously, we are seeing reactions to post-USSR, Berlin Wall migrations everywhere . fear-fuelled xenophobia. As much as I can go on about it being irrational, or exaggerated, that makes no difference. What does make a difference is the right-wing politicos & media that exploit it for their own purposes and busily/scurrilously fan the flames.
    I can't get D & A at this time of night. I'm gonna think about it and come back to you.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. Without reading the subtitle, it looked very cutesy, until I saw it as a waving goodbye hand. Is this a popular magazine in NZ? It can't be too class with Dr. Orgasm prominently displayed in the top-left corner.

  7. Mile, honestly, I hadn't heard the phrase "the Yellow Peril" for so long, I thought it died after WWII, but since maybe last year when a popular radio host brought it back, it's back in the media from time to time.

    Ja, I'm not too sure what the status of N&S is now, but it's not considered a trash magazine, that's for sure; it is one of the nicer ones. In spite of the doctor, yes.

  8. Meg, I can't believe it! In New Zealand? It seems like such a friendly country to me! On another note, when I lived in Canada, I really appreciate the effort the government put into maintaining racial harmony...I'm sorry to see this but I want to thank you for showing it, I would never have known and you have show your city/country honestly!

  9. Meg, I'm sorry this happened and that it had such an affect on you. I can't imagine a respectable magazine printing it even. :(

  10. :)
    first i want to hug you, meg!!
    I live in my own county,didnt have the experience "transplant" to other counties. But I indeed understand your feeling. Even in the same country, i also could feel this type of "floating" feeling. People need to be accepted by the local residents. Esp. for the Chinese people, they like to ask where is your hometown...that is what i dont want to asnwer...Lots of places to live around China,I really dont know where is my hometown. This is a little bit different from the racial problem. But i think the problems are similar, differed from the scale of humen beings.

    anyway, have a nice day there.
    and we all love your blog very much.

    shanghai daily photo

  11. from DP we get to see the "insight" of a country, good or bad. At least you have an outlet (this blog) to ventilate your disatisfaction.

    on positive note, as the report proves, it is not the majority's opinion. And that its just some populist politicians campaign!

  12. Thanks for visiting, everyone.

    Lisi, Yup, it's true, and it starts kind of early; little kids can be mighty scary and teenagers are the ones that take action a lot of the time.

    Faye, there's a strange mix of political correctness in NZ and daring to defy that, and the race issue is often used to show someone is not restricted by political correctness. For a small country, we certainly have a wide spectrum of publications, and though I've never thought of North & South as overly political or Right-leaning, it does like to examine the Immigration issue periodically. I guess they thought this would be another version. The author was a Right-wing member of the parliament until about a year ago; she was, and now has return to being, a journalist.

    Jing, oh, that's a bit tough, in your own country. But I guess we had that to a small extent in Japan, too, and maybe I just didn't notice it because I didn't move around in Japan, just visited places.

    Kris, "ventilate (our) dissatisfaction"? Well, yes, and we live through the abuses in real life as well.

  13. wow... it's a surprising post indeed, meg! but I'm glad you shared it with all of us. racism happens in my country as well, and believe it or not, it's not only between different nationalities, but sometimes between different cultures! for example, javanese hate sundanese or sumatranese despise javanese and so on and so forth. I just can't understand it, when infact we all are God's creation. Anyway, big hug to you. Take care!

  14. Hi, Santy. Thanks for the visit. Articles like these legitimate attacks in some people's minds, and just today, again, a NZ-born Chinese man was attached by eight teenagers in Wellington, which in turn brings back bad memories of my experiences. However, this is not Daily Angst Blog, so for the time being, I'll stop talking about it, I guess.

    Indonesia is such a multi-cultural/multi-ethnic country that I guess I'm not surprised with what you say; I agree with you, we're just people, trying to do the best we can every day. Again, thanks for your visit.

  15. it's so bizarre - can't believe that anyone would have the nerve to print something like that!

  16. Meg, thank you for sharing this photo. It brings up an important worldwide problem. My son-in-law and I often talk about discrimination that is effident in America against the Hispanic culture. I will share this photo with him to point out that it exists in other countries as well against a different culture. For myself, this picture confirms my belief that as a world, we need to talk to as many people every day as possible, to listen to their thoughts and their concerns. It is only through a communicative discourse will we understand each other and the trials and pleasures of living on this great blue planet. I apologize for going on about this issue, but the lack of understanding is a concern that is near and dear to my heart. My grandbabies are Hispanic. I teach English as a Second Language. My students are my friends and I am very upset when any of them are discriminated against.

  17. Like the rest of the felow bloggers, I was dismayed and saddened to see the magazine cover. Its such a universal problem which I have never understood. I always thought of NL as being especially tolerant.
    Thanks for sharing it with us. Isn't that what's so special about th photoblog? We get a glimpse into everybody's world.

  18. Piika, in some respects, Kiwis are brutally blunt, or straight-forward. There was a radio show host hosting the one of the most respectable shows here, who could not say "yellow peril" enough times in a matter of minutes, though she had problems unless you were born in the UK, came to NZ as a child, and was a hard-working successful mother, so I fet at least I wasn't targetted.

    Lavender Lady, I can't take solace in the fact it's universal, but life can't be easy for your grandbabies, or their parents watching raising them. I used to help the ESL program here in Nelson, and I found two types of ESL teachers, one is like you, and the other, well, it's all economics, and foreign students were good for the economy, so they treated mature international students like kindy kids. Imagine my shock, after being treated so very well in Minnesota in the 70's as a foreign student!!

    Photowannabe, NZ is just like everywhere else, but it was delusional about its race relations pertaining to the indigenous Maori people until maybe the mid 90's. The former leader of National Party (right-ish) who resigned last week hired as consultant, if I remember right, someone who was sympathetic to Australia's infamous Pauline Hansen and her One Nation Party.

    In some respects, the world is getting definitely more same/similar and smaller, and while I love that I can eat kebab and Lamb Sagwala whenever I want to, I'm starting to wonder if it's all good.

  19. Arriving a bit later, I read everyone's comments with much interest. Of course I was shocked to read the headline, dreadfully shocked - I had very idealistic views of NZ's approach to multiculturalism.
    I have seen similar headlines in French magazines in the past years and I'm sure it's a recurrent topic (and one that sells well) in any society that has a significant proportion of migrants.

    Who are we? Who do we want to be? Where are we going? These are powerful, important and sometimes frightening questions. I wouldn't mind the debate but the role of our leaders should be to capitalise on our faith, not on our fears - I wish!

    Like you Meg, I would take freedom of expression over censorship any time but yes, some youngsters take words as an encouragement to act. What do we do? Exactly what we are doing now in the DP family. Talk, share, exchange. Love to you all.

  20. Thank you for your visit, Nathalie.

    You may have heard after the last election that Winston Peters being appointed the Foreign Minister was one of the biggest jokes in NZ political scene in recent times; I think Alexander Downer expressed not-so-subtle doubts about Winston's suitability, but at least as regards Fiji, he is really working hard, so good on him.

    I decided to go ahead in the end because I like to read about the different countries and the cities in DP and hear personal stories, rather than ONLY look at beautiful photos, so I wanted to apply the same standards on NDP.

    Like you said, talk, share exchange, and aren't we lucky we can do this every day.

  21. Hi Meg, I am a late comer to this post. I read this article as I found the headline incredible.
    I was dissappointed that North and South were choosing to pitch to the redneck minority, maybe trying to woo them away from the radio talkback shows.

    I believe we should show our cities and countries warts and all. I like the way that Eric has posted the homeless and others have tackled the less nice sides of their cities- so you are right to show this.

    I believe NZ is one of the nations which have european emigrants making up the majority of its population (along with USA, Australia, Canada and Israel)- does this sound right?. I suspect that all of these have multiracial/cultural societies and the good and bad that comes with this.

    I think that each of us has to make sure we speak up when ignorant or arrogant ideas are voiced. Oops, sounding like a Social Studies teacher.
    Cheers Meg.

  22. Hi, Louise. We didn't read the article - we didn't even buy it, even though we do most time when they deal with immigration. I think I heard enough on the National Radio - at least Linda Clark is long gone so she didn't have a chance to dump petrol on fire. I found it interesting that North & South decided to positioned itself where it did; I also find interesting that New Zealand's immigration policies in the 90's was all about the economy and bringing in businesses/$, which is quite different from my experiences in the US.

    Still, it IS Godzone, dontcha think, especially when it stops raining and blowing and the jolly season is in the air?


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