One man's genocide is another man's holocaust
We are used to this semantic conjecture - it seems almost timeless now - but viewed through a British lense it has gained some more tread. The headline: "Academic sparks outcry for comparing Britain's colonisation of New Zealand to Holocaust".
Language lecturer Keri Opai claimed that New Zealand's native indigenous Maori were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following the 'holocaust' of British rule.
But last night the President of the New Zealand Jewish Council slammed the Maori academic for 'trivialising state sponsored genocide'.
Well firstly he didn't exactly say what was reported (see comments section.), but whatever, it breaks down to: when is a genocide a holocaust? And is the word 'holocaust' an exclusive term that should only be applied to the genocide of the Jews in Europe by the Nazis and their supporters? Is the use of the term otherwise a dimunition of the severity of it - a form of 'holocaust denial' by way of trivialisation?
At this point it ought to be noted that the President of the NZ Jewish Council - a Zionist organisation - that was ritualistically upset on behalf of the Jewish world is a right wing, establishment politician. So in keeping with his class and politics it is perhaps little wonder that his offence-taking is itself couched in offensive and ignorant assertions:
This is not the first time that Maori have trivialised the Holocaust by trying to associate it with their own perceived grievances. There is absolutely no valid comparison between the settlement of the country and the organised, state sponsored, genocide that was the Holocaust. As a language lecturer Mr Opai is obviously totally ignorant of world history; as an “academic” he should know better.
Those pesky Maori eh? "Perceived" as opposed to real grievances being the most obvious offence - as if the killing of 40% (or whatever it is) of the Maori population is nothing compared to the killing of 60% of Jews?
Is it just numbers? Surely the fact that Maori are confined to Aotearoa made their subjection more acute in some respects to the dispersed Jewish population?
As for organised and state-sponsored genocide - any observer would note the NZ government's policies over many generations has been to control the Maori population, strip them of status, and attempt to "assimilate" them - a cultural genocide (at the very least) that would be difficult to deny. Anyone who has read the 'Encircled Lands' account of Tuhoe and the Urewera will see the quotes from NZ government officials threatening "extermination" unless they surrender. The original plan - the final solution as it were - was to depopulate the entire interior and herd Tuhoe into a Gaza-style concentration camp in sand dunes near Whakatane so they could be destoyed at will should any rebellion take place. There were Einsatzgruppen-style raids - many comparable acts of genocide - against various tribes.
The destruction of one tribe (by other tribes in the pay of the government as well as European soldiers) is no less a genocidal act.