LETTER FROM THE DM168 EDITOR
The pockets of hope and compassion amid the inhumanity stalking the world
It’s not just about the shocking lack of humanity and fairness in comments about the Israel-Gaza war; this brutishness and malevolence is far more pervasive than we’d like to believe.
Dear DM168 readers,
In the late 1990s a senior journalist – a white woman – in the newsroom wrote a series of stories about what it was like to live in a township. She rented a room in a black family’s home in Umlazi, Durban, at a time when people of colour were starting to buy homes in previously white areas and quiet, leafy suburbs became tense places.
The stories were widely read. They highlighted that we’re all the same and that we have the same existential angst: we worry about our jobs, our families, the safety of our loved ones, the future of the country.
After a few months, when the series ended, we asked her what the most important lesson was. She said it was about jobs, adding that she would try to employ as many people as she could because nothing was more important in a previously neglected township than employment.
Make of that what you will, but the message about creating jobs and the overarching need to involve more people in the economy, particularly those who were systematically excluded, is undeniable.
What struck me about that series of stories, however, was how some people seemed purposefully ignorant of the fact that we’re all the same and that, intrinsically, no one life is more valuable than another. But when you look at the state of the world today, and what people are saying about the various global conflicts, it becomes obvious that a lot of people don’t see their fellow humans as equals.
The heartless comments about the women, children, aid workers, medical personnel and journalists in Gaza being killed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are a case a point. Even regarding stories that criticise Hamas’ attack, in which the group killed 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped 240 people, commenters refuse to acknowledge that the retaliatory slaughter of at least 14,850 people in Gaza is inhumane. And that is cause for concern.
But it’s not just about the shocking lack of humanity and fairness in comments about the Israel-Gaza war; this brutishness and malevolence is far more pervasive than we’d like to believe.
The Marvels, a seemingly harmless movie about superheroes, has been the target of a sophisticated campaign of hate because the protagonists are not just women, but include a black woman and a Muslim woman, and – shock, horror! – the director is a black woman too.
I know, I can’t believe I’m writing about this either. But here we are in a world in which thousands of men feel so threatened by the odd movie that features superheroes with vaginas that they flooded social media with bad reviews months before the movie was released. And when it didn’t earn much during its opening weekend, they celebrated like mamparas marvelling at setting a house on fire, completely oblivious to the fact that it’s their own house burning down.
And those saying that The Marvels isn’t a good movie are being disingenuous. I have a youngish nephew and I’ve watched all the Marvel movies. This one is in the top 10 because it’s good comic-book fun with sharp dialogue, properly choreographed fight scenes and a lot of heart.
Even Stephen King, who is not a fan of Marvel movies, weighed in on the ridiculous hate campaign, tweeting that the celebration of the movie’s poor ticket sales was “very unpleasant” and “Some of the rejection of The Marvels may be adolescent fanboy hate. You know, ‘Yuck! GIRLS’.”
In this week’s DM168 edition
Thankfully, there are still many men and women in this country who are compassionate and kind, and we feature some of them in this week’s DM168. Read about varsity funding from philanthropists increasing to R2.3-billion (page 6), how members of the Delft community are winning awards for taking safety into their own hands (page 7), how a dedicated ranger on the Garden Route protects animals and plants (page 13), and how an investor has brought his plan to fruition to provide Wi-Fi in townships (page 42).
Our lead story this week is about former Eskom interim CEO Matshela Koko being let off the hook – temporarily – after the R2.2-billion Kusile corruption case was struck off the roll following the NPA’s request for yet another postponement. The story, by Dianne Hawker, also looks at the resource challenge at the NPA.
For the record, I believe firmly in Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, but I do not believe in Israel’s right to murder thousands of innocent people, and to target journalists and aid workers specifically. To date, about 200 aid workers and 53 media workers have been killed in Gaza. And no, these are not just casualties of war. There are credible reports about the IDF targeting journalists and aid workers.
To ensure there is no confusion, we need to say over and over that what Hamas did on 7 October and continues to do is utterly reprehensible, and there can be no path to peace with Hamas representing the Palestinian people and, equally, there can be no peace with Israel continuing to subjugate the Palestinians while claiming more of their territory.
Yours in defence of truth and humanity,
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.