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Keepers of the Script by Ernst Roets

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Keepers of the Script

The New York Times recently published a series of articles attacking Tucker Carlson, claiming that his show “might be the most racist show in the history of cable news.” The hit piece included a section on South Africa, which both Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump have dared to speak out about. According to The New York Times, to criticize the socialist ideas of the South African government, to point to state failure, and to conclude that it has an unworkable political system indicates a yearning for apartheid and an expression of neo-Nazism. They likened legitimate concern about the brutal torture and murder of thousands of farmers to white supremacy.

The truth is that, even though we are not allowed to say it, there is indeed a spectacular crisis in South Africa. More than 500,000 people have been murdered in South Africa since the alleged advent of democracy. Unemployment stands at 46.2%, according to the broad definition, which includes people who don’t want to work. 46% of South Africans receive some form of welfare, and the government boasts that the number is increasing. About 5% of the population pay more than 90% of income tax. As a result, South Africa has reached a fiscal cliff. This means that social grants, government salaries, and interest on state debt now takes up 100% of tax income. 

Finally, there are 125 race laws in South Africa. These laws categorize people according to the colour of their skin, in order to give different treatment to different racial groups.

If this is not apartheid, then what is? There is apartheid happening in South Africa, but we are not allowed to question it because it is enforced by the African National Congress (ANC). It is done in the pursuit of socialism and of a culture war that is waged not by the West, but against the West.

When the Left implements apartheid, it’s not a crime against humanity; it’s a noble cause. When you criticize it, you are labeled a racist. We have now reached a point where one is prejudiced if he is against apartheid, a Nazi if he is against government overreach, and an authoritarian if he does not want his heritage destroyed.

AfriForum did a study to quantify media bias in South Africa, particularly regarding incidents of violence on farms. The findings were quite astonishing. The single most significant variable that determines how the media responds to an incident of violence is not the race of the victim; it is the race of the perpetrator. An incident of white-on-black violence on a South African farm is reported on 16 times as often as an incident of black-on-white violence.

Why is this happening? Because there is a script. The ‘keepers of the script’ control what information is shared and how it is presented. They prescribe what we are allowed to say, what we are allowed to do, what we are allowed to think, and even who we are allowed to be. These ‘keepers’ are the journalists who seek to use media as a weapon to destroy Western heritage and to promote an abstract, utopian idea of how the world should be structured.

Their script goes something like this:

Mankind—or, rather, the human race—has been fortunate enough to survive a long history of evil and oppression committed by our ancestors—for which we are very ashamed. We have come to discover that for thousands of years, our ancestors were wrong. We are not fallible beings who have a responsibility to contribute to our communities through hard work and sacrifice. Instead, we are perfectible beings who can become whoever and whatever we want to be, not through hard work, but by destroying what our ancestors built and held dear. 

We cannot succumb to this false dichotomy that tells us if we oppose socialism and their vision, we are the enemies of the oppressed, that if we wish to preserve our culture and heritage, we are extremists, or that if we express concern about what is happening in South Africa, we are calling for a return to the apartheid. It is nonsense. It stifles constructive discussion and progress in the real sense of the word. 

So, what can be done? Conservatives must recognize that it is not the critic who counts. A man who stops to throw stones at every dog that barks will never reach his destination. And we do have a destination to reach. It is, as Cicero said, to preserve for our descendants those great and good things that we have inherited from our ancestors. Or, as the Afrikaner hero Paul Kruger once said: Search in your past for what is good and beautiful. Build your future from there. 

In the pursuit of this goal, there are four important lessons to learn from socialist South Africa.

First, rationalism is overrated. A lamb can point out every logical fallacy in a wolf’s argument, but that will not prevent the wolf from devouring the lamb. Even if the lamb—out of fear of being eaten—claims to identify as a shrub, the wolf will simply identify as a vegetarian. We must have the best arguments, but our actions are even more important than our arguments.

Second, while politics and ideas are important, there is something even more vital and severely underestimated: culture. Thomas Sowell said that even though oppression and discrimination can have destructive consequences, the question of whether a community will prosper depends not nearly as much on the way that a group is treated by others, as on the culture within that group. He found that society cannot flourish through politics without culture. Complaints of oppression and discrimination do not help communities. Work, skill development, and financial savvy bring flourishment. This is not only true for those who falsely accuse conservatives of oppression; it is also important to remember for those conservatives who feel discriminated against.

The third lesson follows from the second. The future will never be sustainably secured through dependence on the state. Conservatives can spend all our energy building a strong state, only to find that it can turn against us. Therefore, as Tocqueville already concluded, the answer lies in community and institutions. A people cannot flourish with the state if they don’t have strong institutions, but a people can flourish without the state if they have strong institutions. 

Finally, the way forward is through the past. Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems. Attempting to achieve progress by destroying what our ancestors built is not only disrespectful, it is reckless.

Conservatives should not be derailed by the ‘keepers of the script,’ the critics, and the barking dogs, or by the oikophobes who wage war on us because they wage war on themselves. Let us remain true to ourselves by remaining true to our great tradition. Let us cherish and conserve the tradition that was built by those brave men and women who came before us—who were indeed great.

Ernst Roets is Head of Policy and Action at the South African civil rights group, AfriForum and chairperson of the conservative think tank, Opinor.

This text is based on a speech delivered on May 19th at CPAC Hungary. It has been edited for length and clarity, and appears by kind permission.