Jansen's actions are inexcusable

2009-10-24 00:00

BECAUSE of our ugly history as a country, racism has always been a contentious subject and, as a result, people would rather not talk about it, certainly not in public. Our fear of “facing our fear”, if you will, is because we are part of the programme, meaning how can we deal with racism objectively if we are racist ourselves?

When the topic of racism comes up, people withdraw into their shells to avoid further engagement, like a tortoise does when it feels insecure. This is something that can be attributed largely to denial.

If we are going to leave a better legacy than the one we were left, we need to deal with this cancer in our society effectively and ensure that the next generation is left without baggage.

Racism once again reared its ugly head this week when Free State University rector Professor Jonathan Jansen decided to drop the charges against the four students who made a video of what was the mock initiation of five black staff members.

Furthermore, Jansen also decided to re-open the hostel where the staff members were humiliated and this all in the name of reconciliation, according to Jansen anyway.

Thanks to Jansen, the University of the Free State has missed a golden opportunity to nip racism in the bud, not just for the institution, but also for the rest of the country that is watching from the sidelines.

With our history of fighting for a nonracial country, Jansen’s actions of sweeping the matter under the carpet are inexcusable, to say the least. In fact, his actions perpetuate the very racism he claims to be fighting against.

How does one reconcile a people who are not there to be reconciled, for starters?

This is a a deliberate attempt to protect the four students, and in the process, plant the seed that they can get away with anything, including racism, in modern day South Africa.

Jansen is not only perpetuating racism from where he and the students are sitting, but also from where the victims are sitting.

The victims’ anger at the boys for their racist actions may end up being misdirected to other white people in general, thanks to Jansen jumping on the racism bandwagon.

A leader is supposed to lead, not mislead and Jansen has done the latter. It is shocking for a new rector to get it wrong on his first assignment in his new post.

The way Jansen has dealt with this matter can be likened to the white judges who were part of the old regime who were lenient with white offenders and failed to apply objectivity in the court room. This could be attributed to the judge seeing the white offender as his or her own son or own people, if you will.

However, when black offenders came before them, they were more than objective and applied the maximum punishment. These are some of the issues we still need to deal with as a country. In the meantime, Jansen’s actions border on being “counter-revolutionary”, if I can borrow from Julius Malema’s Dictionary For Dummies.

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