Friday, April 16, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

cognitive dissonance: contradictory mental state: a state of psychological conflict or anxiety resulting from a contradiction between a person's simultaneously held beliefs or attitudes

How many of y'all remember Apartheid in South Africa?

I wasn't even born when that heinous political system came into being in South Africa, but I was around for its final death throes. Movies like "Cry Freedom" taught me about what my brothers and sisters in South Africa were enduring, and I at least knew Nelson Mandela's name.

What I understood then, and what I understand now, is that white folks carved out a little oasis in the heart of one of the most productive regions of Africa and maintained their control of that oasis through brutality and oppression. They were aided in this practice by almost every majority white country on the planet, and their brutality was defended and excused. It was only after the use of economic pressure and non-violent tactics that this political regime was toppled and South Africa still bears the scars of that terrible time in its history.

That's what I remember and what I know.

Apparently, what I know, and what white folks in South Africa know is very, very different.

Check out the link. It goes to a story about the death of leader of the Afrikaners movement, the movement that created apartheid and used it to dominate and terrorize the black majority in South Africa. The leader was killed by two black workers at his farm, and his death has sent shock waves through the white community, which feels like it's under attack and no one is listening.

If you read the article, you'll surely notice the swastikas and Nazi salutes. You'll also notice the sentiments of the folks quoted in the article. These aggrieved white people feel like their country is being stolen from them and their lives are in danger. They feel ignored, marginalized and attacked. And they want somebody to help.

And, that's why I chose the title for this post.

See, I'm not going to try to justify cold-blooded murder. If that's what happened in this white man's death, then his murderers should be punished. They don't get to skate because this man and his ilk wronged their ancestors. An eye for a eye leaves everybody blind.

But, what I can't shake is the idea that these white folks lack the ability to truly appreciate their position. Not only are they an ethnic minority, they are an ethnic minority that continues to cling to the symbols and rhetoric from a time when they and their forefathers oppressed and brutalized the ethnic majority. And, they have the audacity to do this, and still request, no scratch that, DEMAND, that the rest of the world heed their plight and provide them succor.

As we say in my hometown, "That's pretty damn cheeky."

See, while I believe in the power of forgiveness, I'm also firmly aware of reality. I may be an idealist, but momma and daddy didn't raise no fool. In addition, I find it quite strange that people would cry out for justice, while at the same time wrapping themselves in a movement that denied justice to so many.

That's a some cognitive dissonance right there.

I'm curious to see how this whole enterprise shakes out, although I doubt we will hear much about it in America until things get truly violent. I would wager that by the time this story reaches American viewers, we will be told that white people in South Africa are the victims of a genocide by black folks, and we'll be asked to consider the story from the angle of: "Black people are just as bad as white people when they have power, and they don't run their countries nearly as well." That's usually the spin the media puts on these types of stories.

The question that won't be asked is "What do the black people of South Africa owe their white neighbors?" Or, "How much forgiveness can occur when power is still skewed and hatred is still so prevalent?"

In my mind, these white people are calling on their black neighbors to forgive them without expressing any repentance. Their support of Nazism proves that in my mind, along with their willingness to fall back on slurs and stereotypes. These white folks are not seeking a peace based on equality and mutual respect, they are asking their black neighbors to willingly subjugate themselves or risk the wrath of the rest of the white world.

I wonder when that wrath will come.


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Raving Black Lunatic