Racism. Differencism. Criticism.

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Oudtshoorn. 13 May 2012. 09h15. A teenager losses her temper and a nation is rocked.

Amazing. Discombobulating. Funny. Horrifying. Indicative of agnosy; of gross stupidity.

Discrimination raised its ugly head the moment God created man in his own image; male and female. If you have a mythological bent, that is.

When God confronted Adam some time after Creation, about stolen fruit if memory serves, the original man resorted to what is still an innate defense: “Moi!? No sir! It was that other one – the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat…”

In Judges 12 various parties “smote” each other with gay abandon whereafter the men of one Gilead demanded of everyone wanting to pass through the passages of Jordan to say “Shibboleth” and any poor bastard who “could not frame to pronounce it right”, was slain. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were slaughtered that day by the Gileadites.

Discrimination will always be with us. Our best effort can hardly ever amount to more than a discouragement of discrimination and the hope for the least contemptuous criteria.

As I write, on Saturday, my alma mater, Oudtshoorn High, is preparing to play Langenhoven Gym in the annual local schools derby. The Struisies hate the Gimmies. And vice versa. But on Sunday kids from both teams will sit shoulder to shoulder in catechism class, united against recreant apostates generally.

The most abhorrent discrimination is probably based on skin pigmentation. It’s farcical, really. To even consider that the amount of melanin in a person’s stratified epithelia is somehow indicative of intelligence and ability, or the lack thereof, is downright anserine.

So when Jessica Leandra dos Santos tweeted “kaffir” after some unwanted attention in a supermarket, South Africans were appalled.

Had Jessica tweeted “Yid”; or “Yellow Peril”; or “Boer”; or Litvak” if her accoster was Jewish, Oriental, Afrikaans, or of particular European descent, some may have been irked, but twitter traffic would have been mostly unaffected.

Likewise, methinks, if she hit out with “Muslim”; “Christian”; or “Atheist”, God forbid.

Nothing would have come of it if Jessica attacked the annoying man’s sexuality (“wimp”) or intelligence (“idiot”).

“Hotnot” or “Koelie” or “Spic” would have been unforgivable. And “kaffir” was ulimately irremissible.

I have been called – shouted at in public no less – a “Boer”; and a “Tourist”. I have been “officially banned” from my town by a “Black” and a “Coloured”, members of the same community in which I live. They even served documents on me to the effect that my family and I had only a few days to leave town. The “eviction” was published in local and regional newspapers. All because I have the temerity to expose maladministration and corruption in my municipal government.

Corruption and maladministration by White, Coloured, and Black functionaries, to be sure.

I have not run to the Equality Court or to the Human Rights Commission. People have a right to be angry and a slur, albeit unkind, is ultimately preferable to physical violence.

I am amazed at the “communal offense” taken to ab irato utterances.

If Jessica’s racist slur can rock our emancipated equilibrium; our society, then our “Rainbow Nation” is stiched by thin yarn indeed. The very fact that the counterblast, from the Black Tshidi Tshamana, and much worse than the original insult, woolgathering of a life after a White genocide, is somehow regarded as an acceptable, if somewhat questionable retort given the loaded circumstances, speaks to unimaginable double standards.

The entire object of a verbal attack is to hurt most. Spousal fights, especially, bear witness to this horrid human tendency.

So Jessica, designed to titillate and not generally expected to excogitate, lashed out in the way she could injure most without breaking a manicured nail. And did she succeed or what?

I tweeted on May 6, before it was said also in another column, that this matter was nothing more than a storm in a D-cup.

Differencism
Differences are good. Uniqueness should be embraced. It will invite some feelings of both favour and disfavour; of both belonging and deflecting. It will always be with us. It is called freedom of association.

I have no interest in either Zulu stick fights or Afrikaner volksdanse. And I am not about to take up isiXhosa poetry. I have no objection, however, to someone at my dinner party having three wives and using traditional medicine. It upsets the table setting, to be sure, and some halitosis might have to be abided, but neither are deal breakers in my social contract.

Also, and this I propose to be the syrup on the cherry on the cream on the apple pie served on a piece of Hylton Nel crockery, I think it permissable for individuals preferring not to have their table settings upset.

This social reality could be called “differencism”.

Objectionable, perhaps, but not quite racism.

To be clear: When I elect not to associate with Zulu stick fighters, I do not reject the Zulu people, or Black people; I elect not to associate with stick fighters.

Criticism
It is a simple, disquieting fact that racism in South Africa is cultivated by inexorable Whites who yearn for the soi-disant benefits of Apartheid, and Blacks who want the descendants of Apartheid perpetrators to suffer the same indignity their own fathers and mothers were forced to endure.

It is a simple, unutterable fact that both groups are unimaginably stupid.

The rest of us appear to be quite happy to share the land and its resources.

Yet, there is a new kind of racial discomfort festering in even enlightened and obliging circles devoid of quondam prejudice. It is criticism, labelled racism by those so disparaged.

The discomfort is borne from inability by exiguity of education, training, experience, and ethical disposition.

In service of clarity I shall refer to the local government of Oudtshoorn, which I know intimately.

When, for example, a Chief Financial Officer with a bad financial management record confirmed by disciplinary and High Court findings, is appointed by concurrence of cadre comrades, despite overwhelming bona fide evidence discouraging the berth, I am a critic, not a racist.

When, for example, an Executive Mayor schooled to grade six and accused of stealing from the very people he arrogates to represent is appointed by him holding a frail coalition government to ransom with a balance of power seat, I am a critic, not a racist.

Whether the CFO or the Mayor is Black, Coloured, or White, is a matter of no moment whatsoever to me. That the appointee is incapable is grossly offensive and reduces me to a fierce critic.

Oudtshoorn has a Coloured Mayor; a Black Municipal Manager; and a White Director of Corporate Services – all consumately unfit to hold their offices. My objection to the Coloured Mayor does not make me a racist, but a mere critic; my objection to the Black MM does not make me a racist, but a mere critic; my objection to the White Director does not make me a racist, but a mere critic.

My criticism is aimed at groups conspiring to undermine communities by the deployment of the incompetent. I could not care less whether the members of such a group are mostly Black, or Coloured, or White.

When FW de Klerk’s comments during the Christiane Amanpour interview caused a social media outrage late last week, I was reminded of my criticism of feckless cadre comrades.

Methinks that freedom must be so much more than simply the right to vote. So much more than replacing an oligarchy (rule by a few) with an artithmocracy (rule by the numerical majority… of a particular colour).

Political and social freedom must, surely, be a freedom first and foremost to trust to the competency and morality of leaders freely elected.

A thieving government is the worst possible kind of oppression imaginable. Especially when that government is the legacy of a virtuous freedom movement having brought down an immoral albocracy. Especially when that government keeps the very people it claims to have liberated barefoot and pregnant in an ill-equipped kitchen.

Morally reprehensible was Apartheid. The current freedom of oppression equally so, only on a less obvious level, making it so much more condemnable.

Every outrage screamed at every piffling racial slur by any VUP; every mertitricious offense registered at every perceived failure to condemn the previous regime in absolute and unforgiving terms, is in fact mostly a desperate admission of shame at the incompetency of the current regime.

Ye gods and faeries, let’s grow up, by the pantheons! Stop bitching about irrelevant nonsense and let’s make this country work, for crying in a bucket.

And listen to the critics!

O, by the way, Struisies won. And already I can hear some Gimmie friends in the lounge, uniting with my Struisie teenager, as Stormers fans against the Cheetahs.

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4 thoughts on “Racism. Differencism. Criticism.

  1. The guardian – met al die korrupsie, diefstal en regstellende aksie sal jy moet kyk of daar nog wit in die reënboog is.

  2. Toe herhinder ek die betrokke persoon dat die “wittes” ook deel is van die reinbou nasîn.

  3. Aitog. Nou die ander dag toe moes ek hoor die “wittes” is maar net “besoekers” en ons moet terug “voertsek” van waaraf ons kom?

  4. OO, absolutely beautifully and well put.
    Any further critisism thus about FW and Jessica Dos Santos and Tshidi Tshamana shows immaturity and lack of upbringing, understanding and maturity. “If Jessica’s racist slur can rock our emancipated equilibrium; our society, then our “Rainbow Nation” is stiched by thin yarn indeed.”

    Lets put the obvious frivialities aside and get on with the job of building an equal society for all Mr President, countrymen and all – we can and should do better !

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