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Incoming – white male Afrikaner’s opinion! If that’s gonna be a problem, don’t waste your time continuing with the article.

‘Doekgate’ has returned to the South African scene with greater outrage than the previous episode. Now children – small, gullible, impressionable children – are marching at the very front of a quasi-cultural Marxist movement which feeds off of the pretense of offense, but is fully intended to vest more power in the hands of the State.

I won’t concern myself too much with the circumstances of this specific case at Pretoria Girls High School, because that would mean I have to entertain the premise upon which the false outrage is based. Instead, I will provide some general thoughts about how to approach situations such as these.

Do Not Be Distracted

The Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, is potentially facing criminal charges, state-owned enterprises are at risk of capture, and the Communists in the Cabinet may soon find themselves jobless. President Jacob Zuma and the ANC may just have lost a municipal election or two, but that doesn’t mean the wrecking-ball in their arsenal has been somehow deactivated.

As Nicholas Woode-Smith wrote in January:

“It is a common practice among all governments to latch onto, even orchestrate, events to distract the populace from what really matters. We call these Red Herrings. As an example, the Pistorius trial was by no means orchestrated by the state, but it was used to good effect to distract us from corruption and ill-thought out legislation. This row against racism is no different.”

Ladies and gentlemen, actual things are happening in South Africa which warrant your attention. The left has never paid particularly much attention to matters which can throw the economy down the tube, often commenting that when the economy does badly ‘only whites are affected’, so issues like doekgate are a nice pastime for them. However, as decent, responsible, and reasonable people, you should not allow yourselves to be pulled into this trap.

In fact, this is made even worse now that Adolf ‘Lesufi’ Hitler of the Gauteng Department of Education is being involved. The totalitarian State’s most important order of business is to ensure it gets complete control of the education system. This was done under Apartheid and partially reversed after 1994. But now that hunger for control has returned, and, with the Official Opposition now dangerously close to becoming the government of Gauteng, the central government is seeking to strengthen its hold. Do not be surprised if you see a new bill introduced in Parliament giving full control over all education affairs to the national education portfolio (fortunately, they will need to try and amend the Constitution beforehand).

While matters of attire may be inconvenient or even (sincerely) offensive to the pupils in question, it does not compare with the State impoverishing an entire country or chipping away at your freedom. Do not be distracted by the Oppression Olympics or red herrings. Keep your eyes trained firmly on what the State and the political class are doing in the background.

The Nature of the School Matters

The doekgate outrage does not appear to be well thought-out. I have not seen anyone point out the fact that Pretoria Girls High is a public school, so it appears that the left, again, believes that even private schools should be barred from enforcing their own rules and standards.

People who have known me for a while would be able to attest that I am not a ‘social conservative’ by any means. I have always opposed public schools having the gall to tell me or anyone else how we must dress, how long our hair must be, and whether or not we may have stubble or beards. I mean, the moment I bought that first lollipop on my own at age 5, I paid value-added (sales) tax and became a fully-fledged South African taxpayer. How can these civil servants – public school teachers – presume to tell me how long my hair may, or may not, be? It is statist arrogance at its worst.

This applies equally to Pretoria Girls High. Yes, the black female students should be allowed to wear their hair how they want! But, as I will explain under the next heading, this is not a racial affair.

This, however, obviously means I feel the direct opposite way about private schools. Private institutions owe nothing to nobody, unless by contract. They do not need to tolerate, like, or respect your culture, your belief, your style, or your preferences on their property. On their property, they are the alpha and omega. I did attend a private school for many years, and to say the least, I disagreed with their institutional culture in a very fundamental, ideological way. But looking back, I understand that they didn’t owe me anything other than what was stipulated in our contract.

Next time anything of note happens, be sure to ask ‘is this private or public property?’ before you get outraged. Leftists would call this a false dichotomy, or say ‘the lines between these kinds of property are blurred’. Rest assured, they are not.

It’s About Authoritarianism, not ‘Whiteness’

As I stated above, I am no friend of assumed hierarchies or structures of authority. As far as libertarians go, I do lean toward ‘social anarchy’. The antiquated obsession with ‘discipline’ has run its course. Rather, explain in particular circumstances why a brand of discipline is needed. At school, the institutionalized culture of authoritarianism is accepted without much ado. This, indeed, needs to change.

But South Africans – trendy tyrant leftist South Africans – need to stop confusing authoritarianism with ‘whiteness’. There is nothing inherently racist about applying a rule equally to everyone, even if you believe that the rule itself is ‘based in white normality’. Culture, including how you wear your hair and what kind of head gear (yes, yes I did just call it head gear!) is a completely voluntary affair. If you alleged that it is not voluntary, then the protest must not be held outside Pretoria Girls High, but outside the homes of the parents who are forcing their children to act or behave in a particular fashion.

Objectively, however, without allowing isolated circumstances to dictate the rule, culture is voluntary, and, quite in fact, can be switched on and off for particular occasions. For instance, I don’t believe Robert, the Lord of Salisbury, goes to the United Nations or to Singaporean hospitals in his traditional Shona dress, to give but one example. So these pupils are entirely at liberty to either adhere to the rules or to consciously disobey them. There is no reality wherein they have no choice.

Of course, this is a public school, and thus I am quite happy to condone rule breaking. But viewed within this context, what should be condemned is our collective South African culture of authoritarianism. This culture exists in the Model C school, the township school, the Afrikaner dorp, the Zulu village, and the English suburb. This culture was here before the Dutch landed and was simply further reinforced by the Dutch’s own authoritarian ways.

Individuals of all races are forced to behave in certain ways at South African schools. It isn’t ‘easier’ or ‘more normal’ for whites because, like all young persons, white kids despise being told what to do. They need to get their hair cut, just like the black kids.

The reaction to the episode at Pretoria Girls High has been thoroughly irrational and plays into the waiting hands of the political class. The State and its intellectuals love outrage. New legislation, new government departments, and new government powers are always preceded by outrage. Our outrage should be directed at the State and its buddies, not at pie-in-the-sky notions of ‘whiteness’ and ‘who is being oppressed the worst?’

Statist authoritarianism lies at the heart of every conceivable South African problem we have today. Mischaracterizing the cause of our social ills will only prolong, and, unfortunately, worsen the suffering.

Martin is a final year law student at the University of Pretoria and the Academic Programs Director for Students For Liberty in Southern Africa (www.studentsforliberty.org/africa/). He is a co-founder and editor of the Rational Standard and the Editor-in-Chief of Being Libertarian (www.beinglibertarian.com).

You can find him on Facebook or contact him via email at [email protected]