Bowling for Colourblind: the tea party that wasn’t.

by cemeteryjones

Hopes that we were going to get to kick off our week with some IRL trolling were dashed at the weekend, as the Remuera branch of the Rotary club announced that John Ansell’s launch party for his campaign for a Colourblind State was being canned.

I almost felt sorry for Ansell, marooned on the road, holed up in his Auckland city hotel room and penning his S.O.S. Simply titled ‘Help!’, it conveys a quaint sense of desperation. Picture the embattled revolutionary, hunched over his laptop, furiously cursing his gadgets, checking for text messages which haven’t arrived and cursing his ISP as he types;

Soon I’ll be getting back to doing posts about Treaty issues rather than stories about my aborted meeting!

But for now, holed up in this Auckland motel room, I’m having big trouble sending out emails, either via the Telecom USB thingy or Vodafone Webmail.

I’m desperate to notify supporters about the cancelled Rotary meeting — especially those coming from out of town — and also the media.

As always, however, our interest centres less on Ansell himself, and more on the supporters who find hope in his message. Commenting on Ansell’s desperate missive, ‘Damon’ chimes in;

On October 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm Damon said:

John, to me you represent the voice of reason in a tide of guilt and greed. I am so grateful that someone articulate and educated is prepared to give their time to put some balance back into our world, we all know that two wrongs do not make a right… Right now you are my number one Kiwi hero, thank you so very much. Remember for every horrible message you get (they must be starting to come through) there will be a hundred regular Kiwi’s [sic] (and yes I am mixed race, we ALL are) who whole-heartedly applaud your message, even if they don’t take the time to let you know. Three cheers for you John!

You’d think he was addressing this message to John Ball, Camille Desmoulins, Hone Heke or Patrick Pearse. But no, Damon is talking about a white guy who wants us to stop giving money to the Maoris and seems disturbingly enthusiastic about it. Of course he could use his wealth and profile to make a real difference, you know, engaging in or facilitating mentoring programs, social work, starting an advovcacy campaign or an endowment. But that kind of man doesn’t become Damon’s hero. Oh no no; no no no. Nope, naturally Damon’s hero is a man who will ‘put some balance back into the world’ by, uh, continuing to let the colonial legacy of dispossession and disenfranchisement to continue to atrophy. And, of course, Damon can’t see himself or his hero as the grinch in all this. On the contrary, he fantasises about the hate mail his hero must be receiving by now. And he is certain that the talkback radio right is rallying to his cause. Because they are so numerous, these ‘regular Kiwi’s’ [sic] who have had a gutsful of all this pandering to radicals.

Ansell’s  blogpost on the cancellation tells it different. When it comes to gauging the support for the campaign for a Colourblind State, we need only note that bookings were intitially slow. To his credit, he details this in full, presenting an email he titles ‘exhibit A’


The disclosure continues. The intended context, of course, is to show that Rotary chickened out and had been aware all along of the nature of his event, but what interests me is the commentary attached to ‘exhibit B’

“I figured we needed another 50+, so invited about 500 from my address book.

Most of these people had no known interest in this subject, and only a small percentage lived in Auckland.”

Hang on, so to draw a crowd for the launch, which he has been publicising actively, Ansell was forced to resort to …. inviting personal contacts, mostly  people with ‘no known interest in this subject’, of whom ‘only a small percentage’ actually live in Auckland. Hardly sounds like the groundswell Damon is fantasising about (let alone Ansell himself). Surely it isn’t the price tag of dinner at the Rotary Club that  turned the Damons of our dear city away? Oh, but the readers are not deterred, oh no. Responding to the Help! post along with Damon, ‘Natalie’ writes:

On October 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm Natalie said:

John, you are the true voice of reason in this country who’m [sic] the lunatic fringe will try to shut down. I feel sad that most agree with you but are afraid to say what they really feel for fear of being labelled racist.
Sadly the only real freedom of speech in New Zealand is reserved for maori only.

So there you have it, folks. This must be why the intitial interest in bookings was so low – the fear of being ‘labelled’ racist. It’s not the supporters of the campaign for a Colourblind State who are the fringe group! They’re not the gullible, manipulated haters! No! 

  Perhaps the most flabbergastingly deluded post comes from an individual named ‘Dan’, whose final word on the matter is remarkably telling:

On October 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm Dan said:

I was just reading the comments on TV3 news website. One of the comments called you a coward. The ignorance of such a statement is astounding when you stand up alone to tell the truth of what is happening in NZ. It’s a pity that TV3 news censor most of your supporters comments while posting all the vitriol and venom of the supporters of radical maori and their very wealthy, elitist friends.

Imagine, this poor guy, sitting in front of his computer, trying to understand why nobody seems to be seeing this the way he sees it, and all he can come up with to explain it is that TV3 must be employing censorship to negate the views of the ‘majority’ that, in his delusional state, is surely evinced by the white noise of the talkback radio right feeding back upon itself. Never mind that it is John Ansell who happens to be the wealthy individual sponsoring a political movement which, in our view, implicitly backs elitist views in its assumption that Maori need to leave their baggage at the door and get with the Pakeha program.

When I look back on that comment, ‘It’s a pity that TV3 news censor most of your supporters comments while posting all the vitriol and venom of the supporters of radical maori and their very wealthy, elitist friends’, I think of a statement by the British biologist, Professor Mike Begon;  ‘once you believe one thing in the absence of evidence, then surely you can believe all sorts of things.’ If I were being flippant, I would assert that ‘Dan’ is actually a big city CEO, sitting in his air conditioned 20th floor office chuckling to himself as he posts up a doozy. But the sad truth is, I don’t believe that ‘Dan’ is a plutocrat having a quick troll before he pops out for a round of golf, he most probably is an ordinary bloke who reads Ansell’s blog, and finds  comfort in the fact that it sounds like a respectable version of the water cooler chat that he has with the boys while Leighton is on the radio.

This is my main objection to the kind of shit-stirring that John Ansell promotes. To these people, he respresents everything they wish to be; articulate, economically mobile, in a position to engage in extensive reseach which can make his peculiar views seem impressive to the less educated, and generally in a position where he can put these kinds of views out there without his personal or professional reputation being affected, or more poignantly, without having to live with Natalie’s ‘fear of being labelled racist.’ But to the less educated, this is the result;  the sincere belief that ‘radical Maori’ are the ones with the power to manipulate the messages of the mainstream media; that efforts to stymie the redress of colonial injustice are heroic, and serve to ‘put some balance back into our world’.

So when I read this post from John Ansell, seeking a new venue for his Monday launch, I wish it hadn’t been so late in the day;

Now I need to turn this setback into an opportunity.

Who among you knows of another venue where we could hold Monday evening’s meeting?

I’ll bet this venue would be right up Ansell’s alley. In the meantime, John, have a cup of tea …

“Make yourself useful, Hancock Damon – stop fantasising about me and my legions of supporters, and get the bloody kettle on.”