Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Using "racism" as a threat
I'm getting a bit tired of people, both ordinary people and politicians, using "racism" as a threat to shut down legitimate public debate or accountability. Too often if a person knows that he or she is o the wrong side of an issue, bringing out the racist term is the easy defence which immediately overshadows the accuser. There are many, many examples of scenarios where the use of the "racist" term is warranted and supported, but I feel there are also too many examples of those where it is not. Take for example, an issue currently in the news.

KwaZulu-Natal's transport minister, Bheki Cele, has found himself in hot water after rushing to a meeting using his calvalcade's blue lights to speed through traffic. By law, the use of blue lights is supposed to be used only in terms of an "emergency", which Cele is claiming it was. The issue came to light when a motorist used his cellphone to record the scene of Cele rampaging through traffic. Cele has launched a which hunt for the said motorist, and has even gone as far as stating the following:
"He is a self-made, arrogant, non-accountable individual who purports to be a good citizen and I will dare to argue that he is also a racist."
Now on what possible grounds can Cele call the motorist a racist? Because he filmed a politician in a potentially embarrassing situation? Because he asked the politician to be accountable?

It's a flagrant attempt to deflect accountability in a situation where he is most likely in the wrong, and personally, I think it's pathetic.