Apartheid obliv­i­ous­ness is Gareth’s thing

CityPress - - Voices - Ch­ester Miss­ing voices@ city­press. co. za @chester­miss­ing is SA’s top political an­a­lyst pup­pet and as­so­ci­ated with ven­tril­o­quist @con­rad­koch

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.

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