The problem is that when general policy failure happens, it is unjustifiable to conclude that the general policy failures are caused by affirmative action, writes Ralph Mathekga.
Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum
Max du Preez’s attack on AfriForum and Solidarity – inter
alia as a result of the organisations’ actions to preserve Afrikaans on
campuses (News24, 26 Julie) – as well
as his recent statement that the acceptance of English as the only medium of
instruction was a step in the right direction, remind me unwillingly of an
anecdote from Nazi Germany.
According to the story, after a groups of Germans had
listened to a speech by Hitler, they started shouting: “Away with the Jews!” A
Jewish boy who was in the vicinity got so carried away that he spontaneously
started shouting: “Away with us!”
The anti-Afrikaans sentiment on local soil – fuelled
by propaganda such as that the country’s problems had started with Jan van
Riebeeck’s arrival – and slogans such as #afrikaansmustfall seem to have
resulted in Max and a few other Afrikaans commentators singing wholeheartedly
along in the “Away with us!” choir.
It is in terms of this “Away with us!” logic that Max,
for example, openly states that it is acceptable for certain students to fight
for the Africanisation of campuses, but that it is unacceptable for Afrikaans
students to campaign for the preservation of Afrikaans.
What apparently upsets Max so much is that his “Away
with us!” logic is supported by only a few peripheral figures in the Afrikaans
community and enjoys very little support from the mainstream Afrikaans world.
The remarkable growth in support for AfriForum and Solidarity confirms this and
results in Max attempting to falsely portray AfriForum as a radical
The opposite is true, however. AfriForum and Solidarity’s
policy determines that every project to be undertaken should be based on
reasonable arguments and fairness, all the while acknowledging the principals
of the promotion of mutual recognition and respect between communities.
Self-respect for one’s own cultural community serves
as an important basis on which mutual recognition and respect between all
communities in the country can be built. Self-respect obviously does not mean
that Afrikaners should or can praise their ancestors as flawless super humans,
for example. They were people who made big mistakes, however, they also
achieved some outstanding accomplishments under difficult circumstances. For
this reason, AfriForum and I can and should be proud of who and what we are,
and therefore won’t sing along with Max’s “Away with us!” choir.
The fact that AfriForum works proudly and with
self-respect to promote Afrikaans and the interests of its speakers definitely
does not mean that the organisation isolates itself from our fellow countrymen.
AfriForum’s self-do actions contribute in several ways to improving the lives
of all people, as with actions to try and ensure clean water, safer suburbs and
better service delivery to everyone in our country’s towns. Max is also quiet
about the fact that AfriForum assisted the “black” Wallmansthal Communal
Property Association in Court to reclaim their land after squatters had
occupied it. There are numerous other examples of how AfriForum promotes
cooperation between communities on local level.
Max’s attack on AfriForum and Solidarity is
unfortunately a manifestation of the intolerance that he and some of his
Afrikaans allies show towards anyone or any institution that may not share
their “Away with us!” logic. The irony is that they are in fact the ones who
try and portray themselves as open-minded people who support the free flowing
of ideas. In his article, he even bullied Afrikaans newspapers because they
were seemingly “reluctant” to criticise AfriForum. This after his criticism of
AfriForum was also published in an Afrikaans newspaper! In addition, other
critical articles have appeared in Afrikaans newspapers recently. For Max, it
is simply not enough to criticise in a normal manner. He apparently expects
Afrikaans newspapers to support him in waging a vicious campaign against those
who oppose them. Their intolerance against other views was and still is so
great that it does not even matter that the great majority of Afrikaans
newspaper readers count among those who do not share his views.
Luckily, the time has forever passed that a handful of
opinion formers without much support could dictate the public dialogue only
with the help of their contacts in the media. As a result, Max and his allies
will not succeed in hanging false labels around AfriForum’s neck. Also – be
assured that AfriForum will continue full steam ahead to do what’s fair,
reasonable and right.
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