Vintage Bigotry, South African Edition

John Oliver, a “correspondent” for the comedy news show, “The Daily with Jon Stewart,” has been filing these really funny, but also very illuminating, in fact the best, pieces of journalism from the World Cup in South Africa the last few weeks. (We’ve blogged about some of his older pieces before, here.)

Last week, Oliver (and his producers) decided to focus on something else: he went in search of “race riots” or racism in South Africa. What followed was predictable and vintage Daily Show. Of course Oliver can’t “find” any race riots or any racism, as we see in the first 3 minutes of this clip.  And South Africans, who live on a rainbow cloud, fall for the joke. Oliver’s whole shtick is ridiculous delivered with snark, so we’re not surprised. The most memorable moment comes when Oliver asks researcher Mapeete Mohale (who also don’t believe South Africa has “a racism problem’), from the not-radical South African Institute of Race Relations: “What should white people have to do to fully earn your hate?” Her answer: “I think they’ve done all that they can.”

So the whole thing would be forgettable until Oliver–about 3:20 minutes into the clip–cues an interview he set up with one Dan Roodt on what appears to be a private golf estate.

Over, what Oliver describes as “the next two and a half hours” Roodt proceeds to mouth the most objectionable racist garbage and “vintage bigotry.”   This leads Oliver to conclude that what he had experienced was “… a tasting tour of some of the finest examples of bigotry.”  Roodt proceeds to opine about blacks’ alleged propensity for criminal acts, his opposition to affirmative action, and how wonderful Apartheid was for the black majority, among other things.

Now for those who don’t know Roodt. He is a white, right wing Afrikaner figure with objectionable views. However, Roodt refers to himself as an “intellectual” and wears fine cut suits. (He tried his hand at writing novels once and lived in France for a bit.) Apart from the stuff he said in the show, he also goes on about “interbreeding” between “the races.”  Occasionally Roodt will clothe his racism in ambiguity. Despite all this Roodt is taken seriously by some in South Africa’s mainstream who deem him an intellectual or enjoy his shock tactics. He regularly gets invited onto mainstream panels, is the subject of soft-ball profile articles and is provided endless newspaper column spaces and TV time to express these objectionable views. Even bloggers who should know better defend his nonsense.

More recently, he has become a regular on foreign TV news programs (particularly in The Netherlands and Belgium, I understand) and in print media stories about the alleged victimhood of white South Africans. These outlets usually let Roodt off easy.

That’s until the Oliver interview.

I found it astonishing that Roodt, who styles himself as somewhat web savvy (he runs an online magazine), appeared to have no clue who Oliver was or the point of The Daily Show.

Maybe because it is not broadcast in Afrikaans.

But that’s beside the point. The video has now gone viral. Roodt is on record now and there’s nothing sophisticated or ambiguous about the stuff he said.

UPDATE: Someone eventually updated the video:

Further Reading

Beyond the headlines

Recent violence across the Eritrean diaspora is being instrumentalized by populists. But the violence is a desperate cry for attention and requires the Eritrean opposition to seize the moment for regime change.

Action required

Held in Nairobi this month, the inaugural Africa Climate Summit is an important step for the continent’s response to climate change. Still, the disasters in Libya and Morocco underscore that rhetoric and declarations are not enough.

The strange non-death of Bantustans

That South African political parties across the spectrum were quick to venerate the politician and Zulu prince Mangosutho Buthelezi, who died last week, demonstrates that the country is still attached to Bantustan ideology.