Isaac Mogotsi writes on his nemesis in the Politicsweb comments section, Sad Days
IS CYBER SPACE THE MOST RACIST THING?
“But it’s no use now,” thought poor Alice, “to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me to make one respectable person!” Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland.
In her article of 23 January 2012 entitled ‘What is the most racist thing that has happened to you?’, the Star’s veteran journalist, Helen Grange, quotes me as saying:
“Also, I have never experienced anything like the racist rants from the bloggers to my Politicsweb articles on DA’s Lindiwe Mazibuko and Helen Zille.”
So it was with great interest that I read the SACP general secretary (GS) Blade Nzimande’s article “It’s time to confront cyber-racism”, which appeared on Politicsweb on 13 January 2015.
Nzimande should be complimented for his courage and willingness to confront this difficult issue of the intersectionality of technology and social media, on the one hand, and socio-pathologies like racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination, on the other, as well as the intentionality of cyber racists and bullies to abuse others and the cyber space afforded to them.
It is a matter that has exercised my mind, and troubled me deeply, from the day my first article appeared on Politicsweb in December 2011. Since then cyber racism and bullying against me as a Politicsweb’s occasional contributor has not just rained on me in the comment section of Politicsweb. It has poured cats and dogs.
I therefore cannot agree more with Blade Nzimande, my fellow dialectical materialist, when he states that “indeed cyber racism is rife today.”
This is so, so true.
One nevertheless hopes that Blade Nzimande would understand that many amongst South Africans would rather they did not confront the pressing challenge of cyber racism specifically, and indeed broader societal racism in general. Some amongst us seek to play ostrich when faced with this debate they find uncomfortable.
In this context, this is what The Citizen’s Martin Williams recently wrote on 10 December 2014 in that daily, under the title ‘There’s no “us” and “them”‘:
“Race, race, race – it’s being shoved down our throats. After a survey showing most South African whites don’t think apartheid was a crime against humanity, there has been an onslaught against white denialism. If you are white and you say you are not racist, you are in denial. If you are not overly racist, you are subliminally racist. If you challenge the survey, you are being defensive. No escape. The logic is circular and self-fulfilling. You can’t penetrate this shield by citing your own experience.”
It is not quite clear what Martin Williams means when he states that “…there has been an onslaught against white denialism.” What is undeniable is that there has indeed been racism denialism by some white South Africans, perhaps most infamously epitomized by Steve Hofmeyer’s offensive statement that blacks were the architects of apartheid.
Whilst Nzimande’s article correctly sets out the broad, general principles and parameters of the issue of abominable cyber bullying, racism, sexism and discrimination of all kinds, and invites us to debate the matter further, I shall confine myself to providing concrete, lived examples of how I have been subjected to unremitting cyber bullying and outright cyber racism on the comment section of Politicsweb, in reaction to many of my articles published by the esteemed online journal.
I hope that in doing so, I shall not only honor Nzimande’s timely invitation to us to engage in this important debate, but that I shall also enrich the debate further.
I do concede that I have myself in turn been called an online “racist”, in response to some of my articles and comments on Politicsweb. This for me is another, more complicated example of how cyber racists and bullies seek to cloth themselves in the hallowed gowns of cyber victimhood, whilst they are and remain cyber bullies and perpetrators of online racism, and certainly the initiators of these deplorable pathologies.
And what is more, unlike bloggers on Politicsweb’s comment section, I always posted my comments under my names, and not under the cover of nom de guerre, or some one or other anonymity.
And this is an important distinction to draw as well, in the context of discussing cyber racism and cyber bullying.
What has puzzled me no end, as my interview with the Star’s Helen Grange indicates, is why I have been subjected to cyber bullying and racism in particular by bloggers who pretend and assume that they are advancing the cause of Helen Zille’s Democratic Alliance (DA).
This is not to accuse either Helen Zille or the DA of cyber bullying and racism. Not at all. Nor is it to accuse either of hiring a rented “cyber mob” to do their dirty work online against one of their constant critics. Far it be from me to level such an accusation.
This is however my attempt to show how some who fancy and project themselves as admirers and defenders of the DA or Helen Zille allow themselves to impermissibly lapse into undisguised and misguided cyber racism and or cyber bullying, without being called to order by leaders or representatives of the DA.
This should not stand. Because, as Blade Nzimande states, “indeed cyber racism is rife today.”
At no point during the many online racist or misanthropic attacks by these racist cyber trolls on my person and articles have I seen a single instance when the DA leadership or card-carrying members join the fray to distance the party and themselves from these online racist bullies, whom at one point I was impelled by the brutality of their offensive online attacks to characterize as “the vile racist scumbags” and “drunken racist howlers” and “racist online lynch mob.”
It is obviously impossible to write here about each and every instance when I felt a victim of cyber bullying and racism on Politicsweb’s comment section.
But I shall use the example of one, anonymous, and particularly vicious “Sad Days” Politicsweb blogger, who has been a real, consistent persecutor of my Politicsweb online persona. I easily view “Sad Days”, whoever he or she is in real life, as my chief online racist tormentor by a long shot.
I shall share some of “Sad Days” online racist provocations directed at me just to affirm and underline the veracity of the general point Blade Nzimande was making in his article about the need to confront cyber racism headon. But Politicsweb’s “Sad Days” stands out as arguably the chief admirer and praise-singer of DA’s Helen Zille, occasionally in such offensive panegyrics for Helen Zille, which bother either on Helen Zille’s alter-ego or doppelganger, possibly done so to confuse Politicsweb’s readers as to the true identity of “Sad Days”, whilst painting Helen Zille in bad light.
It is “Sad Days”‘ cyber infatuation with Helen Zille, as I shall demonstrate below, which riles, whilst he/she never hesitates to raise his/her left hand to plunge a racist cyber dagger against my online person.
And this is what makes “Sad Days”‘ cyber racism and bullying particularly so dangerous, offensive and intolerable – this insistence on his/her part that he/she is the great admirer and defender of Helen Zille and the DA, under the cover afforded by cyber anonymity.
Some of the DA leader Helen Zille’s utterances and attitudes on the cyber space have not been particularly helpful themselves either, and may have unwittingly given cover, if not succor, to the kind of cyber bullying and racism that emanate from the likes of Politicsweb’s “Sad Days”. I shall also demonstrate this below.
To the best of my knowledge, Helen Zille or the DA has not once called “Sad Days” to order on the comment section of Politicsweb for such an atrocious defence of the DA and its leader, on account of his/her cyber racism and bullying.
This is the tragedy of it all.
Unless Helen Zille or the DA was playing possum at some point in the recent life of Politicsweb, which thing I think is beyond either, quite frankly.
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Published at Fri, 11 Dec 2020 02:36:00 +0000