Thank You Howard Feldman

The Monster we Created

Howard Feldman

Sunday, April 19, 2015

That the Monster of hatred that is currently marauding across the country surprises South Africans, should be the biggest surprise of all. Not unlike Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the creation of Xenophobia has been painstakingly crafted evil sinew by evil tendon, until this 8ft beast with yellow eyes and skin that hardly conceals the blood vessels and the tissue underneath, terrifies its creators.

The beasts of Xenophobia and the one from Mary Shelley’s novel share common characteristics. Both were created by man and both turned on the very people who gave them life. In the novel the beast is clear that it is the “Adam of your labour,” and indeed, he might as well being referring to the violence and racism that is currently rocking this country when he spoke these prophetic words.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Over the last few years we have seen the steady and un-abating rise in racism. Intolerance of alternative cultures, nationalities, skin colour, religion and lifestyle choices have become acceptable, despite our insistence that it is not. And the continual march towards the current status made it almost inevitable.

When Government Ministers demand that the foreigners share their “secrets” of their trade it implies that they collectively have a clandestine technique that deprives locals of their livelihood. When powerful Zulu Kings underscore the tension that already exists, when EFF leaders speak with open hatred of White South African’s, when the Minister of Home Affairs embraces convicted terrorists who continue to support and encourage violence and terrorism, when levels of Islamaphobia and Anti Semitism is at its highest on record, I am not sure what part of this situation could be a surprise.

A simple example. Robert Mugabe is currently outraged, as he should be, about the treatment of his citizens in South Africa. He is deeply concerned and does not hesitate to voice his worry. All acceptable, but for the fact that less than ten days ago, this same man refused to see a “White face” when approached by journalists. He refused to answer a question based purely on the colour of a person’s skin but is shocked and appalled by discrimination based on region.

When statues are defaced in the most disrespectful manner possible- by feces being thrown at them, when it is impossible to respect at least an element of a history that is not consistent with your narrative, when pig’s heads are deliberately placed in kosher sections of a supermarket to cause the most offence and then that action is defended, then what part of Xenophobia should come to us as a surprise.

We have built this monster, and we are clearly unhappy with the product of our creation. South Africans of all people should understand the dangers of racial prejudice. We have seen first hand what the “logical” but evil implementation of a racially based system achieves. We have seen the destruction of a society and the abuse of human rights when this monster is allowed to run rampant. But we seem to have forgotten this and neatly boxed it away for the schoolroom, where our children will learn the theory but not the practice.

There needs to be a zero tolerance for any form of hate speech. And it needs to begin with Government and with any political participant. It is all very well to make inflammatory remarks in order to gain grass roots supports but it is irresponsible and very clearly deadly. And if we can’t see that, the problem is bigger than we can imagine.

Victor Frankenstein’s monster ultimately destroys all that he cares for and all that he cherishes. The beast will ultimately murder the love of his life and will taunt him with her corpse. We in South Africa need to stop our monster before it does the same. We need to fight back the beast of racism, we need to keep our language responsible. But mostly we need to ensure that we never again create something that can destroy everything we value.

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