OPINION: Richard Prosser has shown himself unfit to be a member of Parliament.
His obnoxious comments on Muslims are racist and bigoted, insulting a valued part of the New Zealand community and a great world religion.
These are clearly not the charactertistics we require of a Member of Parliament. Prosser's remaining there besmirches his party, the House and the nation.
Prosser came out of the woodwork to enter Parliament on the party list after coming bottom of the poll in his electorate, receiving derisory support from Waimakariri electors, and his extreme opinions made brief headlines. The burqa should be banned, for instance, and those opposing compulsory military training were weaklings and cowards. The opinions were blustering, dogmatic, ill-informed, from a man out of touch with the aspirations of most New Zealanders and fearful of imagined threats.
Politics has always had narrow loudmouths like that and always will, but Prosser has now gone too far. He has shown himself not just a buffoon but a racist.
A passing comment that Muslim men should be banned from flying might be excused as a case of lip coming before brain. Prosser, however, made the comment in a column clearly carefully crafted and considered. It is the product of a man who is expressing what he believes.
What Prosser believes is not just that a ban should be imposed on Muslims flying but that "excessive tolerance, coupled with the twin evils of diversity and multi-culturalism" mean that "the enemy is not merely at the departure gates but that he - and she - is already within".
It is hysterical nonsense of course, but our free society rightly lets a person say it. In Prosser's case, though, his status as a member of Parliament should have moderated his tongue.
That it did not has caused his comments to make news around the world, letting New Zealand become the toast of fascists and the despair of decent people. The nation's reputation is thus damaged and its reputation for tolerance lessened, but it is the harm the remarks do within New Zealand that really worries.
We now know that we have an MP whose vision of New Zealand is one of restricted tolerance, suspicion of ethnic and religious minorities, derision for our embracing of diversity and multi-culturalism, pride in a "Norse and Celtic lineage" and an advocate of a world order that shuns millions of people on account of their religious affiliations. All that is expressed in the language of crude prejudice.
Prosser continues to show his crudeness and his inability to understand the impact of words by offering an apology, asking us to believe that he has suddenly and sincerely abandoned his spew of prejudice and crack-pot beliefs.
Were they confined to the conspiratorial pages of Investigate, written by an Ashley life-styler, New Zealanders and the world could let them pass almost unnoticed, but when they are uttered by a man in the House of Representatives they must be noticed and deplored.
More than that, Prosser needs to understand that his views make him an unsuitable representative of New Zealanders who overwhelmingly are tolerant, inclusive and welcoming of diversity. He should be banished to the pastures of Ashley.
- © Fairfax NZ News