Lindsay Mitchell puts it quite nicely:
Hone Harawira’s outburst, on the other hand, was a red herring. If he had called Howard a statist or even fascist bastard we might have had the real debate which is about how heavy-handed should a government be in tackling problems that exist throughout society but disproportionately among indigenous, poor communities.
Anyone who listens to Willie Jackson and John Tamihere espousing their paternalistic solutions for Maori communities in south and west Auckland might wonder why Hone hasn’t labelled them racist. Jackson and Tamihere want to control the benefits going into dysfunctional Maori families, to link the receipt of welfare money to behaviours they see as desirable – getting the children to school, feeding them properly, not taking drugs and boozing till all hours and not neglecting or abusing their children.
If these two men were Pakeha they would no doubt have also drawn the wrath of Hone and the Maori Party by now. And while their ideas haven’t stretched yet to alcohol prohibition it is Hone himself who wants tobacco prohibition. Inasmuch as far more Maori smoke than Pakeha surely this, in Hone’s terms, is a racist policy too.
And that’s just it. Howard’s plan is a socialist’s wet dream. He’s just not the right colour to implement it.