Julius, the ANC and Skate Speech

30 March 2010 at 10:30 pm (Uncategorized)

If, by now, the South African reader is unfamiliar with the context and ensuing furore surrounding Julius Malema’s unrepentant singing of “Kill the Boer,” the hate-speech ruling and the ANC’s reaction thereto, then s/he has been in the grip of an inexplicably imperturbable slumber.

This being an emotionally charged issue, it is inevitable that everyone should have an opinion on this matter.

Everyone.

That includes us, and ours is very simple: Malema and the ANC’s position is untenable for being both self-contradictory and ostentatiously self-righteous ― just like religious dogma, in fact.

The self-contradiction should be obvious. On the one hand, the ANC professes reconciliation, progress, tolerance and harmony, while on the other it seeks to cling to bygones and sweep such an overtly inflammatory incitement-to-violence song under the “It’s only meant symbolically” and the “historical legacy lest we forget” mats. It is arguable whether the song with its rabble-rousing flavour even should have had a place in the past at all given late-20th century values, but that question is largely academic anyway; what is clear is that its sentiments do not accord with the values the ANC is paying lip service to. Malema’s quite blatant and deliberate cultivation of fear in a minority is inimical to the ANC’s professed aims of harmony and upliftment. The ANC’s defence is therefore evidently a hollow sham, born, one supposes, of a fear of appearing divided over this issue ― or any other for that matter.

Simultaneously, and shoe-on-the-other-foot notwithstanding, the ostentatious self-righteousness of the ANC’s position becomes obvious when one imagines a reversal of the situation. With all the clarity afforded by 20/20 hindsight, the various minority organisations – yes, that would be you, AfriForum – that objected so vehemently, should have approached the issue very differently to the whingeing and whining we’ve been cringing witness to. Imagine that AfriForum had instead commissioned a poet or songwriter to compose on their behalf a simple anthemic tune with lyrics exhorting the boer to “Kill the Munt” because “he’s a thief and a rapist and a savage, uncivilised killer” or somesuch. Imagine this song gaining ground over the next few months in response to Malema’s stupid intransigence. Imagine the uproar and protest and finger-pointing. Imagine, finally, that when such confrontation reached a fevered frenzy, AfriForum (or whoever) offered to cease and desist provided Malema did the same.

While the merits are debatable, being perhaps too confrontational, we think that the above scenario would be considerably more sobering to the ANC because they could hardly fail to notice that condoning either or both songs serves only to polarise people, not unite them, making their latest position on the question incompatible with their espoused values.  Moreover, condemning one but not the other would be just too obviously hypocritical.

But, as said, that’s our opinion.

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