I know this is a geek blog, but sometimes I’ve got to step into some of South Africa’s public issues (I guess there’s some lesson in here about the relationship between technology and the public sphere). So here goes…
Much of the fear Julius Malema has managed to inspire is not because of his vast intelligence or ability to provoke the masses into mindless violence; it’s that he says the craziest things which would never be uttered by any responsible public figure of any depth in post-Apartheid South Africa. He contradicts himself, by the way, first by saying
“The reality is that the majority of white people, despite the practical assurances made by our democratic Constitution and government; continue to believe that black people are out to get them. They feel threatened, but there is no basis for their insecurity.” Source: ANC Youth League website
and then by singing “Shoot the boer,” which even if he doesn’t mean it literally and is merely celebrating the history of the struggle movement (which I doubt), it gives insecure whities some basis for fear (which is why the ANC told him to stop singing it). You can’t sing “Shoot the boer” and then say, “White people shouldn’t believe that black people are out to get them.”
One reason Malema seems to have power is the massive exposure our local media gives him. It’s come to the point where they’re not merely objectively reporting on Malema, they’re actually encouraging the madness he encourages. And so we should ignore Julius, which is what the rest of this post is about, posted on many other South African blogs.
Julius Malema has exploded into political… prominence… by making himself hard to ignore. Inheriting a platform that drew attention to the accidental outrages he tripped into, he quickly learned to stoke outrage and roar back at any responses he provoked. For the media, trying to gauge the state of the nation’s health from moment to moment, this makes him a much more attractive candidate than the business-as-usual official announcements of the ruling party proper. But Malema’s sound and fury signify nothing, and his disproportionate voice in South Africa’s public conversation is only hurting our ability to speak to one another, and to speak sense when we do. We think it’s time to ignore Julius, and invite you to join us.
For the week of 7-14 April 2010, we undertake to talk about this country, its challenges, its promise, its news, and to ignore Julius while doing so. Join us in this initiative. If you blog, join the roll. If you Tweet, add the hashtag #ignoreJulius to your daily output. However you communicate, take a week off from Julius.
Here is the list of blogs that are participating in this initiative: