New Zealand: The Polyglot boarding house

Too right!

A regular column by John Black

“This is a nation, not a polyglot boarding house”, President Theodore Roosevelt warned immigrants new to America in a 1918 speech on the virtues of assimilation. It is a fine ringing phrase a modern politician would never utter. Semi-literate and, thinking voters stupider than themselves (when the opposite is more often the case) they would also lack the intestinal fortitude to be so blunt.

Last week, New Zealand First?s suggestion of a ?values test? for immigrants was met with the usual hyperbolic knickers-in-a-twist apoplexy from progressive types.

Professor Paul Spoonley an academic, known for being wetter than a duck’s arse called it ?dog whistle politics. This phrase has always perplexed me. A dog whistle can only be heard by other dogs. If the metaphor for racism holds then only fellow racists can ?hear? the whistle.

So, what does that make the good professor?

The idea that something other than racism is behind NZ first?s concern over immigration never enters the progressive head. Cultural anxiety about the status of one?s own culture amid the arrival of others is a perfectly reasonable and even moral concern. Old Granny Herald in a desperate attempt at campaigning journalism sends the kiwi Oprah Winfrey, Kerre McIvor to places backward to write about child brides. The same paper publishes an editorial rubbishing NZ first?s proposal as ?dangerous? and coming from a place of ?cultural superiority?. Did Granny never consider a values test may be a way of preventing such practices taking hold here and yes, in the case of marrying off nine-year-olds, our culture is very bloody superior.

Paul Little, also on Granny?s payroll, composed ?An open letter to migrants? which made me want to migrate myself, just to get away from his dickheadery. Employing ten-tonne sarcasm he gives a laundry list of lefty critique of New Zealand – from childhood obesity to high numbers of Maori in prison ? and describes it as ?our way of life?.

The motivation behind these attacks is a pervasive piece of progressive doublethink holding that modern New Zealand has no values (or worse, none worth defending) and at the same time that all values are equal.

As Douglas Murray has outlined in The Strange Death of Europe?the reason for this inability to defend western or European values (such as freedom of speech) is a sense of guilt. The idea that western nations such as ours either vastly benefited from or were founded on theft and cultural (if not actual) genocide. Progressive voices ask: ?How can the values that allowed such atrocities as the slave trade be worth defending?? The proper response to this is to point out that while slavery has been a ubiquitous fact of human societies, the rejection of it hasn?t.

Only one culture produced both the abolitionist movement and the emancipation proclamation.


New Zealand first?s ?value test? maybe impractical. If we rely only on tests as a requirement for citizenship, we?ll end up with an ?Asian only? immigration policy.

Because those guys are really good at tests.

That one was for you, Professor Spoonley.

The UK, Australia and the U.S have citizenship tests involving culture, civics and English ability.

We do not.

In refusing to attach any strings at all to citizenship we may be building the foundations for our own ?polyglot boarding house?.