Recently, a story appearing in the mainstream media, where three prospective Indian tenants who were denied tenancy of a property, were reported to allege racism on the part of the property owner and their agent, has attracted huge attention on social media.
The experience of the three Kiwi-Indians in house-hunting and the accompanying disappointment, and in this particular case against a property owner and property agent who were Asians, has not only been reported but also amplified by mainstream media, as a case of “alleged racism.”
Immediately after reading this story on several mainstream media outlets, a few questions popped in my mind, and not necessarily in any particular order – Why my editorial team did not get this story or such stories? Obviously – we as a leading media house for the Kiwi-Indian community in New Zealand should be able to reach or dig into such stories happening in our communities before others do.
Then, soon after, another question popped in my mind: what would we have done if we got this particular story?
Rushed to our desks – made a few phone calls – got few comments and write out a few hurriedly collected facts in such a manner that we create an impression that some grave injustice has happened because some property owner thinks “Indians are dirty”.
We would not have done that at any cost, and that is not our normal preference!
There are a number of reasons for that – firstly, we absolutely reject the humiliating suggestion even if smartly put into someone else’s mouth that Indians are dirty.
In this case, more than the property owner and property agent – it is mainstream media’s editorial team, who are guilty of spinning the contempt that Indians are dirty.
The mainstream media in New Zealand needs to be reminded that with great power comes great responsibility, and it has to be used judiciously and wisely.
You cannot play out one ethnic-minority migrant community against the other, which is Indians against Asians in this instance, and sit back and see the drama and anxiety that unfolds henceforth.
If mainstream media’s newsrooms are thinking that they are doing any service to the nation as the fourth pillar then they are being delusional and guilty of misusing the immense power bestowed on them for manning the institution called as ‘media’ in any open liberal society.
The mainstream media is guilty of spurning out this insulting-mud on the Kiwi-Indian community that they are dirty by any means by amplifying a seemingly an innocuous conversation in the market.
Reading that story the other question that intrigued me was – would a property owner or their agent be so dumb, or naive, to be so outrageous and offensive, in telling on someone’s face that their entire race is filthy.
I personally doubt that, and for the simple reason, that property investors are supposed to be smart people who generally know how to do business without attracting any unnecessary disruption.
More so, in such instances where any property agent or owner can easily deflect the situation with a polite and courteous response that the application of other prospective tenant was stronger than yours and the owner has selected someone else.
Having said this, I do not suggest being in denial or being inattentive, of the severe struggles that some prospective renters, including in the Kiwi-Indian community, can have in the course of their house hunting.
However, when we look around cool-headedly, we find that people, including those in Kiwi-Indian community, can have different experiences in our day-to-day human activities ranging from house hunting to job hunting.
Some can be lucky while others have to pursue a more arduous path before success kisses them on their foreheads.
And not every failure or disappointment that one receives is rooted in the alleged charge of racism.
To be fair to that property owner, or any other property owner, or a business owner who are free to make an informed choice on whom to rent their property or give employment should not be construed as being racist.
Agreed – this may not be an ideal social behaviour suiting our modern times that we live in today – but it is also not in any way a socially outrageous behaviour that needs to be called out or ridiculed or made a subject of public mockery. At best they should be left alone, subtly educated if possible, but not ridiculed and pushed to the corner.
Because, it is often, those who are disenfranchised from expressing their mundane and seemingly ordinary views openly and freely – on a range of things such as their perception on access to jobs and property, and the impact of migration and multiculturalism on their otherwise serene lives – that they are pushed to subscribe to more extremist ideologies.
This is the most significant problem that New Zealand is facing today – the so-called PC Brigade – with their over-the-top preference for everything to be sugar-coated and amenable to the ideals that they think are placed on a high moral pedestal.
Such a collective preference of this PC brigade for a particular type of social behaviour often creates immense social anxieties, which either results in the emergence of Trumpesque style of politics, or the highly unfortunate instance of the Christchurch terror attacks.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the freedom to express those seemingly ordinary and un-progressive views, in a non-confrontational manner, can act as “safety valves,” that can instead prevent the formulation of extremist views and hence extremist ideologies.
Unfortunately, the PC brigade, who seems to have overtaken all significant platforms of public discourse in our country – politics, media, academics, and social organisations – is effectively putting a lid on those critical safety valves that can ensure long term peace and security in our societies.
However, the late rush of intellectual-convulsion above does not in any way dilute the primary purpose of this piece that the mainstream media needs to do sensible journalism and not sensational journalism – at least not at the cost of us ethnic migrants.