TOM EATON: White hot anger at Maimane from the one percent
'I can’t vouch for any acrimony between senior DA officials, but out on the mean streets of the Internet the backlash was real'
Mostly what it said was this: the idea of white privilege is a vicious lie cooked up by self-hating white liberals and corrupt black communists to take our stuff.
As I read these comments, each so angrily self-righteous and insular, I began to get a strange sense that I had read them before, and quite recently. And soon I realised I had.
A few months ago I was researching a column about people who believe that the Earth is flat, and I had found myself on a forum, gazing with a mix of admiration and terror, at people going to extraordinary ends to deny the most basic aspects of reality; refusing to believe what was in front of their eyeballs because it did not agree with the ideological niche in which they felt safe.
It was their tone that I was hearing now, that mad, self-pitying hubbub that gets more insistent the further it drifts from reality; but instead of shouting at astronomers they were shouting at Mmusi Maimane.
When the Sunday press reported that Mmusi Maimane was facing a backlash from his party for claiming on Freedom Day that white people remain privileged in South Africa, I smelled spin. After all, Freedom Day was also the day on which Maimane claimed that some refer to him as a “mini-Mandela”, a statement that prompted the whole country to picture a homunculus version of Maimane frantically humping the leg of greatness. The DA, I thought, would be anxious to delete that image from the public consciousness, and a hastily arranged fight against shadowy racists within the party – a small minority the DA doesn’t want anyway – would be the perfect distraction.I duly went in search of evidence to back up my suspicion. I read reports in which Maimane doubled down on his position, hammering home the fact that South Africa remains grossly unequal and that white privilege is undeniable. I read denials by senior colleagues saying that the alleged backlash was really just a debate. I read posts o...