How A Young South African Racist Used Facebook To Further His Hatred

A couple of days ago I received an email with a horrifying attachment from a writer I met at a script writing workshop last year.  He asked me to share it with as many people as possible.  The attachment was a Facebook status from a young white South African guy ranting and raving about black South Africans.

The content is really obnoxious and vile and made me sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t see an ounce of humanity in what this angry young man said.  He mentioned the KKK admiringly.  That organization has always epitomized absolute evil for me.  I can’t think of it without feeling violent rage.  My thoughts about people who were or are members are not civilized.  I want them to suffer.

And that was my first reaction to the Facebook status post.  The writer who sent it to me encouraged me to help make it viral.  My primary instinct was to share it instantly, and to write a post here about it, to expose this guy and the disgusting level to which he has sunk.  Or possibly never risen from, which is more likely, given his age.

But I just can’t do it.  I don’t want to spread that evil any further than it has already gone.  I don’t want to be responsible for one more person reading it.  But also, my initial response came from anger, and although it was and still is justified, I’m not sure I should make it the basis for my actions.  When somebody declares war, does it help to throw missiles at them?

The thing is, making that guy’s post viral just gives him an audience.  And you can bet there are plenty of people of his ilk around the world with the same attitude, the same repressed anger, the same narrowness of mind, the same evil intent.  It’s one of the things about the power of social media that scares me.  Evil can spread like wildfire now.

“Don’t stroke what you don’t want more of” seems like pretty potent wisdom to me, when it comes to this incident.  I don’t want to see more racism, I don’t want to see more words that foster it.  But also, I don’t want to do nothing.   I could write to CNN and Carte Blanche (a South African investigative TV program) and send them the guy’s photo and his Facebook post.   But won’t that just give him what he wants?

Humiliate a bully or a person with latent psychopathic tendencies and you could just turn him into a monster with real power.  Whatever I do, I want to make sure that it helps to make the world a better place, not a worse one.  I want to see more love and respect, not less.

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Political correctness in South Africa: let’s face it, racism is racism

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I read that the University of Cape Town has a black-only alumni group.  Whites aren’t allowed in.  OMIGOD!   Uproar!  Racism! Racism! A spokesperson for the group said it isn’t racism, and the rationale is that whites did it to blacks (which is true) so they’re just equalizing things.  I can understand that, and I’d want to do it too.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a bully, it’s no use treating them with respect; they’ll see it as a weakness and trample all over you.  It’s pretty smart to avoid contact with them, also no matter how much they say they’ve changed.

I don’t think the morality and political correctness of it matters much, it’s just so much hot air.  I think the important thing is what racism does to the person practicing it.  Prejudice has never led to anything positive for its perpetrators, no matter what the reason for it.  If I build myself up at the expense of somebody else I’m focusing on them instead of on me, so I’m a house divided, which weakens me.

Does doing to somebody else what their predecessors did to your predecessors address the hideous and unconscionable inequality of the past and make life better for you?  I don’t know; it’s a complicated subject, because the whites being excluded aren’t the ones who created apartheid, but they are the ones who inherited the privileges from it.

I’d say people should be allowed to have whatever groups they want.  Freedom of speech and  association are pretty important.  It only gets dangerous for society when any groups or individuals within them start wielding power over the lives of others and infringing on their rights.

As for the University alumni group, why shouldn’t they exclude whites?  They’re allowed to.  You’re allowed to invite who you want to your party.  If the whites who have been excluded don’t like it, they’ve got mouths, telephones, they know how to talk and ask questions, engage.  They can sort it out.  It’s their lives, their choice.

Still, no matter what the spokesperson for the alumni group called their actions, it’s still excluding people on the basis of the color of their skin, which makes it racism.  You can’t bend the truth.  Which incontrovertible fact doesn’t stop us from trying!

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Racism and Conservativism vs Opening up your Heart

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I live 10 minutes walking distance from Fish Hoek, a small, mostly white, conservative suburb which is really a village on the outskirts of Cape Town.  The location is unbelievably beautiful – a small jewel of a bay with surrounding hills – but has long had a reputation for being conservative, and – get this! – satanism and drug abuse amongst the kids.  Go figure.

It’s basically a hick town with grisly, rather depressing architecture, and has quite a few dark, dingy and cigarette-smelly bars and some “restaurants” – I use that term loosely.  It’s been very white for a long time, and was fairly socio-economically depressed.   But in the last couple of years, because of the outstanding location, wealthier people have come in and built big expensive houses on the hillside overlooking the bay.  Wherever they go for shopping and entertainment, though,  it ain’t Fish Hoek.  In that time, too, the black working population has increased massively, so it’s not the nice little white town it once was.  In some people’s eyes, that is.

I’ve noticed that there are basically two types running businesses and working here: the truly generous of spirit with big hearts and souls, and the downright mean.  When you walk into one of the latter your soul shrivels, it’s a very unpleasant experience.

The other day I was walking through the village, when a group of black men came towards me, taking up the whole sidewalk.  They were jogging, holding placards about their rights, and singing at the tops of their exceptionally beautiful voices.  I stepped aside to let them pass, and felt moved by their singing and energy, which wasn’t aggressive, just full of life.  When they’d passed I carried on, thinking about how beautiful they were, and feeling uplifted by them.  They put me in such a good mood.

But I noticed an number of contorted, soul-shrivelling expressions on faces of some townspeople.   Arms folded across their chests; just angry angry angry.  Life in a small town in South Africa.  Yes folks, the attitude that blacks don’t have the same rights as whites and should know their place still exists here in pockets.  It exists everywhere.  Look at conservates in the US.  It’s scary wherever you come across it.

The thing about racism, though, it’s just a mask to cloak fear and an unhealthy need for power at the expense of others.  If we were all the same skin color, some people would find another way to distinguish people and overpower the vulnerable.  I think it’s a mistake to think that once we’ve got rid of racism the world will be fine.  No it won’t.  Once we all learn to love ourselves and reach out for love from other people the world will be fine and racism will dissipate.

The eternal optimist!  Why not, though.

I love this song by Abbey Lincoln and A. Moseka, called Throw it Away.  For me it’s about not living your life by trying to punish other people, but by opening up your heart.

In general, this blog is about the pursuit of dreams.  Mine are to establish myself as a vocalist, script & blog writer & novelist, have my own radio show & to earn by doing something meaningful.  I need help with some things.  Click here to read more.   Click  Stormy Weather to listen to me singing Stormy Weather with a backing track.

Stay away from the shark’s jaws

Repressed anger.  It’s like a caged, starved, tormented wild animal.  It’s going to find a way to maim or kill somehow.  It has to.  The energy can’t be contained.

I bumped into a local man.  We chatted miscellaneously and pretty soon the subject of crime found its way into our conversation.  It happens a lot here.

I don’t actually – ackshally – want to talk about it, because I know it’s a problem, I know it’s a societal ill, I know I have to be as watchful as I can without becoming paranoid.  I’m as present as I can be in my own life.  But some people feed off the fear like sharks around bloody chump, reveling in the “ain’t it awful” game.

Within seconds, our conversation had turned into a monologue of Shakespearean proportions, but without the poetry, wisdom – or developed character!  I watched in a kind of awe mixed with dread and building repulsion as rage engorged the fellow’s body.  Literally.  The blood rose up his neck and his blood vessels started  throbbing, his face reddened.  He said if he ever caught anybody – and he was talking about non-whites – coming into his house he’d kill them – in and of itself an understandable reaction if such an the event has actually happened, but this was in premeditation.  He was deliberately envisaging somebody breaking in, so he could get his rocks off.  Let his anger out.  His pleasure at the idea of hurting, beating up, torturing, killing somebody (an imaginary none-white person who didn’t at all exist anywhere in the world) with his bare hands, was visceral.  Can pleasure at the idea of violence be visceral?

My awe changed to disgust and repulsion.  Out came all the racism, spewing like putrid vomit.  This wasn’t about the reality of intruders and protecting his privacy.  It was about repressed anger needing an outlet and finding one in hatred of black and coloured people.  Not even any real people, just imagined ones.  I tentatively said “I understand your emotions but I don’t want to hear any more, you’re disturbing me”, which only succeeded in accelerating the pace and upping the content and volume of his rage.  I thought he was going to attack me.

It’s hard  to watch that in a movie, let alone in real life. “Disturbing” doesn’t come close to describing it.

Then he said he happened to be looking out the window and saw a man tear off his clothes and jump into a natural rock pool where his wife was swimming to try and have a cuddle with her, so he ran across the road and beat the man to a bloody pulp.  He boasted about it, his body pumped up with a kind of narcissistic strutting.  I imagined his inner core crawling with bloated worms eating off the corruption of his soul.  Regretfully he told me the bastard got away.  But there was blood, he said.  Oh, he enjoyed telling me that.

I’m sure there was.  But I wondered about the veracity of his story, I wondered whether the man was actually just throwing off his shirt and diving into the pool with perfectly natural pleasure.  It’s a public pool.  I also wondered when the K-word was going to appear.  This is a man who if an indigent non-white person knocks on his door, he’ll throw them down the stairs.  Man woman or child.  Literally.  With great pleasure.  And he’ll boast about it.

I realized being polite wasn’t going to work here.  I said I don’t want to hear any more and walked away.

I felt violated.

If you don’t have inner permission to express your anger, this is what happens.  It’s going to come out somehow in a channel where there is inner permission.  In a post-colonial society there’s no permission to be angry in a real way, because that’s unpleasant, it’s weak it’s whatever.  There’s no permission to be real.  We still live in such potent straightjackets here.  Emotions are so suppressed they become black holes of compacted, pressurized violence thrusting inexorably towards whatever outlet is available, no matter how unhealthy.

The permission, an old one which is still horribly alive, is to be angry with anybody whose skin isn’t white.  Where does it come from?  I can’t get my head around it.   It’s just a flipping skin colour for god’s sake.  Bad enough that it ever began, but that it’s perpetuated now is utterly incomprehensible to me.

What I witnessed yesterday was a man caught in a time warp unable to deal with and seek healthy outlets for his own massively backlogged fear and anger, channeling it into the only thing he’s got inner permission for – rabid persecution of non-whites.  Building an imaginative case against whole races just so that he could justify spewing his inner corruption.  What a pressure-cooker.

It wasn’t a pretty sight.  Unfortunately it’s not entirely a rare one, either, to varying degrees of intensity.  I’m surprised South Africa doesn’t have a Klu Klux Klan.  Maybe it does and I just don’t know about it.

When I experience this at close quarters it’s hard for me to believe in the goodness of humanity, to believe that all life originates from something that is good, that nobody is evil, just incomplete.

He scared me, and my own anger and prejudice rose up, against people who prefer to punish others than face their own truth and deal with it, because it’s easier.   People who look for scapegoats, who portray themselves as decent, upstanding citizens and who are looking for somebody to maim.

I guess I don’t have the right to judge him, he’s got his own demons.  But I do have the right to hate what he stands for and despise his permissions, and I have the right to refuse to enable and support him.  I sure am never going to have another conversation with him.  It’s no use trying to engage him – he’ll turn the spigot onto me.  Nobody’s ever going to convert him.  I wonder where it’ll end.

He should volunteer as a mercenary somewhere, then he can kill and mutilate with impunity.  Get paid for it.

On the surface he’s charming and sociable.  But my alarm bells have always rung with him.  In fact he’s always made my skin crawl.  Now I know why.   We sense the inner dynamic before it shows on the outside, but in the end, the truth is always going to come out.  Can’t hide it forever.

Love your neighbours?  No thanks.  I can respect that he has his own journey and the right to it, but I don’t have to like it, and I don’t want any part of it.   I can appreciate (barely) that sharks have a place on the planet, and respect their intrinsic right to existence and their own journey, but I don’t have to like them. And I’m not going to hang out with them and place myself close to their gaping bloody jaws, am I?

There was a time when I wouldn’t have been able to walk away from him.  I’d have stayed until his anger spent itself, a prisoner of my own lousy entitlement.  I wouldn’t have been able to stop him poisoning my world.

I’d have hung out close to the shark’s jaws, and got bitten.

Not any more.