Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We must be doing something right

When less than a handful of newspapers here - three, I think- ran a couple of those cartoons, the government was concerned that our trade with Iran might be jeopardised. A meeting was held with Iranian trade representatives to discuss the roles and relationship of government and the media in our society. Also present were senior members of the local Islamic communities, who were present to support the government. I think it's fair to say the better part of the mania that seems to be possessing most of the rest of the world has passed us by thus far.

One of the newspapers which printed cartoons was my local daily, the Dominion Post. They are, frankly, not the most sophisticated organ; not tabloid, but there's an attention-seeking little yellow journalist rattling around inside the editor's head. I'll say no more.

Anyway, on today's front page:
Muslim head girl at Catholic school
15 February 2006
By SOPHIE NEVILLE


The appointment of a Muslim student as head girl of St Mary's College has raised eyebrows among some who feel the top spot should be reserved for a Catholic.

Aysser Aljanabi, an Iraqi student and one of the 10 per cent of non-Catholics at the state integrated Wellington city school has been selected as head girl for 2006.

Head students are usually chosen after a student vote and discussions between senior staff and the principal.

Old Girls Association president Vonnie Nunns said the appointment had been controversial and admitted to being surprised at a Muslim being made head girl. She would not comment further but said the old girls had "no say in the policy" of the school.

Aysser declined to comment on her appointment when contacted by The Dominion Post, and despite repeated calls to the school, principal Mary Cook did not respond either. When approached last year about Aysser becoming the first Muslim head student of a college, the school said an article would be "inappropriate".

Catholic Education Office chief executive Pat Lynch said he was not surprised the appointment had been controversial.

"Given what's going on internationally I can understand some people's reaction."

Non-Catholic students had been head students before but it was important the person was able to "model the values of the school".

"I think it's easier for someone who is a Catholic to do that, but it really depends on the person," he said.
This is what's known in the trade, I am told, as a "beat-up". It's a non-story. The one overwhelming feeling I get from this article is that nobody who is actually involved thinks this sufficiently important to warrant press attention. The paper went to anyone they thought they could get a rise out of, and nobody bit. To get even a tepid response they had to go to a body, the Old Girls Association, which had absolutely no role in the process.

"Despite repeated calls to the school" indeed! Well it would be unseemly for a Catholic girls' school principal to give a literal finger to the press, after all. They should take the hint and butt out.

Addendum: at a family barbecue subsequent to this story, my dear old silver-beardedhaired mother, a Saint Mary's Old Girl, whom I would classify as "conservative" in the classical sense of the word (don't mention Helen Clark in front of her) was nevertheless of very much the same dismissive and, indeed, caustic opinion as her offspring

3 Comments:

At 1:26 PM, Blogger tigtog said...

Heh. You can just see the paper wanting letters to the editor on that one.

 
At 1:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letters they got were comprehensively positive, along the lines of `wouldn't have happened in my day and good to see more cultural diversity now' and `good on them for picking the best student for the job'. Although there was one somewhat bizarre rant about the appointment being an insult to the Virgin Mary. The beat-up angle was mentioned a couple of times too.
Cathy

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger tigtog said...

Oh yes, it's a real insult to the Virgin Mary to have someone from a tradition where they say "Praise be Upon Her" every time she's mentioned become head girl.

Such people are sad, but I'm glad the rest of the letters they got were more cosmopolitan.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home