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The Jewish Report Editorial

Do we ignore the devil and hope he will go away?

  • Peta low
When I first read Andile Mngxitama’s anti-Semitic tweet, it got stuck in my throat. I couldn’t actually read it aloud without feeling like I was going to be sick. What kind of person would consider that using the bodies of human beings to create lampshades and soap was anything but abhorrent?
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Aug 31, 2017

My first thought was that he couldn’t be serious and was going to apologise profusely, explaining that he meant something completely different or he was out of his head on alcohol or drugs (not that that is an acceptable excuse).

But no, not this person… Instead he proudly attempts to justify his tweet with words that were just as demeaning and horrifying. Who is this person? What is he thinking?

Of course, our intrepid investigative journalist gets on her horse to find out. And she then has a hideous, sullying experience with this person.

I contacted a former extremely well-respected colleague - who has had his own horrible experiences with this person - to find out if he would speak to us. His response was simply: “Peta, if you don’t mind, I’d rather not. He thrives on publicity. Don’t give him any.”

This had me thinking: Do we ignore him? Do we make as if his comments are just ridiculous rantings of a madman and still ignore him? Or do we tell our community what happened and do our best to paint a picture of who this person is and why on earth he would do such a hateful and racist thing?

After a fitful night, I was resolute that we don’t turn the other cheek. He may well thrive on negative publicity because it is better than no publicity. It also fuels his ego and ensures that people know his name.

I understand that he probably enjoys the fact that we are furious, indignant and outraged and he continues to want to lash out and hurt us. He clearly enjoys angering people. It gives him a sense of power and strength - albeit borne out of ignorance and anger rather than wisdom and education. In this, I am not calling him uneducated per se, only uneducated in the horrors of the Holocaust.

My belief is that if he had even the slightest understanding of what happened, even he would not be able to write these things. Maybe I am wrong… Maybe he is simply a despicable human being!

As Jews, we don't have a choice but to fight this… We have to stop people from believing they can just vomit out this venom at us and we will just take it.

First off, it is against the law to utter hate speech and this is so clearly racist hate speech. So, someone like this should be stopped by the authorities, but I don’t see anyone in authority taking a stand against him.

That is, other than our own Board of Deputies. They were quick off the mark and I believe they will stop at nothing to get him to back down and apologise. And so they must!

My only question is: To what end? I can’t help but think about Cosatu’s Bongani Masuku who at the end of June was ordered by the Equality Court to apologise for his hate speech against us. It took nine years to get a court of law to order this and has he apologised? Has he even shown a move in that direction? Not a chance!

So, if we go down this same path with this person, whose utterances were diabolical, will we get a different result? Is it worth it? Yes, we cannot sit by and watch while someone of this ilk does his best to denigrate us.

So, I understand that this person - who may only have a handful of followers - may well be on the lowest rung of the Gupta payroll. He may well have had his 15 seconds of fame before disappearing into oblivion, but we still need to do our best to tell you as much as we can about the kind of person who would stoop to this unconscionable level.

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

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