Lazy Maoris and idle words
What is remarkable about Holmes' column is not so much its grumpiness but its spendthrift way with adjectives and abstract nouns. Not only were those protesters at Waitangi 'hateful' - they were, Paul tells us in the same sentence, 'hate-fuelled'. And, wouldn't you know, they filled Waitangi Day with 'hatred'. The day was 'ghastly'. And it wasn't simply ghastly - it was, Paul quickly adds, a thing of 'ghastliness'. What ghastly ghastliness!
Ghastly things tend not to be attractive things, but Paul has to use another adjective and tell us, just in case we haven't gotten his drift, that Waitangi Day is 'repugnant'. It is so repugnant, in fact, that Paul has to use 'repugnant' twice to describe it.
Paul goes on to explain that Waitangi has become a 'bullshit' day. Now, the word 'bullshit' long ago become a synonym for 'untruth', but Paul uses his next sentence to explain to his readers that Waitangi has become 'a day of lies'.
Paul elaborates on the theme of dishonesty by suggesting that every Waitangi Day Maori show they are in 'denial'. Just in case this point is a little too abstruse, Paul uses another sentence to explain that Maori are in denial because they are failing to address things. Thanks, Paul.
Paul's orgiastic outpouring of unnecessary adjectives and limp abstract nouns is rather unfortunate, because he wants to use his column to complain about the 'hopeless failure of Maori to educate their children'. Paul is of course a known authority on child-rearing, having helped bring up that model of scholarship and sobriety Millie Elder-Holmes, but I'm not sure if I'd trust him to teach kids journalism, or for that matter English as a second language. In fact, if I were the editor of the Herald I'd hand Paul a copy of that favourite of right-minded journos since the days of Hemingway and Orwell, Fowler's Modern English Usage, and ask him to copy out the entry on Redundancy twice. Paul complains about the number of Maoris sitting about idly on the dole, but what about the idle words in his column? Isn't it cruel to allow them to lounge about on the fringes of his sentences, living meaningless lives, knowing that, without nouns of their own to qualify, they'll never do any useful work?
I do find it curious how the people determined to defend European civilisation from the depredations of brown barbarians seem so often to be short of the finer trappings of European civilisation. I've looked at footage of protests by groups like the National Front and the English Defence League and seen beer-bellied skinheads with swastika tattoos on their necks chanting about the need to defend the honour of the white race, and wondered whether they might be engaged in some elaborate joke. Perhaps Paul's column, with its succession of awful sentences, is also some sort of practical joke. Perhaps his piece is a satire intended to show how will awl rite in da fucha, if dem brownyz wif there PC kohunga rayo skool nonsenz ar alowd 2 take ova? I enjoy Waitangi Day, and think it a fine expression of our nation's character and values. New Zealand is a country founded by dodgy property speculators from some of England's second-rate public schools on land seized from Maori by Celtic and Yorkshire soldier-settlers who were pushed out of their own whenua by enclosures and poverty, and who soon found themselves in hock to the same landlords and bankers that had bothered them back home. Maori have tended to have a rather half-hearted attitude toward the nation founded on their dispossession, and so have many of their dispossessors, who have often identified more with their class, religion, or region than with their nation.
On Waitangi Day the chief executive of the nation, who made his fortune betting against the New Zealand dollar for an American company, and who flies out to his holiday home in Hawa'ii every chance he gets, travelled to one of the poorest parts of the country and attempted to lecture a group which has lived there for a thousand years about the virtues of patriotism. Curiously enough, his words were met with derision.
The confusion, disunity, and rambling, intemperate arguments which are such a part of Waitangi Day seem a fair enough symbol of a disunited, confused, and argumentative nation. Waitangi is certainly more honest than the false shows of unity and harmony that the Aussies and the Americans turn on for their national days.
I like seeing Prime Ministers being mocked and harangued on Waitangi Day, and the subsequent fulminations of columnists like Holmes are (if you'll excuse me resorting to what Fowler's Modern calls, with its usual magisterial contempt, an 'exhausted metaphor') icing on my cake.
[Posted by Maps/Scott]