Don’t encourage a racist mind-set

2018-04-26 06:01

RACISM, nationalism and tribalism are very close relations, all of them complex and dangerous.

Many of the statements in an opinion piece by
Christo van der Westhuizen’s — A Challenge to All – published in the Fever edition of April 5, are very far from truthful, accurate, fair and balanced.

Excepting his last three paragraphs, Professor van der Westhuizen is guilty of the very thing he wisely advises us to guard against: typecasting exclusively by race and differences, and failing or refusing to recognise what we have in common as individuals.

This is the divisive agenda of the likes of Julius
Malema and his ilk. For those who are not familiar with the liberal philosophy on this issue, which is touched on below, it can be answered by the question, “What are ‘the people’?” (a divisive, racist phrase as it is so frequently bandied about in this country). The answer should, of course, be that “the people” are not Blacks.

The people are Blacks, Indians, Coloureds, Whites, men, women, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, atheists — the people are individual human beings with personal identities that are not solely defined by race.

The former system was called apartheid, a system we should be leaving behind.

Certainly we should not forget the horrors of colonialism and apartheid. But equally importantly, nor should be inculcating the fallacy that those systems of oppression were the sole cause of all that is currently wrong.

If there is any sense in this point that the author of the article makes, then his statement blaming Whites rather than fellow human beings for crimes of the past is a racist one. After all, claims the author, we are all individuals and “biologically and cognitively the same.”

This simplistic and grossly prejudiced article was a catalogue of errors and misrepresentations that can do nothing to encourage the healing process that this country so urgently needs to embark on if we are ever to achieve a better life for all. I will not waste space in a local newspaper arguing the devils in the details of the professor’s claims. Rather, it is pertinent and necessary to strongly criticise current political leaders who are regularly racialising every aspect of South African life solely for political gain, deliberately fomenting group animosity, pitting race against race. As long as racist leaders treat a gullible and hard-pressed electorate to this kind of wicked and ultimately self-defeating, vote-catching propaganda, racism is not only being fuelled but bred anew, and the young generation of South Africans are being conditioned by the selfsame system that Van der Westhuizen attributes to the past indoctrination.

Two simplistic and speculative assertions appeared in a second opinion piece in the same edition of the FeverDA’s Existential Crisis Boosts ANC Confidence by Ralphe Mathekga. The points I wish to argue are that Mr Mathekga is indulging in this same divisive race-identity language by attributing racial motives to the DA’s core liberal values when he asserts, “The one extreme side of the party is held to the idea that the party should retain its identity as a representative of white minority liberals. This is the group that hates affirmative action and believes that black people are oppressed as individuals but not as a distinct racial group.” And, “The other extreme group believes that the party ought to discard its identity as a white minority party and adopt a new identity as an African party reflecting the demographics and the African value system. This group wants to see the DA becoming a progressive political party that serves as a home for the majority of blacks.” Why the “majority of blacks” and “white minority liberals” and “African value system” when the party is a progressive liberal home for all South Africans who share its values? I wish Mr Mathekga would define ‘African value system’ in so far as he implies it is perceived as being incompatible with established and successful DA values.

I am not a member, nor a spokesperson for the DA, but I am a liberal. Surely it is not necessary for me to point to the harm in this kind of simplistic, racialised speculation, but I will ask, why is it not likely that the traditional DA supporters simply wish the party to remain true to its core liberal values - regardless of the race of those that the liberal non-racial values seek to serve? Why serve as a home for the majority of Blacks? Why not South Africans? Finally, to the best of my knowledge the DA does support Affirmative Action policies in so far as they are based on merit and calculated and practiced to alleviate the consequences of past wrongs racially inflicted. It is apparently necessary to differentiate between that and cadre deployment, jobs for pals and sinecures for the indolent and incompetent which has and continues to cost us all dearly. Political leaders, editors and journalists have much to answer to for their major part in not only sustaining but encouraging this racist mind-set that can only bedevil progress towards a genuine non-racial democracy in which all South Africans can contribute to the best of their ability.

STEVEN VAN STADEN

Umtentweni

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