Monday, June 18, 2012

Ivor Chipkin's cardinal sin

Dear Professor Ivor Chipkin,
          As the Director of the Public Affairs Research Institute in South Africa it doesn’t say much for your researching ability if you quote from my Hitler moustache joke gets boy Jewish treatment letter that was on my Dearjon Blog and then describe it as having been addressed anonymously to the boy’s headmaster.
          I see that in the latest Sunday Times, that has some 3-million readers each week, you took your turn to knock in a few more nails to further torment that 13 year old St John’s College boy and the others who laughed at his moustache JOKE.
It wasn’t enough for Roger Cameron, the school’s headmaster to crucify him for wearing that Hitler moustache and for giving the Nazi salute that was returned by other boys at a fun day at the school. 
St John's PT class perhaps?
          Your article I am referring to was headed Did they know what they were doing? with the subtitle, The St John’s boys who gave the Nazi salute reflect an unconscious racism.        
         I wrote that the headmaster and his staff should have realised that it was a JOKE and that between them and the Jewish pupil who complained, they had blown the incident completely out of proportion. And you lifted part of my story word for word.
          Your argument was, It is funny precisely because it humiliates Jews for having been persecuted.  You went on to say that judging from letters on the internet many adults greeted the incident like this.
          Your only concession to the lads was, I don’t think this was the intention of the boys in question. You don’t have to give it much thought.
It clearly wasn’t and that was one of my main points.
          A lot of humour has a barbed side to it, but unfortunately if you can’t laugh at yourself in this world you can get terribly hurt. And it makes it worse if you read into jokes an intention that was never there.
Unless you are a mind reader I can’t see how you arrived at the conclusion that the incident reflected an unconscious racism. But I suppose if you want to sensationalise a story this is the way to go. This is what sells newspapers.
          Of course you had to do what South African’s usually do when they want to spice up a story about racialism; you put Black and White into the mix.
          How can the incident possibly be what you described as revealing of the way white racism works generally in South Africa today? That’s about as spurious as the Jewish boy’s contention that the incident showed that the whole school sympathised with Nazis.
And can you be sure there were no Black boys clapping and saluting? They do have them at St John’s you know.
          This is why the incident at St John’s is an opportunity, not to single out  this school or those boys (Not half it isn’t), but whiteness itself,  your thesis continued.
Who is being the racialist now Professor?
Thankfully it wasn't the school's idea
            I noticed you never mentioned anything about the racialism practised by the Blacks now that they are in power in South Africa. Decreeing that they must get preference over other races when it comes to employment, regardless of their qualifications, is nothing but old style apartheid in reverse.
             The challenge is to live in the present with the past firmly in the present as well, you concluded.   
          Isn’t that the trouble with a lot of people; they spend so much time harping on about the past, which they can’t do anything about, that it clouds everything they do in the future. How often do people actually learn from what happened in the past anyway?

          So in the main hanging on to it is a waste of time that does far more harm than good.
          To get back to my Blog; surely when you take entire paragraphs from somebody else’s work you should credit the source, which in this case was far from anonymous. Did you perhaps break, what I would describe as this cardinal rule of good journalism because my Dearjon Blog is not allowed to be promoted in the Sunday Times?
          They know me only too well at that paper as the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman who has slammed it for helping crooks (see Noseweek exposes Dearjon letter) and its other shortcomings.
          So Professor, if we follow your logic, isn’t this the worst kind of racialism because I’m White, and as such I have no right to criticise the Sunday Times and it’s Avusa Group, which is largely headed by Blacks?
          Shouldn’t this letter to you and the one I wrote to Roger Cameron also be entitled Did they know what they were doing? because you two grown-ups have contributed absolutely nothing to damping down the flames at a school.
        All you have done is fan them. And is there any difference on the hate graph between that and racialism?
          Yours respectfully,
          Jon, who is happy to have portions of his Blog used by any writer, provided they play by the Queensberry rules of journalism by crediting the source as my Blog.
P.S. Before I posted this I sent it to Professor Chipkin and invited him to comment if he wished and this was his reply: Thank-you for your letter. I think you have misconstrued the point of the article. I assumed the letter was anonymous because it was not signed. More importantly, I think the letter is pretty damning of you actually and the purpose of the article was not to make an ad hominem argument. I will be happy to write a letter for this week’s Sunday Times crediting the source of the letter.
P.P.S. It is now (6 July ) two Sundays since Professor Chipkin made the above undertaking and I have seen no sign of it. Either the paper didn't publish it or the Professor never submitted it and when I asked him what had happened he didn't reply to my email.

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