A litmus test

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If you haven’t seen the video making the headlines since yesterday, it’s probably a matter of hours before you get to do so and hear the terribly disparaging comments made by our serial blunderer, Showkutally Soodhun, towards one of the communities which make up our rainbow nation.

And, unfortunately, it’s also only a question of time before you get to hear that the matter has been referred to some entity that will make sure the ‘enquiry into the matter’ drags on until the next general election. Enquiries, you see, are brandished about for everything that the government doesn’t want to find out anything about, particularly in cases where the evidence will come back to bite them.

Then the war of downplaying the ghastly comments made will be launched starting with something to the effect that the ‘Honourable member’ did not actually mean what he said. No one in this government ever does, you see. People just talk for the sake of talking – like toddlers grappling with language.

They didn’t exactly mean what they said when they promised us two jobs each before they worked very hard towards rendering our unemployment situation worse. They did not mean what they said when they promised us equal opportunities and then embarked on an unprecedented spree of employing anyone who is close to them. And they certainly did not mean to introduce a Freedom of Information Act when parliamentary questions are either butchered by the speaker to sanitise them of anything likely to cause any embarrassment or, failing that, we receive the standard answers we have become accustomed to: “I don’t have the information”, “I am not aware” or “It’s confidential” – so much for transparency! And of course, they could not possibly have meant the once much-talked-about economic miracle, could they? 

So Soodhun, who probably knows far too much about kitchen politics to be disposed of, never meant what he said. In fact, he has the greatest respect for the community he has just run down in such a revolting way. Just as he has the greatest respect for the guy he had threatened to shoot.  

As a society, we should first denounce in the strongest possible terms a minister who uses our hard-earned public funds to discriminate against our own people. He cannot – without digging a penny out of his own pocket – decide who the social houses built with our money should go to. Also, we should guard against accepting the trivialisation of this type of racism. What we must bear in mind is that when those who are called ‘Honourable members’ resort to the worst form of prejudice, it is easy to see how hatred, bias and racism are taken from the margins into the mainstream. In so doing, the politicians making such outrageous comments are directly responsible for emboldening hate groups to come out of the shadows and encourage a culture of prejudice.

One of the most painful ways to kill someone is to continuously rob him/her of the dignity they deserve. The worst way to put an end to the hope of a whole community is by locking them up in the prison of stereotype and prejudice. The idiot in government who has just done that has no place in the National Assembly and has no right to continue to be called ‘Honourable’.  

If his revolting nonsense is tolerated, if the prime  minister fails – once more –  to immediately show the moral courage and leadership required from one who is the head of the highest (albeit usurped) office in the land, then he has no place in the National Assembly either. It is a litmus test. 

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