Friday, 30 October 2009

Right and wrong

I must apologise for being somewhat remiss in my blogging of late.  Sometimes when I am doing research for a post, I come across such poison and vitriol that it makes me sick to my stomach.  Like a rabbit in the headlights or a moth to a flame however, I am drawn to read these accounts and it just saps away my blogging energy.

That happened as I was researching the Srebrenica Massacre.  It shocks me to this day that people can deny that a massacre occurred.  In July 1995, more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered and between 25,000 and 30,000 women and children were removed from the area. 

Burial of 610 identified Bosniak civilians on July 11 in 2005. killed by Serb forces during Srebrenica Genocide [Image Source]

Since the Genocide Convention was created in 1948 at the end of World War II, there have been only two events that have been deemed to have constituted genocide. Those events are Srebrenica and Rwanda. Srebrenica was the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II. People who deny that this massacre happened or who claim that it was somehow justified make me sick.  Genocide and holocaust deniers are simply poison.

Instead of linking you to the article that has me so upset, I will link you to an article about it on the excellent Srebrenica Genocide blog: Carlos Martins Branco Has No Credibility.  I also found the Wikipedia article on the massacre to be especially useful.  It is my erstwhile intention to spend some time at a future date going through the Balkan conflict.

Last weekend, I was quite pleased to get this blog onto and I dutifully clicked on the “South Africa” tag to see what I could find there.  I was sickened by the racist, white supremacist, vile and hateful blogs that I found there.  There are loads of lovely blogs about South Africa but lots of not so lovely. 


I believe that racism is a weakness.  I believe that simple-minded people find it difficult to expend the mental energy required to view people as individuals and so they view the world in generalisations.  When simple-minded people feel threatened or inevitably inadequate, I believe they resort to racist behaviour and overly aggressive behaviour.  They try to harm with words and they call people vile and insulting names to hide their own feelings of inadequacy and failure.  Unfortunately, being a coward does not necessarily imply a lack of action and all two often these people will engage in violent and equally cowardly attacks or simply spread their vitriol to anyone who will listen.

Yes, there is an extremely high crime rate in South Africa.  Yes, white people who previously treated black people like dirt are being targeted in reprisal attacks.  Yes, people who are innocent and have done nothing to warrant such attacks are being killed too.  Well, here is the thing: no matter how you coat it, the attacks don’t comply with the United Nations definition of genocide.  High crime in South Africa affects everyone.  One in two women is raped in her lifetime in South Africa but that figure is absolutely misleading.  Far, far more black women living in townships and shanty towns are raped than white women living in the plush Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg. 

These are crimes committed against the “Haves” by the “Have Nots”; crimes of opportunity and crimes against women by a patriarchal society in which women are nothing.  Drugs, alcohol and rising gangsterism play a huge part in the crime in South Africa today and the most vulnerable, marginalised people remain the biggest victims of crime.  To imagine that this is a racist issue is to deny the vast majority of crimes that are committed by people that are known to the victims, that are of the same race, community or even family. 

Crime in South Africa is out of control and I blame the criminals for that.  I also blame the government for not tackling crime, for not reducing poverty, for not creating enough jobs. 

Yes, a huge part of the reason for us leaving South Africa was the crime.  I knew four people who died of gunshots wounds inflicted to their heads but not one of those situations was the same as the others.  To generalise, to claim racism or hate crimes would be to ignore the facts and uniqueness of each of those cases.  It would have prevented resolution and understanding.  Only in applying one’s mind and in not generalising can you ever grasp what happened and what went wrong: greed and betrayal; a robbery gone wrong; inadequate control of a service weapon and the final one, the one that broke my heart, the rise of methamphetamine use and gangsterism amongst impoverished youths in the Cape. 

Perhaps it is more of the moth syndrome but I’d love to know what you think.  Even if (or especially if) you disagree with me, tell me about it.  Tell me how you feel and why you feel that way.  You can answer anonymously but it would be great if you could let me know who you are and if you’re a blogger too.



  1. Well said. It's the criminals who commit crimes, and the excuses are never reasons. There is no reason for genocide, or rape, or any crime. And until people are empowered to live with reason and morality, nothing will change. And no-one can empower another person, it must come from within. People must realise there is a better way to live, that does not depend on hurting others.

  2. Racism is not fully gone. Though, not as obvious as before it still does exist in a subtle way. And sometimes; similar to the blogs you came across, racists transform the world we stay in into a mine field.

    I've read a little about Africa, not much. Kids at the age of 4 being raped shocked me! One child I read about was left to bleed leading to a hemorrhage! It is deeply saddening. A friend of mine also left Africa due to the increasing crime rate, lack of security for the citizens etc. All the more I wanna visit the place :)

    Is it the government, Is is the people, is there something else that I might have overlooked? Why is it that Africa finds it so difficult to recover from its crisis?

    Great post. Learnt alot :)


  3. This is an excellent post and i wholeheartedly agree.

  4. Hi guys, thanks for your comments!

    @ Jan: I like that: "excuses are never reasons". Nicely put.

    @ Usha: Thanks for your comment Usha - it gave me lots to think about!

    I think there are certain communities where racism is less (I heard a New Zealander say it was almost non-existant as they had a multi-cultural community). But I think racism is far from a thing of the past.

    I think when trying to understand Africa, per se it is important to remember that it is a very large continent so it is often more helpful to deal with it on a regional basis. Just like Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand are completely diffierent countries and it is less helpful to think of "Asia", so too is it less helpful to speak of "Africa" but better to concentrate on the individual countries within Africa.

    With respect to child and baby rape. It happens in America and England too. When I was living in South Africa, I thought it was just us but it isn't. I follow a lot of crime blogs and it happens with sickening frequency in the first world too. The story usually goes that a mother leaves her baby with a drunk or high boyfriend and the next thing she knows her baby is hemorrhaging. It is appalling and I can't get my head around what could make someone attack a child so young.

    @ ...mmm...: Thank you!


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