A rainbow nation full of unwitting racists and their unwitting victims
Last week, as controversy raged over the supposed racial incident on one of the Clifton Beaches in Cape Town, a former student of what is now the University of Johannesburg (UJ) wrote in glowing terms of a return visit to his old campus, previously Rand Afrikaans University (RAU). Chris Brink, describing himself as the "CBE emeritus vice chancellor of Newcastle University" in the United Kingdom, said on Daily Maverick that he had returned after nearly 50 years with "a certain measure of trepidation".
Evidently, he need not have worried, even though students on this campus indulged themselves in R100 million worth of arson back in May 2016. Professor Brink walked around only to discover that "there was something about Nelson Mandela's rainbow nation noticeable in the air, with a touch of cosmopolitan" (sic). Recalling that the first rector of RAU, Gerrit Viljoen, had once been head of the Broederbond, he asked, "Who would have thought that the old RAU, of all places, would become a microcosm of post-apartheid South Africa?"
Who indeed? Professor Brink's happy experience nevertheless confirms those of millions of other South Africans. It also chimes with surveys by the Institute of Race Relations. Dating back to 2001, these show that most people of all races are more worried about problems such as unemployment and crime that about race relations.
However, I have got news for Professor Brink. The whites are all racists without knowing it, and the blacks are all victims without knowing it. That, in a nutshell, is the ideology being peddled by a substantial number of academics, journalists, and members of various lobby groups.
White racism, in this ideology, does not need to take the form of overt behaviour. This is because "the superiority of whiteness is woven into the fabric of society". Adam Catzavelos's gleeful remarks last year about the absence of blacks on Greek beaches were merely a violent manifestation of this superiority complex, which normally manifests itself in "daily micro-aggressions" emanating from the beneficiaries of "colonialism". In the view of an official of the South African Human Rights Commission, some racism may even look "harmless" – such as "seemingly innocuous complimenting of the way a black person speaks English".