by Claire Smith
I went on my first protest march yesterday – another item checked on the ‘things everyone should do before they die’ list. I attended the Red October march. According to the media reports on the march I must have turned into a right wing, fascist, Nazi, apartheid supporting crazy since I moved here. That’s not true. I was brought up in London, one of the most diverse cities on the face of the planet and I marvel at the fantastic range of cultures that this earth plays host to. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t give a flying monkeys whether you are white, black or green with sky blue polka dots – AND THAT HAS NOT CHANGED.
I also don’t recognise the caricature of the protest that was presented by the media – maybe I’m mistaken and I turned up at a different protest….
I have to say, I was hesitant at turning up yesterday. I was worried that this event would be hijacked by racist groups looking for a publicity opportunity. I was worried that the message of Red October would be kidnapped.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I experienced; the protesters in Pretoria were respectful but wanted to get their point heard. I, personally, heard no bigoted racism, no derogatory name calling or incitement to violence. I saw people who were sick and tired of the fear that crime causes in this country – people who were saying enough is enough. I identified with the Red October cause after reading the content of the letter sent to the Presidency setting out the reasons for the protest:
- Urgent attention to the lack of security on South African farms and the lack of attention to farm murders in general
- Urgent attention to the continuing violence against women
- Urgent attention to police action regarding murder and crimes committed against the people of South Africa by foreigners streaming across our borders
- Urgent attention to the lack of quality education for all our children, respecting their culture, language, religion and heritage
- Urgent attention to the lack of service delivery, the preservation of our natural water resources and the lack of control over the theft of electricity
- Urgent attention to the legal processes and lack of justice with regard to the detaining of prisoners without proper due course
- Urgent attention to expedient trials and harsher sentences of criminals found guilty of violent crime, i.e. murder and rape
Nothing racist in that lot – no calls for return to apartheid, no we’re better than you, no bigoted name calling, no incitement to violence, no mention that this should be limited to white people in any way, shape or form!
But when the protest was reported in the media it was characterised as a bunch of Afrikaners demanding special treatment over anyone else, making outlandish, untrue statements and generally being a bit racist. It was an eye opening experience of selective reporting and has taught me the lesson that the ‘news’ is actually about 99% opinion and spin and the remaining space left to fact is filled by cherry-picked information to back up the preconceptions of the person and/or agency presenting the story.
So, let’s answer the criticisms leveled at Red October.
In 2009 white people represented 1.8% of murder victims, but make up 8% of the population.
By this statement E news is trying to indicate that white people, especially Afrikaners, are not victimized and are, in fact, nice and safe and complaining about nothing. Anyone fearing ‘white genocide’ is clearly a delusional fantasist.
Up until this point, any figures quoted by groups worried about the degree of violence focused on white populations were discredited as the South African Police Service does not routinely collect data on the ethnicity of victims and perpetrators of murder. Obviously that doesn’t make nice convincing TV news, so E has gone through the archives until they found a 4 year old statistic gathering dust in a corner. Want to disprove groups who spend an awful lot of effort trying to document murder rates through the devotion of their time to collating anecdotal reporting? Then where is your carefully researched analysis of murder over the past 19 years? Where is your statistical analysis of last year’s crime statistics that were released last month? Where is your evidence of the reliability of your single snapshot statistic from 2009?
So, let’s leave statistics aside – as Benjamin Disraeli reportedly said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
What is verifiable is the horrific brutality and savagery of farm murders in South Africa; if you have a strong stomach, Google it. Torture, rape, murder and mutilation are a legitimate and reasonable part of robbery or a wage dispute? I didn’t think so.
This march is ridiculous as it only focusses on crime against white people
I refer you back to the motivation for the protest above. This was against all crime, all murder, all rape, all violent attacks. No one in this country should have to live in fear. Yes, the focus shifted towards white victims of brutal farm attacks, but these were the people who could be bothered to get off their backsides and make a stand.
If all those who criticised the march on that basis stood up and arranged a protest against the complete lack of control that the ANC government has over crime in this country, then we’d attend that one too. But you haven’t, so we can’t.
The additional demand to scrap racial quotas such as Affirmative Action, Black Economic Empowerment, etc, etc, proves that Red October is a front for racists who wish to return to apartheid.
It has escaped reporting, but organisers and speakers took great pains to point out that this is by no means a call to return to apartheid and that the system was fundamentally wrong.
All forms of discrimination are fundamentally wrong. None of them are positive. The ANC, however, insist on applying racial quotas and conditions on all areas of commerce and employment. How will it ever be fair that someone has to hand over large percentages of the business that they have worked hard to establish and make successful, just due to their skin colour?
The motivation for this protest also highlights the issue of education, asking for quality education for ALL children in this country. The ANC has had 19 years to focus on education, ensuring that every person can compete for jobs based on their abilities and qualifications rather than the melanin content of their skin. They have failed spectacularly – the government can’t even get textbooks into schools for the start of the school year! In order to cover for their incompetence and lack of motivation in this area, they impose employment quotas to give a thin veneer of success.
In the face of a difficult and hostile job market, many white families have had to rely on their entrepreneurial abilities to make a living. If you can’t get a job, you have to work for yourself in order to survive. The new focus of the government has now been to attack white ownership of business, to demand that anyone who has worked hard to establish a successful, profitable company now hands over a percentage of what they built up to black ownership.
There is one group determined to keep race a flashpoint in South Africa and that is the ANC. The ANC are just as obsessed with race as apartheid was, possibly more so.
As the title of this piece indicated, this experience has been a real eye opener. Caricatures mindlessly spouted by the media are being used unfairly to silence people’s concerns. I guess there are none so blind as those that refuse to see, and deaf as those that refuse to hear.
From a Brit living in South Africa – Claire Smith