Er, Julius…

As Julius Malema heads to the Constitutional Court to ask them to impeach Jacob Zuma, and tells us:

 

We rack our brains to try and remember who the “They” that did the choosing actually were… [link]

 

Or:

The words there of one… er… Julius Malema.

 

Ja. Things change, fair enough. And it’s all very well trying to remove the President now.
Equally, it’s all very well to say that it was a mistake for the ANC to promote and elect him in the first place.

But to pretend that you weren’t involved… No, Julius. That stinks.

Forrinurs are stoopid

Unimpressed with someone? Trace their ancestory back a bit, apply a liberal dose of anti-constitutional xenophobia and suggest they leave the country, post-haste.

Julius Malema was at it last week, with his typically edgy, borderline xenophobic comments about curry and the Guptas, before telling his adoring audience that the well-connected Gupta family “must leave the country with immediate effect”. Here are some t-shirts on sale so you can wear your xenophobia in case your voice becomes a bit hoarse from constantly shouting about it.

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And then today, there was this gem from Ses’Khona spokesperson Sulyman Stellenboom (just one R away from perfect nominative determinism), who gave us this line on Western Cape Premier Helen Zille:

Zille is a ‘germ from Germany’ who must ‘go back where she came from’

Magnificent. Aside from the fact that Zille was born in Joburg, that is. And the fact that it’s repulsively and unnecessarily xenophobic. Maybe Sulyman and the Surly Man both had this feelings poster on their respective bedroom walls. Or maybe they’re just attention-seeking twats using the media’s love of hyperbolic soundbites, and carefully drawing on the populist element of South Africa’s rich recent history of not liking people from other countries very much.

Who knows?

It doesn’t even make sense though, does it? “A germ from Germany”? People from Germany are called Germans, not germs. Germs is a generic term for bacteria. Helen Zille may be many things to many people, but she’s clearly not a single-celled, prokaryotic, pathogenic micro-organism. Nor is she the reproductive part of a cereal. Obviously not.
What was the idiot thinking? Does he also think that Angolans deserve to ‘ang? Or that people from Sweden are merely thinly-veiled turnips. Ooh, and don’t get him started on the Finnish.
The bloke’s a tosser. From… Tossland.
Or something.

Later on, there’s going to be some fighting around Parliament as all the different groups, cultures, colours and various party supporters meet in one massive congested space in Cape Town CBD and the police struggle to keep them apart. The media will love that too.

Anything inflammatory. Which is exactly why Julius and Sulyman keep spouting their xenophobic crap – because they know that’s how they get heard.

Julius: Then and Now

Julius Malema, writing about a proposed City Press boycott in 2012:

Our forefathers thrived for many years under difficult moments because they cherished free press and freedom of expression.
Banning newspapers simply because we disagree with them and boycotting them on the basis of believing that our conception of truth is absolute really poses a real threat to our democracy.
Even when we expressed utmost anger against a BBC Journalist in a Press Conference incident which we later apologized for, we never took a decision to ban the BBC or the Journalist from our Press Conferences, because we need to protect everyone space to disagree.

Julius Malema, speaking about a proposed New Age/ANN7 boycott today:

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Does Julius Malema pose a real threat to our democracy?
Julius Malema seems to think so.

The best bits of a bad job

I’m not going to get into the Charlie Hebdo thing. I don’t have the time or careful articulation to express my feelings accurately. I even had to call it a “thing” to avoid using a term that might be considered inappropriate by one side or the other. And therein lies the problem: people are taking sides.

An incident which should perhaps have the power to be either divisive or uniting seems (disappointingly, but maybe unsurprisingly), being used exclusively as the former, rather than the latter. An opportunity (albeit a difficult one) missed?

There are about a million (I counted and read them all) different “thinkpieces” about the whole thing already, but here are a couple of them which I found most interesting, with a nice passage from each:

From Jacques Rousseau, on free speech:

…it’s a glib, and oftentimes lazy, inference to draw that it’s “religion” that causes these things. I would think it rare that religion per se makes you homicidal, but that instead, folk who are capable of such things will find religious inspiration for doing them.

If your religion allows you to be led to such barbarism, there’s barbarism in you to be exploited. That doesn’t mean that religion X (or ideology X) cannot be a causal factor in barbarism more often than religion or ideology Y.

and:

Other issues are perhaps not as easy or unambiguous as we might prefer. For starters, the right to express a view doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea to do so.

Yes. Just like Julius and his “Shoot the Boer” song:

What does it achieve when role models sing Dubul’ iBunu?
And yet these individuals make a conscious decision to do these things. Why? Where is the value in that?

It’s more than just the lack of any positive worth in these actions that depresses me. It’s the fact that these things are divisive and harmful and yet they are completely avoidable. Julius Malema, Councillor Greyling et al. simply need to make better decisions.
So, rather allow Malema to sing Dubul’ iBunu and then rejoice when he chooses not to.

And then this, on the possible deeper motives for the attack, from Informed Comment:

Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination.

Most of France will also remain committed to French values of the Rights of Man, which they invented. But an insular and hateful minority will take advantage of this deliberately polarizing atrocity to push their own agenda. Europe’s future depends on whether the Marine LePens are allowed to become mainstream. Extremism thrives on other people’s extremism, and is inexorably defeated by tolerance.

It’s an interesting theory. And already, there are reports of “grenades being thrown into a mosque” near Paris.

So what can we take from this?

1. The preservation of the right to free speech is imperative, and
2. One cannot and should not conflate the views and actions of (religious) fundamentalists and extremists with those of everyday followers of religion.

But then there’s this sort of thing:

…rendering those two ideals completely and immediately incompatible. (And angering me quite a lot, as an aside. I’m not about to depict Muhammad, but that’s only because I don’t see any value in doing so (see my wish for Julius above), and most certainly not because Farah says I’m not allowed to.)

So, here’s a third thing we kinda all knew anyway:

3. This isn’t going to be sorted out any time soon.

Nigel & Julius

I arrived here in the UK just in time to see (not literally) Nigel Farage’s UKIP party win their first seat in the UK Parliament. It was a bit of a cheat, really, given that the the guy who got elected was already the MP for the area, merely for a different party. That said, unlike the situation in SA, he had to be re-elected under the UKIP banner, and he was. They now control 1/650th or about 0.15% of the UK political landscape. But that’s only if you choose to look at the number of MPs. Because even though the traditional main three parties have just held their respective conferences, all I’ve seen on the TV here is Nigel and UKIP. Repeatedly.

And, if this infographic below is true (and I haven’t had time to check on the veracity of it because that’s not what I’m here for), then my viewing experience could well be easily explained.

wpid-wp-1413185711142.jpegQuestion Time being a much-watched and much-debated TV programme here, this is important.

The thing is this: despite their unpleasant policies and lack of any workable plan should they be elected (or maybe actually because of that?), UKIP have shaken the political landscape here and they have become the media darlings because of it. They don’t have a presence in Parliament (save for that one brand new seat), but they are the go-to party for opinion and soundbites which are going to get the viewers to your news programme, paper or website. And coming from SA, that situation seems rather familiar.

Of course, Julius Malema and his EFF have a few seats in the SA Parliament. But it’s still a tiny presence. And yet their vocal, no holds barred, sabre-rattling approach to everything has repeatedly made them headline news. But they’ve actually achieved nothing through it. Has Jacob Zuma paid the Nkandla money back? No. Has Baleka Mbete resigned? No. And yet, the EFF still get the headlines, despite not actually adding anything positive to the parliamentary mix.

OMG! They shouted! They chanted! Floyd stuck up his middle finger! They walked out of parliament again!
So did they get all their demands satisfied?
Er…. no.

There’s a common thread here, despite the vastly differing politics of Nigel and Julius: people are very unhappy with their incumbent government and the incumbent government seems to be doing nothing to remedy that situation. Suddenly, there’s a power vacuum and that’s something that these populist, radical parties have stepped in to exploit. And they’re exploiting it well, because while they’re not in power they can make a lot of noise and a lot of promises without actually having to back any of it up or be taken to account. They can react quickly to individual incidents, switch polices and respond with no comeback, save for the mainstream political parties (who would try to shout them down anyway, and who no-one is listening to anyway, of course) the media (who love the devil-may-care attitude because it brings them more readers or viewers).

The next general election for both countries is going to leave a very different political landscape. And that’s fine, because that’s how democracy works. But, much like that Trevor Mallach letter, it would be better if we went into these things making decisions based on facts and not on what the media spin. Right now, the EFF and UKIP are getting all the positive press coverage while having to do nothing to back it up. Would either of them actually be able to successfully run a country (or even an opposition party) given the chance?

I can’t see it, personally – although the media might want me to think differently.