Jacques puts matters straight

I’m only an occasional reader of the Mail & Guardian, but when I do give myself the opportunity and can find the time, it’s generally an interesting read. Last week I was rather shocked and disappointed by Andile Mngxitama’s column “The face of white supremacy” in which the writer accused Gareth Cliff of being racist for – as far as I could work out, anyway – no apparent reason save for his own desperation to call somebody (white), a racist.
I should also say that if was not just the content of the column, but also Nic Dawes’ decision to publish such nonsense that left me feeling a little bewildered.

When I raised the matter on twitter, I wasn’t the only one finding myself in that mindframe: the erudite Jacques Rousseau informed me that he had written a rebuttal to Mngxitama’s column, (which would be far more articulate than anything I could ever write) and which he hoped would be published this week.

Well, it was, and it is brilliant. A perfect mix of rationality and justified ridicule, all dished up with a garnish of mild sarcasm:

Of course, Mngxitama’s argument relies on something called “anti-racist decoding”. I regret that I’ve never drunk as deeply from the well of postmodernism as Mngxitama has, because this decoding appears to fall outside of my sphere of competence, leaving me with only the suspicion that he’s talking nonsense.

I would heartily recommend a read of it if you can get hold of some dead tree. (But then I would say that, because I am white.)
I’ll put the link up as soon as it is available online. Here it is.
If it was up already, no-one would buy the paper, see?

They (we) hate us (them) for what we (they) did to them (us)

Following allegations from his wife that he only married her to stay in Canada, the Brandon Huntley saga rumbles on, with new allegations surfacing today that the “white” man that “blacks” love to hate may not actually be “white” at all. Which make his ongoing allegations that black people attack him simply because he is white seem even funnier.

A new study has revealed that Brandon Huntley, who has been granted asylum in Canada after claiming to have been attacked by blacks several times, is the new black. Or more precisely, the former Capetonian is the descendant of one Francina van der Kaap, a woman “of colour”, and more than half of his relatives are similarly coloured – in the verbal sense.

I don’t want to turn this into a racial thing – and I’d be far too late anyway, because Huntley turned it into a racial thing with his ridiculous claims in the first place – and the boundaries and definitions of race in South Africa are complex, clumsy and overused.

However, there is some good news for Huntley; now that it appears to have been shown that his roots are not as pale as previously thought, Julius Malema will surely be at OR Tambo International to welcome him “home” when he is finally deported.

Ruth Archibald: A brave, brave woman

In a country in which white people “stick out like sore thumbs” and “are persecuted by black people”; a country in which “there is a hatred of what we did to them” and “it’s all about the colour of your skin”, I give you The Canadian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ruth Archibald. (She’s the one on the left).

Ruth

Quite how the Canadian Government could put a white person in such danger by posting her to South Africa, I don’t know. In doing so, I feel it demonstrates “clear and convincing proof of that state’s inability or unwillingness to protect her”.

Please someone – anyone – send the helicopters and SWAT teams to get her safely back to Ottawa.

More serious note: Image from SA Army site, detailing a ceremony honouring two SANDF members who had saved the lives of Canadian soldiers serving in Sudan. Worth a read.

Now violence hits the Cape

Not every comment makes it through the 6000 miles… vetting process. Nor does every email I receive get a reply. Some don’t deserve the time or effort and the delete button only takes one click.
Despite the fact that this is my blog and I am fortunate enough to live in a country which allows me freedom of speech, there have been a number of people who have told me to remove my opinions from this site, seemingly simply because they disagree with them in some part or other. One even called me “valueless”. Ouch! As a public service announcement, may I ask you not to waste my time and yours by sending offensive or vulgar emails and comments. You won’t get them published or replied to.

As widely predicted, the xenophobic violence has spread across the country from Gauteng. Last night, there were attacks in Du Noon, Cape Town. It sounds pretty awful. That said, the report I’ve linked to is by Caryn “worst nightmare” Dolley who was the reporter on the “truly terrible” Cableway breakdown story I mentioned last week, so maybe things aren’t actually a bad as they sound. But I’m willing to give Caryn the benefit of the doubt on this one. The TV pictures which have been shown across South Africa and the world make it clear just how horrendous the violence is.

And now the question “is this really xenophobic violence?” has been raised. Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils suggests that there may be more to these attacks than just plain hatred of foreigners, suggesting that they were the result of opportunistic elements exploiting and manipulating genuine local grievances for their own sinister ends:

We must better educate our people in tolerance, resolutely dispelling any erroneous perceptions about foreign nationals, which are fuelled in circumstances of relative socio-economic disadvantage.
It is these variables that ultimately create the poisonous context for opportunistic elements to exploit and manipulate genuine local grievances for their own sinister ends, with tragic consequences.

And certainly, this same opportunism can clearly be seen in SA blogs, with many right-wing writers using the situation to pour fuel onto their racist fires – urging the white minority to rise again while the country is in disarray. I find it ironic that they suggest that this would never have happened under the Apartheid regime. Remembering back to the 1980’s when I lived in the UK, my only images of South Africa were the news pictures of township violence. I have chosen not to link to their sites, but Google will surely help you if that’s the kind of thing you like to read.

But of course those elements I mention above, be they xenophobic blacks or racist whites, don’t represent the views of the vast majority of South Africans. Back to the late 80’s again, when I was English and a football fan. So to the rest of the world, I was a football hooligan.
I tore up seats and threw them onto the pitch. I fought with rival fans just because they didn’t support United.
No, of course not. For a start, I was only 14 and it was only a tiny number of people who were involved in that scene. But that didn’t stop me being tarred with their dirty great brush.
Nic Haralambous sums it up nicely at SA Rocks, noting that the voices uniting against the violence are the ones transcending colour, creed, race or nationality. I’m not sure I would go so far as to agree with his comment that this is an “uplifting” experience for the country, though.

The BBC quoted my arbitary line: “It seems likely that this situation will certainly get worse before it gets better”.
It was a weak bit of writing, to be honest. But sadly, the point still stands.