OPINION: Taking offence when none is intended

Monday 1 February 2021 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Opinion

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OPINION: Taking offence when none is intended

Take the good with the bad, but look for the good because it’s not all bad, writes Ruta Mave.

“Knock, knock” Who’s there?” “Non de plume” “Non de plume, who?” “Exactly!” Guess who’s back? It’s the freedom to write without being persecuted by others, the freedom to express your thoughts that may be in contradiction with your family or friend’s political views, desires or preferences. 

It’s a safe haven for people who will face pressure from others to conform or to be quiet and not let the cat out of the bag. I wonder if we will see the return of the Unionist, tea totaler, definitely Concerned citizen, and probably Disappointed, Disgruntled, and Disgusted although I believe they are adjectives rather than nouns. No doubt the Government spin doctors will be back in earnest and with the smoke signals making an anonymous return, some tongue in cheek observations will grace the pages.

This is good news as it gives a more rounded, deeper insight into the belly of the community and the gut feelings which is the heart of the matter concerning its citizens. Maybe now more views on the state of the To Tatou Vai project and the adding of chemicals, the appointment of heads of departments and the use of public funding will be shared and help support the brave few who have been battling under their own identities and being hammered by the larger arms of Government ministry management.

Granted, there lies the risk that some will take it too far and use the anonymous platform to preach their agenda’s or fight unfairly, however, the editor assures all Journalism Charter principles will be upheld and there will be no name calling. It’s subjective and for some offence will be taken where there is no offence meant.

Recently, I was misquoted and said to have been offensive to a certain community, which, if re-read correctly will see I was responding to a racist rant from a single papa’a businessowner. The lack of protest for the locals is an example of the systemic racism in our community and around the world that we are blind to the daily digs, and put downs that demean and destabilise local and indigenous cultures and societies around the world. 

When I first received the racist rant, it was agreed not to publish it in full as we thought it would offend those who don’t agree with the writer. We also didn’t want to offend the local. It’s because racism favouring the patriarchal English culture is endemic and unfortunately accepted in our community. 

The writer knows, I know, who they are, what they don’t know, is others know who they are, because they speak constantly like this, it defines them. Likewise, everyone who knows an Australian would know if on January 26 they celebrated the arrival of the first shipment of convicts and the start of an English penal colony, that would effectively bring Barbies, thongs and Four X beer, or if  they acknowledged or protested the land stolen from 750,000 people of 400 distinct nations, who had lived there for 60,000 years and were labelled not as people but flora and fauna.

You can say you support the Indigenous, First Nations in print or principal, but if you speak of those people in derogatory tones as all of the same ilk, then we have a problem. Here the English smothering of native culture exists, subtly, in our daily flippant words, and the taking of non-Maori paternal names, which slowly diminishes local pride and existence.

When we agree to live the English way and yes, my racist friend, stop “eating each other” accept the one God, albeit in 16 different churches, and believe our culture needs refining, we allow the loss of language, arts, identity and land to take a firm hold. The racist also said ‘you are lucky to have the rights to speak your thoughts and voice we don’t’. Well, slim shady, please stand up, the floor is yours, go ahead show your true colours but remember you have chosen to live here on this Covid free, tropical island so take the good with the bad, but look for the good because it’s not all bad.