We almost never make it up. Promise.
27 May 2016 00:21 (South Africa)
South Africa

Op-Ed: Give Dan and Steve their own homeland. Please.

  • Rebecca Davis
    bec photo
    Rebecca Davis

    Rebecca Davis studied at Rhodes University and Oxford before working in lexicography at the Oxford English Dictionary. After deciding she’d rather make up words than define them, she returned to South Africa in 2011 to write for the Daily Maverick, which has been a magnificilious decision.  

  • South Africa
net-blankes.jpg

You might find the thought of a separatist white Afrikaner state repugnant. But, when you consider the possibility of permanently getting rid of everyone who actually wants to live in it, the idea might not be so bad. By REBECCA DAVIS.

Like many of us, I find the idea of a separatist white Afrikaner state disagreeable. I object to it mainly on the grounds that the project seems quite obviously premised on racism that its supporters have become more adept at concealing.

Though the preservation of their language remains one of the cornerstones of their stated motivation for secession, when you remind the advocates of an Afrikaner state that the majority of Afrikaans-speakers in South Africa are now black or coloured, and ask if they would be welcome there too, they start huffing and puffing about the preservation of their “Western European heritage”. NET BLANKES.

One of their poster-boys, Dan Roodt, claims to speak for Afrikaners – “the mood among Afrikaners has turned decidedly separatist”, he wrote in 2012 – but clearly does not. The political party Roodt founded before the April elections, the Front Nasionaal, succeeded in winning just over 5,000 votes.

Over the last few weeks, however, I have found myself coming round to the idea of a separatist homeland for the likes of Dan Roodt, and his bro Steve Hofmeyr, in a major way. I’m ready to start petitioning government myself.

If nothing else, establishing their long-cherished homeland might keep them too busy to launch the spurious legal challenges they seem so fond of.

In the past week, we’ve seen self-styled freedom of speech martyr Hofmeyr take out a gagging order against a puppet. To quote writer Gus Silber on Twitter, “This is the first court order involving a puppet since the Nats gave independence to Bophuthatswana”.

Hofmeyr launched the action against satirical puppet Chester Missing to prevent Chester from mentioning Hofmeyr, his sponsors or his business partners directly or indirectly. This followed a week in which Chester Missing used his Twitter account to draw attention to a statement made by Hofmeyr in which he suggested that black people brought Apartheid on themselves.

“In my books Blacks were the architects of Apartheid,” Hofmeyr tweeted, subsequently ‘clarifying’ his position in a series of tweets, including: “If other kids don’t want to play with you, it isn’t always their fault”.

It’s a particularly strange argument coming from a man who has made it his life’s mission in recent years (when not churning out sub-standard Neil Diamond covers) to draw attention to what he claims are systematic human rights abuses against white Afrikaners. If the ANC doesn’t want to play with you, Steve, is it really their fault? When the Brits herded Afrikaners into concentration camps, Steve, was it really their fault?

Such rantings could be easily dismissed as the product of too many late-night dops and ignored, were it not for the fact that so many people seemed determined to champion Hofmeyr’s right to spew his bigotry over Chester Missing’s right to call him out on it.

Freedom of expression, inconveniently, does not just protect Hofmeyr’s delusional statements, but also Chester Missing’s statements in response. Chester Missing repeatedly asked the sponsors of an Afrikaans music festival at which Hofmeyr was appearing whether they were comfortable financially supporting a man endorsing these kinds of views.

No less a figure than the head of the increasingly oddly-named Institute of Race Relations, Frans Cronje, tweeted in response: “If Steve Hofmeyr is silenced because some don’t like what he says then what is to stop the State one day silencing all unpopular voices?”

Oh, I dunno. The Constitutional Court, for one?

If Chester Missing were the Chief Justice of South Africa, or for that matter the leader of the ruling party, then perhaps Cronje’s concerns would have some legitimacy. Chester Missing is the satirical alter ego of a South African comedian.

Brad Cibane and Jacques Rossouw have both written excellent, clear responses explaining the evident contradiction here between defending Hofmeyr, and condemning Chester Missing.

If anyone is being ‘silenced’ in this situation, it is quite obviously Chester Missing, who Hofmeyr has legally sought to prevent talking about him – on the grounds that Chester’s opinions about Hofmeyr constitute ‘hate speech’.

It is apparently ‘hate speech’ to call out a rich and powerful celebrity on publically questioning the injustice of Apartheid. But publically questioning the injustice of Apartheid should apparently be treated as a harm-free philosophical musing. Go figure, as Steve would say.

Let us turn now to Steve’s BFF Dan Roodt, the gentleman scholar of the Afrikaner right-wing.

Four years ago, Roodt was unfortunate enough to be captured on camera by US satirical TV programme The Daily Show, espousing all manner of racist views, in a segment filmed by John Oliver during the 2010 World Cup. When I say ‘unfortunate enough’, I mean ‘unfortunate enough to be so naïve that Roodt did not realise the entire thing was a stitch-up aimed at exposing the absurdity of his racist worldview’.

Roodt voluntarily submitted to be interviewed on camera by Oliver, and was filmed saying, among other things: “Black men have 20% more testosterone than white men… ethnic differences in IQ… Obama is not much of an American because he’s partly African… 99.9% of all crime is committed by young black men… I was served at the bank by an ‘affirmative’, meaning that it was a black person…”

It constitutes, to quote Oliver, “some of the finest examples of vintage bigotry”. Roodt, unwittingly egged on by Oliver, concludes by expressing his disbelief that black South Africans are so ungrateful that they have never thanked white South Africans for Apartheid.

It is, frankly, both chilling and hilarious, and if you haven’t seen it you should watch it now.

Be aware before you click that ‘play’ button, though, that Roodt might sue you.

I hadn’t seen the clip until recently, and when I shared it on Twitter, Dan Roodt came after me to demand my address. When I asked why he wanted it, he replied that he “might just cite [me] with those Daily Show idiots when I claim from them. Just not sure if R100m or R1bn”.

Dan Roodt is apparently considering suing the Daily Show for “slander”, because they had the temerity to film him voluntarily appearing on camera speaking his own heartfelt words of racism. Suing them for – and you have to say this in a Dr Evil voice – one billion rand.

Maybe Dan thinks that when he gets his R1 billion payday, he can be done with all this lobbying-government-for-a-homeland kak and just buy his own island. Where he and his lily-white pals can sit around while Steve gently strums Die Stem, and talk about how lekker it is to not have to check under their beds for Communists before they go to sleep at night.

Just give them their homeland, I say. It doesn’t have to be very big. Apartheid laws reserved 13% of the country’s land for Bantustans to house the majority of the population. If we apply the same Maths to Dan’s 5000 followers, they probably only need somewhere about the size of a car park.

Let them go, so the rest of us can get on with it – and so the legal system can be freed up for all the politicians taking each other to court. DM

  • Rebecca Davis
    bec photo
    Rebecca Davis

    Rebecca Davis studied at Rhodes University and Oxford before working in lexicography at the Oxford English Dictionary. After deciding she’d rather make up words than define them, she returned to South Africa in 2011 to write for the Daily Maverick, which has been a magnificilious decision.  

  • South Africa

Get overnight news and latest Daily Maverick articles

Daily Maverick has temporarily suspended comments on the site. Until the interwebs figures out a better way to deal with the naughty kids in the class, the space for your comments is on our Facebook page and the Twitterverse.

Alternatively, you are welcome to send a letter to the editor.