Letters to the editor: February 12 to 18 2016

Strung out: A reader writes that Africans have been impoverished and bear the brunt of the worst forms of racism. (Madelene Cronjé)

Strung out: A reader writes that Africans have been impoverished and bear the brunt of the worst forms of racism. (Madelene Cronjé)

Skewed grasp of racism in SA

I respect Ebrahim Harvey as my fellow South African and an author, but he has a narrow-minded understanding of racism (Racist rants expose [Andile] Mngxitama).

Harvey’s view is similar to that of the perception of racism from outside Africa, in places such as the United States and Europe.

To provide a full and detailed analysis of racism, one has to begin with slavery, colonialism, land dispossession, apartheid, socioeconomic inequality and racial prejudice.

Africans have suffered the brunt of most of these evils in a very visible and concrete manner – on their own continent, where they are the majority. This is not to say that other peoples may not have experienced such things in some form or the other.

It is disingenuous for Harvey and other commentators to equate perpetrators and victims when it comes to racism.

They never do this when they analyse the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis, for instance.

To equate racist comments by Penny Sparrow, Gareth Cliff, Chris Hart and others to comments by Jimmy Manyi and Velaphi Khumalo is lazy thinking and a way of trivialising the oppression of Africans.

Without being too theoretical about racism, one has just to compare Alexandra with Sandton, KwaMashu with Umhlanga, Soweto schools with Houghton schools, and unemployment among Africans as compared with whites.

Just look at the untransformed sporting codes and boards of white businesses in South Africa. That is racism in action and in practice.

These concrete and visible aspects of racism reinforce the mental disposition of the Sparrows, Cliffs and Harts of this country, resulting in their racist comments.

  I suggest that Harvey does some in-depth research and a proper analysis of the topic – he is capable of doing much better than in this article.
Thulani Ngcobo, Midrand

Defective genes may be a blessing

  Imagine a world in which we “could reduce, and eventually eliminate, the birth of babies with severe genetic diseases”. Johnjoe McFadden (There’s nothing wrong with correcting God’s mistakes) claims this is possible in the foreseeable future and that the view that we are dangerously “playing God” will slow down this advancement

In the period leading up to and during the two world wars, science and technology made enormous advances, including in the field of medicine and in splitting the atom, which led to the atomic bomb.

Humanity began placing its faith in science and technology rather than God. As Friedrich Nietszche had claimed: “God is dead”. He was not suggesting that there was no God, but that humanity behaved as if there wasn’t one.

Through the ages, societies throughout the world and of different faiths have examined the question of why there is suffering.

Let us return to the idea of a world that has eliminated genetic diseases. This would theoretically eliminate much suffering – for example, for families with children who have a disease that shortens their lives or causes severe disability.

Bringing up a child with Down’s syndrome is very challenging and requires much more time, patience and possibly money than it would to bring up a child who does not suffer from such a syndrome.

I have met a number of families who have children with Down’s syndrome and have in each case been touched by how the members of these families have developed wonderful qualities and coped financially, touching those around them.

  This leads me to ask if those children’s genetics are really God’s mistakes. We should worry about the “slippery slope to designer babies” now, just as we should have worried about the effects of the atom bomb before dropping one. – Clotilde Peel, Nelspruit

De Klerk is a forefather of the DA

  I read the Democratic Alliance’s reaction to the Mail & Guardian’s lead story (Is FW de Klerk tutoring Mmusi Maimane?) with perplexed interest.

  At the heart of my confusion was the manner in which DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his adoptive mother, Helen “Nontsapho” Zille, reacted so defensively and offensively to the M&G story.

The bellicose reaction suggested that the DA did not want any political association with De Klerk.

Yet the DA is the offspring of the merger between De Klerk’s New National Party and the Democratic Party of Tony Leon in 2002. The DA’s DNA has been influenced by both party’s genes.

De Klerk remains one of the DA’s forefathers. Why would Maimane and Zille disown his contribution? The answer is hypocrisy and the management of black people for the sake of votes.

It is clear that the DA is led by two-faced leaders and political chameleons. They cite former president Nelson Mandela as their hero, yet the DA’s governance and service delivery practices are aimed at nothing but the preservation and promotion of white interests.

By virtue of its political lineage, the DA will always be an apologist for whites, with the interests of blacks at the bottom of the list of its priorities.

Maimane is typical of a cosmetic change made to the DA to lure black voters in a bid to sustain ill-gotten white privileges.

DA member Penny Sparrow (with her racist tweet) and Diane Kohler Barnard (the DA MP who professed admiration for PW Botha) were subjected to disciplinary procedures for sharing the truth, values and principles of the DA with the public.

Blacks should not be fooled by these actions or by Maimane’s public rebuke of racists in his party. This is nothing but political expediency.

Black and white material conditions in the Western Cape, the only DA-run province, confirm the skewed service delivery patterns in favour of whites.

Maimane should admit in public that De Klerk and other apartheid leaders are the forefathers of the DA and stop misleading black people with empty rhetoric about Mandela and the Freedom Charter. – David Vakalisa Ka-Ndyalvan, Pretoria

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