Friday, 6 May 2016

Gareth Cliff, racism salesperson.

I tweeted about this waitress silliness and next thing I know Gareth Cliff is hating at me. So I reckoned if we saying our opinions...

The great thing about Gareth Cliff is that his ego acts like a massive force field stopping all empathy and reason from reaching him. Anyone who suggests even the slightest degree of cultural sensitivity or tactical logic is immediately branded a crazy ass social justice Marxist racial nationalist, because God forbid that in post-apartheid South Africa it be suggested white people uses a bit of fucking tact.

The Cliffster and his sycophants (he really is the only guy I know with his own lapdoctor – like a lapdog, but with an alleged medical degree), believe they are the walking truth of SA social discourse. Starting with freedom of speech. You see, none of us have a clue, just Gareth. Penny Sparrow should be allowed to call black people monkeys, duh. For Gareth being civilized isn’t a more inclusive politically nuanced society, it’s just white people saying what the fuck they like.

Or remember when Gareth Cliff backed up Rhodes, a dude who happily stole a million square miles of Africa and forced its occupants into servitude? Or when he stereotypes black accents on TV and radio? Gareth just always seems to land on a certain side of history, doesn’t he? And then we wonder where the likes of Matt Theunissen gets the idea it’s ok to be a racist doucehbag? It can’t be in some small way connected to a segment of our politically conservative white settler community’s prejudices being reinforced by arrogant wannabe intellectual celebs sneering in the face of black pain can it? “No, never, not Gareth boet, I’ve seen him hug Unathi, he’s not a racialist.”

On the other hand, in the world of Cliff, if a black person doesn’t tip a white waitress, suddenly “enough is enough”? So if a white person goes ‘black people are monkeys’, let’s be tolerant. But if a black person snarkily tells a white person to give back the land, all hell breaks lose at your radio station? Double standards are double standards.

But fair enough, let’s assume the emotionally crippled zoo animals he is getting advice from are shielding cross-racial kind thoughts from entering his brain. Surely he would intellectually engage with the great points by his fellow atheist, and actual academic, Jacques Rousseau, who in a balanced way points out various counterarguments of #tipgate: Qwabe was being a complete douche by taking out all of history on some woman just trying to get by. There is room for a more complex reply to a black nationalist being a chop than white nationalism.

The Cliff team/circus troupe seems to have framed this thing simplistically as a reply to RMF’s belligerence. And, yes, the Rhodes Must Fall / Fee Must Fall comrades can be very belligerent. In fact this situation was an amazing opportunity because a prominent RMF activist did something which most people would define as being cruel – you can’t be a feminist and be mean to a women working for you.

They could have instigated a nuanced cross-racial discussion re how we treat each other in South Africa (I saw some well meaning white people online imagining this in that frame, but oblivious to the Cliff Central discourse). They could have opened up a white discussion about how we respond to often very justifiable black anger. Basic tact and thoughtfulness, really. Instead the assholes at Cliff Central decided for a culturally oblivious anti-RMF stance and positioned this in terms of saving the white maiden in distress.

You realize RMF is black nationalist in tone (and make extremely relevant points re how Eurocentric SA in many ways still is)? You realize the opposite of black nationalism is white nationalism? White nationalism is apartheid, Nazis and Steve Hofmeyr. Chester Missing tweeted a couple of tweets taking the piss out of both Qwabe and the fundraising and he started getting white hate for days, including from international right wing groups. Because, as Gareth and clowns would know if they made even the slightest attempt to listen, you can’t dip into the white nationalist pool and not invoke racism. And before you buy their ‘we’re being bullied’ pitch, they don’t listen to reason on any platform, and only interact civilly with social media that validates them.

Of course they hid behind some black people. “But it was a black ou who started it. Why have you got to make everything about race?”, gets asked on Twitter. That’s exactly the point. This was a great place to do actual nation building, and instead their politically oblivious posturing just handed it to the bigotry brigade. Proof? There are countless examples of black people (over and above the monolith that is apartheid’s legacy) who get treated like shit in SA, people being peed on, beaten up and fired without pay – they have no fundraisers because, as Rebecca Davis points out in her Mail and Guardian piece, it takes social capital to get that kind of online mobilization by people with money. In the words of Louis CK: “If you are white and don’t admit it’s great, you’re an asshole”.

This week Gareth went on another radio rant about what he calls political correctness. Gareth thinks we should tell it like it is. Coincidentally Nick Mulgrew wrote this for the M&G online re Matt Theunissen, the K-word dude: “…Maybe he wouldn’t have empowered groups of white bigots, who now celebrate him for “telling it like it is”.” I wonder who gave Matt that idea, Gareth? Surely not a DJ whose been spouting this bullshit for over a decade?

Finally, please don’t take these opinions as final. I know I’m a douchebag, and my puppet even more so. My whole game plan (as bad as I am at it) is to discuss and build nuance… let’s be more kind. However, if I seemed a bit mean or insulting here re Gareth and the vegetable patch he calls friends, go listen to his podcast about saying what you want.