Notes from underground

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Archive for the tag “hate speech”

Liberal genocide

There seems to be a trend, not exactly new, because it’s been going on for several years now, to blame anything that’s perceived to be bad on liberals. Here are a few examples that turned up in my Facebook feed this morning:

Liberal Mom Aghast as Huge Guy Wearing Lakers Jersey Walks Into Ladies’ Room:

A liberal mom got a rude awakening that changed her views about the “bathroom debate” and decided to share her story regardless of what the backlash would be. This is a reality check like no other.

Kristen Quintrall Lavin runs a blog called, The Get Real Mom, in which she exposes the harsh realities of what she calls, “momming.” However, on a recent trip to Disneyland with her young son, Lavin, she was exposed to another harsh reality — the reality of bathroom stalking, which made her question her progressive liberal views on the bathroom debate.

Zille’s Tweets and History’s Miasma | The Con:

In the departure lounge of OR Tambo (taking a break from complaining about the missing TV remote and milk) Helen Zille, the former leader of South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and premier of the Western Cape, casually invoked one of the continued liberal myths of colonisation – that Europeans brought with them medical care to the colonies.

Liberal moms and liberal myths.

My question is, what does the gratuitous insertion of the word “liberal” contribute to either story?

I suspect that the answer is that the not-too-heavily disguised purpose of both articles is to make liberals and liberalism look bad or stupid.

But this kind of devaluation and debasing of the word “liberal” and turning it into a kind of general signal for disapproval tends to make it meaningless.

The main reason that people dislike liberals and liberalism is that they themselves tend to be authoritarian. Authoritarianism can range all the way from mild bossiness through being a control freak to being an absolute dictator, like Hitler or Stalin. But people who diss liberalism do tend to be control freaks of one kind or another.

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Another trend, also not exactly new, is to devalue terms like “genocide” by applying them to things that are a great deal less than genocide.

If I wanted to follow that trend, I could say that all this anti-liberal propaganda is calculated to provoke liberalophobia (fear and loathing of liberals), in which the next step would be a genocide of liberals.

That wouldn’t be true, of course, because “genocide” means the systematic and planned extermination of an entire race of people, and liberals are not a race (in spite of the attempts of racists to make liberals seem to be a race by prefixing the word “white” to “liberal” when the latter is used as a noun). If it isn’t hate speech, it is at least anti-liberal propaganda.

My daughter recently accused me of mastering the art of clickbait when I reblogged another post recently (the curious can find it here). Well yes, the heading of this post probably may be seen as clickbait, Whether you believed or anyone expected what happened next is up to you.

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So no, I don’t expect a liberal genocide (but see here), but authoritarian governments do tend to kill off or at least crack down on liberal opposition. And most colonial governments have been authoritarian, at least vis-à-vis the colonised, whatever Helen Zille or Matthew Wilhelm Solomon may say.

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Afriforum versus Juju: a storm in a teacup

For the last week or so the media have been dominated by Afriforum’s vendetta against Julius Malema, the leader of the ANC Youth League.

They have brought an action against him in the Equality Court, charging him with “hate speech” for a song that he likes to sing, which has been dubbed by the media as “Shoot the Boer” or “Kill the boer, kill the farmer”. This song, or one similar to it, was apparently popularised in recent times by Peter Mokhaba, at least according to the media, though as far as I am aware none of the media have given the complete words or context of the song, preferring to sensationalise the story by relying on hints and innuendo, and taking mistranslated phrases out of context. There is, however, a web site that says it gives the complete lyrics of the song here. It seems that Afriforum got it wrong even in its particulars of claim, saying that the song referred to “ibhulu”, which means rambling talk or waffling. So, according to Afriforum’s particulars of claim, it is “hate speech” to say “cut the waffle”.

But if the song is a struggle song, as Julius Malema and his supporters claim, and the actual word is “iBhunu”, the Zulu word “iBhunu” does not mean farmer, or anything like it. “IBhunu” originally meant an Afrikaans or (earlier) Dutch-speaking white South African, being the Zulu version of Boer, which is what many of the Afrikaners refered to themselves as. And while it is etymologically derived from the Dutch “boer” (related to the German “bauer”, and English “boor”) it does not, in Zulu, mean “farmer”.

If one reasons like Afriforum (and the media), then Julius Malema and Peter Mokhaba were simply following in the footsteps of Alfred Lord Milner and Joseph Chamerlain, who started what the British themselves call the “Boer War”, and sent hundreds of thousands of British soldiers to South Africa between 1899 and 1902 to kill the boer, kill the farmer.

No doubt the likes of Afriforum would regard the imperialist rhetoric of Milner and Chamberlain as “hate speech” and they would probably be right. The British army certainly killed the wives and children of the farmers in the concentration camps they established as part of their scorched earth policy, as a way of fighting the Boer (farmer) War. Today that would undoubtedly called genocide.

But to look at what happened in the 19th century and the 21st century without looking at what happened in between is to miss a large chunk of the story — what happened in the mid-20th century which gave rise to the song.

And in the mid-20th century the Zulu word “amaBhunu” did not refer primarily to Afrikaners, but rather to the National Party regime with its army and security police, which were charged with enforcing the racist policy of apartheid and crushing opposition to it.

And it was in that context that such songs arose.

I used to sing some myself.

Ayasizonda, ayasizonda,
ayasizond’ amaphoyisa
Ayashis’ imoto yethu
Zasakaz’ izincwadi

(the police hate us, who burnt our car and distributed (smear) letters, sung to the tune of “Clementine”).

Which is similar to the Irish song, which is just as bad:

I don’t mind a bit if I shoot down police
They’re lackeys for war, never guardians of peace
But still at deserters I’ll never take aim
Those rebels who sold out the patriot game.

If Malema’s song is “hate speech”, then surely that is too.

To all accounts, all Afriforum have achieved with their court case so far is to make themselves look silly and Julius Malema look good. Sunday World said:

… it was AfriForum lawyer Martin Brassey who completed the morphing of Malema the loose cannon and reckless buffoon into a martyr for the masses.

This prompted Talk Radio 702 breakfast host John Robbie to remark that Malema had come out brilliantly.

“He didn’t just come out as bright but as very, very bright,” he said.

Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi would say that if the plaintiffs came here thinking Malema was stupid, then they were underprepared.

The man who walked around with the tag of Village Puppet on his back was so rehabilitated that as he descended the dock to take his place behind his lawyer he got a “well done” pat on the back from ANC NEC member and chief supporter Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as he sat.

“He put up a spirited defence of the song and the struggle,” said Matshiqi. “And it showed up the imprudence of bringing such matters to the courts. All they have succeeded in doing is rehabilitate his image.”

So Afriforum’s efforts have been counterproductive.

It seems that Afriforum and its supporters are the rump of the white right, looking back to the apartheid era as some kind of Golden Age, and among the documents they cited in the case was a report from an outfit called Genocide Watch, which seems to be cited by right-wing conspiracy theorists because what it says about South Africa reflects their views (and that reflects very badly on Genocide Watch).

And perhaps Malema keeps singing the song because he is gratified to see how it annoys right-wing throwbacks like Afriforum’s constituency. It’s like a naughty little boy teasing his sister because the reaction far outweighs the provocation.

The problem that I see with all this is that the court case is between two bunches of buffoons, and at one level is a storm in a teacup that has been hyped into a media circus.

By choosing to fight over a trivial issue, magnified by Afrikaner-nationalist conspiracy theorist rhetoric (which is amplified by organisations like Genocide Watch), Afriforum and their supporters (and the media who report on such things) miss the real danger, which is Malema’s uncritical support for dictators like Robert Mugabe, which bodes ill for the future of South Africa’s democracy. Should Julius Malema ever become president (and if he does, he will have Afriforum to thank for giving him a big boost along the way) then if he behaves like the tyrants he so publicly admires, he will himself have become an iBhunu, like Verwoerd, Vorster, Smith and Mugabe.

Osama bin Laden and "1984"

Father John McCuen has noticed some interesting parallels between Osama bin Laden and one of the characters in George Orwell’s 1984 Observations from an Empty Well: Osama bin Laden and “1984”:

What strikes me most about these news reports is not so much the farce of the hunt for bin Laden as how he continues to be brought out from time to time by the media. For some reason, he strikes me as the modern-day equivalent of the character Emmanuel Goldstein, from George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Goldstein is the novel’s Leon Trotsky to Bib Brother’s Josef Stalin: once a member of the highest level within the Party that rules Oceania who broke with Big Brother and formed ‘The Brotherhood’ for the purpose of bringing down the Party. Consequently, every failure that is acknowledged by the Party is blamed on Goldstein and the Brotherhood; and Goldstein features prominently in an exercise known as the ‘Two Minute Hate’; with his image being replaced by that of Big Brother, whose appearance brings calm and peace and joy to the rank and file at the end of the Two Minute Hate.

This is not the “real” Osama bin Laden. It is Osama bin Laden the mythical monster, Osama bin Laden as invented by the regime and the media.

Many years ago, when TV was relatively new in South Africa and we didn’t have a TV — we lived in a village, Melmoth, that was then outside the reception area — there was a TV series called Rich Man, Poor Man. We never got an opportunity to watch it, but apparently just about everyone in the big cities did, and it dominated the culture of the media. Apparently the villain of the series was called Falconetti, and Falconetti was the guy everyone loved to hate. Any bad guy anywhere was compared to Falconetti. For those of us who had never seen it on TV, however, the cultural reference escaped us. But it was clear that he turned up in every episode of the TV series, plotting new evil, trying to destroy the lives of the heroes.

Eventually I bought the book and read it, in the hope of getting a handle on this cultural phenomenon. It was a great disappointment. Falconetti was a very minor character who appeared on about 5 pages, and wasn’t really a villain, certainly not the villain of the story, as he was in the TV series. And its seems that he was not as much a villain of the TV series as he was of the media writing about the TV series. And so it is with Osama bin Laden, and of Slovodan Milosevic before him — the cardboard cut-out villain trotted out for the obligatory two minutes hate.

Weasel words: "homophobic"

Julie Bindel: A Christian group’s campaign to protect the ‘freedom’ to be homophobic is grossly hypocritical:

I am all for freedom of speech, as long as it does not favour one person or group over the other. If it is deemed acceptable for Christians to say that homosexuality is a sin, for example, but not a person interviewing you for a job in a local authority, then that is unfair and hypocritical. So why on earth was a so-called ‘free speech protection’ clause added to the new offence of ‘incitement to homophobic hatred’ last May? It was to pander to Christian and other religious folk, and reads: ‘… the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.’

Julie Bindel’s article shows precisely why such a protection clause is needed, because her article is grossly Christianophobic, and is calculated to stir up hatred against Christians. If it is unfair to favour one group or person over another, why should the law favour Christianophobes?

Christians have generally believed that fornication and adultery are sins, and documents such as the New Testament urge people to abstain from them. Julie Bindel appears to believe that this should be “taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred”.

A person interviewing someone for a job in a local authority, however, has no business asking people about their sexual practices or conduct if these are not illegal, even if the interviewer is a Christian or a member of any other group that happens to believe that fornication and adultery are sinful.

This applies whether the fornication or adultery is committed with someone of the same sex or the opposite sex. A person interviewing someone for a job with a local authority should be concerned primarily with the interviewee’s qualifications and ability to do the job. Unless their sexual conduct is likely to interfere with that (such as a record of sexual harassment of fellow-workers, clients or customers), their sexual conduct should not concern the interviewer.

In Christian ethics hating other people is as much a sin as fornication or adultery, as is inciting hatred against other people. That doesn’t prevent Christians from hating other people, any more than it prevents them from committing fornication and adultery. Urging people to refrain from or modify such conduct is not itself an act of hatred or incitement to hatred, no matter how much people like Julie Bindel may misrepresent it. And the very fact that people miosrepresent it as such is itself an incitement to hatred and shows that such protection is needed.

The use of such arguments shows that the word “homophobic” can itself be used to incite hatred, and has become a weasel word that means nothing.

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