Why I write about Malema and the EFF

There has always been a bit of a problem with writing about the Economic Freedom Fighters, and that is the belief that if the media didn’t write about them they’d lose their ability to influence the masses.

The media, as the theory goes, is providing a platform to a racist demagogue who appears to have read up on how fascists have managed to seize power throughout history and figured he should have a go at that himself.

I’m reminded of the issue of de-platforming in the first world, where activists have protested, sometimes violently, against allowing figures they see as being in opposition to them to give speeches challenging ideas such as racial equality, feminism, trans rights and suchlike.

Recently The Guardian had a piece by a trans activist who spoke of her attempt to disrupt and event.

“The event still happened and people were still permitted to speak. Even if we had managed to disrupt the event, they would have just taken to Twitter or their YouTube channels to spread their ideology there. I’d even go so far to say that our attempts at protest actually made things worse. ”

You see not only did she not achieve what she set out to do, but because she was trying to censor the opposing side, their arguments went unchallenged while the trans side of the debate looked like they wanted to control what other people could say – because that’s exactly what they were doing.

Van Jones, speaking about safe spaces on college campuses, made a similar point when he said that a leftism that doesn’t allow its opponents to speak fails the second it leaves campus grounds.

I’m an atheist, and so I used to follow a lot of atheist blogs, one of them was Greta Christina, who at a point argued that the thing to remember about atheist and theist arguments is this: They’re always new to somebody.

Long discredited ideas which sounded intelligent a hundred years ago still sound intelligent today if you don’t know why they were discredited, and “they’re Nazi” doesn’t do that.

It just applies a label to an idea, much as claiming something is “socialist” is meaningless. The Nazis were amongst the first to oppose smoking, the socialists opposed apartheid, it isn’t automatically wrong because it fits a given label.

With the EFF peddling discredited leftwing ideas – its the same story. The media could have a blacklist style shutdown, engaging in a South African McCarthyism where people who have objectionable views are simply not reported on.

But social media exists, Youtube exists. If you censor those word-of-mouth still exists, and simply not reporting on the EFF at their most outrageous means that their worst ideas go unchallenged.

All of the deplatforming, and protests against people being allowed to speak on campuses resulted in Donald Trump winning the US election, because he was saying what “they” didn’t want you to hear – and that is powerful. Who became president, the preferred candidate of the woke, or the enemy of the woke?

Censorship doesn’t work. Even for the bad guys, censorship doesn’t work. Robert Mugabe’s regime for decades practiced brutal censorship – and he’s now in exile in South Africa because his brutal, disgusting and despicable reign wasn’t rendered any nicer by not having people be allowed to talk about it.

In South Africa the Nationalist Party ran censorship for decades and – now they’re remembered for their crimes against humanity. Censorship did not erase the evils of Apartheid, and thus couldn’t in the end triumph against the opposition to it.

Even today censorship still is not working.

Our hate speech laws have been a complete failure. Using the k-word is illegal, and yet I still hear it being said. Calling people monkeys can get you a hundred thousand rand fine, and people still do it.

Regulation doesn’t solve the problem, we can see it doesn’t because we have the regulation, it is being enforced and the problem if anything is getting worse.

Silencing ideas only seems to make them stronger.

Silencing the EFF won’t weaken it. Part of the EFF’s push is conspiracy theories around the media, having a blacklist just lends credence to that.

They can very successfully push their own media and ideology without the news industry getting involved, and that means they can push it without anybody pushing back.

And that’s why I write about Malema and the EFF, because I think it is important that we do push back, that we look at what they’re saying and think about it so that we can see why it is wrong.

And yes people hearing crazy, incendiary and outright evil BS may come away from it feeling invigorated in their hate, they may decide that this BS is something worth voting for, and they may think that bad ideas are good.

They might, but they must have the freedom to do that if they are to have the freedom to realise that the bad ideas are indeed bad.

It is also important to remember, we all have bad ideas, often the smartest amongst us can have the worst ideas because they’re the most skilled at coming up with excuses for those bad ideas, so who really gets to decide which ideas are bad?

We have to give the people the freedom to decide that for themselves, because they will whether we like it or not and keeping something secret also means not talking about its problems.

And the EFF have a lot of problems.


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