The Book of Lamontations.

September 14, 2011

Julius Malema is not an important person by virtue of his political power. He is, rather, important by virtue of his political influence and his significance, thanks to his decision to stand up for the values of the Freedom Charter, the leftist South African intellectuals of the 1980s and the demands which the bulk of the supporters of Jacob Zuma took to Polokwane in 2007 (and left there, after those demands were edited out of the “Polokwane Resolutions” by Jacob Zuma and his corporate cronies). These things make Malema significant because of the absence of anyone else willing to stand up for such values.
It is probable that Malema is sincere in the stand which he is taking, since he has discovered that taking this stand has brought down a firestorm of vicious, hate-laden propaganda on his head, and yet he is nevertheless prepared to sustain it. Admittedly, it is possible that Malema is exploiting his public, knowing as he does that the bulk of the South African population feel sympathy for this. This does not matter; it is vastly more important that the ideas which Malema is expressing should gain a hearing.
Now we come to our learned friend Mr. Justice Lamont. He was the judge who heard the “hate speech” case brought by the white supremacist organization AfriForum against Malema regarding Malema’s singing of a struggle-era song which called for the killing of Boers and accused them of being thieves and rapists. On the face of it, this sounds like a perfectly reasonable case. There is a law against hate speech, and surely accusing Boers of being generically evil, and saying that they should be killed, sounds very much like this.
But hold on a minute. The song, as has been frequently pointed out, was aimed at encouraging people to rise up against the apartheid regime. It was, at the time, a song worthy of respect. After all, under apartheid, Boers and indeed white people generally were robbing the black people of their wealth and dignity; they were, indeed, thieves and rapists in a metaphorical sense. This is not the case now, of course, since we no longer have apartheid. So therefore it might be possible to argue that this song is a precious relic of the apartheid era and should be protected. Alternatively, it might be argued that since the apartheid era is over, it is an unfortunate aftermath of the apartheid era and deserves to be suppressed.
Perhaps one ought to take a look at the context. Malema is a member of the ANC Youth League, an organization which is, fairly obviously, opposed to racism for its own sake. (Admittedly there are some indications that Malema himself is suspicious of blacks who ape white behaviour, but that does not mean that he hates whites.) The ANCYL’s political line is that whites hold excessive economic power as a result of their domination of land, mining and finance, and that until “economic liberation” blacks will continue to lack real political power because whites will be able to buy all the political clout they need.
You may, if you like, deem this superficial analysis. Certainly, many of the ANCYL’s utterances are bombastic and facile. However, there is no doubt that the vast bulk of the companies on the JSE are dominated by whites. So are the banks. So is the commercial agricultural land. What is also undeniable is that this domination of economic activity is a product of apartheid. In other words, whites are thieves and rapists – or at best, they are the receivers of stolen goods and the willing pimps of the national economy to foreign punters.
In that case, Mr. Justice Lamont had a difficult task before him. On one hand, any decision which he took in support of AfriForum was necessarily working to the advantage of white supremacists in a society in which white supremacism commands far too much authority, not to mention power. Furthermore, any decision which he took to declare the song hate speech would inevitably run the risk of providing a precedent for the criminalization of the traditions of the anti-apartheid movement. Furthermore, any decision which he took along such lines would inevitably serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful whites who appear to control the economy, and who have devoted so much energy over the past two years to smearing and denigrating Malema and all who support the notion that the fruits of apartheid should not remain indefinitely in the hands of the whites who profited from that shameful system.
On the other hand, Mr. Justice Lamont is white, and is wealthy, and is understandably nervous of irritating rich and powerful white people, and is very probably also timid about taking a stand which might serve to support Malema, and thus earn for himself denunciation on the editorial pages and the inevitable portrayal as a judicial buffoon by Jonathan Shapiro, that graphic guardian of white South African privilege.
So, between these two extremes, lies the golden mean, which Mr. Justice Lamont took to mean that he would uncritically support AfriForum’s stand even though he acknowledged that all of its claims about the impending genocide of whites (claims which are supported by the US State Department front “Holocaust Watch”, which shrieks about how white women are incessantly raped by black Marxist youth – yes, they really do say that), and that he would encourage the criminalization of the traditions of the anti-apartheid movement, and that he would endorse the interests of wealthy and powerful whites and their smear campaigns (which he recognized in his judgement as smear campaigns, and then went along with them).
It is not surprising that a South African judge is cowardly and corrupt; it would be remarkable were he not to be so. It is also helpful that Mr. Justice Lamont was sufficiently open to make his cowardice quite clear, even if we do not know whether he was being paid to take his stand on the side of the rich and powerful, or whether he is simply intellectually incapable of taking another side, because a man in his position would never have got there were he able to see other points of view than those of the people who put him where he is today.
It is, of course, clear that it is the system which is at fault. The South African judicial system – judges, magistrates, lawyers and their hangers-on, not to mention the real culprits in the law schools – are every bit as broken and worthless as their brethren in the economic sphere. Fundamentally, our society will not flourish until the septic boil which is the judicial system is lanced.
For, it is becoming clear, the pus from this boil is the nectar which feeds the right-wing in this country. They have learned that, given the right sophistry from wealthy unelected judges and lawyers, the Constitution can be used as a tool to prise political power out of the hands of the people and put it back in the hands of wealthy unelected whites. Meanwhile, of course the ANC does nothing to reverse these situations – they naturally claim to be serving the interests of the people, but they are panting as eagerly for a bone tossed from the table of those wealthy unelected whites as anyone.
So, one by one, the voices of integrity or dissidence are silenced, and universal darkness covers all. And, tragically, this happens to the cheers of the white middle class, who are delighted to see the blacks stamped upon, so delighted that they don’t care what happens to themselves. (See Prof. De Vos’s pathetic constitutionallyspeaking blog, especially the comments section, and consider whether any of those commenters should be permitted to saw logs in the Arctic camps, or whether, as Lenin had it, they are fit only to be shot.
Or maybe bullets are too good for them, as Pol Pot might have noted . . .