17 June 2011

Analysing the M&G Intern blunder

I’m certainly no stranger to saying the wrong things at the wrong time and since i have somewhat of a public presence online (albeit very small) i thought it’d be a good opportunity to learn from this situation. If you have no idea what i’m talking about have a look at this article on Mail & Gaurdian.

The situation was as follows; Benji Shulman (presumably Jewish) was using Facebook to garner information on apartheid. Mail & Guardian intern Ngoako Matsha, made a comment on Benji’s post about how Israel was committing apartheid in it’s situation with Palestine (Gaza Strip). Benji dismissed that comment as “pseudo-politics” (and also ironically misspelled the word piece as “peace”). He went on to say that he needed “something that will stand up to logical argument”.

Naturally Ngoako took this as an insinuation that his comments were illogical however he took this assumption a step further and believed that this was not only a personal attack but an attack on his entire race (smacks of Julius Malema rhetoric). His closing comments were: "You racists! No wonder Hitler killed all the Jews, because you’re all a bunch of racists."

There is this notion spreading through South Africa that suspicion of racism is enough to warrant even the harshest of reactions (and get away with it). Unfortunately for Ngoako this was not the case this time round, what he said was absolutely inexcusable due to the extreme sensitivity of the topic. It’s ironic that he would react to racism with racism and also make the assumption that the eradication of racism was Hitler’s motivation. It’s a paradoxical washing machine.

This kind of thing goes on regularly on Facebook and the web as a whole, Ngoako however being a journalist, should have known better than to react in such a way. What’s worse is that he did this while under the employment of a publication trying very hard (and succeeding) in being a moralistic pillar in a South Africa filled with unethical behaviour.

Now to discuss the unattended issue in this debacle, referring to the situation in Gaza as apartheid is in my opinion an understatement. As terrible as the World War 2 atrocities were there are inexplicable acts of inhumanity going on in Palestine right now. I am absolutely dumbfounded that Ngoako is reprimanded in such a way while Benji is allowed to get away scot-free with referring to the injustices of the Israeli occupation as “pseudo-politics”.

It’s that kind of attitude that exacerbates the situation in Gaza. Benji denies the current atrocities of the Jewish state and in the same breath asks for sympathy for the Jewish people. Now i’m not trying to flare up the racist mudslinging again, i understand that Israel does not represent the Jewish people and Jews make up a large portion of the opposition to the Israeli occupation. We should certainly not forget the atrocities of the past but let’s not allow those to cloud our awareness of current atrocities.