Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Proving Ground


This weekend was far more interesting than I wanted it to be. The fact that this is becoming a something of a regular occurrence is somewhat disturbing I think. This morning I discovered that yet again, I had grounds to do an "I told you so dance" because SA's government had thumbed it's nose at SA's pink community - in effect saying to us "fuck you" because they not only ignored all our pleas to speak out against the oppressive regime in Uganda - but also appointing homophobe Jon Qwelane as its ambassador there. And it seems Jon was also sneaked into Uganda two weeks ago when JZ went there on his infamous and disgraceful state visit - while he is supposed to be in the Equality Court answering charges of hate speech and incitement to hatred and even violence against the gay community.

Be that as it may, one other interesting event took place over the weekend - the killing of well-known right wing leader Eugene Terreblanche - a 69 year old man who had been rebuilding his right wing white supremacist group, the AWB with its swastika-like symbol and Nazi ideology and structure. According to some, ET had emerged from his prison term some years ago a changed man, who no longer exhorted racist racist remarks, but simply wanted a homeland and self-determination for his "Afrikaner Volk". Personally, I know too little about the "new" Eugene Terreblanche to comment on this - but even if it is true, and ET turned over a new leaf - he still seems to be known for his more publicized racist past as the leader of the AWB - which not only still visualizes a future based on separation along racial lines - but which also still detests GLBTI people.

Somebody I know had the following to say about him:

"ET was a pshyco but no man deserves to be killed like that in his old age. (Not to say that hey didnt ask for it his whole life) I believe big trouble is coming...it being just before the world cup might be a great thing, maybe the world's eyes would open a little and they might re-think their whole "all-white-South-Africans-are-racists and all-black-people-are-poor-suppressed-victoms" ideas. The only way we'll ever get trough what trouble might be coming is to stand together against the troublemakers (all races and colours)."

I agree. Nobody, no matter how bad they may be, ever learns any lesson from dying. It doesn't teach them anything - and proves to them nothing - except that they may be convinced that they were right about the way things were - and of people they saw as their enemies all along.

Violence and death only prove such people right. This one very publicized incident alone has shown the truth of this.

Just outside of living memory, another murder sparked off a conflict that set the world ablaze with hatred and vengeance-seeking and blood-letting. One man's death resulted in the deaths of another 6 million people. Today we call this the First World War.

Now people are vowing vengeance based upon the death of this man, because they have no faith in government, no security in justice and other organs of state. No confidence in the current status quo. They have their reasons. If you feel this way, I'm sure you do too.

At such times sweeping generalizations are made - accusations fly and suddenly "all" people of one race have been viciously destroying "all" people of another. I object. I have never harmed anyone of any race - and I for one will not lay claim to being a victim of racism. I refuse to believe accusations and claims that "all" people of any one race can be "bad", "abusers of human rights" or "hostile" to me. For more than ten years I have worked in an environment where I have been among people of all races - and I know that even if all people are not close friends, we most definitely are not - and do not have to be - enemies, foes or adversaries.

In fact, as a person of diverse sexual and gender description, I have more often suffered the consequences of the actions of people of my own race than others. I too, like most people in this country have inherited the consequences of the actions of past generations, whatever their motives, whatever their beliefs. I do however, claim the right to decide for myself what I will feel, think or do - and not just to hold to whatever floats by because it is what others do or tell me to do. My fate and my future are mine to decide - and not in the hands of others.

I will not allow hate to gain any foothold in me.

Some do, and many events in the past were the inevitable result. When it could have been different.

I have often ridiculed ET and his movement, mainly because of their ideology and their pursuit of it. I have always viewed their ideology as dangerous to equality and freedom - and threatening to me and to people I care about - and also to universal freedom, equality and democracy.

I have long sought to be equal to others, and as we are rapidly learning in South Africa - dominating others is not equality.

Some people can go to great lengths to change the world to conform to their ideals of what is right and wrong. Sometimes they may even try to impose their will upon others and even do things that shock or terrify others.

While such people live, they can be convinced of other paths and other people's viewpoints - and shown they have been wrong - when dead they remain as they were, and have learned nothing - and have been proved right to themselves and others.

Right now the AWB and local community members are gathered outside a court room in Verntersdorp. Apparently racial tensions are running high. You know what I would like to see? I would like to see the local community walk up to the AWB members and stand beside them to voice their outrage at the deterioration of law and order in South Africa - where people are not safe inside their own homes - where entire communities live in fear. And I would like the people in the AWB group there to welcome them and appreciate the solidarity. We have all suffered the effects of rampant crime in this country since 1994 - not just this or that group. I would like to see people of all communities standing together. I would like that.

What defines us as being different from white racists and black racists and supremacists is not just our beliefs or principles - but also our words and our actions.

It is those of us that remain who should learn from such things - and more than just "tit-for-tat". We - all of us - ALL of us - white, black, pink, purple, English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Sepedi - whatever - should learn from this, as we should have been from all the lesser publicized crimes and cruelty in this country in the past hundred years:

Hatred begets hated, violence begets more violence - we have seen this over and over again, if not in other parts of the world, then here in SA especially - but soft words of peace and love spoken by the right people can work miracles of peace.

Who are the right people?

It has to start somewhere.

How about YOU?

We cannot speak for others. We can speak for ourselves.

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