Sunday, September 06, 2009

Beating the Drum ..

The Brandon Huntley issue will not go away. It may seem like flogging a dead horse to post yet another article on the subject, but particularly in the light of the possible deportation of Huntley and the potential removal of his refugee status, people need to think about this issue, indeed be forced to think about it, and particularly also its implications.

If Huntley, a member of an ethnic minority in his home country, cannot be considered a refugee, then what are the criteria for asylum seekers to be judged? The argument from some quarters (including, it seems, the author of the article below) is that because Huntley's ethnic group was initially the 'oppressor', he has now got no right to claim asylum now the shoe is on the other foot.

Even if this were the case, the implications of that statement cannot be described in strong enough terms. The past actions of an ethnic group negate any future right of theirs to be considered an oppressed group?

Think about that.

During the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the Hutus killed anywhere between 500,000 and a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in an orchestrated campaign lasting three months. It can, and has been argued that the Tutsis were formerly the oppressor group. Does that mean they have no right to be considered victims of the genocide?

History has shown that the shoe can shift to the other foot quite quickly, and many ethnic feuds, particularly in Africa, have lasted for centuries. To say that the group that "started it" are condemned to be the oppressors, and never the victims, for all time is plain rubbish and denies the basic realities of history.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Huntley himself is a fraud. But his arguments aren't. To deny white South Africans as a category the right to be considered an oppressed people denies the realities of life on the ground in South Africa. If his stories of multiple stabbings are true, considering the area he comes from, he is either the unluckiest man in Cape Town, or else he was out doing things he shouldn't have been doing in areas he shouldn't have been.

But his case is hugely important. It is not about the man, it is about the case. Huntley opens the door for questions about ongoing discrimination in South Africa, fifteen years after the end of Apartheid. No moratorium was placed on "restructuring", Affirmative Action or BEE, leading one to assume they will carry on indefinitely.

Finally, the article below is posted not because I agree with it, but because I largely don't. The assumptions contained in it are worth noting and he does make some good points, however, and it does make an interesting read.

Huntley’s stunt a symptom of growing white amnesia

We can afford to lose a hosepipe salesman to Canada and we may want to. But we need to tempt back home those living abroad with skills that are urgently needed to solve SA’s problems, writes Carlos Amato

Perhaps Brandon Huntley has pointed the way forward. If Canada is happy to welcome enterprising South African jerks, we should seize the day by offering Ottawa a bulk deal: buy 10 of our doctors and get a hosepipe salesman, a sports administrator, a lion canner and an SABC executive absolutely free. No terms and conditions apply.

It’s easy to laugh at Huntley, but his brazen cheek is not just a joke. It’s a sad index of an alienated historical ignorance that plagues many white South Africans of his (and my) generation. Just as the blustering Julius Malema has no grasp of the immensity of this country’s leap to freedom , so do a swathe of young white South Africans who were children in 1994 .

The Malemas and the Huntleys inspire each other to greater depths; every bigotry needs an equal and opposite bigotry to flourish. For evidence of this, consult the multiracial festival of knee-jerkery that passes for political “debate” in the South African blogosphere. No matter how annoying Huntley and his ilk may be, the cry of “good riddance” is too glib and easy. The stubborn mental scar tissue of apartheid is clearly passing between generations, and we can’t export it. We have to heal it.

While fear and anger about criminal violence is entirely rational, white self-pity fictionalises both the past and the present. Most infuriating is a widespread white urge to amnesiac self-aggrandisement, linked to a ludicrous myth of white South African excellence. Because we’re privileged, we imagine we’ve somehow earned our privilege.

There’s nothing to be smug about. Barring a small minority of dissidents, the three apartheid generations of white South Africans nearly destroyed this country — whether through active or passive complicity in oppression. Only a tour de force of political genius from the ANC and a visionary National Party elite averted the cataclysm of civil war.

And now, with all the sins of our fathers and mothers so wisely forgiven, it remains astonishingly easy to lead an easy life if you’re a young, white South African. White wealth (like black wealth) has grown massively since 1994. Most of us have the priceless advantage of a decent education in a skills-starved economy, along with the assets of family surety, family property, and an abiding prejudice in our favour among white employers. These factors far outweigh the corrective prejudice of affirmative action, particularly since that policy nudges white graduates towards lucrative entrepreneurial and private sector work, and away from the public service, where our skills are so desperately needed.

Whites are too quick to forget that the crime wave is a long, slow reverberation of apartheid’s violence. The figures show this clearly: violent crime is slowly but surely abating, despite the chronic incompetence of our criminal justice system. In 1994-1995, 67 of every 100 000 South Africans were murdered; by 2007-2008, that toll had fallen to 38 of every 100000.

History does not absolve the government’s infuriating failure to slash crime to acceptable levels, or to educate our children or heal our sick. Nobody can make any sense of South Africa without looking through a double lens: identifying the roots of a problem, and then identifying how and why that problem isn’t being fixed. The paradox is that while apartheid directly or indirectly explains all our biggest problems, it doesn’t explain our solutions.

So do we carry on bickering and bitching and waiting for another political tour de force, or do we get on with the tough, incremental business of finishing the job we’ve started? Strangely, Huntley’s story offers a clue to the biggest single solution.

Leaving your homeland is not a betrayal ; it’s a healthy exercise of human freedom. All over the globe, millions of Brandon Huntleys are emigrating in pursuit of more money and more happiness.

Immigration is a vast, amoral game, in which skills are the points, and South Africa isn’t playing it. We’re losing far too many medical professionals, teachers and future hosepipe moguls for every hosepipe salesman that we lose — and cold cash is often a bigger factor than crime in motivating departures.

South Africa should be retaliating boldly and creatively. The state should be paying whatever it takes to attract the skilled foreign public servants we need to break our vicious circles. That’s an expensive project — but far cheaper in the long term than the monumental price of cyclical semi-literacy, sluggish innovation and appalling public healthcare.

At present, our absurdly defensive immigration law implies we are doing skilled foreigners a favour by letting them build our future. All the most dynamic modern economies, not least Canada, have been fuelled by the potent oxygen of immigration. South Africa has benefited richly from an influx of skilled Zimbabweans, but we need much, much more.

And there’s no room for jingoism or sentimentality in the immigration game. If skilled white and black South Africans choose to leave, they should not be condemned — and the state should actively tempt them to come home.

Most of them ache to return, not least those Perth-packers who mask their loneliness in a carapace of bitterness.

The recession has already turned the tide, and if the Zuma government tackles the crime crisis once and for all, the expats will swarm back in droves.
Even Huntley should be welcomed home if the Canadians do get cold feet. Because idiocy is not a crime, and he’s not the only idiot among us.

7 Opinion(s):


The guy who wrote this lives in cloud cucoo land. Attracting foreign experts to sort out our (ANC) mess? Remember Coleman Andrews of the SAA saga ? Our morons have not even the ability to understand the financial implications of contracts they offer.

Exzanian said...

Viking -
Your intro said it all and was eloquent enough. The article that followed was superfluous...

Viking said...

Sorry, ExZ :(
I should've edited it, with hindsight.

Anonymous said...

Huntley is no jerk. He's a brave man. He was a teenager when apartheid ended. He can't possibly be blamed for apartheid evils. Good on Huntley, and shame on the nay-sayers using Huntley's street-smarts, intelligence and ingenuity for their pathetic, petty ends.

Anonymous said...

Viking your portion was lucid and intelligent but the same can't be said by the crap incoherent double-speak that followed. The silver lining is that many of these idiots that think the situation is SA is overblown are the ones that will be picked off first by the marauding black savages and hopefully that will lower the liberal representation in the population over time. I think we should stop feeling sorry for whites pegged off if they can be shown to be liberals, whites killed while frequenting some shebeen in a township or something.

Anonymous said...

I'm writing from the office carrying the Huntley case, and I can assure you Brandon is very thankful for all your support!

Brad the Builder said...

A very interesting post