How can ‘all’ be discriminatory?

The Archbishop of Wellington has condemned a sign reading ‘All lives matter’ that was displayed outside a Catholic church over the weekend.

. . . ”A church should not be politicised this way. A church should be a safe space for everyone, a place where everyone feels welcome without being confronted with politicised material that some could find unwelcoming or offensive.” . . .

A church is private property and the owners have a right to reject a message someone else puts on its sign.

They also has the right to reject to their church being politicised.

Pacific lecturer and native Hawaiian Emalani Case said the church might not have received the same level of backlash six months ago.

“It’s just ill-timed, it’s offensive, it’s disrespectful. We can’t actually say ‘all lives matter’ until black lives matter, because black lives unfortunately often get left out of the ‘all’.” . . 

If any individual or group is missed out then it’s not all. All means everyone, not just some.

That’s the point of using all, to be inclusive not to be divisive or discriminatory.

Emilie Rākete, of Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa iwi, is an advocate for the Black Lives Matter marches, and said she understood why the sign was vandalised.

“When people see this kind of insistence that ‘no, all lives matter’, they’re angered by it, not because they don’t agree that all lives matter, they’re angry because it’s an attempt to whitewash a very real racist terror that many, many people in this country have to live under the constant threat of.”

Rākete, who is also the spokesperson for People Against Prisons Aotearoa, said the idea that all lives matter was aspirational. “That means it’s a value that doesn’t exist yet in the world we live in”. 

But aren’t people taking to the streets for BLM marches because black lives matter is aspirational, a value that doesn’t exist yet too? If it did there’d be no need for the protests.

”When people say black lives matter and Māori people’s lives matter we’re not saying that because we don’t like white people and we want to put all Pākehā in the ocean, we say it because our lives are treated materially by the state, like they don’t matter.” . . 

That true in some other countries but it is not here.

Maori are over-represented in negative statistics – they’re more likely to do worse in education, have poorer health, be victims or crime and be found guilty of committing crimes. But it is wrong to say they are treated like they don’t matter by the state. If anything, in some ways Maori are sometimes treated as being more equal than other New Zealanders.

Even if it was true, that’s no argument against saying all lives matter.

In contrast to identity politics which highlights differences  and divides, all  embraces our common humanity, it aims to be unifying.

This doesn’t mean there is no discrimination or unfair treatment. It just means the answer isn’t more discrimination and division.

When I say all lives matter it’s not because I think no-one is disadvantaged or discriminated against.

It’s because I believe that disadvantage and discrimination won’t be solved by focusing on what causes the ignorant to discriminate, that gives them an excuse to treat some people as lesser beings, that somehow blinds them to what we all have in common.

The solution to discrimination isn’t more discrimination, it’s acceptance and understanding that all of us are people with the same rights and responsibilities, and what we all have in common is far more important than anything that makes us different.

4 Responses to How can ‘all’ be discriminatory?

  1. Andrei says:

    A church should be a safe space sacred place for everyone,

    I can’t get my head around how bizarre anno domini 2020 has turned out to be.

    Rationality and reason are in full retreat while statues topple and books are burned


  2. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind and commented:
    Agreed, all lives matter. It seems that whilst we locked down against the Coronavirus pandemic, strangling many businesses because it was ill thought out, we have not equipped ourselves against the pandemic of wokeness, identity politics and intolerance which has spread like wildfire using the BLM banner.


  3. Roj Blake says:

    We said – “Black Lives Matter”

    We didn’t say “Only Black Lives Matter”

    We know all lives matter, but right now, we are asking for your help because black lives are at risk.


  4. MvL says:

    we are asking for your help

    What kind of help would that be?
    Defacing a statue. Demolishing it maybe?
    Setting fire to a church?
    Or just blocking a road shouting?

    Asking for a friend.


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