One of the saddest realities of being South African is our long history of not learning.
The thing about hate on an ethnic basis, is that it is fundamentally a species of tribalism.
And just who gets to be in a given tribe is an ever shrinking population.
Take the EFF, the “Son’s of the soil” as their posters will tell you. They are a racist fascist political party that make no bones about their hatred of white people and Indians.
Their policies actually would make it impossible for a immigrant to find a place to live here, they want to ban foreigners from owning property, and ban the residential rental market.
So if you can’t own, and you can’t rent, where can you live?
And that’s the thing, it starts with the hatred of whites, it then becomes the hatred of Indians, it then becomes the hatred of black people who weren’t born here.
That isn’t something that white people created in black people, that is just what happens with people, because people aren’t really all that different.
Sadly our other political parties have jumped on the bandwagon with this issue. It is what they mean when they talk about a crackdown on our border and stamping out illegal immigration.
Politicians do this because it works. Do we think we’re really all that different to the Americans who voted for Donald Trump because they thought the Mexicans were coming to steal their jobs?
Now the thing is, you can’t ignore issues like illegal buildings and business operating out of areas where it just isn’t zoned for in order to reduce xenophobia, because the issue wouldn’t magically become better if they were South Africans doing this.
When a law is enforced unevenly it builds resistance, this is why the SAHRC’s ruling on Julius Malema’s genocide comments fueled racism.
You cannot say simply calling somebody a nasty name is hate speech yet saying a population group should be grateful that you aren’t calling for genocide yet isn’t.
A big chunk of our problem in South Africa isn’t immigrants, it is corruption within our society, and our inability to work towards the common good. In an economic and power crisis, we shouldn’t have unions threatening to shut down the country.
At the same time, we shouldn’t have our financial maestros fiddling with our currency, we shouldn’t have a situation where our ruling party and our biggest companies are teaming up to loot the public purse, because all of this comes back on itself.
The same people who complain about crime, don’t want to pay the taxes required to catch the criminals. The same people who complain about lack of service delivery, don’t want to pay their electric bill.
We’re all in it for ourselves, unable to see beyond our self interest to how this impacts everyone negatively, and somehow we expect the immigrant population not to follow suit.
Our state of lawlessness is not “immigrants”, its us. It is all of us, and yet it is so much easier to blame the “outsider”.
It doesn’t make any difference what colour someone’s skin is, or where they’re from, people are people and a lawless society is a lawless society for all.
In a lawful society it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you break the law you pay the penalty.
Either way how we treat the immigrant is how we ultimately treat each other.
We all have the same problems at the end of the day, yet we turn those problems into “us vs them” – the old Nationalist government was forever harping about the crimes of the Boer War in order to distract from the crimes of Apartheid, the current government harps about Apartheid to distract from the crimes of state capture.
Our xenophobic attitudes begin in our quest to exclude each other from the title “real South African” because that title only has meaning in a xenophobic context. When seek to exclude each other from being full citizens, what do you think the impact is on non-citizens?
And we do this to escape having to deal with now. Poverty is not something we need to deal with as a legacy of the past, it is something we need to deal with regardless, and the same goes for all of our other problems.
To deal with these issues we need to do something that easily said, but difficult in practice, we need to be able to treat people like people.
We need to judge ourselves on our own actions, so that we meet our own standards. If you oppose crime, why are you looting? If you oppose racism, why are you being racist?
If we all can do away with these double standards within ourselves where it is okay if we do it for this and that for some reason born out of some misbegotten idea of the past, we will find that these ‘others’ that we have been so full of scorn for, that we are made richer for their presence.
And that is a much happier way to be.