Source: Financial Mail

JUSTICE MALALA: Habib, Malema and the creeping fascism of the EFF

image: JUSTICE MALALA: Habib, Malema and the creeping fascism of the EFF

Every week now, in a place in the world where the sun is setting on democracy and the idea of a free and open society, someone trots out the famous confessional by German Lutheran pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller. The 1946 quotation is worth repeating here because danger abounds in SA today:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me — and there was no-one left to speak for me.”

They are going for professor Adam Habib, one of SA’s outstanding intellectuals and a true patriot. In case you do not know who Habib is, dear reader, he is the vice-chancellor who stood up against violence and fascism at Wits University over the past few years while displaying extraordinary leadership in trying to resolve the very real and urgent issue of student funding in tertiary institutions.

A clique of students at Wits did not just fight for the #FeesMustFall cause — they stoked violence and promoted race-baiting. They were largely influenced by and espoused the fascist ideology of the EFF and its leaders.

After saving Wits from collapse Habib was head-hunted to lead University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS). He started there in January. Last week, in a virtual meeting with students, one of the participants questioned SOAS’s responsiveness to anti-black racism and said a staff member had used the N-word without consequences.

Habib responded: “If someone used the word ‘n*****’ against another staff member, then it would violate our policy and action would be taken.”

Habib was not using the word gratuitously. He was using it to indicate that action would be taken against the staff member accused of using it to injure and denigrate another. Yet, to a certain grouping aligned with the politics of the EFF, this meant Habib should be fired because he is racist.

It didn’t matter that this man, Habib, who stood up against racism throughout his academic and student career in SA, was promising punishment for use of this insult.

One of the students taking part in the webinar said: “You’re not a black man, you cannot use that word. You have not faced the trauma and oppression of black bodies what we go through 24/7 for the last 500 years. You do not embody our history so therefore you cannot use the word.”

Habib is of Indian descent. In SA he faced the same oppressive laws that I faced as a child.

Now we are told he is not black? We are also told that he has “not faced the trauma and oppression of black bodies, what we go through 24/7 for the last 500 years”. Wow. Wow.

It would all be laughable if it were not so dangerous. As soon as the story broke, the EFF in SA called for action against Habib (who had, in the meantime, apologised about using the word, making the point that “context matters”).

At the same time, the EFF was waging war against journalists from the independent television channel eNCA. EFF MP Naledi Chirwa tweeted to an eNCA journalist who had been reporting on the student protests at Wits: “So stay away from EFF events. You can come in your own capacity to pledge solidarity but not under the banner of the eNCA. Don’t harass EFF student command students. Don’t intimidate them. Don’t engage them. Respect their rights.”

What? SA is a free country. It doesn’t belong to the EFF. The party has no right to stop a journalist from doing her job.

This is the fascism that is running rampant in the land. It must not be allowed to flourish. If Habib is removed from his job because of the manufactured outrage of the EFF and its ilk then it is curtains for us. Next it will be journalists.

Then it will be you.

A textbook study of ‘cancel culture’: Helen Zille weighs in on outrage over Adam Habib and the N-word

Unathi NkanjeniReporter 16 March 2021 – 11:24Helen Zille has weighed in on the Adam Habib N-word saga. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille says the outrage faced by former Wits University vice-chancellor Adam Habib for his use of the N-word is a textbook study of “cancel culture”.

At the weekend, Habib came under fire after he used the N-word during a video call with students at the University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS). 

Zille said Habib expressed “amazement that his words were decontextualised” and his apology ignored.

“These are two of the standard tactics of cancel culture. The first tactic is to take the ‘offending act’ out of its context, to make it seem as egregious as possible,” said Zille.

“The next is to reject the apology out of hand. Indeed, an apology often makes things worse because it is (mis)interpreted as ‘proof’ of the seriousness of the offence.”

Zille compared the outrage Habib faced to that of the British royal family, after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.  

“Public ‘cancellings’ and ‘shamings’ are coming thick and fast these days,” she said.

The viral N-word incident took place during an online meeting with students who were complaining about lecturers using the word. Habib was heard saying that he comes “from a part of the world where we use the word”. 

One black student who was part of the meeting told Habib he had no right to use the word.

“You are not a black man, you cannot use the word, regardless of your lived experience,” he told Habib, who is the director of SOAS. “You have not faced the trauma and the oppression of black bodies, what we go through 24/7 for the last 500 years.”

In an attempt to apologise, Habib said he came from “a part of the world where when someone uses it, context matters”.

This then sparked outrage online, with students and the philosophers’ society at SOAS calling for Habib to be fired. The EFF also slammed Habib, saying he should be removed from his position because he “exhibited extreme bigotry”.Adam Habib and the N-word: a wrap of what happenedFormer Wits University vice-chancellor Adam Habib has come under fire after he used the N-word during a video call with students at the University of …NEWS2 days ago

A petition circulating publicly called for the removal, resignation and/or dismissal of Habib within 31 days.

Speaking to Sunday Times, Habib said the meetings purpose was to discuss problems at SOAS, and he was challenged about a staff member who had allegedly used the slur.

He said his use of the N-word had no “malevolent intention”, adding: “It has become quite a controversy, in part because some student leaders have mobilised around it and some SA actors have got involved in it”.

In a Twitter thread, he also claimed the viral video was deliberately cropped in a way to misrepresent his comments.

“Do I think I did something wrong? No, for reasons I explained above. However, I did apologise because some individuals felt offended, and it was the right thing to do. Did it make a difference? No, because some focus on the politics of spectacle. These are my final words on the issue,” he said.