We should be grateful that Maori are, in general, inveterate forgivers even if their own are harmed by that generous custom. Tariana Turia and three other prominent Maori women think Chris Brown, the African-American entertainer, should be allowed into New Zealand despite a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend, pop Diva Rihanna.
However, in addition to forgiveness, there is an underlying whiff of race resentment in their stance. Why, they seem to be saying, do we let in some horrible white people but not black people? Good point but should an incompetent immigration service justify welcoming a horrible black person into the country? And where, by the way, is Mr Woodhouse, the Minister in question, hiding?
There are two honorable reasons why people want to welcome Mr Brown into New Zealand. Together they can be explained in this way: Give the guy a chance. He’s said he’s sorry, he’s done his time, he’s turned his life around and with all that learning behind him he’s a good role-model for our kids. The dishonorable reasons come from those who get irritated when authorities intervene to spoil their fun and those in this country and America who stand to make money out of Mr Brown’s visit.
The question is, has Mr Brown turned his life around? Has he changed his beliefs and attitudes? For nothing else will turn a bad man into a good man. A man who believes it’s okay to batter women can, with help, come to see how wrong he’s been, see the light and repent. He can own up for what’s he’s done and go on to develop his changed beliefs and attitudes, preferably quietly, into helping younger people to see the light. Part of that development involves the expression of sincere regret and remorse and taking full responsibility. Mr Brown does not come out well in that light.
When it became public knowledge that he had beaten-up his girlfriend, Mr Brown apparently hired a crisis management team. They must have been useless because Mr Brown’s subsequent public statement was, “Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what has transpired.” Transpired? Of course, there are legal considerations here. If he had said he was sorry and ashamed for beating-up his girlfriend there would have been no way out of a conviction.
A couple of months later he was quoted as saying he was “truly sorry that I wasn’t able to handle the situation differently and better.” And recently he is quoted as saying he’s sorry about “what happened, about what went down,” as if bashing his girlfriend was just one of those odd occurrences in life, nothing to do with him really, just something that happened, that went down.
His language is text-book minimising and distancing from responsibility. Hardly the language of someone who has changed. Men taking stop violence courses will be rolling in the aisles at Chris Brown’s patently insincere responses. The man is a role model, no question about that, but not the kind Mrs Turia imagines.
In my view Brown, who has been banned in England and Canada, is an overgrown spoilt brat and a violent bully, who cannot understand why anyone would deny him anything, not that I’m prejudiced, mind.