Andrew Judd should confront his deeper ‘epistemic’ prejudice

Major Andrew Judd has said he no longer felt able to represent the people of New Plymouth. Judd has attempted to offer ‘direct representation’ to Maori, and suffered what he considered to be a ‘racist backlash’. The nature of this backlash was personal condemnation and spitting. He said he feared for his kids. The reality is that, Mayor Judd chose to ‘take the high moral ground’ and gave up, and good decision, because he clearly didn’t have the intellectual aptitude to handle the underlying issues.

The liberal ‘progressives’ have stepped up their efforts to lampoon those social commentators who would condemn Judd, such as Mike Hoskings. The reality however is that Judd made a string of poor decisions.

  1. He seemed to believe that people actually supported the Treaty of Waitangi, a document that was thrusted upon Kiwis by Kiwi forebears
  2. He seemed to think that his electoral mandate meant he would presume to decide what the people of Taranaki believed, without reproach
  3. He under-estimated the extent of people’s hostility towards democracy or ‘progressives’ who would seek to impose their views on the electorate
  4. He presumed that people were motivated by racism. This is a cheap ‘red herring’ that remains to be seen.

There are good reasons for thinking that this is not a racist backlash; namely:

  1. The possibility that people spurn democracy, in any form, not least because they feel alienated, or not represented by its various exponents, who they feel are self-serving. For good reason, as it serves as a legalised extortion racket. i.e. Majority rules is the same foundation for a ‘illegal’ gang bang. But link it to ‘Queen & empire’, and ‘legal procedure’, and its ‘in keeping with good taste’. These conventions are increasingly going to be questioned.
  2. The possibility that Kiwis are dissatisfied with the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty was hardly a convincing document for either side since it was not signed by all tribes; it was signed by the ‘kings’ of each iwi, it is taken to be a commitment for all their forebears, and it was signed ‘under duress’. It invalidates every preconception we have for a contract. The foundations for the Treaty of Waitangi are about as logical as Christ dying for our sins.

When Mike Hoskings advanced the view that Maori could vote or run for council, and should not be given special ‘direct’ representation, he was conveying a disdain for the Treaty of Waitangi provisions that collectivise the interests of Paheka, and that is the source of people’s disdain for Judd’s view. People don’t feel that they have representation, or that representation is working for them, but Judd’s repose is that ‘Maoris should have direct representation’. The implication is that he thinks Maori are ‘special people’ worthy of special rights. In fact, those who spurn his view, think only that Maori are equal, and not special. He reads it as derision for Maori, but it is in fact derision for politicians like him who fail to appreciate the popular disdain for democracy, or representation. It ha resulted in a growing support for authoritarianism.

Parting New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd applauded the councillors in Masterton for appointing two iwi representatives with voting rights. Their posture however doesn’t necessarily validate the move. Judd might lament his historical childhood as ‘racist’, and argue that Masterton cultivated “his lifelong racist worldview”, but he collectivises his appraisal, and presumes that everyone shares that view. He takes the ‘high moral ground’, arguing of his Masterton ‘compatriots’ that “I’m so proud of you guys for passing what you passed on your council”. He goes on to say:

Parting New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd: “This is about representation, not a free ride for Maori, and it goes right back to our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, which has a legal and a moral status for us all”.

Yes, it does, but he assumes that Kiwis actually support that view. It is interesting that he has turned out to be the victim on this policy. Clearly the reason is that:

  1. His constituency is a rather conservative one
  2. Local government is a rather ‘accessible’ political forum for critics to elevate their parochial views, that would not otherwise get ‘standing’ in the national press.

Did Judd need to step down in order to protect his children. No, he needed only listen, rather than impose his prejudicial worldview upon others. He assumes that his ‘progressive path’ is the path that others should take. It strikes one as ‘Christian self-righteousness’. I was bad, but I’ve become a man, and you all remain heathens that will be better people under my custodianship’.

Now, Judd might take the view that the Treaty of Waitangi is ‘supreme law’, and he is duly bound to apply it. The reality however is that he took it a step further because:

  1. It was the position of the national govt to adopt policies, and not the progressive initiative for the local government to assume
  2. The position is incoherent for the reasons expressed above. It makes Maoris superior moral agents to Pakeha. It would constitute ‘double counting’ of Maori votes. Maoris would get a direct and indirect vote. You have to wonder whether Maoris actually retain their cultural links, and why 2 representatives of 14, given that Maori are only 11% of the population. Why not 1 representative?

The reasons for Judd’s capitulation or ‘sympathy for Maori’ is interesting. He observed in the course of his mayoral term that he held racial prejudices in his appraisal of ‘return of leasehold lands that had been confiscated in the wake of the New Zealand land wars’. The problem with that interpretation is that:

  1. He is taking a broad policy position on the basis of a single event in time
  2. He is failing to consider the context in which those acts happened

The problem is that, whilst people might appreciate that Maori were ‘hard done by’, they also reject the view that Maori were systematically undermined because:

  1. They tend to think Maori to some extent deserved their ‘consequences’, i.e. Their culture is inferior, and that they respect their right to be different, but they ‘objectively’ view its not ‘life affirming’.
  2. They tend to think that their imperial forebears were not so callous, but made provisions for Maori to protect their interests
  3. They tend to think that Maori has benefited from white settlement; and if not for the British, they would have fared worse under French administration
  4. They tend to think Maori have been recipients of considerable welfare, and it was their choice to accept it, i.e. that could be taken as a social contract for
  5. They bring to the table their own apprehensions about their own lives, so when they see Maori getting preferential treatment in the ‘modern world’, they think they are ‘missing out’, and that they don’t have the access to the politicians that the Maori do, and Judd is offering to extend those ‘privileges’.

Andrew Judd says ‘he had harboured entrenched racist views throughout his life, which he had first learned as a child growing up in Masterton’.

The fact that he feels that this is the case is a testament to his anti-intellectualism. The problem with ‘moral crusaders’ is that they tend to ‘discover truth’ suddenly, and fail to account for the reasons why they were ‘ignorant’ all those years. It begs the question – If you were ignorant all those years, how is it that ‘one experience converted you’, and why do you imagine the conversion to be instantaneous? Might we expect that Judd still has ‘more to learn’ and the fact that he interprets others hostility to him as ‘racism’, as just evidence that he has a lot more to learn. It could be construed as an ‘intellectual arrogance’. I was ignorant, but I had an experience that you did not have, so now I’m smarter than everyone else. That is the nature of his arrogance.

Andrew Judd: “I had a beautiful upbringing, a blissful and great time through my childhood”.

Is it possible other people had a good or bad upbringing as well, but felt compelled to challenge their cultural context when they were ‘growing up’. Its like he suddenly discovered the capacity to think, and thought he’d achieved everything.

Andrew Judd: “I spent summers at Riversdale beach at the YMCA campus, I was a choir boy and altar boy at St Matthew’s. I went to Lansdowne Primary then through to Hiona. But it wasn’t until I became the mayor here that I even went on to a marae. Did I have any Maori mates when I was a kid? Only in my class. I have gone back to find things out. I call myself a recovering racist, and I’ve gone back to find out how did that all start”.

The problem is that he didn’t go back far enough, and he didn’t think deeply enough because he has not questioned his Christian values, and nor has he considered the broader context of his values. It’s a big task. He has also attempted to be a ‘practical person’, and yet he confronts issues in his life, and he is compelled to have an answer. He doesn’t study issues like a philosopher, who prepares for life by in effect, anticipating problems. No, he ‘dives in’, solving them as he goes, attempting to ‘fight for his values’, not realising that he is acting imposing those values on others, given thec extortive nature of representative democracy, and he wonders why people are so hostile. He interprets their hostility as ‘disproportionate’ racism.

Andrew Judd needs to think ‘deeper and longer’. He needs to immerse himself in those conflicting views and stop being the salesman who gets elected, then the wife who changes her values after they have got married (elected). If Judd had done that, he might have avoided the hostility of his constituency. But maybe he might have found it on other issues. Change takes time; longer if you grew up in the heartland of conservatism; but then he moved to an even more conservative values. Is there any hope for him?

Among the concerns that Judd expresses is a disdain for the racial prejudices of past generations. He describes how growing up, that ‘cycling to class to then Makora College on the east side of the town, and riding past an area known colloquially as “the Cameron Block or the reservation”, where a high number of Maori families were living.

Andrew Judd: “One of the things I was told was to ‘mind your lunch because you’ve got to pushbike past Cameron Block to school’. So I would get to that stretch of road and I’d get over the bridge and I’d bike as fast as I could until I got past the Cameron Block homes, the Maori homes. But nothing ever happened. Never”.

That is silly thinking because it ignores the fact that reputations are built on experiences. Of course people’s fears can be misplaced, and seemingly inappropriate, but you never know the risks you dodged. My mother was vigilant about the risks of germs. In the Western world, these fears seem misplaced today, but it stands you in good stead when you go to the Third World, where you can catch skin diseases or malaria if you ignore such precautions. The fact that he has had “a privileged white upbringing” is also a source of vulnerability, as people will ‘pull you down’ because of it. Being advantaged is nothing to feel guilty about. One cannot assume a ‘guilt’ for the state of others values.

Andrew Judd: “Culturally, we have differences. Of course there is one law and one rule, no one’s arguing that, but as far as world perspectives culturally we are different, and that’s something to celebrate I’ve come to realise”.

That is precisely the point. There is not one law; there is one form of subjugation, and two types of subjugation depending on whether you are ‘materially privileged’ or ‘ethically privileged’. After all, the distinction is that Pakeha think they have ‘earned’ the right to their relative material prosperity, whilst Maori spurn such materialism, and seemingly demand ‘greater power’, but its really only their representatives. We are oblivious to actually what their people want, and its fair to say, they probably feel as disenfranchised as ‘white fellows’, despite their relative material well-being. This is ultimately the source of Pakeha tolerance for what Judd has tabled. But his ‘advocacy’ was just too close to home, and he was just to seductively ‘accessible’ for his constituents to tolerate his ‘progressive world view’. Based on his description, you realise just how uninformed and parochial his ‘world view’ is. It hangs together on a few experiences that stuck in his mind; a few threads, and conveys an intellectual arrogance that really does not stand up to challenge. This is ultimately why he felt compelled to leave, though he can sanctimoniously argue it was to ‘protect his family’. If he wants to be a reconciliatory, there was no better opportunity. He renounced the opportunity; it was not taken away from him.

Andrew Judd said he had believed in a “sanitised version of our colonial past”, which he had now renounced, and he urged Masterton councillors to continue to “have this conversation” about Treaty-based representatives on council.

The truth is that the education system is highly apologetic to Maori. I have never heard anyone deride Maori for not apologising for any undeserved action they have taken. Are we to believe they are free of vice? Apparently so.

Andrew Judd: “I get emotional about this. it winds me up. Look, we are good people, we’re just blind to this part of us which has such a deep and lasting effect…This a question about who we are. It transcends local government and mayors. This is a fundamental question for us all. Ask yourself”.

This remark is perhaps the most telling among Judd’s statements. Emotions are not cognitive tools; they are the ‘effects’ so to speak, of thinking performed. A person who substitutes emotions for thinking, who professes to contend with ‘fundamental questions’, but then goes on to describe ‘concrete experiences’ in their childhood, has just failed as an intellectual to rise above their parochialism. They have merely run from the conservative ‘anti-intellectual’ camp, into the misguided ‘reactionary’ liberal camp. From the pot into the fireplace so to speak.

Andrew Judd: “I feel the safest, and the most connected and relaxed, in a Maori environment now. I almost feel at home on a marae now. Not only because of the changes within me but the whole way in which Maori connect with each other. It’s that sense I would lead my children to, and that sense I’ve discovered, and that middle New Zealand is missing out on”.

There is no mystery here. The socialism of council, with its unconditional love, is entirely compatible with Maori collectivist culture. The point of distinction is that the electorate demands ‘results’, and Judd failed to crystallise their expectations. No, he betrayed them, and that is why they are angry; not because they are racist.

Far from Judd giving his ‘world view’ a second thought, in the face of condemnation, he has decided to put his head in the sand, with this arrogant rebuke:

Andrew Judd: “What I’d like to do after this is help Pakeha transition to the road and the journey that I’m on. Not everyone will connect and that’s fine, but I’d like to work in that space now”.

On this note, you see the duplicity of Judd because he says ‘its fine to take a different course, but in political office, you assume a coercive position’. The nature of democracy is ‘coercive organisation’. There is no ‘agreeing to disagree’. It is destined to evoke conflict and therefore hostility, but he didn’t see that.

The problem for Andrew Judd is that he has permitted himself to think that his attitudes to Maori are the only aspect of his personal development that has prejudiced his ‘world view’. This is rather naive when you consider the broader shape of his value system. I know this because my personal choice of values has placed me in constant conflict with others since 15 years old, until now, aged 47yo. His ‘political path’ was a populist path, and its fair to say that his ‘Christian acceptance’ was hardly a foundation for a critical eye. No, it is only from this ‘luxurious’ position of unconditional ‘council’ love that we see the ‘real Judd’, warts and all. Of course he will belatedly learn, as anyone does who places themselves in a position of conflict. Welcome to the real world Mr Judd.

References

Quotes and excerpts for this article from the article “Once racist mayor lauds Masterton” by Nathan Crombie, Wairarapa Times-Age, website, 12th May 2016.

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