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Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective. Winner: Best Political Blog 2012.

Tag: Race

Absolute South Africa


CriticismFEATURE: In many ways South Africa is a land of absolutes. We have come to talk in extremes. It is a kind of fundamentalism. The Trevor Manuel, Jacob Zuma exchange – about whether or not we can blame apartheid for our current condition – is a case in point. It is, ultimately, a false choice. Some things can be blamed on apartheid, others not. But that kind of nuance often seems lost on us and, as a result, reason has suffered a cruel blow. In its place, ignorance is entrenching its grip on our debate.

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Biko’s archetype: Are you a ‘real black’?


InsidePoliticsFEATURE: We are currently involved, as ever, in an intense discussion about identity. On the one hand we have a series of prejudiced comments about sexual orientation (Mulholland), race (Schutte), culture and gender (Zuma); on the other, the various responses to them. But such debates are nothing new, especially when it comes to race and culture. The debate addressing what it is to be a ‘real black’ or ‘African’, for example, is far older than South Africa’s new democracy. And so it is worth returning to its origins. In the article below I look at the writings of one of the key thinkers behind Black Consciousness – Steve Biko – and his views on the subject, before concluding they are no different from or less problematic than those more recent comments about which so many are rightfully outraged.

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Cricket SA: The long shadow of Thabo Mbeki


ExcellenceFEATURE: Cricket South Africa has recently announced it will appointing a new national selector not on merit, but on their race: they must be black. Not only are quotas anathema to professional sport in general and excellence in particular but, for the most part, South African sport seems to have moved beyond demographic representivity; at least, that is what the Minister says. But CSA seems trapped in the past and, with that, held hostage by the antiquated thinking of Thabo Mbeki.

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Affirmative Action and academic appointments


FEATURE: In a piece focused on academic appointments, Adv Mark Oppenheimer – a DA Young Leader – looks at affirmative action in its various forms and how each relates to the idea of justice, before concluding that only equal opportunity affrimative action can be described as a truly just remedy in overcoming past injustices. Affirmative Action has been in the news lately for a number of different reasons, from UCT’s admission’s policy to the Department of Correctonal Services’ new employment equity plan. The arguments Mark addresses and disproves are important and the relationship he focuses on – between redress and justice – critical to both this issue and South Africa’s development more broadly.

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UCT Admissions: The DASO alternative


DOCUMENT: The University of Cape Town has for sometime now been the centre of much attention as a result of its race-based admissions policy. In a response to that debate, the UCT council recently established a Commission into UCT Students Admissions on the Admissions Policy and called for public submissions. What follows below is the submission from the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation at UCT, in which the case is made, rather than race-based selection, a basket of socio-economic indicators be used – an alternative approach to redress, based on equality of opportunity.

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The straw man fallacy


SERIES: South African public discourse is awash with bad logic and poor reasoning. So much so that much of it is not even identified, let alone criticised. Illogical Logic is a series designed to look at the different kinds of crooked thinking out there, to identify and understand each in turn and, hopefully, to help promote better argument. In this edition we look at the Straw Man.

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