Dan Roodt, American Renaissance, March 5, 2005
Dear American Renaissance readers,
Up to now I have been defending myself quite well against the charge that I am an “intellectual racist” in the Afrikaans media, especially in Die Burger in Cape Town where the story has been running for 10 days now. It now seems to be spilling over into the English-language press, especially the Independent Newspaper Group (The Johannesburg Star, Pretoria News, Cape Times and Cape Argus).
Below is another attack on me by a left-wing Afrikaner journalist, Max du Preez, who writes in his column in The Star that I am a “white supremacist.” This column was published on Thursday March 3 in The Star, Cape Times and Pretoria News. It might even have been published in another paper in Natal, but I will keep looking. If you wish to help me, please write letters to especially The Star and the Cape Times, but also Pretoria News. See below for the e-mail addresses and other contact information for the letters columns of these newspapers. I would like to publish all letters, even those that do not get published by the papers, on our website here so that everyone can read them. If people could “cc” me to [email protected] when they write a letter, then I could monitor to see if it gets published and after a few days post it on the internet.
If this gets handled right, the current debate could become a major breakthrough in the discussion on race and crime in this country and world-wide.
Max du Preez, The Star (Johannesburg), March 3, 2005
Can it be seen as censorship or a denial of the right to free speech if someone with deeply offensive views on racial issues is denied a prestigious public forum to further disseminate those views?
That is the question raised in a heated debate around a right-wing extremist’s invitation to speak at a Stellenbosch University festival.
The debate, which also stimulated the question of what hate speech really means, is raging in Afrikaner circles and has led to harsh judgments and insults being bandied about.
The majority of participants in the debate seem to believe the principle of free speech overrides all other considerations.
In my own view it has shown how many white South Africans either have a shallow understanding of the true spirit of our new democracy, or are indeed parading aspects of the constitution to camouflage their dissatisfaction with our new order — in the same way they embrace non-racialism in order to attack affirmative action.
Unfortunately the debate has not been featured much outside the Afrikaans media, although it is an important issue for all South Africans to reflect on.
The debate started when a handful of progressive academics at Stellenbosch protested at the invitation to the right wing Afrikaner activist Dan Roodt — in America he would be referred to as a white supremacist — to talk about his recent book “and his life philosophies” at the prestigious Word Festival to be held on March 12.
Roodt is a prolific writer of letters to newspapers and organisers of protest meetings. He publishes Afrikaans books and runs an obnoxious website and chatroom.
But unlike the stereotype of bearded right-wing loudmouths with their khaki clothes and love of brandy and Coke, he wears designer suits, lives on an expensive golf estate and loves to quote French philosophers. He sees himself as an intellectual.
The most recent product of Roodt’s poisonous pen is a document he circulated all over the world and presented for publication overseas, called Adapt and Die.
It paints a bleak picture of rampant crime in South Africa and concludes that it is virtually an entirely black phenomenon — few whites, if any, ever commit violent crimes, Roodt says.
Roodt explains this phenomenon by arguing that blacks are genetically programmed to commit violent crime. Apartheid cannot be blamed, because the situation is the same in the rest of Africa and among black Americans.
“There is a whole nature/nurture debate around black violence,” Roodt says, clearly siding with the “nature” side. Research has shown that black American men have higher levels of testosterone than their white counterparts, he maintains, linking it to their greater propensity for violent crime.
I was drawn into a debate with Roodt last Friday on Radio 702/Cape Talk. He threw in another argument to support his view about blacks and crime: a friend of his had told him that one of his black workers had told him that when a black man kills another human being or an animal, he does it with excessive violence in order to please the ancestors.
I was also invited to speak at the university’s Word Festival. After I heard this offensive drivel and when I realised Roodt was also going to be speaking, I informed the organisers of the festival that I was withdrawing out of protest against his participation.
I would fight for everybody’s right to free speech, including even the lunatic fringe, I said, but I thought it wrong for Stellenbosch to supply a man like Roodt with a prestigious public forum from which he could further distribute his hate speech.
It gives him a respectability he does not deserve. There is no intelligent debate here; we have dealt with these kinds of arguments during the reign of the Nazis and with the ideologues of apartheid and the likes of Eugène Terre’Blanche.
It would be like a Berlin university inviting a neo-Nazi so they could debate whether Jews are really an evil race.
I was vilified in a torrent of letters. I was called intolerant, betraying my own record of fighting for free speech, a sickening liberal and other nasty things.
The Stellenbosch protesters were harassed and insulted. Even the Cape Afrikaans newspaper, Die Burger, while criticising Roodt’s views, stated that “the democratic idea and freedom of speech” determined that Roodt could not be silenced at the festival.
Several prominent Afrikaans writers and even a previous head of the apartheid-era SABC board joined in the chorus of indignation that anyone could protest against the invitation extended to Roodt.
I wonder what these people’s reaction would have been if the invitee were a black person trying to prove that Afrikaners were genetically programmed to be backward and racist.
If those in favour of Roodt’s participation believe entertaining views insulting the majority of our citizens is “normal” and that this is an issue of free speech, they should not be surprised that there is still such a strong residual resentment of Afrikaans and Afrikaners.
Max du Preez, as well as Stellenbosch academics Annie Gagiano (née Van Huyssteen) and Yvonne Malan, wish to impose censorship in South Africa. Karl Marx said that history repeats itself, but as farce, and for once I am in accord with the Red Saint.
Du Preez and the “dames van weleer” as my fellow authors Haasbroek, De Vries and Weideman have dubbed them, are living in an ideological time-warp, thinking that they could impose Soviet Gulag-style witch-hunts and show trials on Stellenbosch University.
For the Braam Fischer fan club at Stellenbosch, it suffices to label someone as “racist” and “right-wing” for that person to “fall out of favour” and become a social pariah as in formerly totalitarian societies. My various friendships with East-European emigrés during the 1980s in Paris persuaded me of the errors of communism and communist-style censorship.
Max du Preez’s histrionic boycott of the Woordfees due to my presence would have been amusing, if he had not succumbed to outpourings of invective that display a singular lack of taste, such as likening me to a “masturbating monkey in a cage”.
By what colonial dichotomy may the English identity in South Africa be termed “of the left” and the Afrikaans one “of the right”? Most of our English-language culture comes from America these days, which is governed by a president commonly associated with the religious right.
As for the scurrilous epithet “racist”, it has now become the last refuge, not only of scoundrels to paraphrase Shaw, but of morons. As I have stated in my initial response to this brouhaha, the term “racist” as commonly used is semantically empty.
If questioning the murderous lawlessness of our society may be considered “racist”, then Idi Amin Dada and Papa Doc Duvalier must have been great philosophers.
Idi intones, “Da man ees rayseest.” Duh.
Also by Dan Roodt: Adapt and Die — South Africa’s New Motto.
If you write an e-mail to these newspapers, please remember to CC Dan Roodt at [email protected]
The following newspapers carried Mr. Dupreez’s article:
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