Guest Column

Max, AfriForum’s password is respect

2016-07-28 09:48

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 organisation.

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. 

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


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