Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bullard and the Nuance of Racism
Analyst Xolela Mangcu writes a good op-ed piece in the Business Day this morning regarding the creeping racism in South Africa and the dangers of the creeping response from the black population.
y purpose here is indeed to sound the alarm bells about the rise of racial recidivism in the white community, and the response it is generating in the black community. By recidivism I mean the relapse into the mud of backward theories of racial superiority by the likes of Bullard.

The mistake we made was to equate our political transition with a transition in social attitudes in the white community. Yet many white people were indeed socialised in those backward, eugenicist social attitudes. Once we accept that social reality, Bullard stops being extraordinary. He has simply lanced the boil and released the underlying pus of racism into our social life.

Max du Preez responded to this social reality thus: “The Polokwane show and Zuma-mania didn’t upset me, nor did the Selebi/Pikoli/Scorpions debacles. Not even Eskom’s disastrous outages shook my faith in my nation’s future. But the possibility that there is a large section of our nation still producing the likes of the Video of Shame Four, the Skielik killer, the Waterkloof Four, is the most depressing thought I’ve had in decades. Especially because that community is my own.”

Du Preez has shown leadership. But how many will join him in pulling the white community back from the brink? I say this after a depressing conversation with some of my friends this past weekend. For the first time in a long time, I began to ask myself whether I had indeed become the coconut that some of my critics have called me. I was alone in holding to the argument that we need to do more to assure white people, and marginalise the likes of Bullard, in building a new nonracial moral majority.

Under attack that evening was nothing less than the model of racial reconciliation epitomised by Nelson Mandela. My friends insisted it was this model that emboldened the likes of Bullard. I felt guilty for having invited Bullard to be a panellist at the launch of my book earlier this year, and for having defended him against black people calling him a racist in a radio programme. Did I really have to wait for the blatant racism of Bullard’s latest column to get out of my own comfort zone?

It's well worth a read, whether you're white or not...