The Democratic Alliance has launched its 2014 Election campaign with “Know your DA”, highlighting the role that DA members – or members of the DA’s earlier incarnations – played in the struggle against apartheid. According to Gwede Mantashe’s desperate propaganda, “Know your DA” is desperate propaganda.
The UCT student newspaper, Varsity, ran a story that included a graphic showing how “UCT” voted on the “most attractive race”. This time, it wasn’t only Marius Fransman who let hysteria triumph over common sense in reacting to this graphic.
Making progress in resolving disagreements with regard to culture, values and religious beliefs is difficult enough, given the emotive nature of the beliefs in question. We could perhaps make the task slightly easier through paying attention to not misrepresenting each other, and also sometimes through getting our own houses in order.
The UCT student newspaper, Varsity, caused a Twitter-mob to mobilise in publishing a graphic regarding the attractiveness of “races”. But doing so isn’t itself necessarily racist.
An “Anti-Harmful Religious Practices strategy” was recently launched by Gauteng education MEC Barbara Creecy. But the strategy seems to be biased against some religions in favour of others, and also seems complacent with regard to two issues: the possibility of religious belief, rather than practice, being a source of harm; and the possibility that some practices have little or nothing to do with religion.
Choice architecture (or “nudges”, as in the 2008 book by that name) is an example of what has been called “libertarian paternalism”, in that it is an attempt to get people to do what’s best for them. But if we know that people aren’t always the best judges of their own interests, is there perhaps room for even stronger interventions?
The DA has taken the lead on initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to redressing history’s injustices rather than reinforcing “neoliberal” caricatures. But when we say things like “ubuntu and African-ness are illiberal”, an impression of hostility to cultural heritage is created, and the party could appear as tone-deaf as its critics claim.
It is only when you get to choose what your “culture” is – and not have it forced upon you – that it becomes remotely respectable.
It’s the students, not Government, that deserve an apology from Prof. Jonathan Jansen – he who is often held up as the potential savior of South African education.
It is at least possible that in the complicated intersections of race & class and all that, black comics/columnists could experience different pressures than white ones do.