I abhor racism. Always have, always will.
Interestingly, in my recent past, I, too, have been accused of racism.
A social media activist accused me of racism when I confronted him directly, cheek by jowell, over the irresponsibility of calling on consumers to boycott a growing retailer which essentially sells products that are good for us.
His small band of protesters showed no understanding of the consequences of such actions. Or if they did, they showed no concern.
At the root, the protesters were calling for boycotts of any business linked with the State of Israel. Blind with self-loathing, he accused me of racism when I enquired whether the protesters were adequately fed for their efforts. Yes, I know, but I said it on purpose. The consequences of such actions, I argued at the time, would lead to job losses at the local retailer for the very people who need it most.
And while people on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the people of Ferguson and other racially categorised ‘townships’ in South Africa go about their business of campaigning for their human rights and delivery of essential services, there is much looting of shops and small businesses. Hard-working bread winners and self-empowered foreigners who have fled worse acts of racial violence, are once more the victims.
Turning to Israel, my accuser was not prepared to understand that, I too, am against the occupation and bombing of Palestine.
My argument, though, was that large-scale boycotts of the economic state of Israel would not hurt the inventive and financially savvy Jews so famously characterised by Shakespeare in his play, The Merchant of Venice, and derided by non other than Adolf Hitler himself.
Such boycotts would hurt the Palestinians on whom the Israelis rely on for labour which in turn, admittedly, profits the Israelis. However, jobs put food on the table, and help clothe and educate the Palestinian children who have shown time and time again that they are equal to the task of empowering themselves with books and pens, rather than suicide bombing packs, kalishnikov’s and AK-47’s.
I’d much rather feed the hungry and needy than encourage resentment and still more suffering.
As a mature, warm at heart, middle-aged man, usually timid, I stood my ground in the pecking order of manners and all the things our grandmothers and fathers once taught us. Just for once, I wanted to be accorded the respect of my age. A young student, brandishing the now famous red beret of the promised revolution of fraud, theft and hatred, rather than spiritual enlightenment and economic freedom in South Africa, did not budge from our narrow path. And so we collided.
And then the expected expletives rolled from his tongue. Such words are not for dear ears, but it referred to racial categorisation and the threat of coming to get me. An empty threat to a fearless man who hates racism in any form in which it manifests itself.
The longer we remain silent, and the longer we remain ashamed of talking about it, the worse it becomes as leaders; capitalists, socialists, atheists, church leaders, Imams, Rabbi’s, activists and politicians exploit the very fears and needs that are meant to unify us rather than drive us further apart.
Down with racism.