A racist boycott

2010-09-30 00:00

IN deciding to start a drive to get their supporters to remove their bank accounts from Absa because of the row over transformation in Currie-Cup rugby, racists­ have thrown down the gauntlet. They have said in no uncertain terms what they think of our new political order.

This is not just about Absa or about rugby. It is about what we make of our history of racial in-equalities and about the right to freedom of expression. There are historical reasons why rugby is as white as it is, which have to be faced without getting childish.

To retreat to a laager and spew nonsense about the sport belonging to some and not to others is frankly wanting a race war when there are better things which we could be doing with our energy.

To allow these bigots to get away with their commercial terrorism­ would be a terrible precedent and not only for the sponsors of those sporting codes that still have transformation issues to resolve.

This is why Absa group chief executive­ Maria Ramos deserves plaudits for standing up to political and commercial bullying.

Today it is Absa, tomorrow it could be The Witness or your favourite­ beer brewer or any other­ business that dares call South Africa’s history by name. According to racists, anybody who dares repeat the fact of white racism­ as part of South African history must be punished.

We cannot have that. Imagine if it was the ANC who had said that it would move its account from one bank to another because that bank did not like how it handled transformation. There would have been an outrage, and rightly so.

Yet Solidarity is humoured into believing that it can hold the project of racial reconciliation and equal opportunities to ransom­. That everyone is allowed to do business where they wish and with whom they wish, should not hide the naked racism and denialism that lies behind the attempt to squeeze Absa.

At the heart of the attack on Absa­ is the paranoia that Afrikaans­ and things related to its culture are under attack. It is a view aided and abetted by those who have no other political currency to sell except the preservation­ of a language and its speakers when such a language is under no known threat. In fact it is still the only other language, except English, in which a child can get his or her education in his or her mother tongue from preprimary school to a PhD.

It is the ultimate scarecrow argument­ and a revised model of the swart gevaar. This is why those who love South Africa must defend Absa from this racist rage. It is no different from when right- thinking South Africans defended Nedbank against yet another Julius­ Malema rant.

It would be double standards for us to tell Malema where to get off, but opt for pussyfooting around a plainly racist outfit that hankers for a past that we all would like to keep in the past.

Solidarity, Afriforum and their like must begin to understand that part of the national reconciliation project is to state uncomfortable truths about race and racism in our country.

They must get over themselves and the mistaken belief that we are no longer allowed to say anything critical about whites in South Africa.

While at it they must cure themselves of the delusion that the mark of a progressive native is one who speaks or writes as if no such thing as institutional white racism existed until as recently as two decades ago.

The wrongs of history must be corrected and not wished away, or otherwise they will remain with us forever.

This is why in some countries such as Germany it is a crime to deny its terrible past, such as the Nazis’ attempt to exterminate Jews. In our country, fringe movements such as Solidarity and Afriforum not only pretend that the past did not happen, they mobilise anyone who dares to remember it and asks for redress.

Whether they believe so or not, Afriforum and Solidarity would rather have it coming from a Ramos­ than from a Malema or some other little fascist-in-training.

With their reactionary default position, Solidarity and Afriforum present themselves as any black fascist’s dream recruitment machinery­. They validate the view that is held by some that white South Africans have rejected the reconciliatory gesture that was first extended by Nelson Mandela.

Even without taking a census, I believe that most South Africans, regardless of their colour, desire racial reconciliation, peace, tolerance and prosperity for their country. Those who stand against this, regardless of their colour, are therefore enemies of our new order­ and of our common values.

So, if you love South Africa and its future, stand up against commercial terrorism and this act of aggression against our common values before it is too late.

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