White South Africans must outgrow the politics of fear

2011-04-23 17:19

The great philosopher leader of our struggle (note I did not say philosopher king), Steve Biko, once suggested fear is the most important determinant in South African politics.

It’s interesting to see how the politics of fear has reared its ugly head in the AfriForum case against ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

Malema laughs at every squirm of the white faces in the audience.

How adults can allow themselves to be played quite like this tells you something about the adolescence of white politics in this country.

There is a sense among white politicians in particular that their constituency are custodians to be protected from the restless natives at the gate.

Is it not ironic indeed that white political activists are using the instruments of modern-day democracy, such as the courts and the media, to express age-old fears about the “swart gevaar”?

It’s freedom of expression alright, but with a mix of duplicity.

Why, for example, is it freedom of expression for The Citizen to call Robert McBride a murderer, and not freedom of expression for Julius Malema to call former members of the South African Defence Force (SADF) murderers?

After all, the SADF killed black people on a far larger scale than the Robert McBrides of this world.

What is happening here is something some of us predicted about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

By equating killing in the name of a just war with killing in the name of a truly murderous regime, the TRC sent the message that there were no good or bad guys any more.

By allowing The Citizen to call McBride a murderer, the Constitutional Court has simply etched that moral equivalence into law.

And that means everyone who fought against the apartheid regime and killed was a murderer.

If this is not an institutionalised rewriting of the moral foundations of our struggle, then I don’t know what is.

The duplicity does not end with the criminalisation of one set of actors (Robert McBride) and the absolution of others (the SADF).

While AfriForum is complaining about Dubul’ibhunu, black people stand still, hand on heart, to sing Die Stem as part of our national anthem.

And yet Die Stem was invoked to justify the murder of far more people than the Dubul’ ibhunu song that Malema sings among his whisky-sipping and cigar-smoking friends.

I can ­assure you, no harm can be ­expected from those quarters.

A black group could have justifiably gone to court to outlaw the incorporation of Die Stem into our anthem on the grounds that it was a white war cry against black people.

Instead, we were persuaded to go beyond our own anger and fears to build a new society.

Is it really a stretch to ask white people to outgrow their anger and their fears just as we have done so many times over?

How long will white people allow their leaders to hold them ransom to the fear of a non-existent threat?

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.