Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Wendy Geus: Critical Theory Not on Nats’ Agenda

A May Reid Research poll found 70 per cent of people believed the Labour Government is not doing enough to address falling literacy and numeracy rates. Could it be they are too distracted with “smuggling left-wing nonsense into our schools”, as ACT’s Chris Baillie has opined?

A hilarious moment in the House recently had Jan Tinetti tied up in knots, this time not with Erica Stanford’s questions, but Chris Baillie’s. The education minister was trying to explain the benefits of incorporating critical theory into the teaching of maths. Her answer that children need to be taught to think critically had the Opposition in hysterics.

The goal of critical pedagogy is to confront society’s ‘social injustice and oppression’. How this fits into teaching a five-year-old 2 + 2 = 4 is a mystery.

Critical pedagogy may form part of a social studies programme; however, as the left brook no opposition or discussion of their dogma, I am not quite sure how real critical thinking (involving a lot of discussion, argument and disagreement) could be incorporated into a Labour Government’s programme.

As Jacinda Ardern declared at Harvard, any opposition to their beliefs is classed as ‘weapons of war’ that must be silenced. Many New Zealanders from Ardern’s fan club still believe fervently they need protection from ‘unsafe comments’, using an emotive argument that has no basis in fact, logic or reason.

A comment cannot be ‘unsafe’: it is simply a comment, and the world is not responsible for how one person may receive it or choose to interpret it. This is not an argument for shutting down speech.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you, seems a banal old saying. But in a way it is true. How we choose to interpret things partly determines our well-being and our mental health.

Anyone can whip themselves into a frenzy of offence and outrage but the world isn’t interested and cannot be forced to take responsibility through bullying or coercion. We need a sense of humour to get us through life, something woke Michael Wood with his ‘correct world view’ no doubt at times struggles to locate.

When he referred to the ‘incorrect world view’ of Posie Parker, advocating for safety and rights of women, he no doubt, in his narrow bigoted way, believed his government in denying her protection from the feral mob were protecting the mob from her ‘unsafe comments’.

He was supporting anarchy. Words cannot hurt you, but a feral mob can. That is why this Government needs to be shown the door.

Words are not unsafe, but a tyrannical government promoting anarchy is.

Hipkins will be relieved the Maori veto and te mana o te wai statement from his ‘reworked’ Three Waters co-governance policy have yet to have a public airing, thanks to the compliant media keeping it well under wraps, or possibly just being uninterested and unaware of the contentious content.

Former Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith says there is nothing ‘co’’ about te mana o te wai statement. Maori alone get to write the statements and get control of water, land, planning rules and regulations.

Dr Smith and Dr Muriel Newman have a forensic knowledge of what we are in for if we vote Labour, Greens or the Maori party.

You will struggle to find mention of this on Stuff, the Herald, TVNZ or Newshub. Newsroom has featured Dr Smith’s informative opinion pieces in the past, but not lately.

The anti-co-governance meetings around the country are to spread this message, but councils are determined to try and stop them hiring venues. Unlike Goff who banned overseas speakers he didn’t like from public buildings on the prediction there would be problems, experts now warn that councils cannot ban speakers for that reason; opposers can protest, but groups must be able to hold their meetings.

Striving fervently to be ‘politically correct’, local leaders express their abhorrence of the contentious term ‘apartheid’, which simply means ‘separateness’ in Afrikaans, which was part of what drove most of them to reject Three Waters in the first place.

The profound words of Sir Thomas Jefferson’s “I have sworn eternal hostility to any kind of tyranny over the mind of man” summarises my feelings, which are contrary to our current state of being, much as the laughing boy scout may insist there is nothing to see here.

The Disinformation Project (whose funding is about to be quietly renewed by Chris Hipkins’s Government) was set up to shut down any opposition to Labour’s ideological experiment being ‘smuggled’ into our schools and to stifle opposition in general to our political leaders’ opinions, with the mainstream media completely on board and the Opposition afraid to scare the horses by criticising it.

Until now.

It was heartening to hear Erica Stanford on The Platform also decry Labour’s ‘weird woke critical theory’ and stress National will be following a scientific, evidence-based approach to the teaching of literacy, with no ‘political agenda’ as is the current status quo.

With these words I felt a glimmer of hope.

The National Party’s Teaching the Basics Brilliantly appears to have read the public’s mood. With over half of pupils not attending school regularly, one wonders, apart from a general malaise, could parents, suspicious of the government’s political agenda, be keeping their children at home?

Because of the level of control by the media over the type of discourse allowed, we hear little apart from the ‘approved narrative’, which is very different from opinions we hear during our daily interactions with others.

Stuff’ is another important part of this Government’s propaganda machine; they are also very lazy. In a recent Saturday edition, the political opinion pieces were exactly the same as the previous day. Back in the day I used to look forward to the late Frank Haden’s outspoken views in a weekly Sunday Star Times column: he gave balance to commentary.

Speech is now controlled, not free, in our fair land.

The likes of former Dominion Post editor Karl du Fresne could provide a welcome balance, but competent conservative commentators like him are banned from the current mainstream media.

Stuff‘s Regular commentator Luke Malpass does try to present a balanced account of our political scene and his post-budget interview with Luxon was fair.

Nicola Willis fed straight into the Government’s attack narrative with her politically inept announcement they would scrap the free prescriptions budget policy, requiring her boss to step in and explain what she really meant.

Having unified messaging is crucial when you are swimming with the sharks. National really need better advice.

A simple, ‘Yes, we support free prescriptions when targetted to those who are in need’: a positive response, including National’s cost-saving approach over Grant’s spray-and-walk-away one, would have provided little fuel for attack.

With 80 per cent in a recent Stuff online poll of around 16,000 people who did not think the recent budget had anything in it for them, it looks like Grant’s budget is not a great success, so this faux pas may be insignificant beside the negative commentary emerging.

When Michael Laws asked Stanford if she thought public servants had a political agenda and were perpetuating a culture war, she agreed, but sounded unsure how to deal with it. Well Erica, like the Three Waters’ Maori elite’s potential power over New Zealanders with their veto and te mana o te wai statement, as a government minister you too would have immense power to set policy and the direction of travel.

And with thousands of public servants’ jobs on the line, my suggestion is the social justice activists infesting the public service should be first off the rank.

Wendy Geus is a former speechwriter and generalist communications advisor in local government. She now writes for the pure love of it. This article was first published HERE

1 comment:

Anna Mouse said...

In no Public service job should political agenda exist.

Sadly this government has encouraged 'identity' politics (particularly ethnic identity) into the public service.

One only has to look at what is happening in the NZTA with their incredibly woke stance on Maori aspirations rather than fixing pot holes.

We have as a nation begun to disintergrate and this Labour government (a regime really) is to blame.

God will truely need to defend New Zealand if the retain power. Then again New Zealand will cease to exist as it almost already has.