Apartheid obliviousness is Gareth’s thing
Gareth Cliff, an Idols judge, is in front of a real judge to force M-Net to reinstate him as a pop star judge. If he loses, does he end up in Sun City? But what we really want to know is: is he “a racist”? Or is he just oblivious? It’s 2016, and really, obliviousness to racism is also racism. How do you defend someone’s right to call black people monkeys, and not expect a backlash? If you took your genitals out in Sandton City, you might get fired from judging on Idols – unless Kenny Kunene is there putting sushi on them, then it’s okay. Manage your brand better, Gareth.
I guess I should point out that technically, racism isn’t illegal. It should be, but my puppet brain understands that it’s hate speech and racial discrimination that are illegal. If racism were illegal, Leon Schuster would have been jailed years ago for his movies.
For now, we should test these issues in the court of public opinion, to gauge what our society sees as acceptable, and in front of bodies like the SA Human Rights Commission.
Gareth’s racism is a racism of omission (but his occasional mocking of black accents is just run-of-the-mill racism). It’s subliminal, like Helen Zille’s dancing skills. By taking a stand for a racist’s right to be racist, he was placing freedom of speech unilaterally as a higher value than human dignity, in a society where millions were excluded because of exactly the thinking Penny Sparrow so clumsily vomited on to Facebook. Apartheid obliviousness. It’s a thing.
But if we are fair, we need to admit that this tolerance for this type of racism is everywhere, so if you are going to brand Gareth a racist, then you need to keep going. Where’s DStv’s public statement banning Steve Hofmeyr, an overt racist, from appearing on kykNET? Besides, Gareth has said far more controversial things before this, which they knew, so is M-Net fine with racism until someone complains? That’s illogical. What’s next? “No, we knew XX presenter was a paedophile, but nobody complained”?
Allegedly Mediclinic, the chain of hospitals, still employs Wouter Basson, a guy who says he was just a soldier working for apartheid and killing people so he shouldn’t be judged. Now that guy is a racist. How bigoted is our society that he even has a job? What’s next – a Nazi death-shower operator working at Builders Warehouse? “But I vos just in maintenance.”
So is Gareth “a racist”? Maybe. Not branding him one implies some level of tolerance for racism. Branding him a racist means the rest of us (but mainly white people) have to get our acts together. Besides, we know he’s an Idols judge, which is almost as bad.