Friday, October 30, 2009

Death to the Reitz-4

Some of us have to live in the real world without the luxury of getting lost in academics. Charles Scheepers presents a much more balanced view of the Reitz 4 spectacle, when compared to the naive post "Does the 'Rule of Law' exist in South Africa?" by Pierre du Vos.

Related post: "Does the 'Rule of Law' exist in South Africa?"

It was with great amazement that I read the inaugural speech of Prof Jonathan Jansen at the University of the Free State a number of days ago. I have long been a fan of his writing and even though I do not always agree with his views, I somehow always look forward to his next column. He challenges the reader, he elicits debate and now it seems he aims to change the status quo. His objectives are so against the grain of standard (or shall I say: endemic substandard) South African thinking that I can not help but think that we should give it a try.

His entire speech is something to behold and I have saved a copy for future reference, but the topic that has the country abuzz is the Reitz debacle. Here we have another four individuals that we can blame for the sad state of our nation and as can be expected from a nation with such low self esteem, our salvation lies in their absolute destruction. We fully expect these youngsters to live out our ideals when we have no such requirements for our leaders or, heaven forbid, ourselves. At least Prof Jansen seems to be scratching in the right place and know this, he is alone. Soon even the white faces around him will melt into the shadows for fear of being diagnosed with that most dreadful of afflictions…

It seems that Prof Jansen will disagree with me on this point, but I do believe that this situation was blown completely out of proportion. It was a media goldmine that probably rivalled the Waterkloof-4. The fact is that there were no signs of psychological trauma until it became a public spectacle. Then suddenly the damage was irreversible. At this stage I would like to clarify to all the overly emotional, thought adverse Don Quixote’s out there, that I do not in any way condone their behaviour. What they did was in bad taste, immature and wrong on many levels, but I just don’t see the malice that we are so valiantly fighting. It was a bunch of seriously misinformed (stupid) students picking the wrong topic for an attempt at humour. I believe that forcing people to beg and steal for food whilst government officials drive million rand vehicles leaves a far larger footprint in the psyches of people than what this incident could ever have.

What I am asking for is perspective and a maybe different approach to our favourite issues. I still believe that vast majority of racism cases are nothing other than mythological dragons and no amount of fighting it is ever going to change that. It may very well be the act of “fighting” it that is keeping it alive. We have many institutions, some even under the guise of redressing the past, that actively promote the colour divide. We are irrevocably linked to the apparent inherent value of the hue of our skin and anybody attempting to move past this will be cut down as a traitor. We know that what happened during Apartheid was wrong and in spite of that we try the same solutions to our current problems only to find, to our practised surprise, that it does not work. Wow, what a revelation. Would it be so bad to at least try something different?

I do believe that everybody, especially youngsters, should learn to take responsibility for their actions. However, I believe that we should be more positive in the application of this practice. We could expect that they get therapy. As a matter of fact, I think that this should be expected from both parties in a racist row – one side to meet reality and the other to grow thicker skin. It has just become too easy to shout racism in this country with no person required to take responsibility for accusations. Should we tie up the courts every time somebody calls another fat, ugly or lazy or should we perhaps dare to rise above primary school put-downs? Where do we draw the line? Would it not be more constructive to have these individuals perform mandatory community service? The problem then is that even though this would help many individuals and set the stage for positive leadership, it would not feed our petty bloodlust and thus makes it wholly unacceptable.

We have some legal experts touting the rule of law and I can not help but laugh out loud. The odds of these individuals getting a fair trial are negligible (case in point being the Waterkloof-4). They will become the next poster boys for all that wrong in this country and they will bear the full extent of our frustration. As a nation we forgive the government over and over again for squandering resources, lying, cheating and plundering but we need to destroy these four individuals as the root of all our problems. I fear the logic is beyond me, but if I know one thing, it is that when all the sheep bleat together you can be sure something is wrong.

I think that turning the Reitz hostel from national shame to a beacon of integration is inspired and I hope it works exceedingly well. I believe that Prof Jansen deserves, at the very least, a chance to prove his theory. If he is right, and I suspect he might be, then he would be a far more worthy recipient of the Nobel peace prize than Barack Obama for instance. If, however, he fails then we already have the “I told you so” speeches ready and we can get to work destroying him. So all in all we will get blood regardless of which way this goes.

I, however, honestly hope that sanity would prevail in this instance.


Hat tip: Daschund