Merit Would Reduce Racist Outbursts

In attributing the increase in racial outbursts to the use of social media platforms, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) ignores a critical factor that provokes racism (Mercury, December 11).

Racial prejudices lurk in all population groups, whether by nature or nurture. In finding that racist remarks emanate particularly from whites, the HRC ascribes that tendency to what it calls “the spectre of apartheid.” Although that may be part of the cause, it is not the sole cause.

What needs to be considered is the context of the structures and strictures within which white people find themselves today. In that demographic representivity is prioritised at all levels of employment, promotion and procurement, notwithstanding claims of non-racialism, society has been re-racialised.  Skin colour has replaced proficiency as the key criterion in job occupation.

RW Johnson observed in his book How long can South Africa survive? (2nd edition, p. 241) that the gross incompetence and inefficiency encountered in daily life as a result of people occupying positions for which they are neither capable nor qualified is fuelling racist comments. The negative image which accrues, as a result, provides sustenance for racist mindsets.

Much of that could be remedied by the implementation of merit as the only criterion in all employment aspects. Greater proficiency would engender a more positive image and, therefore, act as a deterrent against hurtful racial remarks about other population groups. As the 2019 election approaches, it is significant that only the Freedom Front Plus is bold enough to espouse merit as one of its key principles.

Sent into The Mercury and published, 14 December 2018.

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